Monday, 7 November 2011

My journey so far.....

Today I returned from one of my many visits to the psychologist feeling good. I am getting better, I still have my ups & downs but in general more ups than downs.

I have learnt quite a bit over the last few months - quite a lot about my relationship with my Mum.

I had been feeling very guilty about going through this process as I felt it was a betrayal to her memory, weird I know but in my mind it was a criticism of her & the way she raised me. After much discussion during my sessions our relationship was really put in perspective for me. A big step.

To give you some background I am an only child, my Mum was married three times, her first husband, my father I have never met, her second husband, my stepfather (he adopted me in 1972) left when I doing my HSC. That same year my Mum tried to take her own life. They briefly reconciled only to divorce in 1991, the year I got married. That same year she met her third husband, they were together for 17 years, married for 8. 

Our relationship had its issues over the years, nothing major, normal mother/daughter stuff but I was privy to every aspect of her life, we were the one constant in each others lives, we could rely on one another each and every time. 

During one of my sessions I was asked by my psychologist to use two little Lego figures to demonstrate to him my relationship with my Mum. I chose one with a green dress for her (her favourite colour) & one with a red dress for me. I then placed the figures side by side......

Interesting he said, I had shown our relationship to be one of partners, equals, the relationship you would normally have with your partner or husband, not your Mum. There is no wrong answer but a healthier mother/daughter relationship would be one where the figures face one another (a learning pose) or mother in front, daughter behind pose (mother leading pose). Those are the 'traditional' relationships whereby you are learning off your parent & as you develop you are given the skills to go it alone. Disappointment is part of that relationship but not necessarily betrayal.

I have been working really hard to change my thinking & understand that I am in no way responsible for my Mum's life choices, they were hers alone and through that I have started to change. I don't want to end up like my Mum, extremely overweight, not dealing with stuff & ultimately unhappy. I know I am on the right path.

I am looking after myself, putting me first for a bit. Over the last 6 weeks I have lost 5.3kg, I have a long way to go but for the first time in my life I have not opted for the 'quick fix', I am doing it the right way, the weight is coming off slowly, that's the way to do it. I have also chosen to add a Lifestyle & Nutrition Coach (Nicky Lavigne from to my support network. I met Nicky on Twitter, we catch up in real life & I have come to consider her a very close friend.

An added bonus with my sessions is that I come home & talk to my husband about what we discussed, this is opening up the lines of communication again. We actually talk to each other for about an hour after each session, he actually hears me!

I am in no way near the end of my journey but have certainly put a dent in the process. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel & that feels good!

Lisa xx

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

I'm beginning a journey......

Today I have begun a journey.....

I had my first appointment with a psychologist, I have not been in a good head space of late, I'm sad, I'm not sleeping, I'm withdrawing from my family & my friends & it is only getting worse. So I took myself off to the world's best GP & sat there & cried, then I cried some more, we talked, I unloaded, cried a bit more & then she did some test where I scored a 28, wrote me a Mental Health Plan & wrote me a referral to see a psychologist, I have depression.

I'm not surprised, when I think of the shit that I have been through over the last 3 years, the sudden & tragic death of my Mum, the contesting of her will etc. I've been tap dancing through my life these last few years trying to convince everyone around me that I am okay, here I am on top of Pandora's Box (which is my life) trying to keep the lid on as I tap away, waving my arms in the air giving the performance of my life. I was good, but I'm tired now & I need to deal with my shit.

I'm a little scared, I'm not sure where this journey will take can only be good, right?

So as I sit here writing this I feel drained, I'm close to tears, but I feel positive. We will talk about a range of stuff I suppose, my feelings, my fears, my hopes, my childhood, my Mum, her death, my father, my first stepfather, my second stepfather, the fact that not one of them is in my life anymore, my husband, my marriage, my kids, my friends, all the things that make me who I am today.

I need to be kind to myself & take it day by day, because I have to believe I will get better & there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Lisa xx

Monday, 18 July 2011

This is for me.....

Today is Monday July 18, 2011.....

Three years ago to the day that my Mum passed away. While it may seem a while to some, that day is as clear in my mind as if it were yesterday. Her death was unexpected, unnecessary and preventable. I am an only child & have no other family apart from my own. I have never written down the events of that day, perhaps I should have sooner, it may have eased my pain......

It was a normal Friday, I woke up & went to work as usual. My Mum had been home from a 6 week holiday to Canada & Alaska for about 2 weeks, she was sick on her trip with some sort of flu & fell into a heap on her return. She'd rung me the day before & sounded awful, she was short of breath & had been to the doctor who had told her to go to bed for 4 days, rest & recover. She sounded quite agitated on the phone, angry with her husband about something so small, generally just not herself. She promised to rest & I said I would talk to her on Friday.

About mid morning Friday I got a call at work from Mum's husband asking if I could go home to her, she was not well & wanted a cup of tea, she couldn't get out of bed, he was in a meeting in the City & couldn't get away. To this day I regret this, but I was unable to leave work either, hindsight is a wonderful thing, I should have just left, but I didn't.

I rang my best friend Helen, whom my Mum loved & asked her if she could pop over to see how she was & make her a cup of tea. Helen rang me from Mum's to say she really wasn't well & her shortness of breath was bad & she seemed quite disorientated. I spoke to Mum & asked her if I could call her an ambulance, she was quite angry & said all she wanted to do was sleep & to leave her alone. Helen made her a cup of tea, sat with her for a while & then left. During this time I was talking to the doctors that I work with & they seemed quite sure that it sounded like my Mum had a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) otherwise known as Economy Class Syndrome & that she needed to get to a hospital straight away. I rang her back & begged her to let me call for help & I would be on my way, I managed to negotiate with her that when I got there if I thought it necessary we would go to the hospital.

Helen met me at Mum's & together we went in to see her, she was dozing, sitting up in bed, very short of breath. She couldn't lie down because it would cause her to not be able to breathe. She was agitated & angry, looking back I think that her brain had started to be starved of oxygen. She was not making much sense & by that stage I just over-ruled her & said I was taking her to hospital. She was a determined woman, she wanted to get up & have a shower before she went, how I'll never know. For the first time in my life I had to help her get dressed, there is something very humbling about that, how often as my Mum had she done that for me but never the reverse. I helped her as she went to get off the bed so we could go downstairs to get into the car, we got to the top of the stairs, she looked down & turned to me & said 'Sweetheart, I don't think I can, call an ambulance'.

The Ambo's arrived, they started to check Mum out, they didn't seem overly concerned, her oxygen sats were in single digits, not good I have since been told & the oxygen they gave her seemed to make a difference. It was agreed that she needed to get to hospital as soon as possible. By this stage her husband had arrived home & it was agreed that he would ride in the ambulance with the sirens blaring & I would follow in the car. I still hate the sound of an ambulance siren.

On arrival at the hospital they took all of her history & it was pretty much agreed straight away that it sounded like a DVT when you took into consideration her size (she was a big girl), her recent overseas trip, not taking aspirin, not wearing flight socks & her inactivity since her return from being sick with a chest infection. She had a chest x ray & they confirmed the clot, it had travelled to her lungs, that was the cause of the shortness of breath. During this time they tried to take blood, her veins had collapsed & they had to use a needle for babies to draw blood & put in a drip. Her blood was black, apparently that is the lack of oxygen.

As the night wore on my Mum really was not aware of what was going on, she was propped up in bed with an oxygen mask on, she responded to questions when asked but it seemed that all her effort & energy was going into breathing. Her husband & I sat there watching the goings on of an Emergency Department with me going in & out keeping my husband up to date. We were never told it was life threatening or urgent, were we naive?

The doctor returned to see us to inform us that the blood work had returned & it indicated that Mum had/was having a heart attack. She was put on blood thinners immediately & was going to be moved to Intensive Care. She took hold of my hand & said was 'At least I know, at least I know'.

By this time it was about 9.45pm, it was a busy night in Emergency, the Pope was in town & the medical stores were being raided for all the medical issues that arise from a town full of pilgrims. Mum's husband & I were having a giggle at what was being packed! Ural, untold packets of Ural!

Mum had been quiet for a while, she suddenly sat bolt upright & started pulling off the bedclothes saying how hot it was, she grabbed hold of my arm, dug her nails in & said 'Get a me a doctor, now!' All hell broke loose, there were alarms going off, people running towards us as my Mum fell back on the bed. The doctors grabbed the bed & wheeled her into another room. We were ushered away into a waiting room having no idea what the hell had happened.

We waited & we waited....

I have the best friends, after my last phone call they turned up to my place to relieve my husband of the kids & to send him to me in hospital, it was at that moment that he walked through the door. My shoulders dropped in relief, he was by my side.

It was about 10.10pm, the doctor came in to see us. It's interesting that time is something that I remember so vividly about this night. She explained that my Mum had had a heart attack & actually stopped breathing, they had bought her back, she had tubes everywhere & the prognosis was not good. I really don't know where our heads where, it still didn't dawn on us that she was going to die, I think looking back the doctor was preparing us for the inevitable but we didn't see the flag, I didn't want to look!

Time marched on. We all stood around talking quietly, it was around 10.20pm, I looked up & saw the doctor heading towards us with her head down, I knew, she couldn't look at us.....

It was 10.24 pm. My Mum had died, she was 65.

I never got to tell her that I loved her, I never got to say goodbye.

We were asked if we wanted to see her, I was not sure about seeing my Mum, but I needed to, I didn't believe she'd gone, I needed to check. She was peaceful, she just looked asleep, she still had all the tubes in, they weren't allowed to take them out, but do you know as time has gone on I don't remember her like that, that memory is fading.

It was a surreal time for us after that, the police had to be called as it was 'an unexpected death in hospital', we were interviewed right next to my Mum, with tears running down my cheeks, answering what seemed at the time to be stupid questions, but they do have a job & they were only doing theirs. The Coroner had to be called, she would be taken to  Westmead & a post mortem would be done. Talk about a reality check!

We left Mum there, it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, it just didn't seem right.

That night I didn't sleep, I tossed & turned, feeling sick, heartsick. As I lay in bed dozing I have a vivid recollection of smelling perfume, Clinique's Aromatics Elixir, my Mum's perfume, I remember taking a big breath rolling over & having a calm wash over me, it was my Mum, of that I am sure. You know how I know, I don't own that perfume, never have, never will, don't have it in the house.....

That brings me to today, three years on, anticipating what the day will bring, a bit of sadness, a few tears, lots of memories & a celebration, my Mother-In-Law is 80 today!

Well, it has been an eventful day, but not in the way I expected. We woke this morning to a flooded floor & no hot water, we'd run out of gas to heat the house & it was 9 degrees inside. Oh, & our computer has a major virus (thank goodness for laptops). As I stood outside in bare feet sobbing as my husband & I tried to salvage Mr 17's early years without much success I must add, it suddenly occurred to me & I laughed, you know what, I'm breathing, I have my family, I have my health & there really isn't much more that you need......did I learn the lesson Mum, yep I think I did!

Vale Annette Joy Stephenson, I miss you each & every day.

Lisa xxxx

Friday, 24 June 2011

Am I too old for red lipstick.........

Red lipstick, is there an age limit on wearing it?

I have been toying with the idea for a while now, I love red lips, especially in winter against a paler skin.

I keep remembering an article in a magazine a gazillion years ago about Paloma Picasso and her 'red period' (not a great term, but hey). She felt that red lipsticks were her 'calling card', now I don't want a 'calling card' I just love the look! She also went on to say that 'if you have on your red lipstick you are dressed & ready for anything, I liked the sound of that!

So with this on my mind I decided to venture forth & go in search of the perfect winter red lipstick, who knew it could be so hard.......

Apparently Red lipsticks are divided into two basic groups, Cool (pink/blue-based shades) and Warm (orange/brownish based shades) once you've nailed which group you're in it should be easy, right? Wrong!

I started to peruse the cosmetic counters in David Jones, brands were not necessarily attracting me, it was whether the Cosmotologist (great word isn't it?) showed any interest, not many did. I know that I wasn't looking my best today, I have been sick for the last week you know, but I did have on clean undies & I'd washed my hair, hey I've come along way in the last few days! eyes settled on Chanel, Julie from Chanel actually, looked fab, big smile, bit older than me (age equals experience in my book), red lips, that was it, I was hooked. There is something soooo attractive about that counter, glossy black with a hint of gold & not to mention those intertwining C's. I would never have the balls to walk into an actual boutique looking for just a lippy but all bets are off at Westfield.

I explained to Julie my goal, I asked her the question 'Am I too old for red?' She answered in the affirmative & my Chanel experience began. Did I want a bold red, a soft red, a pink based red, an orange red, a flat red, an opalescent red, a sheer red, a dark red, a plum red, a wine red, a shiny red? I just wanted red! I wasn't stamping my feet at this stage, I promise, I know you don't stamp your feet at Chanel!

I was asked to take a seat, I must have been looking peakish. We narrowed it down to two, one for winter (wear now) & one for summer. So I tried on the winter Rouge Coco, Vendome & I loved it, sold! I just  had to buy the accompanying lip liner & brush you know, I am brand loyal. It was packaged up & I was on my way, straight to Woolies, to do the grocery shopping.

I walked out of DJ's with a spring in my step & a big red Rouge Coco smile.

Now as I have been writing this it has occurred to me that I probably should have just asked Nikki from @StylingYou, she'd know.....

Lisa xx

PS I was in no way paid any money/products from Chanel to write this, I did it of my own free will, but I am open to offers! (Do you think they heard me?)

PPS For you non-Twitters you can find Nikki at

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Twitter - how you have changed me......

I have had a Twitter account since June 2009 but it is only in the last 6 months that I have jumped in with both feet & embraced it. Twitter, you have changed my life.....

I have been exposed to so much more than my suburban life in the north west suburbs of Sydney would have ever taken me.

I have meet cancer warriors who are now very dear to my heart. I have tweeted through their chemo, their operations, their ups & downs, their day to day struggles & feel so very privileged that they have let me become a part of their life. Thank you @MariaKyrie, @marksporter, @phoebesmoon, @annemiekeh & @aimlesaimers.

I have met life warriors, the amazing @catebolt whose day to day drive in times of personal adverstiy still manages to continue to raise awareness & much needed funding for her beloved orphans in Bali @Project_18 as well as raising awareness to issues that are so very dear to her heart. Thank you Cate.

I have met grieving Mum's like @mamamaya who has lost the 3 year old love of her life, her baby @rockstarronan from a horrid childhood cancer. I follow her journey daily now, she is now a part of the fabric of my life & doesn't even know it! I like so many others around the world released balloons the day he was laid to rest & I am proud of that. Thank you Maya.

I have met people just like me who spend time on Twitter at all hours of the day & night, depending on our sleep patterns. We have talked about depression, origami, bad backs, man flu, 100 day cough, earthquakes, use-by dates, parents, grandparents, love & loss. I have only just touched the surface. Thank you.

I have met THE most amazing Mummy Bloggers & I have @KerriSackville to thank for this. Kerri has written a fabulous book, 'When My Husband does the dishes'. Kerri put the call out through Twitter about who would like to attend her Book Launch & I was feeling rather brave so replied yes, never really believing that I would be invited, well guess what, I was!

I stepped out of my comfort zone in a big way, I used Twitter to meet with Tweeps before the launch for a drink & it was here I met @propinqua, @TwitchyCorner, @stellaorbit, @KallieT, @danyadoi, @ptmaree, @macsnorky, @traceyb65 & @anIdleDad. They made me feel welcome from the beginning & for that I say thank you.

Once I got to the actual launch I was in awe, here were all these people who I had just started to have fun with on Twitter & now they were right here in front of me. I got to meet @Nicky_Lavigne who I have since spent some time with & she is one of life's true gentle & loving souls. @Edenland & I got to watch as Mrs Woog aka @Woogsworld stole a bite of a strangers kebab. I shared a laugh with @StMurphy as Mrs Woog's date. Is it here that I confess that I thought (for only a minute) that he was Mr Woog, no, that might be a tad embaressing, oh well! I drove to the after launch party with @FatMumSlim & got to meet @lgcollard, @bern_morley, @Annieb25, @MsDovic, @kylie_ladd, @Just_Leithal, perved at @Daniellsenhood (come on, you know I wasn't the only one!), @lisaheidke, @mummytime, @StylingYou, @SeraphimSP, @sharpestpencil & @SquigglyRick, who continues everyday to draw my attention in his job as News Editor at @MamamiaNews to some very important things in life. I am sure I have forgotten some & for that I am sorry! What I do want to say is you make me laugh, you make me cry & you make me think. Thank you.

I have been to Neil Diamond with @GillLotter, don't know where she sat or what she looked like but we had a great time. Thank you.

I've watched TV shows because Twitter has suggested it, Angry Boys - am not yet quite convinced on that one, I love Chris Lilley but am reserving my judgement. Catalyst on Infertility, Four Corners on livestock transportation to Indonesia, QandA - interesting & topical viewing, to name a few & the most recent Go Back to Where you came From, last night. Thought provoking, I have recorded it so my entire family can sit down together, uninterrupted & watch what I think & hope will become life changing television. Thank you.

So Twitter, you have changed me, for the better I feel. Thank you.

Lisa xx

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I have a child in Year 11 - get me out of here.....

I have just experienced Parent/Teacher Interviews for Mr 17, I survived, just!

Mr 17 has just completed his half yearly exams for Year 11 and is currently enjoying a 3 day break from school, he's earned it you know. Suddenly in 'Senior School' they don't have to go to school on the days they don't have exams, so it's sun and surf, life is great in Year 11.

There are 6 subjects that he was supposed to get me interviews for, he got me 4, his favourite 4, not any that may be the bearer of bad news, but I am smarter than that, I wasn't going to let Economics slip through to the keeper, I was going in.

The first interview went well, Mr 17 is polite and respectful, talkative (well he does take after his mother) right on the class average, but could do more work at home.

The second, his favourite, was good, but again, could do more work at school. Ok, I sense a recurring theme here....

I have watched Mr 17 over the last few weeks as he has attempted to study and it has become
apparent that he doesn't know how too, he summarises his work, sits at his desk, stares into space, plays with his ITouch, answers his messages on his phone (he tells me it's on his bed, but Dad has caught him twice with it), he farts, fidgets, scratches and whatever else it is that boys do in their rooms! He has no study plan, nothing in place to help him along the way. He started studying the weekend before the exams, we knew things were going to be ugly.

But I digress, back to the interviews....

Onto the third interview and things started to go downhill, his classwork was good but his exam was shite, he failed and he could again do more work at home. Okay. He is polite and a
great contributor in class though.

Gulp, his fourth interview and what was meant to be my last, no exam result back, hasn't handed in work, What? I'll kill him, deep breath, listen. Has a good analytical mind but
doesn't apply himself and oh, could do more work at home!

Right, not overly surprised I move on, I am ashamed to say I ambushed the Economics teacher, don't have an interview but could he see me? Of course, in hindsight I should have just come home. It was one of those moments where as a parent you think you've got your child all wrong, is he the kid I think he is? I was told he failed (no shit Sherlock), he was wasting the teachers time, his own time and 'I do occasionally come across kids that just shouldn't be at school & I think Mr 17 is one of them'. I so didn't see that coming! I fought back the tears, not in anger, just disappointment. Had we failed him, not got him organised, taught him to study, was it our fault?

Hub and I had a discussion during his exams and decided that we would not get angry with his results, we would look at this as a learning curve to see what tools he needed to be put into place to help him move onto Year 12, where do we start.....

We started with a discussion with Mr 17 to see if he would own the failures and lack of preparation and study, he did, phew! He recognised that perhaps starting to study the week before exams is not the way to go, we asked if he wanted to be at school, the answer was a resounding yes!

So now what, I am going to try and find him someone to teach him to manage his time, how to study effectively, summarise properly and generally organise himself.

Is this my job?

Yes, as a parent absolutely, but has the school keep up their end of the bargain, am I expecting too much? Are the basics of time and study management theirs to teach?

Lisa xx

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Mother's Day & me...

Mother's Day 2011 is nearly over & as I reflect on it comes back to a sense of loss yet weirdly the promise of hope.

See I lost my Mum in 2008 surprisingly, quickly and tragically, she died of a DVT after a 6 week overseas holiday, I never got to say goodbye and I never got to tell her that I loved her.....

This time of year for me is the pits, her birthday was May 5 and so quickly after is Mother's Day.

I also feel torn becuase I am a Mum, I have two sons, 17 and 12 and they want to spoil me on Mother's Day, breakfast in bed, warm cups of coffee and hugs, not to mention the presents. We went out for Yum Cha today and had a great time, we laughed and joked and really enjoyed our family of four.

I saw this quote just recently attached to a great piece of art which I have tried to find the source but have been unable but I wanted to share the sentiment...

'My heart is broken.......but I have some glue'    Anon

I have come to realise that my children are my 'glue', they can take me to amazing places, at times complete and utter frustration, anger even, to sheer joy and a full to overflowing heart.

My heart is mending a little bit at a time and on Mother's Day you can't really ask for more than that!

Lisa xx