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Death and Dying

My father is ill with lung cancer. He is very very sick. It won’t be long until he passes into the next world. His skin has a grey sickly pallor to it. His body is frail, his legs are feeble as are his arms. His skin is like fragile lawyers of tissue paper that tear and rip on anything and everything he knocks, giving him bruises and bumps and bleeds. His eyes are blood shot, but I can still see the majestic blue. He coughs and his chest is continuously filled with gunk that he coughs out, but it is still not enough to help him breathe well. He has lost control over his organs. He wets the bed at night and does not have a desire to eat very much. He has lost his voice, barely a whisper, but at least we can still talk. He is beginning to lose the lucidity of his thoughts and his eye sight has left him with blurring and contorted vision. It is ugly this cancer. It eats him up from the inside out. He is beginning to grow lumps on the outer parts of his body they are multiplying like a bacterial growth in a petra dish.

Death smells. The decaying body rots away leaving a very strange musty smell in its wake. But, we have time to talk. And the talks have been good; upsetting, but good. You see my dad was robbed of any real life when he turned 28. The year after he and my mum got married. That was the year I was born.

Before my birth, my dad was a farmer. He had the dreams and passions of any young man to go out and make something of himself. He wanted to be the best farmer there was. He wanted to work on machinery and figure out how to build it up or fix it. He didn’t have an education past the tenth grade, but really he had the mind of an engineer. He could build anything when the schizophrenia had released its hold on him. However, unfortunately, this was a very rare occasion.

When I was born, my dad had his first ever nervous breakdown. Today, while I sat and talked to him, he told me, “It was a miracle you survived”. He went on to explain that, it was the beginning of the voices in his head and they told him to kill his wife and daughter. He said he fought with those voices, but after a while they can be convincing and you lose all sight of yourself through them. It was only after this first episode did he know that he had this disease that literally took his soul away piece by piece for the next 40 something years. They are still there, but the medication he takes is so strong he can manage them and identify them as being “the voices”, but when a schizophrenic has a mental relapse those moment of lucidity are lost, and the person questions the voices in the real world or the voices in their head.

My dad has so many regrets about his life and this makes me sad. He was a good man, a kind man, but he fought hard against an ugliness that controlled him. It was not an easy life growing up with this disease. For him and for us. Life was like a loony bin, and as you can appreciate, this affects the very nature of who you grow up to be as an adult. Masking the pain, hiding the guilt and shame that are attached to such a horrible disease. There is still so much we need to learn about it and so many people that need help, but for my dad it destroyed him.

The medication meant he had no energy for work and thus he began to lose all sense of who he was. He lost his identity, love with his wife because after several break downs my mum could no longer cope. Basically he was left with a shell of the person he could become.

He taught me kindness and caring, but it saddens me to think that this precious beautiful life amounted to regrets and lost dreams. While I sit and listen to him talk about his regrets each one linked to this horrible disease tears fall from his cheeks and I remind him that “dad you were a good person, it was not your fault”. But I do not know what else to say.

Waves

Life moves in waves.  It really does.  Sometimes I feel the upcoming wave of joy and happiness and then it suddenly crashes or crashes gently onto the sandy beach.  Mostly, at the moment those waves are moving up and life is good.

Except for a weird stomach problem I encountered yesterday.  I’ve been on a herb juice detox for the past three weeks and ever since really cleaning by body it gets sick awfully quickly; if I eat the wrong thing. Incidentally I don’t think I really ate anything different from the usual stuff.  I had over night oats for breakfast and my usual lemon juice. At lunchtime I had lentils which my maid had made for me on Friday so they were three days old, then I ate a bowl of fruit and had a soy latte from Starbucks.  I got really sick after that. I had to leave early from school.  My juicing friend thinks that all of the fruit and lentils made a bad combination in my stomach and the lentils fermented causing undesired gas.  I really don’t know, but what I do know is that my stomach was filled with agonizing pain, gas and I went to the toilet non-stop.

Today I feel a lot better and I’m so excited that we are doing vegan pancakes in the Green Team after school.  The students asked for vegan cooking.  I’m so excited.  I think it was a continuation of all of the fun green things we did at school with the kids late last year on the Sustainable Development Day.  They are all fascinated by vegan food and making it.

So at the moment I feel this wave really reaching up towards the sky.  My children are beautiful precious little beings, not perfect, but they are behaving nicely towards each other.  I have yoga tonight with an incredibly compassionate lady who is doing a natural healing course as well and I’m working through a mindfulness class on my own after school.  Life is good.

 

School Holiday Blues

I feel like I’m a big failure as a parent. Saying that is painful. Not exhilarating, as it should be because those words are out. It’s heart-breaking.  Heart-breaking because I thought that when I eventually had children I would be a perfect example of that “cliched parent” – happy, calm with an amazingly balanced family.  My family would not be like the family I grew up in.  We would not have hardships, we would not fight over trivial things, my children’s parents would not be fighting all of the time or screaming at the top of their lungs like my parents did.  Nope, I would be a perfect mum, pretty, fit, I’d have time for me, I’d be able to easily squeeze everything into my day and not be overwhelmed.  I would be graceful and smile if there was a slight problem, because of course we’d have to expect problems from one time or another.  But mostly, I’d let those problems wash over me and get onto the nitty gritty of living and really live a happy life filled with happy children.

 

I waited to have kids. Not waiting through choice. Each year another of my friends would fall pregnant and there I was trying my best to be happy for them and yet breaking down into tears. Crying to my husband “Why are we so unlucky”, “What’s wrong with us”. And then praying to God, “Why are you so unfair?” “What lessons should I learn, I’m ready”? Of course God didn’t answer and my anger just built up at the injustice of it all. Why oh why?.  But eventually after six years of trying this and that, I adopted a little girl who brought so much joy to our lives.

 

But of course all things are balanced so with the joy came the tears and tantrums.  And her tantrums were extreme.  I wasn’t sure how to manage them.  I’ve always thought that she is bipolar and if not bipolar then perhaps ADHD or both together.  But man riding out her tantrums was difficult to say the least.  They could go on for hours.  Screaming, incessant anger, biting, scratching, punching the door down and the energy she had was endless. Her tantrums were the beginning of defeat within me.  Have you ever had to rangle with a three year old tantrum?.  It’s exhausting, and even more so when we consider that it takes place over a couple of hours.  My husband and I begun to argue right about this time about which way was the best way to deal with her emotional outbursts, and his extremely strict authoritarian respectful Asian upbringing was not on par with my liberal western views on raising children.  I’d been beaten enough times as a child with my dad’s belt and the toaster cord to know that I was not going to put my children through the same tortuous upbringing I had.  I wanted to let them ride out the anger followed by discussion and reflection.  That was a good enough plan in theory.  But having differing views here has made it difficult to be balanced in our approach to dealing with issues.  Then Amber came along followed by Kai.

 

Three kids wow, incredibly rapturous joy when they get along.  When they don’t my house and my mind feels like a mental institution. Annisha is going through precocious puberty, she still has temper tantrums at nine years old, but mostly I can ask her to go to her room and think about her behaviour, but she goes through periods of incredible sadness and when those tears fall they fall like a cascading waterfall breaking my heart because I remember what is was like to be a young girl hitting puberty.  On top of that, Amber is showing a very strong defiant streak mostly triggered by not eating at the right time and when that kicks in her tantrums can go on for at least an hour and they are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.  She squeals and kicks and carries on, not wanting to take herself off to her room to reflect on her behaviour, nope, she wants everyone in the house to hear her squeals and anger.  So that they can give her the attention she needs.  And then there is three year old Kai who is also a tantrum maniac.  It’s exhausting.  Doubling exhausting when my husband and I fight about ways to deal with the tantrums.  This is only the tip of the iceberg when I look at my parenting failures.  

 

I read and watch and try and learn about how to deal with them, but it’s incredibly hard.  I wonder if it’s made harder by this perfect image of what a family should be, this image that society is constantly placing on us OR IS IT self-sabotaging expectations and standards I have placed on myself.  I’m glad to say that when I cry out for help on social media people tell me “yup,it’s the hardest gig out there”.  This kind of support helps me to be mindful.  It’s not just me!

Comedy Club

Flip.I hate starting a blogpost Ive already written but have forgotten to save.OK so maybe it ‘s an omen telling me to write in a more personable fashion.

This Saturday night I went out to the Jakartan Comedy Club with some of my friends Ms Venhoek and Ms Tewari included.Now we got up to some antics and almost lost our lives before even arriving at the Mandarian Oriental Hotel to watch the act,but that is for another post about how many times I’ve been rescued by angels.

Anyhow,once you peel back the layers of clubs and find some of the happening scenes around the place you discover some hidden gems out there specifically designed for the expat in mind.

I’ve been a regular to the comedy club now on three occasions and I have to say that the event has been side stitchingly funny.I ‘d never been to a stand up comedy event in Melbourne,which by the way is famous for them,but am really enjoying the outing once a month to listen to crass vulgar humor.The comics come from a range of places and this weekend had us listening to one from the UK and another from Ireland.

The thing I love most about this comedy is to see how far your own level of morality can be pushed.Coming from a very Victorian upbringing I’m surprised to laugh my way through some of the jokes made,but have often left with tear streaked cheeks. And that is what keeps bringing me back.Laughter they say is one way to rid yourself of stress.and I feel Luke I’ve got quite a lot of that at the moment.

The thing with stand up comedy is you should never sit at the front.Front row people will almost always become apart of the act.Not even a toilet stop is recommended as the comic will talk about you while you are away.Unpleasant let me assure you.

The comedy club is well within everyone’s budget and well worth the one and a half hours into town.Next time you are feeling in the need for a little Zen Laughter come along and laugh your way through whit us.

Well recommended.

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Motivational Speakers

Taylor Mali is apparently a ‘motivational speaker’ who was a teacher and now uses what he learnt from teaching to be a speaker for others.  After listening to him for five minutes I can definitely say Taylor Mali is not inspiration to me and for my style of learning, I wouldn’t be very inspired to do much after listening to his brash voice.

I listen to a lot of motivational speakers such as Jack Canfield he wrote the Soup for the Soul Series and another of my favourites is Mark Victor Hansen.  These guys inspire and connect everything that we do to universal energy and I guess what some people think is a lot of hocus pocus ‘The Law of Attraction’.

Taylor Mali seems to be a comic, but I don’t really like this type of humor.