Dad: Another Word For Hero.

If there is one thing from my childhood that I will forever be grateful for, it’s my Dad.

 

 

If there is one thing from my childhood that I will forever be grateful for, it’s my Dad.

He taught me so much about this world, and how to treat the people in it.

I wonder if he knows just how much I remember. I shiver for the things I remember that he never knew about.

But mostly, I wonder if he knows just how much he means to me, and how thankful I am to have him.

Because being a parent is a largely thankless job.

 

 

Waiting for Dad.

Going to Dad’s house was like going to a completely different world.

The weeks without seeing Dad were longer than you could imagine.

I spent a lot of time in my room, staring at a tattered photo of my Dad. I would talk to him, hoping he’d somehow be able to hear me. When I was sad, I would hold that picture tighter than I’ve ever held anything else, and I would cry myself to sleep.

They say your childhood shapes the person you become. I guess when you begin to understand the horrors of this world, you also come to appreciate the blessings just a little bit more.

 

 

But Dad, thank you.

When Dad picked me up, I would be so excited.

We always got Hungry Jacks on the drive south to Dad’s house. I could never finish the burger in my Kid’s Meal, but Dad never minded.

He would point out things in the paddocks – windmills, cows, sheep… and I would tell him I loved him, over and over again.

‘Hey Dad’

‘Yes Shayde?’

‘I love you.’

‘I love you too, sweetheart.’

 

 

Weekends at Dad’s.

My Dad’s house was a parallel universe compared to my usual living conditions.

He would cook spaghetti bolognese on Friday nights, and I’d sit at a tiled little coffee table, and eat it out of the smallest bowl, with the biggest smile on my face.

He always had juice boxes for me, and they had stickers in the pack that we stuck all over the fridge. I liked the purple ones best.

We also stuck the stickers we got from the jelly packets, the local vet, WWE and RSPCA all over the fridge. And our apple stickers too.

He’d run me a bath, and try to comb my matted hair. He’d dry my hair by throwing a big warm towel over my head and ruffle my hair and plonk me next to the fire if it was winter.

 

 

Saturday mornings.

Dad taught me how to use the stereo system in the lounge room so I could watch Saturday Disney in the mornings before he woke up. I’d do drawings to send in to the hosts, with pretty pencils Dad bought just for me.

He had an empty Moccona Coffee jar that he would fill with little fruit balls. He kept them on the table by the back door. I’d sneak into them in the mornings… when I wasn’t sneaking the dogs inside, or sneaking into the kennel with the dogs outside. The kennel was made out of an old metal water-tank, and it was always nice and quiet and cool in there.

I learned how to use the landline, and would call my friend Jilli, who lived a few blocks away. I remember laughing and laughing, until Dad would wake up and decide to organise my breakfast.

He always had different cereals for me to try in the mornings. And he always made me honey and banana sandwiches for lunch.

 

 

Special moments.

Dad always made sure we were doing something. Time was always so precious. We’d go to the beach with the dogs and pick up rubbish, or do paintings, or work in the shed. Sometimes we’d build trains with Dad’s old Lego, or we’d stay out in the garden digging away. There was always something for us to do.

Sometimes we’d go camping with Jilli’s family at a place called Scott’s Creek. We’d collect tadpoles and find firewood, and try and jump the streams in our gumboots. It was so quiet, and the marshmallows by the fire were always somehow better there than anywhere else.

Dad and I would go fishing down the Coorong in the boat, and he’d show me how to tie the knots for the anchor, and what to pack in case of an emergency. Sunscreen, flares, matches, spare clothes, first aid kit, towels – we even had a thin army blanket, which I would pull out of our big waterproof tub when it got breezy. He taught me how to put the cockles on the hooks without hurting myself, and how to throw the line in without catching on anything.

I remember seeing dolphins and seals and birds. We helped a pelican once, who’s beak was tied up with fishing line and hooks. The pelican sat with us on the shore for the rest of the day, and we fed him all the fish that were too small to take home.

 

 

Home.

At home, I’d have a little wooden trolley that had different coloured painted blocks in it. I loved building little towns for all the Matchbox cars Dad let me play with. Dad always built much better houses and castles than I did, but I never minded.

He taught me how to play chess, and never let me win. He would patiently sit through my tantrums, reminding me you always had to be one step ahead. Something I’ve come to learn is true in life, too.

I remember writing letters to the tooth-fairy, asking her to give me $20 to take Dad on the Cockle Train from Goolwa to Victor Harbour. She always delivered. The train ride was always so perfect, watching the ocean from the window. Except the day the Diesel Train was running instead, and its horn was so loud I refused to ride it.

We even had a little jar that we would put all the five-cent pieces we collected in. When it was full, we would count them by hand, and then take them to the bank and cash them in.

We’d watch ‘Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday’, and we always laughed. Nothing was ever too hard for him to do. He had a monkey puppet that I absolutely adored. He would give him different voices and I would laugh until I was exhausted.

When Dad had friends over, he would hold me, and I would put my ear to his chest as I fell asleep, and listen to his deep voice as I drifted off.

Dad taught me to appreciate the little things in life. But I’ve come to realise that those little things are the most important of all.

 

 

Sunday mornings.

Dad had video-taped the Looney Tunes movie for me, so on Sunday mornings I could watch that instead of the boring shows on TV. I was always up early. When I was at Mum’s, I’d usually put myself to bed, so I was used to being awake early most days.

Sundays were always depressing, because we knew I had to leave. We’d drag the day out as long as we possibly could, but the time always came quicker than we wanted it to.

There was only one time that I remember when Dad came to pick me up, that I refused to go. It was after my end-of-year Kindergarten concert, and I was dressed as a little angel with a halo over my head. I don’t remember what Mum said to me, but I refused to go. I cried and cried and cried, and then when Dad left and I’d realised that I wasn’t going to Dad’s house that weekend, I cried some more.

My Dad never hurt me. He never made me feel unsafe or unloved. My Dad was exactly what I needed, all of the time. He was a teacher, a toy repairer, and gardener, a chef, a singer, a comedian… A hero.

 

 

Happiness.

After 7 years, multiple psychologists/ psychiatrists and ugly custody battles, being a missing person for 8 months, and a lifetime of trauma, the court finally ruled in my Dad’s favour. And I finally understood what true happiness was.

 

Happiness is getting to be a child.

Happiness is being able to attend school regularly.

Happiness is learning you aren’t dumb.

Happiness is learning you are valued.

Happiness is being able to have a packed lunch.

Happiness is having friends over after school.

Happiness is having a safe home to play in.

Happiness is not going hungry.

Happiness is not being cold.

Happiness is not sleeping on the side of a road.

Happiness is not something you have to do favours for.

Happiness is having a say.

Happiness is having clean clothes.

Happiness is having clean hair.

Happiness is being tucked in every night.

Happiness is going to bed safe.

Happiness is knowing there’s breakfast there for you in the morning.

 

 

But mostly, happiness is knowing you are loved. Unconditionally.

 

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The Bottom Of A Well.

A poem.

 

i run my hands along the wall

where the moss grows thicker

and the damp dirt

finds its way

under my fingernails

as i twirl.

 

in circles i go,

at the bottom of a well

too deep to climb out of –

my shoes scuffing the edges

where my sight

has not adjusted.

 

i didn’t think i’d find myself here

circling the same path

a thousand times over,

but as i look up at the people above

as they wonder how i got here

i decide i don’t mind.

 

it wasn’t my intention

to be in the damp and dark,

and yet as i look up

into the eyes of those trying to save me,

i realise i don’t want

to be up there with them.

 

maybe it’s madness

to want to be in the dark,

alone and without others,

but

the darkness isn’t so scary

on the inside looking out.

 

A Beginner’s Guide To Self Love

‘Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.’

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend once gave me the perfect analogy for self love:

‘Shayde – there’s a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first when you’re on an airplane. You can’t help the people around you if you haven’t first helped yourself.’

How nice it is, to have friends that point out the glaringly obvious, when you can’t see it for yourself.

 

Some days are incredibly hard. That’s just life. Sometimes we forget about ourselves, on our journey through life. We give and give and give, until we have nothing left for us to fall back on. But it’s inherently important to take time to slow down and look after yourself.

But loving yourself is not an easy task. It never has been and never will be.

 

But why don’t we love ourselves?

‘You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.’

– Buddha

 

We are surrounded by things that say we shouldn’t love ourselves, day in and day out. Of course, you all know what I’m talking about: magazines, social-media, advertisements, unrealistic ‘reality’ shows on television, sales professionals, sometimes even our bosses or our loved ones… wherever we turn, we seem to constantly be being told we are not quite good enough.

We’re told we need to be thinner. We need to have clearer skin. We should be more tan. We need less cellulite on our thighs. We need higher sales figures. We should have a house and kids by now. We should be getting better grades. We shouldn’t talk about our mental illnesses. We need a newer car, a bigger house and a six figure salary. We need to have prettier clothes, taller shoes and more make-up.

Everywhere we look, there is something to compare ourselves to. But the problem is – we shouldn’t have to. We need to realise that society has an unrealistic expectation of what ‘perfect’ is.

And it is really none of their business!

Perfect for you may look completely different to my idea of perfect. You may hate your curly hair, but another may envy you for it. Your friend eats whatever she wants and stays as thin as a rake – and yet she wants the curves you have.

Someone you know may like dating younger people, another may prefer someone more mature. Perhaps your friend may find someone who is strong and muscly preferable over someone who is academically gifted.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And I’m here to tell you that no matter what you look like, where you’re from, what your age or preference, who you are – you are worthy of love – just as much as the next person.

And so we come to our first obstacle on the road to self-love:

 

 

ACCEPTING YOU ARE WORTHY.

‘Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.’

– Ram Dass

Before we can even think about giving ourselves the love we so desperately need, we need to believe we are deserving of it. And that’s where a lot of our problems start. We sow seeds of doubt in our mind that we aren’t good enough, we don’t deserve anything, and we end up feeling guilty at the very thought of looking after ourselves.

There is so much hate and pain and suffering in this world to simply act like it doesn’t exist, that is the plain and simple truth of it. But that does not mean we need to neglect ourselves out of some desperate attempt to help the people around us.

We must press on, or else be swallowed up by our insecurities, our pain and our problems.

‘You cannot pour from an empty vessel.’

Self-love is harder than what you see at surface value. It’s easy to have a bath, get a massage or a manicure, or spend a day in bed. What’s not easy is convincing yourself you truly deserve such things. It’s not easy to see past the action itself and into the ‘why am I doing this for myself?’.

There is an art to self-love. An art of really appreciating and understanding the love you give to yourself is in fact just that: LOVE. Love is something that needs to have room for growth – or else it wilts like a pruned rose in a lonely vase.

One of the greatest wonders in life is love. We simply cannot live without it. It’s proven time and time again in various forms – living beings that receive love and nourishment thrive next to their neglected counterparts. So it only makes sense that in order to spread that love, to truly thrive in the world around us, we must first know what it feels like to be loved.

So the first thing we must do on our journey to self-love, is to accept our flaws and to understand we are deserving of love in spite of them.

Treat yourself with respect and dignity, and never feel as though you aren’t worthy. If you don’t feel you are worthy of being loved, you will wilt. You may receive love, but it will be clouded by guilt.

It takes time and patience and won’t always seem right, but once you realise you are worthy of love, you can start to find yourself – which brings us to the next step in learning to love yourself:

 

 

SOUL SEARCHING.

‘Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.’

– Carl Gustav Jung

Someone once said something to me that made me stop and think for a really long time:

‘Every single person you meet has a different version of you in their mind. No two people know and remember you in the same way.’

It’s true. The way I think or feel about some of my friends will be completely different to how the person next to me perceives them. So the real question then, is this:

Who do you think you are?

How would you describe yourself? What are your favourite things to do? Who do you think about before you fall asleep? What are your aspirations? Your values?

To truly be able to take care of yourself, you need to know yourself. You need to know what you stand for, what you believe in, what you would fight for.

What use is it, trying to care and stand up for yourself, if you do not truly know what you actually stand for in the first place? Self-care loses meaning without knowing who you are. You may as well buy yourself a present from the Kris Kringle variety isle and be done with it.

So again: who do you think you are? It’s a question worth asking again and again until you’re sure. The stronger your foundations, the stronger the structure on top – fundamentally speaking.

This isn’t always easy. Especially when you start thinking about societal norms, expectations, religion, sexual preference, gender, war, history etc., etc., etc.. But not to worry – there are plenty of ways for you to begin to pick yourself apart – so to speak. Here are some interesting ideas for helping to find your true self and values:

  • Keep a journal
  • Keep up-to-date with current affairs
  • Find a creative outlet
  • Travel
  • Ask your friends what they think you’re good at
  • Take a personality/ strength quiz
  • Talk to people you normally wouldn’t
  • Learn to meditate
  • Keep a note of what and who you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to
  • Read your horoscopes
  • Acknowledge your fears
  • Accept your shortcomings
  • Apologize when you’re wrong
  • Research your heritage

There are so many ways to explore who you are as a person – it is all about keeping an open mind and finding what makes you ‘tick’ as a person. No two people are going to be exactly alike. Just like no two people are going to see you in the same way. So who do you think you are?

Once you have an idea of who you are, you can start exploring the next step on your self-love journey, which is:

 

 

WHAT DOES SELF-CARE LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

‘When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.’

– Kim McMillen

Everyone’s idea of self-care is going to be different, based on their loves, values and personal ideas.

For one person, that might mean going and getting a pedicure. For another, a pedicure is an absolutely horrid ordeal.

Another person may want to buy tickets to a much-loved band, whereas someone else may cringe at the idea of a crowded venue being anyone’s idea of ‘self-care’.

It is all about you.

That’s why it’s called self-care and not other’s-care. And why it’s so important to know who you are, and what you love. And sometimes, certain situations call for different types of self-care.

For example, when I’m feeling at my worst, emotionally speaking, I’ll hide under my blanket for a few hours and block out the world, or I message my friend and ask him how he is and whether he wants to get coffee. And I feel better for it.

Other times, I might wake up and decide the definition of ‘self-care’ for that particular day is to not worry about the dishes on the sink, and watch a good Ted Talk or a documentary.

On the contrary, my partner’s idea of ‘self-care’ may be time with his friends, or going for a motorbike ride, or heading to the gym. Everyone is different, and every day is different.

It’s about recognizing how you’re feeling, and adjusting accordingly.

There is nothing wrong with learning to love yourself, understand yourself, and deciding to look after yourself. And there is certainly no shame in admitting you may not look after yourself as well as you perhaps should. It’s easy to lose sight of ourselves when the world is so loud, busy and consumer focused.

And so it makes sense then, in such a busy world, that the last (and probably the most important) step in our self-love journey is:

 

 

PRIORITIZING YOURSELF.

‘Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.’

– M. Scott Peck

It’s all well and good to think about self-care, and what it looks like and how deserving you are of it. But how many of you are thinking:

‘I don’t have time.’

Well I’m going to break it to you hard and fast. I won’t apologize for it, either. You do have time. We all have time. You just need to prioritize yourself.

What do you do that takes up so much time that you aren’t looking after yourself? Are you working too much? Taking on too much? Saying ‘yes’ too much, and ‘no’ too little?

Are you giving too much, and receiving little in return?

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

Take the time to look at your life, your schedule, your priorities, and truly evaluate. What is taking up so much time and energy that you have decided you aren’t important enough to look after?

And then make some adjustments. Perhaps you decide to take the train to work, so you can read for an hour rather than be stuck in traffic. Maybe you wake up an hour earlier so you can do some yoga, or make a healthy breakfast. You could start a self-care tradition to go get a massage on a Thursday night after work.

Whatever self-care looks like for you, you need to make it a priority. Because at the end of the day, you are all you have – and that can be scary or comforting, depending solely on how you treat yourself.

 

 

And always remember you are worthy, you are unique and self-care is important in order to grow:

‘Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.’

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Quote Of The Day 24/03/2019

SUNDAY, 24/03/2019:

Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/324242745?context_query=bath+bomb+green&context_type=search

‘Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.’

– Bell Hooks

Quote Of The Day 09/12/2018

SUNDAY, 09/12/2018:

Source: https://goo.gl/images/uQFv5Y

‘The most intriguing people you will encounter in this life are the people who had insights about you, that you didn’t know about yourself.’

– Shannon L. Alder

Lungs Filled With Cement.

A poem.

There are so many things that I want to say, and yet, most of the time, nothing comes from my mouth but a wry smile.

How am I meant to say the things I desperately want to, without revealing how incredibly broken I am?

I watch you all day, think about you, talk to you. And yet the things that I so desperately want to scream, are stuck inside my lungs, weighing me down like cement, instead of air.

I want you to look into my eyes and understand, so I don’t have to say the things I feel. I want you to hold my hand, until I don’t have a reason to let go. I want you to hold me together, because I feel like I’m falling apart.

I know you can see the flicker of what’s haunting me, behind my eyes. I know you can sense the things I don’t say.

Look closer. Believe me when I say I want to tell you. But understand me when I say I can’t.

Because my lungs are filled with cement.

And the more I gasp for air, the harder the cement sets. The heavier I feel. The harder it is to let the words escape.