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Monday, September 24, 2012

A journey through the past and into the future

There are times in our lives when we need reassurance. When we turn outside ourselves and want to know that what we are doing is right and that we are headed in the right direction. I didn't know that I needed reassurance, however the last few weeks it seems I have been on a journey. A very internal one dealing with my past issues and what that means for my future. Trying to organise everything in my mind and make sense of it all for the fifty millionth time in my life. As you will have noticed it has played out on here.

The past week I feel as though I have taken the journey out of my mind and been playing it out in real life as well. I have had catch ups with my Aunty and Uncle and also a catch up with one of my closest friends. Both well over due and both happened on the same day... a very long fifteen hour day that involved a lot of travelling. It was totally worth it.

My friend is into Tarot cards and has her own set and I had the opportunity to do a reading with her. I've always been interested in the idea, but also very apprehensive. You see I have always been worried that I would do a reading and pull out all the really bad cards. Not that I know what the really bad cards even are, I just know they are in there somewhere. So, with a bit of apprehension, a lot of intrigue and a desire for guidance and reassurance I sat down and did a reading.

I don't know why I was worried in the first place. After following my intuition and picking the cards I was drawn to I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't pick the bad cards. In fact, the cards I picked were awesome and all related to my journey completely. I did pick one less than favourable card, but as fate would have it I picked it upside down, which is actually good - yay me. The cards that came up were all positive and helped to put my mind at ease. I am on the right path, the one thing I am wishing for will be granted and I have the right tools to travel the journey correctly this time. I have felt better since the reading. A little more content within myself, a little less second guessing and asking myself why. Sometimes it is good to reach out and seek guidance outside your comfort zone. It certainly has helped me this week. It has also reaffirmed my belief that everything happens for a reason.

The catch up with my Aunty and Uncle was about exploring the past. Finding out more about my dad and who he was before I was born. Getting my emotions out about his death has made it obvious to me that it is important to find out who he was as a person, before I existed. Before it all went to crap. I have only now as an adult decided that I am ready to explore this. I have already found out things that I didn't know before. I know it will not make me ok with what happened, there is nothing that will make me ok with it. But, to know who he was and what he was like then will help resolve some of those questions that have been going around in my head for the past few years. So I am ready to go there. It will probably be a long process, but I am ready and it will be ok.

Thanks to my wonderful friend and family I am ready to explore the past with open eyes and ready to face the future with reassurance. A single step at a time.

Toni x
Thursday, September 13, 2012

R. U. OK?

National R U OK? Day - A conversation could change a life.

If you're in Australia then you've probably already heard about this as its been taking over Facebook all day. Today is national R.U.OK day. Quite simply its about getting people to communicate more and ask their friends, family, colleagues etc are you ok? The theory goes if more people talk about their problems then it will take the stigma away from depression and will lead to more people asking for help and receiving the help they need. Which ultimately reduces the stigma around suicide and hopefully in turn (by people getting the help they need) will lead to suicide prevention.

This is particularly close to my heart. You are all aware by now that my father died when I was 10. What you don't know yet is that he committed suicide.

It was incredibly hard to come to terms with as a child. To have a dad one day and then nothing the next. Its not like when someone is sick and you have time to prepare, knowing that one day they are going to die. In that situation (not that its really any better) you have time to say your goodbyes. Time to do everything and say everything you want to say before the day comes. I never knew it was coming. I didn't get to say goodbye, no last I love you. Nothing.

On top of this, apart from coming to terms with my dad being gone at the age of 10, I had to deal with the fact that he actually chose to die and he did it himself. What on earth could be so bad that he actually wanted to die? Why would he want to leave me and my brother? Were we not good enough to make him stay? Could I have stopped him from doing it if I was there? Was it my fault? Didn't he love me anymore? So many questions went running through my head. For a 10 year old that's a lot of emotional baggage to deal with and make sense of. When I went back to school I was also teased by the other kids - I remember one girl pointed and laughed at me while saying "haha your dad killed himself".

I never really knew he was depressed. I knew him and mum were separated and going through the process of getting divorced. I'm not really sure that I ever thought they would actually get divorced. I could never really imagine life without him or life going between mum and dad's houses and having to split everything between the two. I never really had time to give the idea much thought as three months after they separated he was gone. Those three months were shit though. Going from one house to the other and having both of them asking about the other to find out whats happening. Endless fighting over the house and the bribes to get information. Actually the bribes I liked a bit to be honest, because it was pretty awesome to get ice blocks just for answering a question when we never would have got that before. I feel guilty about it now. But still, overall it was a shit time.

I didn't even know they were fighting until the day we were pulled out of school because we were moving in with grandma and pa. We didn't spend much time around mum and dad together because they were always working and when we were on holidays we would go stay with grandma and pa. So, it was quite a shock to me when we were moving out of the house. The only thing I remember was that there were holes inside the wardrobe doors in their bedroom. I never heard them fight though so I assumed someone must have fallen over and landed into the wardrobe door or something..? I do remember that one day when we were driving down to the gold coast they had a big fight over the radio and how loud it was and dad drove the car off the highway into a ditch because he was pissed with mum. That was kinda scary. Other than that nothing really ever tweaked me to the idea that things were going wrong.

As someone who has been left behind from suicide and dealt with the after affects I can not stress the importance of R U OK day. I wish somebody could have helped my dad. I wish he got the help he needed and I wish he was still here. No matter how shit life might have been growing up as a child of divorce it still would've been much better than growing up as a child of suicide.
Have you ever wondered which hurts the most: saying something and wishing you hadn't or saying nothing and wishing you had?
So I urge you all to ask your loved ones are you ok? 

You never know how much you might help them just by showing that you care.

Toni x

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Friday, September 7, 2012

The sky is where my dad is

Do you ever find yourself staring at the sky? The sky is my go to "happy place". Every single day I spend time looking up in awe of the sky.  Whether its filled with the weird and wonderful shapes of the clouds, the colour of the sunset or just the perfect vast blue of a clear sunny day; there is something that draws me to it. Every morning when I walk out of the house I look up at the sky. Every time I stop at the lights on the way to work I stare up at the sky. When I finish work as soon as I walk outside the first thing I do is look up.

I think my obsession with the sky started after dad died. I don't know that I fully believe in the concept of heaven, but I do believe that he is up there somewhere and that he can see me. I think that's why I look up so often, its like my morning hello and a goodbye in the evening as I come out of work. A little way to acknowledge him each day. I think the child in me believes that hes painted the clouds onto the sky for me, just to make me smile. The adult in me knows this is not the case, but its still a nice sentiment so I let my inner child uphold the fantasy. Either way, in my mind the sky is where my dad is.

Because of this my favourite song of all time is Castles in the sky by Ian Van Dahl. I used to listen to this on repeat on my walkman with head phones in as I went to sleep (yes I had a walkman, ipods didnt exist when I was a teenager). It used to calm me down and let me process my thoughts before falling asleep. The song really spoke to me because its all about trying to work out your life and 'building castles in the sky'. I was really trying to come to terms with dad dying when I stumbled across this song and I guess that's why I have built a castle in the sky for dad to live in, figuratively speaking. I found this awesome video for the song with time lapse sky images.

Whenever I have the chance I get my phone out and snap away photos of the sky so I can capture each and every face it has. My obsession with taking photos also began after dad died because before that we didn't have many photos. There were no mobile phones, let alone ones with cameras and real cameras were only really used at special occasions. I love that nowadays we can capture everyday moments and form photographic memories so readily. I wish I had that before.

I know he is up there somewhere looking down at me. I hope he's proud. I hope I make him smile too. We've missed out on spending so many important times together. We had so many more memories to make and I wish we had done a lot more in the time we had.

When I miss you I look to the sky

Remember to make as many memories as possible while you can because one day those memories might be all you have.

Toni x
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Am I a control freak because I love clocks?

My new salt & pepper pop clocks

I have always gone through phases with the things I like throughout life. There was the teddy bear collection phase (I was 11), the hat phase and the customary teenage girl loves everything dolphin phase – where I collected everything dolphin related.  There are still a few remnants of that phase hanging around the house, mainly in spots where visitors won’t find them because I am beyond mortified that it happened let alone the fact I still have some of the stuff in my house (but I can’t bear to let go of it, sentimental value and all that). The one phase that has hung around for the last few years is my absolute love, some would go as far as to say obsession, with clocks.

I love the fact that clocks can come in all different shapes (yes shapes, I have a rectangle one) and sizes. They all serve different purposes (don’t roll your eyes I know they all tell the time). Let me explain. The silver alarm clock tells me if my mobile phone alarm is lying to me that it’s actually time to get up. The clock downstairs tells me whether I’m going to be late for work in the morning and whether it’s time for my favourite tv shows to start at night. The clock on the oven tells me how long until dinner is ready. The wall clock in the bedroom tells me whether I’m going to bed at a reasonable time or whether I have once again stayed up waaay too late. And the four mini alarm clocks I just bought for the study, well they are just insanely cute and were bought entirely for that reason (not because I had a desperate need for 4 alarm clocks in the one room – I’m not even going to use the alarms, except to occasionally annoy T).

Some of my other clocks

I love everything about clocks, I just don’t know why? I’m starting to think this might mean I am a control freak (on some subliminal level..?). Obviously if I have up to 4 clocks in one room and let’s say ... 11 clocks in my house that means I need to know the time, all the time. Right?  Therefore this = control freak? Yes? No? Wonder what a shrink would have to say about that.

I guess I just like clocks because I like pretty things and I’m too lazy to look at my watch when I walk from one room to another. And a small part of me may be a control freak who always needs to know what’s happening next.

Sometimes you just need that “thing” that makes you happy that you’re obsessed with – I hear most people have this issue with shoes.  What’s yours?

Toni x

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fathers Day we meet again...

One of the downsides to working in retail is that they are always over promoting the latest "holiday" for weeks and weeks ahead of the actual day. Christmas starts in September in the shops, then once that goes down in January, Valentines Day starts. As soon as that is packed up Easter eggs hit the selves {in February – yes February}. You think it would build up the anticipation for the event much more being able to look at all the signage, cards, merchandise promoting it for so long; eagerly awaiting its approach a little more each day as time goes on. This might be the experience the shoppers get as they are only in and out of the shops for short periods of time; unfortunately it has the opposite effect for those of us who work there. It makes us anticipate the day more, but purely because we are sick of looking at the same signs for so long. It takes away the excitement you felt as a child and makes it mundane. Maybe I'm being a little overly dramatic or it could just be the fact that I’ve been working in the same industry for 11 years that has slightly killed my joy.

For the past month we have had all of the Fathers Day collateral up everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Signs hanging from the ceiling, stock smack bang in the middle of the aisle ways so you literally have to walk around it and catalogues with endless gift ideas for dad. Fathers Day is my least favourite “holiday” of the year, because it forces me to come face to face with reality.

This year they’ve gone for the slogan We know your dad {meaning we have the perfect gift for your dad regardless of his personality}. Unfortunately they don’t know my dad; no matter how many gift ideas they have in the store they won’t have the right one for him. Nobody knows my dad because he isn’t here anymore. To the outside world he is just missing in action, or to those closer to the family he is a man who gave up on life in what would havebeen his prime. To be honest I don’t really know what other people think of him, because I don’t want to know. To me he was just my dad. So let me tell you about my dad – what I can remember.

Like all little girls, my dad was my hero.

My parents owned a pizza shop and dad got to go to work all day to make pizzas and in my eyes anyone who got to have pizza everyday was immensely cool. The fact that he actually made the pizza’s made him even cooler. Unfortunately it also meant we didn’t get to see him that much, so my memories are only minimal. I remember he had a really hairy chest and back, which apparently my mum thought was really sexy {um vomit much}. He was always tanned because he spent all his spare time in the backyard growing palm trees. Our backyard was full of palms, literally with three greenhouses and more out the front. He always had a mustache and beard. He had really big, unfashionable glasses. Maybe they were fashionable back then? And he always wore stubbies and Dunlop volleys {again fashionable back then I’m sure}. 

Volleys, stubbies and palms - thats my dad

I remember riding to the quarry, going fishing at deep water bend and making the long drive to see Uncle Allan and Aunty Robyn {where I was allowed to drink rum and eat oysters, good times!}. Most of all I remember I loved him and still do even though he’s gone.

It’s not easy growing up without a dad and it’s not easy to see everyone celebrating their dads with gifts and get togethers when I can’t. I celebrate him by keeping his memory alive, looking at photos and remembering the good times. Unfortunately we don't have many photos and they are of questionable quality because they are from the 80's & 90's, but I cherish each and every one of them.

Dad & me - one of my favourite photos

To those of you who are still lucky enough to have your father around or who have children yourself please always appreciate the gift of having a parent {or being a parent}. Once it is gone you can never get it back. Please cherish every single day you spend together for it is precious. Remember presents don’t have to be extravagant; sometimes the best present of all is your presence {and a hug, what I wouldn’t give for a hug}.
So, Happy Fathers Day to you dad! 
Wish you were here x

Toni x