Feeling all the feels

I can’t quite believe I haven’t blogged for nearly 3 months!

I have been writing though. Lots. I’m now dabbling in social media for Vendu who are the new kid in the  Australian property market, writing for their industry and vendor blogs.

My fiction journey continues, albeit at a limping pace, and I have finally mustered up the courage to pitch some article ideas to a few magazines after completing a course through the Australian Writers’ Centre. Perhaps I can legitimately call myself a writer now without feeling like a fraud?

No, not quite yet.

I’m not sure why I haven’t been blogging. Life continues to be as eventful as ever, so there hasn’t been a shortage of content. Let me get you (or those of you that care to read on) up to speed.

Did I mention we finally got another puppy?

labradoodle, black labradoodle puppy

He’s a labradoodle called Harry and the most affectionate, loving little dog you could ever meet. He’s also slightly manic, which means he fits in at our place perfectly.

The kids continue to be a handful. Pebbles is growing at an unstoppable rate, getting bolder and cuter by the day. She speaks almost as much as she moves. Needless to say, that’s a lot. Constantly breaking boundaries, she’s by far the most challenging toddler to date but we love her to bits anyway.

The Wilful One has had some health problems this term, which has been a bit of a struggle for us all but hopefully it is something he will grow out of in due time. He continues to be my salvation when it comes to the other two, I’m incredible proud of him in all aspects.

And BamBam is, well BamBam.

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Then there is The Man. He’s the reason I’ve been inspired to write this post. Oncology week has come around again fast and this month also marks a year since diagnosis. Consequently we are feeling all the feels. He’s had a bit of a rough trot lately but things are getting back on track and life it good.  We know his results from this round of checks will be fine and they will continue to be for many, many years to come.

Still, we’ve been trying to live life to the fullest. He has bought a boat and we even went for a ride on his motorbike yesterday. I have a inherent fear of 2 wheel death traps thanks to a childhood trauma, so it’s taken me nearly a year to work up the courage to get on. I surprised myself by absolutely loving it. Finally I get the sense of freedom that zooming down the road on a bike gives you. I was even tempted to do a Titanic impersonation when we went over the bridge, ocean on both sides and the blue sky above. Tempted, but I’m not quite ready to go handsfree yet, preferring to cling on for dear life.

So, that’s us up to date. Hopefully the next time you read my words it will be in a glossy magazine, but I do intend to make more of an effort to honour this space. It has given me so much in the last few years.

What do you do as an outlet when you are feeling all the feels? Are you scared of motorbikes like me? 

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Man Cancer: More than just cancer

Today is The Man’s 3 monthly check up with the Oncologist. As a direct result, I have to say shit’s been a bit weird around here lately.

You see, there is something they don’t tell you about cancer when they give you a diagnosis. Sure, they tell you all about the tumour, the treatment, the percentages of this that and the next thing (Cancer is apparently a real numbers game). But what they DON’T tell you is that cancer is not just a disease of the body. It’s a disease of the psyche too. After all, being faced with one’s mortality is not an easy cross to bear, especially at the age of 34.

Even in the case of those fortunate enough to be given the coveted rubber stamp of “remission”, the lingering fear of relapse is forever in mind.

I think the medical profession largely overlook this fact, especially when it comes to men.

Not once during the course of The Man’s testicular cancer (TC) diagnosis, surgery, treatment and consequent follow up has he ever been offered any form of counselling or psychological support. I find it particularly staggering given the facts that we know about men, serious illness and mental health.

Things we know:

  1. Men aged 35-44 have the highest rates of depression.
  2. Men are less likely to access mental health support services.
  3. Feelings of shock, anger, grief, loss and sadness are common with an unexpected serious life event and can put you greater risk of developing depression and anxiety.
  4. Approx a quarter of TC sufferers experience depression and/or anxiety.
  5. TC sufferers report loss of a testicle having adverse effects on psychological wellbeing, relationships, self image, sexual function and work life.

Small wonder then that sometimes living with The Man can be a little heavy!

Of course, we are extremely fortunate that his cancer was detected early and more intensive treatment wasn’t required. Perhaps that’s why these services have not been offered? Maybe it’s reasonable to expect The Man to just “go home and get better” (yes a doctor really did say that to him!) Perhaps it is because we went private and you are supposed to source these services yourself?

The fact is it really isn’t good enough. Organisations like Beyond Blue and Blue September do amazing work to bring attention to men’s health issues and reduce stigma around seeking treatment, both for physical and mental health issues. Mainstream medical services need to lift their game and get on board.

In any case, I do what I can to support my husband and on the whole, he has coped with his ordeal extraordinarily well. However, it extremely frustrating both as a wife, carer and informed health consumer, that more support has not been offered to help us on our Man Cancer journey.

Fingers crossed for a good report today!!

If a man in your life is struggling with issues he doesn’t know how to deal with Beyond Blue‘s Man Therapy Initiative is a great place to start.

References

1. ABS,4326.0, National Stuvey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2007

2 & 3. Beyond Blue Men, Serious Health Events and Chronic Illness,  http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/men/what-causes-anxiety-and-depression-in-men/serious-health-events-and-chronic-illness

4 & 5.  The University of Sydney Psycho-Oncology Co-Operative Research Group (POCOG), Testicular Cancer and Quality of Life, http://www.pocog.org.au/content.aspx?page=Testicular cancer

 

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A letter to Pebbles (18 months old)

To my dearest Pebbles,

You are now 18 months old.

Jess March15

As I write this you are sprawled on my chest. It is 11.20pm and we’ve been playing this game for over an hour. Every time I try to put you down you scream, but on me you are content to doze. I guess I’ll stay here a while longer then.

Never would I have done this with your brothers. In fact, I have held you longer, breastfed you longer and carried you longer than either of the boys. Despite this you are fiercely independent. Eager to run, explore, climb and dig. You chat easily to strangers and love to wave to everyone.

We can see so much of The Wilful One in your features and your inquisitive mind, but you also have Bam Bam’s wild spirit and sense of adventure. I often say that you are the Perfect Storm.

You never stop. Busy, busy, always into something. Every cupboard and drawer is now latched and no bag or container can be left within your reach, else you will unpack it with gusto.

You love to dance. Even a sound as simple as my phone ringing will have you bopping along and doing the most adorable shoulder shimmy.

We have also come to the very challenging stage where you insist on walking rather than using the stroller. This makes the school run difficult and time intensive most days, especially the uphill section!

Breastfeeding you exercises my entire upper torso, as well as my patience, as I try to accommodate your wriggling form and avoid a thorough eye gouging. Recently you discovered my hair and seem intent on removing ever last strand from my skull.

However, your constant motion and physical abuse exuberance is tempered by great affection. You love to cuddle and kiss, and there is no better homecoming than being greeted by your outstretched arms and a high pitch “Hi-Ya!”.
Jess March15
I do wish you would say “mama” though… When I prompt you, your reply is usually “dada” which of course pleases your father no end. You also say; Will (your first proper word), brother, Carter (our dog!), along with a host of other small words (ball, bye, car, bath etc).

The thing that makes me smile the most is your current phrase of choice: “Oh my god!” complete with hands over mouth. It gets me every time! “Wass that?” is also a favourite catch cry, especially when we are out and about and accompanied by an imperious pointing finger.

And oh boy are you loud! You are particularly good at expressing displeasure. Rarely do you cry, but frequently yell and shriek.

You keep my on my toes every single day as you learn new skills, push new boundaries and find your groove in the world.

Above all, you have brought so much love, joy and laughter to our lives, my darling girl.

I can’t wait to see you blossom into a young lady, yet part of my heart yearns for you to stay this small, adorable version of you forever.

Love you to the moon and back.

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Marriage, skirting boards and chasing dreams

dreams, oprah

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Last night The Man and I had a full blown argument heated discussion about… well a few things actually, but essentially the meaning of life. It went a little something like this:

Him: You have all these airy fairy dreams of becoming a writer and spend hours in front of the computer each day, but for what? Everyone with a keyboard thinks they can write these days. You should be spending your time more productively, like dusting the skirting boards. And look at the state of these windows!

Me: You are an arse.

Ensue much crying, soul-searching and him sleeping on the couch. You’ll be relieved to know that The Man quickly came to his senses and making up commenced. He confessed that he had been a thoughtless arse and, while it would be nice to be married to Martha Stewart, her rack was nowhere near as good as mine (what with her being 100 and all). He even admitted that perhaps there really was more to life than dusted skirting boards.

I’m glad he came to his senses, because I’d hate to have to divorce him. Such a messy business.

The pragmatic part of me does however, see a minuscule part of his argument.

I could easily go back to my mundane, frustrating, but reasonably well remunerated role in the public service and forget about my pipe dreams to become a freelance writer and novelist. After all, I would still be writing everyday.

The problem is I bear the unfortunate cross of being one of those bothersome folk who require a certain degree of personal fulfilment. I can honestly say that policy writing does not a creative outlet make. I would love something to become of my words, something meaningful, informative, or at the very least mildly entertaining. It’s just a little dream I have.

Furthermore, I want my kids to know that there is more to life that just waking up and working to live. I want them to know that they have the power to make their life into anything they want. To chose to do something they love and make it their life’s work.

I know this all sounds idealistic and it certainly isn’t as easy as just doing what ever the hell you want. At this point in time though I am very privileged that we are in a position where I don’t need to rush back to the coal face so, with The Man’s blessing, “dream chasing” is back on the agenda. Yippee!

I’m under no illusion about how fortunate I am to be in such a position, not to mention hitting the jackpot on having a man who is able to admit when he’s being an arse.

No doubt my good fortune will run out and I’ll have to return to conventional employment at some point, but until then I plan to giddy up and make the most of it.

So, if you are in the biz, I’d appreciate you keeping in mind my words are for hire. Oh and  if you happen to pop by for a coffee, please ignore the skirting boards.

What say you? Do you think it’s impractical to chase your dreams? Or is life too short to ignore your hearts desire?

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Parenting: Would you do it again?

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Let me preface this post with the disclaimer that I love my children unconditionally. They bring me mountains of joy and love. The kind I never would have experienced if they weren’t in my life.

Right, now that’s out of the way…

Oh my freaking gosh!!! Having kids is such hard work. Mind numbing and emotionally draining, it’s the type of hard work no one ever tells you about. Perhaps because if anyone got a heads up about the real truth of rearing small humans, the future of our species would be in dire straits. It’s certainly not like it is in the brochure.

A friend of mine recently shared this Huff Post article about being a woman who doesn’t want children. I really get what this author is staying. Some people are born wanting children. Others, not so much. I was in the not-so-much camp for a very long time. It’s hard to say what changed my mind but suddenly I find myself, nearly nine years later, with three children wondering what the hell I was thinking.

Even though having children was a conscious decision for us, I’m not sure it was an informed decision. I can honestly say life sans kids sounds pretty bloody attractive right now.

“The grass is always greener”, I hear you say. Certainly life would be cleaner, quieter and a lot less chaotic but would I still be happy?

Yep, I reckon I could manage it.

A life without the daily palaver of spilt milk, lost EVERYTHING and the perpetual responsibility for other people’s bodily functions has to be a darn good start on the road to inner peace.

Aside from missing out on all that aforementioned joy and love, what would I do with my time? The world would be my oyster! I’d travel, write and travel some more. It’s highly likely I’d take better care of myself, not to mention the guarantee of having more time and energy for other relationships, especially my marriage.

The trolls and the haters out there will no doubt say I’m a terrible person, undeserving of the 3 little blessings in my life. But haters gonna hate. Just as folk who chose not to have children should not be made to feel guilty, I don’t think I should feel guilty admitting that I don’t love every aspect of parenting. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t love my children.

Could I look those squishy little faces in the eye and tell them I’d send them back? Of course not. Now that they are here, I love them with every fibre of my being. Even on the days when it takes every one of those fibres to stop me from curling up in a ball in the corner.

Despite my flaws as a mother, I know my kids will grow up to be awesome humans. I don’t presume to take all the credit for it, I just hope they know how much I love them and what a labour of love raising them has been.

However, if they ever ask me if I’d do it all over again, I confess they may not like my answer!

Tell me, if you had your time over would you have kids again?

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