I’d Love to Help

Helping hands of love.

Cookies for the school fair? I’m your mum! Car broken down? This chick will give you a lift! Need to talk? Your gal pal will be there.

Now I’m no Mother Teresa. I haven’t dedicated my life to the service of my community and others who are less fortunate than myself but I do everything in my power. There are many instances in which one may find themselves and think, ‘Yeah, someone else will do that,’ or ‘I can’t be bothered/don’t have the time.’

I’m not one of those people. I’m a helper. A perpetual helper: forsaking all others including myself. Sometimes to the detriment of myself and/or my family.

heart hand

I can do everything. Really I can!

New Year’s Eve 2012 was one of those times.

Scene: Brighton beach, Adelaide (Australia) 10:30pm. We’ve seen in the New Year (albeit a little prematurely) with our closest friends and all our combined kids at a fireworks display they put on annually for the public. There’s families, oldies and an assortment of local youngsters (gee I sound old) swigging from bottles behind the backs of the local law enforcement.

I’d smiled at the sight of a couple earlier in the evening who were probably in their late 50’s. My mind wandered to that point in my life where I’d be sitting there sipping champagne in my togs while littlies whizzed by with sparklers, squealing, others building sandcastles. I’d have my husband by my side and I’d be wondering if my boys were ok because they certainly wouldn’t be hangin’ with Ma and Pa by then. We’d be well past our use-by-date in the cool, hip and happenin’ department by then. Perhaps we might be useful to do the 3 a.m pick up. We’d chink glasses, as this couple had, and drink in the New Year together with a heart full of love.

While my brain enjoyed the imagery, my sights were firmly on the kids. We almost needed a leash for Just 3 who was still two then. Keeping him within reach near the water’s edge while Halfway to 6 ran off to talk with boys from school took most of my focus.

The fireworks display finished for yet another year. We began to pack up when I noticed the lady from the couple I’d been in awe of earlier. She was curled on the sand with her partner nowhere in sight. Their chairs were still on the sand and the table still bore the remnants of their meal and drinks. Maybe her partner had gone to the toilet? Possibly to get the car if it was parked some distance away? Had she had too much to drink to walk without his assistance? I instantly brushed all thoughts aside as we ensured we had everything and everyone. Rubbish was deposited into a bag. Wet towels were dumped in with rashies and heads were counted.

Did the lady just twitch? Yes, there she goes again. I asked my favourite person in the world, Belinda, if she saw it. We watched together as the men were left with the charges.

‘Is she having a seizure, you think?’

‘Not sure……I think she might be crying.’

Without another thought I headed over to the lady curled on the sand. Placing my hand on her shoulder I asked if she needed any help. She was quite incoherent to begin with and the smell of alcohol drifted past my nose. Belinda was opposite me and together we tried to coax her to sit up. As she began to speak with more clarity we began to understand why she had chosen the cool sand as a place of respite in a crowd of many. The alcohol had loosened her tongue and although it made her difficult to understand, the stories and events she spoke of were beginning to link together to form a picture. A series of abusive events, the past marriage breakdown, the son who had taken his own life recently and the ever-present fear for her own safety. Officially now I am out of my depth but I cannot leave this lady in this state. What kind of person would I be to walk away? Reassure her everything was going to be alright and leave her to it? Clearly everything was not okay and I don’t do nothing when I can do something.

We asked her name and if she had her phone with her. Was there someone we could call? Someone with whom she was close and who lived close by?

Jan was her name and, no, there was no one else except the man who had left her there.

My main concern at this stage was not to leave her on her own. Belinda tried calling her partner that had left her there to find her own way home. This was to no avail so we listened, cared and managed to get her sitting up. She spewed forth details of the culmination of events from her life that had led her to the here and now: alone on the shore with no one to care for her except two strangers. Her skin felt cold where my hand was resting on her back so I offered her my jacket. The ‘thank you’s’ started as she began to sober and she was able to stand. For some reason she found linking arms with me gave her to courage to continue. Either that or I was just something to hold onto: both emotionally and physically.

Jan was attached to me so Belinda went off in search of back up. While Belinda was gone Jan shared scars and open wounds: tales from the life that she had led. I did nothing but listen and acknowledge with an understanding nod when appropriate. But really, what did I know? I only know that the human spirit of compassion is alive and well in me.

Three police officers strolled across the sand with Belinda leading the way and we were finally able to make progress, both for Jan and our journey home. My arm was still entwined with Jan’s and there was no sign I’d not be required for some time. Belinda’s arm had been given duty on the other arm and as well all stood arm in arm we presented a united force. Jan needed strength in numbers and she needed people on her side that night.

The partner (whose name I don’t remember or chose to forget) eventually arrived and attempted to have the police believe she was making it all up. Whether she was or not was not for me to decide. I do know what I believe though.

So with jacket in hand, a hug from a near-perfect stranger and many gracious words, my friends, my family and our kids made the slow loaded-down trip back to the car.

Belinda and I had done what we could do.

In hindsight I wondered about how many people saw that lady curled up on the sand. Did they notice and shrug it off? Did they not want to involve themselves? Do people just not care like I seem to?

I can’t do everything and I’m just starting to acknowledge that.

I can only do what I can do and that’s what I’ll continue to do until I can do no more.

I can do something because, really, what’s the alternative?

My children will know what it means to lend a helping hand.

Image from: here.

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The Love Boat

Your boarding pass awaits your arrival at Pier 3. Let’s set sail and be sure to leave all your cares behind.

Yesterday I mentioned that I needed a vacation after the school holidays. A massive thank you to John (my hero) because now I’m off to the Gulf of Mexico.

YAY!

I’d love for you to join me.

There’s only one condition…….

You need to pack all your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile!

I know for most of you this may be a difficult thing to achieve. Please be assured there is no weight limit to the baggage you bring with you. So get all that crap, shove it in and don’t look back. Pack everything you can think of: worries, troubles, concerns, issues, things that p%*@ you off and any other unwanted stress. If you can’t do up the zip, don’t worry. Carry-on can be left below*.

Now upon boarding you’ll need to join in the sing-a-long. You can practise now if you’d like or just stand near the back.

Love, exciting and new

love boatCome aboard. We’re expecting you.

Love, life’s sweetest reward.

Let it flow, it floats back to you.

The Love Boat soon will be making another run

The Love Boat promises something for everyone

Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance.

And love won’t hurt anymore

It’s an open smile on a friendly shore.

It’s LOVE!

Welcome aboard

It’s LOVE!’

love-boat-welcome-aboard

Please accept the complimentary T-Shirt as you walk the gangway. The staff on the upper deck will have extra gifts for our First Class RCC passengers.

We trust you will enjoy your carefree journey and be prepared to carry only souvenirs home with you. Any residual distress, anxiety, woes and doubt will be seized by Customs.

*Please leave your kit bags below in the comments section as we head out of the Quay.

The Comments section today is for you to offload anything you do not wish to carry with you for the remainder of the day. It may be one word, an issue or concern or maybe you’d just like to vent. This can all be done here instead of on your own blog. If you don’t wish for me to reply just add DNR to the end of your comment (I will resuscitate if necessary but will not respond).

Your Captain

Images from: here and here.

Talk About Love

grumpyI love to talk.

As some of you aware I’ve nicknamed Mondays Momdaze’ now.

I’m normally in somewhat of a fog and need a giggle or two to get me through the day. It seems that Just 3 was aware of this fact this morning after we had dropped Almost 6 at school. We arrived home and I was about to commence my happy dance after getting Just 3 out of the car.

He crossed his arms, put on one of his best grumpy faces and stated,

‘I not talking to you anymore Mum.’

Allow me to clarify at this point that I had done nothing to be in receipt of this kind of threat.

My response, ‘Oh well! It’s going to be a pretty quiet day then.’

2 second pause……..’Mum.’

This was my first giggle for the morning. It will be a pretty quiet day here regardless. Hopefully, though, the grumpies will disappear and we can recommence smiles and giggles for the rest of the day.

I’d love to chat but I’m off to find more funnies. I’ll talk to you later. Promise!

Image from: here.

Love’s on Vacation

vacationI’d love a holiday.

Anyone got a spare room in some exotic location? Or maybe you could recommend somewhere to sun-soak and take in the sights? I don’t take up much space. Heck, I’d even take the couch if that was on offer!

After the holidays I’ve had I need a vacation! They (whoever they are) say time flies when you’re having fun. Well this school holidays seem to have been longer than the 6 week break over Summer. Maybe it’s the impending approach of Winter. Attempting to ensure Just 3 stops play to empty his bladder instead of enjoying the warm waterfall feeling until the wind blows or mummy blows her top might be the root of the cause. Having to constantly umpire the tussle and roughhousing that is boys has taken it toll.

It seems that my love for my boys took a bit of a holiday. I became introspective for a while and delved deep into my psyche. The usual love lectern, from which I impart great knowledge of nothing of substance, was abandoned.

The ghost of holidays past visited me this April. Term break has, for me, always been a chance to catch up or, heaven forbid, get ahead. To find my centre, sleep in and catch my breath.  I like to have all my ducks-in-a-row and not the rubber kind either.

In retrospect I am searching for the highlights of the last 16 loooong days. Here they are, in no particular order:

    • Almost 6 had two sleepovers (one at his Uncle’s and another at his Nan’s) both of which he had to be picked up from. One at 11.30pm and the other at 9.30pm. Sleepovers at relatives had been successfully achieved on prior attempts.
    • We’ve visited an abundance of local playgrounds. The kids have had a blast. I, on the other hand, will be happy if we don’t visit a playground for several weeks.
    • Some odd jobs got done around the place and ticked off the list. The list still contains about 50 incomplete tasks.
    • We’ve caught up with relatives, broken bread, partied like it’s 1999 at a 6th birthday party and been to a play date that nightmares are made of.
    • My ironing basket is empty (almost) and the Peppa Pig DVD survived the relentless spinning.

Tomorrow will feel like I’m on vacation. My heart might still wish it was wandering around a luscious rainforest or basking on an island off the coast of Fiji. The Maldives are nice at this time of year, I hear. My brain, however, will be mentally planning the Winter holiday survival guide while I live the life I love.

I’m back peoples and I’m packing (my sunscreen, togs and a whole lotta love)!

Image from: here.

Play. Date. Love.

‘I’d love to play. It’s a date!’

There is something to be said about the simplicity with which a child forms a friendship. The ritual is brief: play (sometimes names are not even exchanged), date (find out about each other’s likes and dislikes) and love (blissfully spend the rest of their time together with an occasional disagreement or two).

I have watched my boys, 6 and 3, meet new children at gatherings, celebrations and even at playgrounds. There is an unwritten creed in existence for children. The same cannot be said for most adults. At which point in life is it that we unlearn how to make the acquaintance of new people or do we not seek out new relationships to remain in our zone of contentment? Developing a new relationship takes time. It takes effort. There is an investment from each side.

I was faced with this predicament recently: to go beyond the, ‘Hi, how are you?’ or “How’s your day been?’ while waiting for the bell to ring to signal the end of the school day. My son was asked on a play date.

I knew that it was inevitable. The day had come. This was territory I had never ventured into.

I find making someone’s acquaintance a daunting prospect yet I would be forced to. My son is following in my footsteps, for the time being, and requested that I chaperone the ‘date’. There would be no ‘drop and run’ which the mother of the other child was expecting. See a play date for most is the opportunity to dispose of said child for a while and, maybe, get a manicure or indulge in a coffee that won’t go cold before you drain the cup.

So on this day I found myself in the relative comfort of someone else’s comfort zone where I was not comfortable at all. I had to take both boys as it was during the day while Dad was at work. I spent two excruciating hours there. In that time I worried about my boys waking the sleeping baby (not the proverbial baby-playdatethere really was one sleeping upstairs) or Just 3 being unable to successfully navigate the narrow stairway with two-way traffic. I wiped crumbs from chairs when the kids (5 in total) ate the home made fresh-out-the-oven cookies I had proffered on my arrival. I fussed over the fact that this home had no fences and at one stage Just 3 ended up at the top of the driveway near the road. The older children spent considerable time running away from Just 3 who, of course, chased them wanting to join in but inadvertently continued the game. I spent nearly 15 minutes in the downstairs ensuite bathroom, which was not much larger than the size of a public cubicle, when my boys decided to do their synchronised number two’s routine. Just 3 needed a change of bottom half clothes for….well I’m sure you can figure it out. Doors were being used like revolving ones, there were toy guns and swords that made noise and had strobe lights and I thought there’d be flashing lights coming to get me if I didn’t get out of there fast. Throughout all of this I attempted to hold an adult conversation with a woman who could not be any more polar opposite to me if she was floating in the water off the coast of Bermuda. She filled space with words: not of light conversations about the weather and what you like doing when you have spare time, but her life. Almost from start to finish. I, who am known to be able to hold my own in a verbal exchange, could hardly get a word in. So I listened and nodded and uh huh’ed in the appropriate places all while keeping Just 3 in my sights. The mother, either blissfully unaware or taking some time to rest while the baby was asleep, seemed to take it all in her stride. Toys being strewn across the path of anyone who dare enter did nothing to change her resolve. She was softly spoken even as a door was slammed for the 15th time and she politely asked her son to close it carefully as he dashed off and her words drifted in the air like dust.

As we made our way to the car I was composed, outwardly centred. Inside I was screaming, all muscles tense.

I had white knuckle fever on the journey home. It took 5 minutes but it felt as if I was on an exercise bike and wasn’t getting anywhere fast. My answer? A glass of red wine at 3:30 in the afternoon-something I have NEVER done before. This was my second option by a narrow margin to going out into the backyard and letting off the biggest scream I could create. The first option may have attracted unwarranted concern from my neighbours so I sucked it up. The. Whole. Glass.

In reflection, I did wonder whether that mum opened her own bottle after we left. Did she, like me, seek to quell the rising tension by forcing it back down again with her own medicinal glass? Maybe we weren’t as opposite as I had first thought. Perhaps adults need more than one ‘date’ to suss each other and decide if a friendship can be born. Maybe that’s why she handed me her card before we left. ‘Ben’s had such a wonderful time today. Give me a call and Ben could come to your place next time.’

‘The kids had a ball,’ I thought to myself. They were completely unaware of the cracks that formed in my veneer. It is all about the kids after all. I could hide a glass in the fridge if I wasn’t comfortable in my comfort zone. I wondered what we would talk about next time. Would she turn to me and say, ‘Well you heard all about me last time. Tell me all about you.’ Then it dawned- there would be no next time. She had expected me to ‘drop and go’ and that’s exactly what she planned to do on the reciprocal ‘date’. I wouldn’t need my secret weapon.

That’s why you’ll find me hanging with the kids next time. It’s so much simpler in their world. Play. Date. Love.

And the other mother can have her manicure and coffee too!

Image from: here.

I Love An Appreciative Audience

audienceHow do you overcome your fears before going on stage? When you’re speaking or performing, do nerves get the better of you?

Comedians, actors and singers all desire to have bums on seats and, furthermore, to validate their talents.

Performers, artists and athletes share the same need too.

What about writers? Are they in the same league or are they a breed apart?

A fair portion of our lives is spent spectating. People like to watch. To sit back, relax and be entertained. To gain a new perspective. To escape or to focus. We judge based on visual characteristics, features and attraction. Our eyes are the first sense to engage, process information and cause synapses to fire off messages in the largest part of our brains.

maskWhat if you were watching a stand up comedian who wore a mask? Would their lines be as humorous? Would a mask disable them from connecting with their audience? Would that allow you to feel an instant connection and for them to quickly build a relationship with you?

I have more questions than answers. I will ask one thing of you though.

Upon posting, the amount of WP sites worldwide topped 64, 717, 052 million. That figure has even gone up since I wrote it. Mine is just one of that ever-increasing number. I have a four month old blog. My gravatar is not a photo. No image of my face appears on my home page. There are a growing number of people who know information about me but do they really know me? Is seeing what someone looks like the epitome of really knowing a person? Does the brain prefer to put an image to a name-to make that correlation for the brain’s sake.

The problem lies herein. I am outspoken but shy. I speak to large groups but I am not confident. I am a loner by choice who brought no friends here with me but wished to make new ones. My blog has been my fresh start: the chance to reinvent myself. It has given me the opportunity to choose, define and create my identity that is unique to WP. I am still me. I have not presented facts that are false nor have I proffered more than has been asked for.

stageCentre stage is waiting for me but I am quite happy in my role as stagehand. I allow my words to stand in the spotlight while I just tug on the rope to open and close the curtain on them. Each time, I peek out at the audience to see if I can catch a glimpse of someone I know. I like to see if the crowd has enjoyed the performance. Is it just stage fright that holds me back or is there more to it? Do I really want to stand out or have what it takes? Perhaps not, because you’re all scantily clad and you’re staring at me!

Is your gravatar a photo of yourself? Do you post photos of loved ones? Is there an expectation to share what you look like on social media sites? I know you’ll judge this book if you see its cover. It’s human nature, after all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image from: here , here and here.

The Last Post of Love

Lest We Forget About Love

anzac

I won’t hear The Last Post today trumpeted from a bugle in person. I will see it on TV and the hairs on the back of my neck will stand just as straight as the servicemen and women will at each ceremony held around the country.

I won’t see the veterans march through the city streets. I will slow to match their pace today and pause for a minute to remember the lives lost in all conflicts in which Australians have fought and continue to serve.

I won’t be laying a floral wreath at the base of a memorial. I will place fresh flowers in a vase atop the bench to honour the casualties of war.

I won’t have the words to console the relatives of the fallen. I will help my children to understand the sacrifice made by our armed forces.

I won’t be camping overnight on the shores of Gallipoli. I will go to bed tonight grateful for freedom and peace in our Lucky Country.

I won’t be waving a flag or bear medals on my left breast. I will watch the ANZAC match and bake Anzac biscuits for us to share commemorating this historic day.

I won’t be at a Dawn Service today. At least not in person. I will be there in spirit and my heart will fill with the love and pride I feel to be able to call Australia home just the same as every person who attends a service.

They went with songs to the battle,

They were young, straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

I love a sunburnt country as the sun rises.

Image from: here.