Sunday, July 27, 2014

Separation

For the last maybe twelve or eighteen months, I've been gradually living a life as a person with no kids. Of course, Carissa is around but she's really independent. She will be nineteen this year. She's been driving since she was sixteen, working, studying and maintaining relationships since school ended last year. She loves to dance, hike, hang and laugh with friends, cook them stuff and well, she's forging her own way.

This means that I've been left to my own devices. Thankfully it's been gradual and I'm used to it now but it meant that I started to think of life 'beyond Carissa" and my role as her mother. I'll always be her mum obviously but she needs me less and less.

As I've mentioned before, she's doing one maybe two semesters overseas in Birmingham for her degree. After that, she intends to move to Melbourne with a friend. I think she'll do it. She's pretty focused and is planning for it well.

This means that my day-to-day role as Mum kind of ends.  No more cooking dinner, cleaning her room, doing her washing from time to time - all that stuff stops. I had anticipated this moment when Carissa was three. Me and her dad separated then and I always said I'd stay in Adelaide to foster a relationship between her and her Dad. Well, that time is over now. She fosters her own relationship with Daddio and Me - well, I'm a free spirit now.

I daydreamed for at least a month or two about just packing up and going to live in say San Francisco! Or, going to hang with my friend George in Montreal! Now, with a qualification up my sleeve, I was suddenly more attractive to more destinations, particularly Commonwealth ones.

And then I researched some post-graduate specialisations that I'm interested in and thought 'One day but I want a break now....' and then around the same time, I thought of my mum.  And I thought "Maybe I should go home while she's still on this planet'....

So that's the decision I made.  At the end of my lease, I will not renew and I will return to Mackay, in Northern Queensland, pop 166, 181 (Wikipedia, 2011) and spend some quality time with her. Mackay, when I lived there, was like a resort full time.  It was easy living, fun  and friendly. People were laid back and everyone knew anyone. Since then, the mining boom has attracted crap-loads of people and the culture of Mackay changed somewhat. I'll write more about that later but I will add that it's not a culture that sits well with me. At least, I make that assessment based on what I've experienced when I've returned of late.

So to counteract this cultural conflict, I'm going to live in the Northern Beaches no more than a 20 min drive from the city heart. I plan to work in social work, preferably Government, (probably child protection or a hospital) and experience a sea-change. Wikipedia tells me that Mackay has 31 beaches. Thirty one. That's a lot and my front door will open onto one of them.  Here are a few pictures of the view of the property that I'm looking at. When I say beach-front, I mean, beach front.  I don't see the point of a sea-change if I'm going to be living in suburbia.



 +

The properties that I am targeting are also furnished. I'm selling up most of my bits and pieces and will travel light and rent for 12 months in the first instance.

Carissa's independance has well prepared me to live without her.  Once I was serious about my move home, I sat with Carissa and we discussed it. She said "if you want to move closer to Nanny, I can move into Dads anytime' and we brainstormed any areas of concern and problem solved.   She feels as though at 19 the issue she had with Dad are non-existent and if things go wrong, she can fly to me or move in with some of her friends. I wrote to my old trivia friend, George today and said that I will probably grieve very hard for Carissa. I don't drink alcohol but I will probably partake in a glass or two of wine to self-medicate for a bit.  Skype, sure. Fly up, sure but gee... that is the biggest adjustment. Ollie is staying with Carissa... and Ace is coming with me. Ace has arthritis so the tropical weather will be good for his bones. I will miss Ollie almost as much as I miss my girl.

When I told her dad that I was doing this, he automatically assumed Carissa would be coming with me. I said 'No, Phil. She has intentions of completing this degree and flying to the UK. It means she's moving in with you.....she's happy to do that....' and he looked away before I saw his eyes went all misty. He loves that girl and he softly said 'I would love to be able to connect with her before she flies the nest completely...' and I agreed.

I used to swim here alot as a kid.. in the beautiful Finch Hatton Gorge. I plan to really live well. I plan to start a series of projects that I've had on hold, perhaps a series of short stories and take care of myself.



So there is no turning back now. I've starting selling furniture, stuff, dvd's, books, excess things that I will not travel with. I will pack up my car and drive from Adelaide to Mackay. It is a road trip across Australia and I will need the best playlist ever created!  I've done it before and it's a big big journey of 2510 kilometres or 1559 miles. It will take about 3 - 4 days and I won't drive at night. It's too dangerous with wombats, cattle or kangaroos that will wipe out my mazda at 110 kms per hour in the black night.  My mother does not know that I am coming home. I haven't lived in Mackay since I was 18... I expect she will weep.


So there you go! I thought I might set up some GPS tracking stuff on my phone when I go and if you're interested, you can track the trip.

Lots to do before then but there you go. You got the scoop.

Best of luck to you,
Cath
xx

Friday, July 11, 2014

66 days to go...

Just 66 days to finish my degree. Can you believe it? It has been a tiresome but exhilarating journey. I've met some amazing people and increased my social circles exponentially. I've been told that some students 'admire' me and that many are very grateful for my input. See, I am the admin of a facebook group for our social work cohort at Uni and I share and share and share. Whether it's a resource, advice about a paper, loan books, I loan my experience and I care about these students, especially the young ones. In a way, graduating is bittersweet because I will let go of that role but I am excited to have finally finished my degree too. It's been tiring working full time and studying full time.

Just this last weekend, I sat on my ass under a heated throw and watched all of Season 1 and Season 2 of Bates Motel. It was fabulous and I did it drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea from my new Noritake set (pictured) picked up for a bargain of $20 from a local garage sale.



Here are some other random pictures for you.


Planning to move back to Queensland within 12 months.


Pics of the broken glass where thieves gained entry to my house.


Ollie enjoying his sun bed in the now gone warmer weather.

Cheers,
Cath

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wintery June in Adelaide



It's cold here.  I get that countries get buried in snow. People die because it's so damn cold. Iced roads cause accidents. I have not lived in countries like these so I can't compare but for my  humble existence to date, I'm cold.  Today the sun came out for like, 15 mins and my plants soaked up every single one of those minutes but aside from that, it's rainy, overcast, hail sometimes and it's 'sleeping with clothes on' type of cold.

So how are you?  I wanted to say thanks for the peeps that continue to stop by this blog and realised quickly that I'd deleted the wordpress site and emailed me. Thanks. You know who you are. For reasons beyond my knowledge, the stat counter for this blog continues to increase and increase. I still get a good 50-80 visitors here a month from all over the place. People from all places pore over pages for hours. Some quickly realise that 'pussy pics' isn't vagina and leave but the numbers are pretty consistent.  I thought it was appropriate to breathe some new life into this old space rather than dump it for a pretty, newer space. I also hovered the delete button and just couldn't do it. There are so many great posts here. On top of that, there are also so many great comments. Comments that still make me laugh today. I'm happy that a fair few of the old bloggers from those days are now active participants on facebook - the murderer of blogs.

This week, I've been at Uni for a long intensive course. It's called "Professional Development" and I find it batshit boring. I tried to get credit for it but my uni is lazy and will choose the easier answer of 'No, sorry' then, 'Sure. Let me sort all that paperwork out for you"  - and so I attend.  The content itself just bores me because I'm already familiar with it and I feel it's too basic and simple for our students. On top of that, there is a lot of pressure in the cohort about final placements for our degree. Within the assessment perimeters of the Bachelor of Social Work, the Australian Association of Social Work developed a cirriculum for practice on the job. Sure. I get that. It is to the value of 1000 hours and mostly they're unpaid. If you're already working in an agency, you might be able to tailor a placement paid but mostly they're unpaid hours. Broken into two, that's about three months unpaid. I was offered a very ...prestigious? No... honourable? Highly sought after? placement. The top of the pops placement. I can't name it because it's a place that attractions media scrutiny and I'm respectful over their business/clients. When I rang to schedule an interview, the  manager said that my uni had been slow to respond to him and as a result, he had to go with another student from a different Adelaide Uni. To say that I was floored would be an understatement. I was devastated. This placement is not just 'any' placement - it's the best placement you can get. When I told people that was where I had been provisionally 'matched' they said 'holy shit. I wondered who would get it!' or 'it makes sense that you would get offered that place'  - and other sweet complimentary things. I was a bit shaky during the conversation with the manager  but explained and apologized before ending the call. Armed with that biting sense of rejection, I marched into the office of the field education coordinator and closed the door. I was shattered that the incompetence of her team had compromised a massive career opportunity and I told her so.  I am not 15. I am a mature aged paying student with high grades and career path. You let me down. You are the service provider and this is what this pivotal agency had to say about your team and this uni. She apologised and said she would investigate. And then gently said 'where do you want to go?'

I couldn't really think straight and said that I'd get back to her. But man, was I wild.

Have you ever had the opportunity of a life time offered you after hard work, or maybe on a silver platter and then had it withdrawn just as quick?

I'll keep you posted.

lots of love,
Cath
x


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Month of Misery

I've had a really shitty month.

First a friend died. She was staying with her mates up in the Adelaide Hills and complained of a head ache. This friend is a fit woman. She hikes. She camps out. She's the first one at festivals - she's the bee's knees.

Her friend, a registered nurse, noticed it wasn't a normal headache and rang the ambulance. I guess she spotted stuff the average Joe like me would miss.  Unfortunately, my friend collapsed from the headache and despite being quickly transported to the hospital remained in a coma.

She was operated on quickly and doctors released blood on the brain - an aneurysm.  She was still under sedation for about 2  - 3 days recovering when she had a major stroke and became brain-dead.  The machine sustaining her life was turned off about 5 days later with close friends and family around.

Although I hadn't seen this beautiful woman in a few months I really felt her death. My daughter who was fond of her too also grieved. We remembered the beautiful smile and the gifts she'd given us. Those of friendship and knitted winter woolies. I sent my sincerest condolences to her daughter.

The Thursday before Jean's ashes were due to be scattered in the beautiful Mt Lofty Ranges, I was burgled.

The burglary really rattled me. I really cried. And then cried some more.  I was anxious. I felt unsafe. I felt violated. And I was furious.

They stole alot of gold and my daughter's Mac Book Pro.  I was angry about the Mac Book Pro because she had worked like a dog checking groceries for a good 12 months to save for it. Also all of her uni papers were on it and photos from year 10, year 11 and year 12, including her graduation and senior ball.

I was furious about the gold because although they're expensive, they're also really sentimental. My mother's mother' wedding ring. A matching set of earrings and ring (all diamonds) Three beautiful 18k bracelets with heart padlocks given to me when I birthed Carissa - like I said, devastated.

The threat to my security really made me fearful to leave the house again. Of course, I had to return to work eventually but the thought of leaving Carissa here by herself frightened me. What if they came back? What if they raped her? What if ..... what if....

It is those what if's that both arm and disarm you, in my opinion, for your recovery.

I had to stand outside of my house and really assess the weaknesses and then reduce or stop those weaknesses from being opportunity to burgle again.  Of course, everyone has an opinion about burglaries. Some say 'they'll be back within a month'  or  ' give it a week'  or 'my brother was burgled and this is what happened to him.....' or worse "I know how you feel' ....

None of that is useful or soothing or supportive to me.

I found myself stopping people who used the home invasion as leverage to launch into their own tirade. I said 'I need to stop you there. I don't have any capacity to make this about you, right now. I'm feeling sad and vulnerable about what happened to me'  and sometimes, they'd get it. "oh, sorry. Yeh right"

Or , yes yes I know but I have to tell you about my sister in law, well, this and that and this some more.

Never in my life have I felt like getting married and getting a Bull Mastiff in the same weekend.

We're recovering now. Slowly.  Very mindful of our surroundings. Our behaviours and our vulnerability and like I said, closing those opportunities.

We now have big fuck off chains around the gates to our property. It's a pain in the ass but I can sleep at night now. Without the Mastiff.

Cath


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Inevitable

I should have just raised her terribly and she’d be pregnant at 15 with a loser boyfriend that she doesn’t want to leave. But no, I have to go and raise her with dignity and grace, quality education and poise – and what does that get me? Alone!
Carissa is talking about moving into Adelaide University dorms as a taste of ‘what’s to come’ when she goes to UK as an exchange student. It would of course allow her to live independently, establish her own routine, get street smart, and be her lovely self without a voice that says ‘ Do you want poached eggs with or without avocado on the side?”  What right person would leave my cooking is beyond me but you know how kids can be.
Of course, it stung to hear this but if she’s going to live outside of the house, the first step would be local. At least to let my heart catch up a bit and allow me to smother her from afar. I jest. I have to concur that it would be a wonderful experience for her and if I’m really honest, a gradual transition of what’s to come would be easier on my arteries.
Part of Carissa’s degree includes a semester (or two) exchange and she has chosen Birmingham as one preference and is also considering Suffolk – only because of it’s proximity to London.  She said ‘You could come with me, if you want but we’re not living together’ and my heart caught a snag again on that spinster shadow that’s perpetually looming.
Last week, I sliced a piece of my thumb off making HER favourite potatoe dish.  I applied pressure but this thing would not stop bleeding. It was too deep and too thorough so with my wrapped tea-towell flounced into said betraying child’s room and said ‘See. If you were not living here I would have surely bled to death. You’d come home to do your washing and my carcass would be here with some over-fed cats……’ she cruelly laughed off my pain and took me to the doctors where they tended my wound.
Of course I’ll visit her but I can’t imagine living in Birmingham for a year. What a dreary fucking country. Kev’s posts have really put a depressive cloud over UK for me and I’m still thinking about it.  She was due to travel Jan 2015 but Adelaide Uni said it’s unfair of her to push in, despite being brilliant, so she has to wait until the next round. I’ve got plenty of time to hold her close in my country….
So that’s it from me.
Take care,
Cath

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Crappy Customer Service

I didn’t wake up cranky. I slept well. I felt great. Bit over studying but that’s to be expected.  I just didn’t want to think about anything, anyone or do anything today. I just wanted to lay on the sofa, drink copious amounts of coffee and water.
Then, I had an argument with the girl at the local chicken shop. Even when I am cranky, I don’t typically lose control of my emotions. I don’t explode. I sleep. Sulk. Listen to music. Email a friend but tonight I exploded. I rarely complain to customer service people. I might politely send a steak back for an extra five minutes but I’m one of those people who is exceptionally chatty and friendly to customer service staff.  I figure they deserve politeness. I don’t like it when people are rude to waiters, check out operators, Maccas staff – whatever. Don’t do it.
Then, tonight, I just exploded. It started when the chick at the shop was just rude. She kept asking me a question, then cutting me off before I could complete the answer.  Chicken, not veal, chicken. Chicken please. Can I have chicken? No manners – just give me your money, not listening,  no thanks, no ‘cheers ‘and here – have a bag of food thrown at you. I have never experienced this at our local chicken shop before and I quickly obeyed her wishes and silently left – embarrassed.
To make it worse, my order was wrong.  I rang the shop when I got home and yelled at her. When she denied the order was wrong, I saw red. She might as well have thrown a red flag in front of an already angry bull.   I drove like an idiot to the shop  and threw the bag of food on the counter, “Don’t you like having food thrown at you? Oh, me either.  Perhaps you can show me where the chips are? I’m obviously blind’
Then, she proceeded to ask me, no less than three times, what my order was. Even though she had it in her hands. Going cold.
I paid $22 even, I said, as if to jog her memory of 2 minutes ago.  I’m sure it’s on your system.  Did you charge me for the chips you didn’t pack?  Maybe if you weren’t so caught up being such a rude bitch you would have got my order right!?” 
“I can’t believe how rude you were before. I’ve been coming here for a long time and have always had lovely service from everyone here’ 
I wasn’t rude, she said.
Yes you were. I assure you I have better things to be doing than sitting here arguing with you while our dinner goes cold.
She responded that it wasn’t her responsibility to check the bag before handing it out. “You handed it to me. You took the money. You don’t think it’s good customer service to check before you hand it over?”
Then, the heavy comes out. He’s the owner, I think. He asks me the same questions, she has. This isn’t useful but I try and calm down.  I’m not phased by his bulk or dick and I won’t be intimidated.  He offers me the chips (which aren’t even for me, damn it!) and I accept – off I go. She’s very polite now, even sarcastic ‘have a lovely weekend!!!” when she hands me the bag. I feel like jumping the bench and stabbing her but instead I say “thank you” and leave. I vow to drive 10 miles further and never grace that place again.
I NEVER lose my cool like this. EVER.
Instead, I might just avoid that place. Leave an unfavourable, non-abusive review online. Tell a friend but never ever do I go back there, swear at someone and complain.  My behaving in such a way is just unheard of.
Have you ever lost it at a retailer?
Yeah, it was shameful. And she was pregnant.
And I don’t even regret it. I’m probably gonna get struck by lightning tomorrow.
Cath
x

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bub

hi everyone,
My daughter is a genius. It’s official! Out of  a possible 99.9, she scored 95.15 for her secondary schooling results. South Australian secondary students wait with bated breath for these scores. There is so much pressure to score well. That score determines which degree you are eligible to enroll for.  To some that score determines your future. My girl, unable to sleep, picked up two girlfriends around 4 am and went to the Windy Point look out, with her Mac Book and watched the sun come up. As the sun rose, the scores were published online.  One friend burst into tears at her low score. Another friend was pleasantly surprised. Carissa thought there was an error in her score. Despite scoring repeated academic awards at her College, always receiving positive feedback from her teachers and always succeeding in her grades – she doubted herself.
By the time she made it home, I had left for work. She rang to tell me of the news. She casually said ‘Come for lunch? Dad’s treating,” and so I left the office and met her and her Dad at a local cafe. She hadn’t told him either and waited until we ordered, sat down with a glass of wine and then she told us.  I burst into tears. Philip looked at me as if to say ‘really?’ but he was always better at containing his emotions. I jumped up from my seat. Ran to her side of the table and just hugged her avoiding the interested looks from neighbouring tables.  I am so very very proud.  And I’m allowed to be.
For the longest time, Carissa has not appreciated being under any spotlight so she wasn’t prepared for the attention that followed. That same day, she was required for a press conference and photo opportunity. The CEO of the South Australia Certificate of Education (SACE) met her and shook her hand.  She appeared with about 20 others on the front page of ‘The Advertiser’  and about a week later, on page 7, a photo of her alone with her story. A little about me. A little about her Dad  - her biggest dreams and her hopes for Uni. Of course, people saw her, recognised her and text or called me and her Dad, and sometimes her. The Principal of the school saw it, rang me at work full of congratulations. Her teachers emailed her with how proud of her they were when she appeared in the paper.
In early February, she was honoured at a state ceremony to meet the Governor General at Government House.  “A nice man with a bow-tie” she said. Of course, me and Dad were there to witness it all mingling with other bursting parents. She also was sought out by the Deans of Flinders Uni, University of Adelaide and University of South Australia.  They playfully squabbled over which of their Universities Carissa would be attending. She had sticky orange juice hands and tried to avoid shaking their hands.
A week after that, she was contacted by the College Principal and invited to the Laureate Assembly at the College and we were there too. We had parents coming up to us who hadn’t really spoken to us in the many years we’d been there. “I didn’t realise Carissa was such a high-achiever!” they said. I felt like saying ‘Yeah. Now you want to talk to me, bitches!”  Private school can be like that….and I was never in the Chardonnay sipping crowd nor would I want to be. I felt like saying ‘Oh, sorry? Did you say that nasty daughter of yours, that broke my daughter’s heart is now pushing trolleys?” but I remained dignified and composed.
I didn’t really understand how high her score was, in the bigger picture, until the Principal explained how the scores worked in his speech. Turns out she was in the top 5 % of the nation. Holy shit! She had a photograph taken with the principal for the school newsletter as well.    This is a faded copy on my pin-board at home of one of the Advertiser shot.  I have an actual copy of the photograph framed on my desk in my office too and I sent one to my Ma.
Image
Now spoiled for choice, she deliberated with a number of sources for a good month or more.
Things like status were not an attraction to her. Money is not an attraction. Medicine? Should I do Law?  What about physio-therapy?  Could I be a veterinarian?  I hate blood. I hate the long hours in Law (she did two work placements in a law firm) What about journalism? Is it a degree that takes you somewhere? What kind of career can I get with history degree? Do I like psychology enough? Why don’t you attend that career expo coming up? My only advice was ‘Do something that naturally interests you. This natural interest will mean effortless engagement and you’ll want to attend class.’  You know how it is – can’t tell them. They have to learn for themselves.
My gorgeous girl is now a first year University student doing an advanced arts degree with two majors (Anthropology and History). The degree is for high achievers and only a small amount of students are invited to attend. Each student is allocated to a mentor for the entire degree and they’re also supported to do a semester or year overseas as part of their studies.   She figures she can do this degree to ‘find out where she wants to go’  for a career and I couldn’t be happier.  She’s evolving being surrounded by all these wonderful writers and readers, and history books and oh, it’s beautiful. While we’re eating dinner she comes out with ‘Did you know that about 300, 000 women were sent to their deaths in the Salem witch-hunts? or I get “Mum! Did you know that men were burned at the stake too?”  OMG Mum – did you know that blah did blah and then blah blah happened?” and me, well I’m just loving it.
I bought her a Uni hoodie, charged up her Metro bus card, provided all the shiny stationery she wants, new ink for the printer and listen to her recount her new learning over dinner or late night hot chocolates in my bedroom. She regales  F. Scott Fitzgerald and says ‘That Daisy was such a greedy bitch! What girl wouldn’t marry for love instead of money?’ Just today, she came home and said “I caught someone else rolling their eyes at that guy I was telling you about at the Anthropology tutorial. This guy is a ‘pretentious wanker who thinks he’s better than everyone else’  and Carissa was embarrassed but quietly roared with satisfaction when her tutor outed her as a first year student doing a range of 2nd year subjects.
All those years of ‘honey. Turn the Simpsons off and do your home work’  or ‘Re-read your work before you submit it’  or ‘Check your Harvard referencing is accurate‘  or the countless childhood relationships, the ‘no-hat, no-play’ policy,  the lost new jumpers, the scuffed black leather shoes, the private school fees/environment and well – everything, in the last twelve years of education is so worth it.
The world is her oyster and I’m sitting in the front row watching with glee!
Best to you,
Cath

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Psychics

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I went to see someone who speaks with “Angels” ie. people around you that have passed away. 
Someone at work asked ‘Why?’  and you know, I couldn’t really answer them. I’d had her card for a good year, given by a work colleague, but held onto it and never called. Then, suddenly, I just called and got an appointment straight away.  I was there for just over 30 mins and forked out eighty bucks.  She comes with ‘a good reputation’ of being accurate about spooky stuff.
Now, I have studied science. I don’t believe in God. I believe in evolution theory and I believe people rot in the ground or are scattered to the wind (my preference, in case someone asks…) and so I was as shocked as the next person about how accurate her reading was. 
My maternal grand-father was the dominant chatter box and Liz heard messages from him most of the time. However, she also identified my late father, his mother, my maternal grandmother and a deceased male client who died tragically (suicide) when just 19. How did she know these specific people had passed? 
She also positively identified my daughter, her age, the big emotional shift when she came to live with me full time, her dreams and desires, her studies and that she’s going to London. (all true)
She identified that I’m single although have had offers and in the last twelve months ended a relationship with a man who needed more counselling than love. (all true) She was able to refer to some of my favourite exes, Tom in the USA, identified me as a ‘counsellor’ and also that I had about ’8 months of your degree to go’ (all true)
She said alot of other stuff all true that I won’t share here.
So, if I’m sitting there, nodding, or shaking my head, listening intently, hands in my lap how does she read that stuff from me?  I recorded it, with her permission, and listened to it later. I must have been feeling particularly vulnerable afterwards because I really cried later. Had puffy eyes the next day for work even. Lucky they’re not overly precious about personal presentation there. 
So what are your thoughts? 
Seen one? Hate them? Had good, positive or ugly readings before? 
I’m still a bit …. rattled at the things she shared. How can I not believe? 
All she knew about me… was ‘Cat’ and my mobile number.
Do share your experiences.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Getting Older

Hi people, 
How are you? Have you been well? 
I have not been well. I’m on anti-biotics for an infected inner ear (canes!) and a swollen throat. Hurts. Alot. I’ve been singlehandedly keeping the company that makes Difflam (berry flavoured) in business. My coughing through the night is akin to that of a smoker which I am not. 
I’ve been blogging spasmodically for a few years. And you guys, yes you, have been here for awhile with me. That means, we’re not only still in the same circles but we’re getting older.  
I am 42 this year. April 21 is my birthday if you want to send me flowers.  I first came online when I was 28 when my girl was almost three. She is now eighteen.  That’s a bit of a stretch of putting myself out there.  
I’m writing a paper on dementia and ageing populations and was surprised to learn that 24, 000 Australians under 30 have early onset dementia. Bit scary isn’t it? Certainly smashes that myth that it’s just a disease for old people. Whatever ‘old’ is.
That brings me nicely to my question. 
What, by your measures, makes one old? Is it when they’re no longer a contributing person to the work force and economy? or when they’ve lost their cognitive ability? Or, say when they’re getting forgetful? Or, is it relative? 
Sure, I feel old when I have eighteen year old kids here. But I feel young when I’m reading about increasing ageing statistics in Australia. And if I should adjust my own superannuation amounts to adequately cover me while I’m earning great money. 
And, what do you want to do before you become ‘too old?’
Is it a bucket list as such? or, something more simple. Achievable? Mend a bridge? Do a short course? 
What should you do before your next birthday? 
I hope you had a lovely weekend. I did, despite not feeling 100%.
Best to you,
Cath

Monday, February 24, 2014

Breast Cancer

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So a few days ago a campaign was launched by PancreaticCancerAction group to raise awareness of the very serious illness and early detection. Pancreatic cancer (among others)is brutal and unforgiving.The ad drew controversy because of their tag line ‘I wish I had breast cancer.” You don’t have to look far to find it. Google away.
 I’ve been keeping an eye on the forums and controversy of the campaign because my mum was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer last May (2013) and is still undergoing chemo treatment. I have an invested interest in this subject, not just because of my mum but because I am a woman, with boobs. I also have a daughter, with boobs and I happen to support women’s rights. And they have boobs too.
As an aside, men can also get breast cancer but their boobs aren’t as pretty as ours but they are boobs, nonetheless.
A lot of the controversy centered around some folk who felt that ‘no cancer is preferable’  and well,  I get that. No body wants breast cancer but take it from my mum ‘it’s the best type of cancer to have ‘ because well, ‘I can get my breast removed ‘ and remove it, she did.  With me, by her side.
No one would wish any type of cancer on anyone. But, you can’t remove a pancreas. Or a liver. Or bones, or your brain. My mum really showed me some perspective on cancer. She always minimized her illness “At least I’ve lived a life‘  as if it was somehow more accepting of cancer to visit her. Sometimes I would say ‘Mum. That doesn’t make it more acceptable because you’re older’ That’s society’s ongoing degradation of aged people usefulness to society and another post for another day. What she was expressing is that she’s raised her kids. She’s traveled. She’s loved and lost. She’s got grand-children. Okay. It’s her deal and I’m not arguing with her.
Do you hate Mondays? Me too and even more so now. Every other Monday I would call her at an allocated time. Monday is Chemo-day. Cheery way to start the week eh?
I would call her to distract her as they inserted the needles. (You get two put in) and talk to her about all manner of completely irrelevant things. My cats. My kid and her awards. My daughter’s degree at Uni. My final year. Whatever it took to help her not think about the brutal treatment that she was consenting to. It was here that she shared another form of perspective that helped me understand how she ‘felt lucky’ to have contracted the illness at mid-60. Sitting opposite her in a comfortable leather chair in the chemo-day ward, was a young woman. “Oh Cath” she said later, “she’d be no more than 30 and she had a sleeping toddler on her lap while she had her chemo”  …..
To the makers of that ‘I wish I had breast cancer’ ad, I salute you.
You have raised awareness of all sorts of cancer, not just pancreatic, and starting people talking about breast cancer, funding and resources, celebrities who share private stories and what not and that’s what get’s people checking their breasts, testicles, bloods and bowels and you have not offended my mum or me, in the process. Bravo!
I further wish to acknowledge the incredibly brave Kerry Harvey, featured on the campaign above. She passed away yesterday. #kerryswish