Blog

My Fellow Survivors

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There is a lot of hurting in the world. Sometimes it seems that the older I get, the more I hear about people’s suffering from when they were children. Maybe people from my generation, my friends, have more of a forum to talk about it now, in ways they couldn’t before. Maybe professional organisations are asking questions about past experiences now, in ways they didn’t before.

 

 

I’ve certainly noticed an increased openness to talk about historical abuse over the last five to ten years. The various investigations into the Catholic Church in different countries, Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse- its findings and recommendations, the #MeToo movement… they’ve all been pivotal in creating the space and the language to talk about it more openly than ever before.

This is good except for one thing: the extent of the hurt which is being exposed, incorporating the extent of the dysfunction that many survivors continue to live with- and the negative effect it has had, and continues to have, on their lives.

A common saying about caregivers, usually in the context of forgiveness for their lack of (appropriate) action, is “They were doing the best they could, with the tools (skills and knowledge) they had at the time”. This is true to a large degree but it falls way short in two key areas: when the same caregivers who should have protected someone are also the perpetrators of violence against them; and in its failure to include the addendum: “And so were you”.

The most vulnerable have the smallest, weakest voices and it’s great to see that these people are at last getting the platforms to be heard. Inside every one of us is our Little Child and if that is still damaged, so will the Adult be.

So to my fellow survivors I say: acknowledge the enormity of what you have achieved just to be here today! Recognise your achievements in holding down a job, a relationship, bringing up children… all the things which may seem routine and expected, but nevertheless are not easy to achieve in the transition from victim to survivor.

 

I send out the challenge: let us- who know from the inside what it’s like to be shut down, to have no voice- let us be the ones to open our hearts, our ears and our minds to those who need it now. Let us be the ones to step up and say, I will stand beside you and I am here for you. Let us- who know from personal experience how vital it is to have an advocate in a time of trauma- let us be the ones to offer our hands of friendship to those still lost, and struggling, in the dark.

Let us stand up for good.

Image References:

https://www.google.com/search?*q=victim+to+survivor&rlz=1C9BKJA_enAU792AU793&hl=de&prmd=inv&sxsrf

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lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZheiKzdrmAhUU7HMBHZqRAyIQ_AUoAXoECA0QAQ&biw

=1024&bih=659#imgrc=u6hSx1cjVhTpWM

Check out this Reverse Poem: going downwards it reads in victim-mindset, going upwards it reads in survivor mindset. Very clever! 

*https://www.socialworker.com/extras/social-work-month-2017/victim-to-survivor-reverse-poem/

 

 

Some People

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Some people shout their politics from the rooftops, waving banners and flags in the face of humanity going about its daily business.

I admire these people for standing up publicly, pinning their causes to their chests and making a public nuisance of themselves- that is, getting in other people’s way, forcing them to move out of their safe, comfortable routine and take notice of the activists blocking their way to their daily fix of coffee, croissant or Cruiser- because such protesters can loudly and proudly effect large-scale change.

I have to admit, I am not one of these people. I consider myself a quiet activist, a change merchant on a different scale. Rather than looking at the Big Picture of Global Politics and what I can change by participating in a thousand-strong rally or sit-in, I look at my Immediate Surroundings and what I can change right now, with every small decision I make throughout my day.

I also admit that sometimes I guard myself against fatigue rather than put myself on the frontline of making a positive contribution to the world, right now in this instance. I justify this as protecting myself for the long haul, extending my longevity by taking the time to heal when I am so burnt out and exhausted I cannot make effective contributions anyway. What use is a crusader who lacks the strength to raise their pen or sword?

Maybe this is construed as lazy, copping out or otherwise more convenient to me than to others, but it’s what I feel I can contribute on any given day, to make the world a better place … and I do consider it makes a positive change to others.

Teaching is a profession without immediate rewards. It’s often only years later, when my adolescent charges have grown up and become independent, that a chance meeting will reveal the impact I’ve had on their young lives: “You were kind to me when my grandparent/parent/sibling/cousin died, when I felt alone”; “You asked me where my Safe Space was when I disclosed I was depressed, so I knew you understood what I was going through”; “I felt like every time I saw you at the canteen I offloaded onto you, yet you always asked me how I was doing and encouraged me to answer from my heart”; “You gave me the space to talk to an adult and that helped me sort out my feelings, which meant they didn’t spiral out of control”.

As a career teacher I’m used to working in an environment with delayed feedback. I attribute this with influencing my ability to see action and progress where others may not.

Sometimes I wonder how outsiders perceive the way I live, particularly in reference to positive action. Sometimes I feel I lead a small life. That my day after day at work, early to bed as I am tired after the emotional energy spent with challenging students and then my commute, doesn’t amount to much.

I choose to think that my Modus operandi, however, makes a huge contribution to the hundreds of students I have daily contact with, thousands over the years. I might not see the rewards on a daily basis, and they may not be as obvious and grand-scale as stopping a coal mine or taking a whole town off the grid with sustainable, renewable energy … but they are real, nevertheless. Just less tangible.

I’m in the business of providing others with the skills, tools and knowledge they need to contribute proactively to the wider world, and their ability to do this in adulthood is my reward. So every “How are you? How are things going for you?” of mine, that boosts a student’s self-worth and ability to ask someone else the same questions with the genuine will, and time, to listen; every time someone remembers something I’ve said or done for them and chooses to act with more integrity and compassion than they otherwise would have done, in reflection of my response; every time someone in my sphere of influence chooses kind because that is what they have received from me … a widening circle of positive influence is created, and that is powerful.

My daily actions and contributions may be- or seem- small-scale, but the ripple effects that’s started from my small actions becomes bigger and wider, affecting more people, more lives, more positively. That’s something worthy to own!

… and the best part about this is … this power is within reach of all of us! Even if we’re temporarily blinded by fatigue, feeling pushed down and trampled on, it’s still there and still in reach: we just need to alter our focus to make it clear again.

Every action and reaction is a choice we make as individuals, and we all have the freedom to choose for good. Even those within restricted settings can still influence their thoughts and consequently behaviours. The ripple effect is never ending … and we can all be part of the positive influence.

Image Reference: https://www.google.com/search?q=ripple+effect&rlz=1C9BKJA_enAU792AU793&hl=de&prmd=imvn&sxsrf=

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Remembering-Remembrance

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How to be remembered in three easy steps. 

Step 1: Live.

Step 2: Do something. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be noteworthy. It doesn’t have to be famous. It simply has to be something.

Step 3: Have someone notice you doing something. Again, that someone doesn’t have to be big, noteworthy or famous. They simply need to acknowledge your action.

 

When do we really die?

When our physical body gives up and transforms into its next, ethereal, form?

Or when the last person who knew us (directly or vicariously) forgets us?

Image Reference: https://www.google.com/search?q=crocheted+poppies&rlz=1C9BKJA_enAU792AU793&oq=crocheted+p&aqs=

chrome.1.69i57j0l3.8977j0j7&hl=de&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=UW9DRiVFw9X1uM:

Reedsy Review #2

Check out my second Reedsy review here: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/blotto-jeff-pohn

Unlike with my first review, I wasn’t inspired to get into the spirit of this book by following the author’s actions of imbibing copious amounts of alcohol… so I have nothing more to add.

Other than I hope you are in the position to stay safe and well in your self-isolation, to look after yourself and your loved ones (mentally, emotionally, physically, financially), and to choose healthy options to get through the long months that Covid-19 will restrict your movements.

My wish for you is that you have the resources to make this possible.

With virtual hugs,

Annabel

Organisation

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I’ve decided I’m not disorganised, I’m differently organised.

What does it matter that I’m showering after breakfast because I got too hungry after sleeping in because my night was filled with fitful sleep, tossing and turning? Followed by half an hour’s yoga-like yoga practice to try to ease my way into the day, an attempt to enter the waking world peacefully (not entirely successful, as evident from my description)? Then a short walk with Miss Sore Paw who jerked along on three legs until her bowel and bladder released, because she’s too anxious from being in a new place, and at the vet’s, to go to the toilet in a relaxed manner?

…. and then I have my breakfast, followed by my shower?

What does it matter the precise order I complete my daily tasks in, as long as they get done? Who says that just because other people do things in a certain way, that it’s the right way, the only way they can be done?

I choose to follow my own rhythms. I still fulfil my commitments.

You be the judge: is this a serious post or am I merely an April Fool?

 

Image reference: https://www.google.com/search?q=to+do+list&rlz=1C9BKJA_enAU792AU793&oq=to+do+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l3.11545j0j7&hl=de&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=359eh5ddHnsJPM:

Inaugural Reedsy Review

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PART ONE: Check out my first-ever Reedsy review here!

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/echoes-from-the-rock-of-eternal-torment-kykosa-kajangu

HAPPY READING!

 

PART TWO: Author Feedback

On the day the review went live, this email from Reedsy arrived in my inbox:

Hi Annabel,

Thanks so much for your review of Echoes from the Rock of Eternal Torment on Discovery! The author asked me to pass on their personal thanks for your insightful review, and said that they will be taking your insights on how to improve their work to heart.

I hope you’ll continue to find great books on Discovery!
All the best,
Felicia – Editorial Manager at Reedsy

Feeling warmed from the inside out – to the very cockles of my heart – I replied:

Hi Felicia,
Thank you so much for this wonderful email! I appreciate you passing on the author’s personal thanks – it makes me very happy. You could pass back to Kyko-K that, if not for the layout issues, I would have rated it four stars. It definitely is thought-provoking.
I’m currently reading Blotto, the review for which will be forthcoming.
Heart-warmed from your email,
Annabel
Felicia replied that she would indeed pass on my feedback, and she looks forward to reading my review on Blotto. 
Thank you, Kyko-K, for becoming a follower of my blog: another unexpected reward!
You are generous in your actions.
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PART THREE: My Wisdom Poetry: Elderly Females’ Wisdom
my wisdom poetry 1
my wisdom poetry 2
my wisdom poetry 3
Send me your own Wisdom Poetry and I’ll feature it on my blog!

Where do all the letters go?

What happens to all the letters that get erased when writers realise they’ve made an error and go back to correct it? When they’re typing as they’re thinking, and change tack mid-thought? When they erase the bluntness of what they’re feeling in preference for kinder words which don’t attack the reader as much as their impatience and frustration first led them to express?

This kind of existential dilemma intrigues me: what happens to all those letters which were, and now are not? Did they ever exist? Clearly. Yet where is the evidence of their existence? There is none. Even more tenuous are the punctuation marks, which don’t mean much, if anything, in isolation … let alone the spaces that are erased: how can space be physically erased? It can be filled in and rearranged, but can it ever be really disappeared?

As I type I wonder about these lost symbols of my written communication. I like to think they’re floating about in the air, as in Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are not the only Fruit, where people are employed to clear the skies of the residents’ forgotten thoughts, hovering over the city like smog, cluttering up the clear blue sky.

Or like Kryten, the android in Red Dwarf, the off-the-wall British comedy with humour that seriously tickles my funny bone. As Kryten amicably discusses his impending replacement by a newer model which will  make him redundant, he states to the crew that he will go to Silicone Heaven. When questioned about its existence he queries plaintively, “But … where do all the calculators go?” The mechanised android cannot perceive of something beyond what he has been programmed to believe.

So if you feel cluttered, or perplexed, take comfort in knowing that things will clear, that programming can be overwritten and redirected, and people continue on, nonetheless.

 

One of the hundreds of picture books borrowed from the library to share with my children was about a tooth fairy who looked like an archetypal bag lady with layers of clothes bulked out by bulging pockets. The story revealed that this fairy picked up forgotten things and kept them. I don’t recall what she did with them and how, or even if, she used them (beyond stuffing her copious pockets), but I do remember the young boy-protagonist’s look of utter surprise when she pulled out his odd sock which had disappeared in the washing machine. Come to think of it, that sounds like a bizarre plot for a book! Yet I can relate to it because there has been more than one occasion when I have stumbled across something I had totally forgotten about. This has happened around as many times I have looked for something and not found it, confident in the knowledge that I haven’t thrown it out, I have merely to look in the right place … wherever (and whenever, usually a year or so later, when the immediate need is long gone) that turns out to be …

And who can go past The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan? This wonderful book, then short film, describes the plot pictorially, with very little text except for in the traffic signs which are pivotal to the story. Stunning detailed pictures – to be expected from this brilliant author-artist – effectively depict the loneliness and despair of the harried everyday world, monochrome compared to the joyful, playful, fun-filled colour where the Lost Thing finds its home.

So next time you think something is lost – or if you feel lost – take comfort in the thought that everything has a home … it may just not be found yet.

 

Image references:

* https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/random-letters.html?

* https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1669698/

 

Time to Treasure

What have you done with your bonus-day this year?

I know, scientifically speaking, we don’t actually gain an extra day each leap year, because every year is actually measured at 365 and one quarter days. And yet one extra day feels like a gift to me, a bonus 24 hours I get to spend on this wonderful planet that is my home, alongside the people who matter most to me: my family and friends.

Some people may be so sad they may not want to have to endure yet more time in their situation. To you I say, what matter is a single date? You can, and will, find your own way, in your own time. (This kinda sounds glib, but believe me, I’ve been there too. That’s the reason for my book, which started off my blogging.)

Some people may be oblivious to dates, like my relatives with dementia, for whom time moves in a totally different way: a non-linear, fluid way. Chronological time is meaningless for people in this situation, as the present – or the past – comprises all their current life, unchanging. To you I say, enjoy the moments.

And you? Have you valued the extra time and space which is granted once only in a cycle of four years?

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift.

That’s why it’s called the present.

 

This quote is credited to multiple sources including Eleanor Roosevelt, Master Oogway and Bill Keane. It remains a fabulous outlook that encourages me to pause, take stock, and evaluate what is really important – my life in the current moment – for that is as little and as much as I have, at any one time. I use it a lot as I find it inspiring, and I would like to credit its original source, however, that is proving elusive. I’m happy to be corrected by readers more knowledgeable than I am.

Love Haikubes

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I bought this kit because it looked fun and creative. I was right!

 

HOW TO USE HAIKUBES

1. Cue mood music.

2. Roll the cubes. The two red ones create the theme. Select from the rest to devise a haiku (5 syllables-7 syllables-5 syllables).

It’s that easy!

Scroll through the photos to check out my haikus.

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IT’S YOUR TURN – GUEST BLOGS

Everyone has poems inside them. Everyone can do poetry – because there are so many forms and none of them are better, or more right, than any other.

Two of the photos show the entire spread of the cubes. Create your own magic by selecting the words that speak to you. You don’t have to restrict yourself to the haiku format, although you can use that pattern as a framework if you wish. You can even add in extra words to help it make sense, if you need.

Send in your poems and I’ll post them in a guestwriter blog!