“Trauma not transformed becomes trauma transferred.”

Below is a link to a TED Talk presented by Ashley Judd. It has strong language content (including the c word) and some possible triggers for trauma in all its guises (in particular sexual assault and/or domestic violence). 

But it is amazing. 

Ashley Judd is a Hollywood actress and is outspoken. She speaks up. In fact, I should have introduced her as an activist first. That says something. 

Her talk focuses on gender trolling online and how that manifests in women’s real lives. Some of you may roll your eyes at this point, maybe stop reading, maybe not click the link. It will not only be your loss but also the world’s loss. She has some things to say that we all need to hear. And that we need to act on. 

Now. 

I have seen this gender specific trolling in comments on posts on Facebook (my social media addiction of choice). They appear whenever a woman voices an opinion. The trolling is designed to minimise the voices of women and terrify women into submission. 

It is disgusting. 

When we minimise, demonise or objectify women, we are changing the fabric and humanity of society. The consequences of this serve none of us in the long term. 

We all need to be supported to fulfil our potential and purpose in living. For anyone to intentionally bring another person down and corrupt this process is not only reprehensible but also exceptionally dangerous. When we are treated as less than, the ripple effect permanently changes the world we live in. Trauma not transformed becomes trauma transferred, and we are all responsible for minimising the impact of trauma as well as the incidence of it. 

I hope you ‘enjoy’ the talk. 

How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control https://www.ted.com/talks/ashley_judd_how_online_abuse_of_women_has_spiraled_out_of_control

Another Reminder

Growing up in Australia in the seventies was a blessed experience. We were free. I have wonderful memories of us neighborhood kids hanging out with each other and disappearing all day every day during summer. We were safe to do so. Most predators lurked in the homes rather than in the streets, or that’s the way it felt. We were accountable to each other’s parents as much as we were our own, and could be smacked by anyone. It was an extended family, a community, a village looking after and raising the children. 

For my sisters and I, this was vital. Mum and dad were from European families, Finland and Germany respectively. We didn’t have a typical extended family as a result. There was no internet, no mobile phones, and an overseas phone call was expensive and consisted of a noticeable time lag. I was a pen pal, snail mail, to one of my cousins in Finland. 

Our street community, Manooka Crescent, became our extended family. Our friend’s parents, our aunts and uncles, and the two older couples in the street, one next door and one across the road, our grandparents. 

Until today, we had only lost one of the four. Today, the second of four has passed. 

My sisters have kept in better contact with our childhood family than I have. I have always been so busy with school and keeping in touch with my adult friends that I let go of this childhood family. Physically, not emotionally. Emotionally they are pivotal people in my life. They empowered and enabled me to make it to adulthood. They were the oasis in the storm of dysfunctional childhoods. They saved us by taking us in … regularly. 

Especially the couple next door. 

And today, mum rang me first thing this morning to let me know rhat one has passed away. He has been in hospital and this time, didn’t survive. 

My tears are for his wife. They built a life together that spanned over sixty years; a phenomenal commitment, taking in lost children all of the time. Not perfect, but always doing their best. 

Somehow, we expect that we all will live forever. But, we don’t. 

Life is short. Some of us have a good innings, others’ interrupted or cut short too early. Death teaches us that it is important to truly live every day. 

If we are unhappy, only we can control the change. And not in a destructive way, but finding what will work to keep moving us forward, closer to happiness. Into happiness. 

The Dalai Lama believes that happiness is the purpose of life. I agree. What other reason can there be for existence that makes consistent and logical sense. 

And our lives feel most joyous in service, of some type, towards others. Those that are happiest often work for others. Service provides soul fulfillment. Giving is better than receiving. 

Ian gave. To his own family, his country, the bank, and to everyone that he met. He had a cheeky sense of humour, sharing jokes with us before we were probably meant to hear them, Val chastising him and giggling as she did. He was funny. They lived,  providing a freedom and normalcy my sisters and I probably wouldn’t have had. A normalcy that enabled us to see the bigger picture of life, beyond trauma and dysfunction, and empowering us to create better lives for ourselves. Their gift to us was resilience in its purest form, giving us contrast between what was and what could be. 

We never say thank you enough. We never let people know their value to us enough. We take our’s and everyone’s mortality for granted. Death teaches us to feel grateful that little bit more, to hold our loved ones a little tighter, and to say I love you more often. It teaches us to grow, to be mindful, to take risks, to live in happiness. 

To live. 

Much love Uncle Ian. 

Little Gems

“When you feel inside yourself that it’s time to let something go, then it’s time to let it go,” Oprah on Dr Phil. 

What I miss most about Oprah’s talk show is the little life gems that would often come through. 

I remember watching her final show and realising the extent of the impact that her 25 years in television had actually made on me. I had been watching her since I was a teenager. Not obsessively like I did as an adult (I never do anything by halves, unfortunately) but through my dark times she was always there. I learned how to heal through Oprah; her authenticity and her compassion. 

She is one of my heroes. I respect her immensely. Rightly or wrongly. 

And today I woke up, after spending yesterday praying that my migraine would disappear, wishing someone would come along and hit me in the head repeatedly with a baseball bat. After hours of writhing in pain, I got out of bed and vomited repeatedly, crying the whole time. This is not my normal migraine time. I lay under covers on the lounge, eight mersyndol in five and a half hours not achieving as much as I’d hoped but enough that I can watch tv and the tears have stopped. 

And there is Oprah on Dr Phil after a hot shower that loosened my neck and back muscles. And allowed me to focus on why I have spent the entirety of my holidays exhausted and sick. 

I broke down in the last week of school. I was defeated and utterly shattered. Something happened about five months ago that legally I am not allowed to speak about or act on. Anyone that knows me, in life or through here, knows that I don’t cope well with binds and shackles. I find the act dishonest and it works against my core beliefs. And that is why I am exhausted and sick. Continually. 

At any rate one of the first gems came fifteen minutes in to the show, after the social niceties. It’s what opened this post. 

And it’s true. So I cried when I heard it. And it came from Oprah. And so I must listen. 

Change requires courage. 

A friend of mine is packing up her life to live her dream. I’m buoyed by that. It requires courage to do that. 

I’m on a two yearnings of moving forward and creating a happier life for myself. This is my resolution to that. My body is telling me it is time, my heart feels it too, now I will find the courage to embody the change. 

Thanks Oprah, again. 

The Hero’s Journey

I was just watching Oprah and Liz Gilbert on Super Soul Sunday talking about the hero’s journey (Joseph Campbell’s ideas). Specifically, they pointed out that theirs and my generation of women are the first women who were not just expected to leave school, get married, have babies and support a husband on his journey. 

And it’s true. 

Joseph Campbell has always maintained that women do not have a hero’s journey because their journey has always been clear – have babies, keep the species alive. There has been no room for the Unknown. 

Yes, a simplistic view of it all. 

But the next point is that as a result women of my age struggle for role models which makes it difficult to take the leap of faith to live a life that is ‘other’.

For me, it explains why I adore and respect both women so much. Unable to bear children, their choice not to be mothers makes my infertility that little bit easier to wear in our society. I am still abnormal, but I’m not alone in that abnormality. So to speak. 

Also, women who have been pioneers in following their bliss, make it that tiny bit easier for me to accept that old adage, which I abhor, that everything happens for a reason. Infertility permits me to keep trying other things, mixing my life up a bit, dabbling in many things, to the point where I now believe that my role here in this incarnation is to continue my work as a healer. 

And I now embrace that. 

And am happier for it. 

That’s not to say that I no longer wish for children. I do. Every day, at least once, but it isn’t as intense a pain, more a yearning. 

I still can’t go to baby showers. I still struggle with the pregnancies of friends. I still dream and think of falling pregnant. 

But I don’t cry. 

There is an acceptance within me that that just wasn’t my path. And so a desire to find my path, and do the work, has substituted my baby dream. I am more resilient than I was. 

My wish for the younger women of this world is that they too, find their own path, realising that gender doesn’t preclude them from any path that they want to follow; they just might have to fight harder. 

There is not just one way of living, but many, and they are all equally valid and valuable. As are all people. 

True Courage

As is becoming the norm, I am still processing what I am about to write about and I truly hope that my words do the theatre production Tree of Life – Recovery justice. 

A couple of weeks ago my very old school friend, Kylie, asked if I wanted to see the production with her. It is refugee children telling their stories. I immediately said yes and have been excited since. Today we saw it. 

It is produced by Treehouse Productions/Theatre. It is overseen by a school teacher and a psychologist. It stars the students of Miller High School in Liverpool. The students are all refugees and most have only been in Aistralua for one to two years. English is their second language and they have all fled from horror to be in Australia. 

From the second the lights went down I felt that what I was about to experience was transformational. 

O. M. G. 

And I must pause in my writing. And my reflection lest the tears bucket down. 

Anyone that knows me could predict my opinion on refugees and asylum seekers. We are all human beings, and we all deserve safety and happiness, and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that every other human and animal is okay. 

Easy to hold that opinion. Easy to believe in every bit of it. Easy to watch Go Back To Where You Came From, cry a few tears, get angry, become passionate, and switch the television off to continue living my life.

Today will not be switched off. And the tears prick the back of my eyes and my nose starts to tingle. 

There is an authenticity and magic in storytelling that transforms. Tree of Life embodies this. 

The piece opened with the kids on stage, barefoot, black track pants, and a solid colored t-shirt. Kylie and I had laughed before the lights went down because we each had a tissue in hand in preparation. We didn’t expect that the opening sequence would realise the necessity of our preparation but thank god we had the tissues. 

A moving physical embodiment of their stories and the necessity of community. 

We heard a selection of childhood stories first. Normal child life stories: taking dad’s car keys and the car, watching movies with friends, normal children’s lives. And we all laughed. 

Then the horror. As their villages changed and their country changed, the horror was unleashed. The kids introduced the segment of their story whilst other students performed a montage. Sound effects and the occasional visual on a screen added to the authenticity of the atmosphere, and added a layer of emotion for the audience. Deeply moving. 

Seeing the stories of the kids performed by the kids – my god, their courage and bravery – we take our freedom so much for granted. We take our safety for granted (thank you to our defense forces and police officers). We take our homes and our families and our friends for granted. 

We truly do live in the lucky country. 

And from the horror, we move to celebration. The kids achieving their Learners License, being granted refuge in Australia, families being reunited here, an education. 

Kids telling their stories. The power of theatre. The power of education. 

As they bowed, and we all stood, so overcome, the kids became kids and looked truly humbled. What a blessing for healing that they can share the stories of their lives and see the transformational effect on an audience of Australian adults realizing how truly blessed they are. 

Please look this production up. Please go and see it. Please let me know if you do, how it made you feel. 

I wish I could take my kids to see it. I will be trying to make something happen. I think everyone should see it, but especially our media giants and every single politician. Should be mandatory viewing. 

Then our world may start to know peace. 

And embrace compassion. 

I am blessed to have a friend like Kylie who found it and shared it. 

Do yourself a favour … It will change your world. 

My love of magic 

Children’s books provide hope. They allow us to disappear into a world of possibility. Magic becomes real and a soothing balm for our hard reality. 

Enid Blyton fulfilled this for me when I was growing up. She took me into a world where children were their own heroes. 

I have just finished the modern day equivalent: The Art of Magic by Ann Harth. 

  
After the death of his father and a perceived betrayal by his ex best friend, Andy finds light through the grief by helping his new artist friend find his way back through history to true love. Andy reconnects with possibility, and his father and ex best friend. And conquers his bullies by using his brain and reuniting with his friend, Jack. A beautiful and easy read. I cried. Happy tears. 

On this wet Sunday, do yourself a favour and download it from Amazon. If you don’t have a kindle, get the kindle app for Apple. You won’t regret it!