Screw you, cancer!

Friday, July 27, 2012

An update for you on my dearest Lea. I have good news people! Post chemotherapy and Leanne has just had a bunch of tests which have shown... duh duh duh dunnnnn - NO CANCER!!!! She's cancer free! How awesome is that?! So thrilled. What a fighter huh? What an enormous inspiration and so incredibly lucky that she found it early enough to fully treat, given that's really rare with ovarian cancer.  Take THAT cancer!!!

So, out of all of this has come something super amazing. The "Let's ova-run cancer" fundraising auction. All proceeds are going to Ovarian Cancer Australia, and it was all inspired by Leanne. Her amazing friends wanted to do something to help, since there was nothing they could do for Leanne herself, they tackled the next best thing. Funds for more research and earlier diagnoses tools.

The auction has taken off! Over one hundred items are up for bids, starting July 31. The auction will last for a week so there is plenty of time to get a bid in (and up it as needed to win, naturally!) It's happening on facebook here. Some of the items you can grab a bargain on include signed football and rugby jerseys, photography shoots, wine, an iPad, kids clothing and toys, jewellery, you name it, it's in there. Go and have a look, make a bid, win some stuff. Assuming you can beat me, of course. :P

Gertie Great Dane

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh my dearest dog Gertie is in the wars. Gertie is an adorable, enormous sook of a great dane. I got her in February as a wee pup so she's almost exactly 7 months. I adore her! She is the dog I have always wanted - in breed and in temperament. In the last month, I noticed she had developed what turned out to be cherry eye. Poor love, nothing major but needed help. So into the vet we went! The vet also noted she had ectropion eye on the other side so it needed surgery as well, not fun for poor dear baby dog. I asked the vet if perhaps whilst she was getting this done, she ought to be spayed at the same time, to save her going through multiple GA's. The vet agreed it was a good idea, and also believed in the idea of gastroplexy for breeds like Gertie. So it turned out she was in for major, multiple surgeries in the end.

I went in the afternoon of her surgery to see how she had fared and she was still groggy, so I spoke with the vet. The eye surgeries went well, though the cherry eye turned out to have cartilage in the way that would not straighten and so needed chopping out :( The rest was straight forward. The vet then went on to absolutely blow my world apart.

She said that because they were doing such a big surgery, they decided to take some bloods to make sure they were covering all bases. The results came back showing what set alarm bells off for the vet - both kidney enzymes were high. She also had anemia. They tested her urine and it was not well diluted, or even in the normal range at all. She said, one she would have written off to anaesthetic effect, but all 4 were not a good sign. It's not certain, but it looks like Gertie has renal disease.

It wasn't for another ten minutes of talking that I started to grasp just how serious this was. It is fatal. She is going to die. Danes don't have a great life span as it is. They average 10-12 years. Not very long compared to smaller breeds. But the vet told me this may be a case of 2-3 years. How is this fair?? My beautiful girl is facing this? And a crappy life quality in the meantime? What the fuck, universe??? In the last 2 years, I have said goodbye to two pets - they had long lives but it still killed me to lose them and now I am facing this again already???

I feel sick about what decisions lay ahead and what this might mean. The next step is to repeat the blood tests and see if they were accurate. They were taken 1h after GA so maybe that threw things? But all 4? Unlikely. But still?? If they are still suspect, we consider biopsies, 3 monthly bloods, diets... but nothing will fix it. It cannot be fixed. Only prolonged.

I am devastated utterly heartbroken. Right now, we just get her recovered from surgery, one thing at a time. It's all we can do right now :(

When dreams come true

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How corny is that title?! Ha! I don't have much of a bucket list, but this is something I have always longed for and dreamed of. This weekend it happened!

What do you say to people who have impacted your life through their music? What do you say to a band that taught you that music doesn't just sound good, or feel nice to move to, but can permeate your entire being and touch your soul? How do you handle that? I didn't say anything I wanted to. Nothing like that. I was too nervous, and I only had a few minutes. But those few minutes... Shaking their hands, getting a photo and autographs - they'll be memories cherished.

The soundcheck that followed was fascinating. To see and hear what goes on, to watch the skill that goes on beyond instruments and voices, it was really a cool thing to see. They sounded tight and I knew I was gonna be in for an amazing show. Goosebumps!

Seven years since I last saw them, seven years break that they had. I thought I'd never experience their live show again but last night I did and they didn't disappoint. If anything, they were even stronger than ever before. This is the first concert I ever attended alone. That was a weird feeling but it enabled me to totally let go and enjoy myself uninhibited. Except for when I was forced to be. For an acoustic song, the crowd sat down. I stayed on my feet - I wanted to dance and enjoy! A bouncer came and told me sit down or get out. I argued and said I'd paid for it, I'd waited for it, and I wanted to enjoy it. He spoke over the top of me and said you either sit down or you get out. I said that I wasn't sure the band would be thrilled that he was forcing fans to sit and inhibit and threatening them like this. He said it wasn't about the band. Um. Wut? Anyway, he wouldn't listen and just spoke over me repeating I could either sit or leave. I sat the rest of the night. Actually felt a bit embarrassed and stupid and given what had gone on that day and this week, ended up crying a little. Thankfully, I continued to lose myself in JB's beats, and in the music and I let it all go. I liken it to feeling like an empty vessel being filled with the music and boy did I need it.

It was also interesting to see the band perform in terms of seeing their different personalities. After the first song or two, I thought that Stuart was going to do a backflip, he looked so stoked to be back, he was really feeling it and it was tangible. That was very cool. Jeff Martin was, well, he's good and he's talented, but he's a bit scary I reckon. He gets feisty at the people off stage sometimes, I guess he values what he's doing and wants it at its best, makes sense. Jeff Burrows is amazing. He seems to me, to be the fun of the group, he's the one getting the audience on their feet, kissing JM and goofing off. But I know too, how generous a heart he has. I know how much time and effort he gives to charity, and to people who he can help out in any way, and he values the fans - I have so much respect for him. Always have had.

I can only hope that after the experience they had themselves last night, that they continue to feel the passion and the renewed vigor for The Tea Party that we fans do, and we see a lot more of them in the future. Bring that shit on.

Some pics of my meet and greet, soundcheck and the gig follow. Well they would, but blogger won't let me. Bastards. Will do a follow up photo post soon.

I miss you

Friday, July 13, 2012

5 years today. I cannot believe it's been that long since we lost you. Dude, that's awful. I am now older than you ever were :(

I never forget you. I think about you often. Sort of weird that today is the anniversary of your death, a guy I always considered to be my big bro, and today I happened to argue so terribly with my actual younger brother that I don't ever want to speak to him again. Weird that. Makes me miss you more.

RIP, mate xx

Book review: Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I need to start this review with a few disclaimers: Firstly, this is a completely unbiased review. I would be upset were anyone to think differently, because I always strive to act with integrity in everything I do and something as important (to me, in my life) as a book review is no exception. Ever. That said, Jessica Davidson is, and has been, a friend of mine for some time. She inspires and motivates me as a writer, but also as a friend and mother. If I hadn't liked her book, I'd have politely outlined my reasons, along with what, if anything, I did enjoy. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. I loved this book. I really loved it, and I am so proud of her. I begged her publicist for an Advance Release Copy and was so grateful he obliged. Whilst he didn't request or demand a review in return, I felt it was standard practice and the least I could do in return.

First, the blurb: "I wait for him, the cold seeping through my clothes, until it finally dawns on me that he's not coming back. And I wonder why he chose her instead of me? Why he went looking for her when I was right there."

Tai and Juliet have been best friends forever – since they met at kindy and decided to get married in first grade.

They understand each other in the way that only best friends can.

They love music, beach walks, energy drinks and, they are slowly discovering, each other.

As they begin to dream of adventures beyond the HSC – a future free of homework, curfews and parents, a life together – their plans are suddenly and dramatically derailed.

For Tai is sick.

And not everything you wish for can come true.

A poignant story of first love, hope, grief, family, and the twistedness of life.

Let me begin by saying, read this with a box of tissues at hand. I not only cried, I sobbed, and was a snotty, red eyed mess. It is such a heart wrencher, not only as someone who has loved and lost, but as a mother, as a friend, as someone who can only imagine what it's like to face your own mortality so young. In every way, from every perspective, this one rips at you. Sad books aren't for everyone, same as a sad movie, I suppose. But a book that can make you feel, that can reach into the vulnerable parts of you and reduce you to a brutal mess, is one that must be well written.

I want to share with you a few of my favorite bits, all the while avoiding spoilers where possible. These are some of the words that struck me most, for all kinds of reasons, and I wanted to share my top few.

I liked this first one because you know, this is pretty much exactly how i felt when I found out mum had breast cancer. Everything is off kilter, and she described it perfectly for me.

It's kind of like a dream, where you know you're dreaming because you know that your real life isn't quite like this. p77.

Oh man... Tai repeats this to himself a few times, this one, and it hit me hard because I could feel the same panic. Made my heart race.

"A year, Tai. You're fucked, Tai." p83

I love this line, it just is so charged, and you can feel the desperation he has to get this message across and it just made my heart ache a little. Young love. Innocent love. It's so much more perfect than what comes later in so many ways.

"You need to know,' he whispers, 'you need to remember when I'm not around to remind you, that I think you're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen.' p158.

And then comes a line that frankly, I think is the absolute best thing I have ever read in the history of ever. Not really, but still. *

Oh shit. Oh dear mcfucking shit." p166.

The next line made me adore Juliet. If I hadn't already. Attitude wins me over every single time.

He sighs. "So then you get your compass and - "
"Stab myself in the eye?" p201.

From here on I started to feel the heaviness of what was going on - "I remember your first day of kindy... you came home and told me you had a best friend, and asked if he could come over to play. He did, two days later - and that was it." p213

The vomit in the hair, Tai crying in fear... These things had me a mess. The entire last third of the book made me an emotional wreck. I actually had nightmares that night. I dreamed of losing my child, of death, of heartbreak. I think Tai and Juliet hit me a little TOO hard, and I don't know if this is in part because I watched Jess (from afar, not in the stalkery kinda way ;) ) write this and felt I knew these characters, long before I read them in final form. Jessica has done herself proud in Everything Left Unsaid. It's masterful, and it's another one of those great books that in the face of so much crap that is out there, restores my faith in good publishing and well written books. It's in bookstores from August 1, you won't regret snapping it up.

5 out of 5 stars.

*The only biased line of this review ;) 

Your honest self and the honest friend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Have been thinking so much about honesty lately. How many of us truly live honestly with ourselves? Do we live in denial, avoiding looking at the truth for fear of what it might mean if we do? It may mean making changes in our lives we don't want to make or are scared to make. Taking risks we don't want to take. Admitting things we don't really want to admit. I lived that way for many years. It was easier, to a degree. Living honestly has been a change I made consciously, and it's more of a challenge than I expected. It's cost me friends. It's cost me relationships. Lovers.

But you know what, the reward you get, the deeper reward of how you feel inside is soooo worth it. I can sleep at night, knowing that I am not kidding myself, that the decisions I have made are right for me, and that I am being authentic and true to who I really am. It's worth more than you can imagine.

Sometimes, my honesty offends. I've lost a few friends, who I have confronted over issues out of concern for them - often bluntly... But they've balked at it, and disappeared from my life. At first, I blamed myself. It upset me a lot that they really couldn't see I asked things because I cared for them. Wasn't it obvious that if I didn't give a shit, I wouldn't say anything?! Apparently not. This article by Julie at Beautiful You really helped my awareness begin to emerge. Not everyone will like you, but it doesn't mean you're worth any less. We're all different, we can't gel with everyone!

I beat myself up when I would email or contact them trying to fix the friendship only for it to be ignored. It hurt. A lot. Then I noticed something... These people were negative. They fuelled my own negativity and it's liberating not to see or hear their negative stuff anymore! Now I only need rid myself of my own negative! It was a nice revelation for me to see that this was a good thing. These losses were actually positive for my life. Wow!

I also surround myself with likewise honest people. Honest friends. Not only with themselves, but with me. Sometimes I make a decision and they don't simply say "well done!" like I might want them to. Sometimes they will challenge me on it. Question me, dig to see if I have made the decision honestly, check to see I've not avoided some things - throw those at me to make sure I am not wearing rose coloured glasses. I love this. I need this. It's so valuable to me - and maybe that's why I do it to others, forgetting not every person will appreciate it the way I do.

Why do you think denial is the preferred way of living for so many? It can't be a happy existence. Not truly. I face my flaws and faults and I work on them. Not always successfully, but I'm aware of them, and I force myself to keep at it, and keep checking for authenticity in every day. It's a start.

The magic of books

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My friend, Dee, linked me to this video today. I watched it and by the finish, had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Books are magic. This is so beautiful.

Partyin. Wizard style.

Finn wants a Harry Potter party this year. I dare you to google 'harry potter party' and see how many hits you get. And for many of those hits, the work, effort, time and money involved has been INSANE. It's a touch stressful, but inspiring too. I've already spent too much money at spotlight on crafty stuff (one has to make wands and house ties and fancy invites and such after all). There are still 6 weeks to go. Today the hot glue gun I got (I know, me, a hot glue gun - it's so funny!) is getting a work out. I had NO idea how one worked but I seem to have figured it out. Then J took it off me and he's doing it. We're making wands. As you do. Hot glue on dowel makes patterns, then painted and distressed a bit and voila. Mega cool. I'm even gonna attach cards saying what each wands is made from (e.g. vinewood and dragon heartstring). YES I AM.

I KNOW - I am the coolest Mum evah.

I am even making butterbeer. For real. Non alcoholic though I may slip rum in my own... And various other Harry themed foods (snitch truffles wrapped in gold foil and with feathers stuck on, herbology crudites etc.)

I am even planning to make these cool floating candles - battery powered tea lights in the ends of empty loo rolls, hung with fishing wire. SO COOL. I even found a template for Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans to whip up. Should keep me us busy over the school hols anyways.

Anyway, must go, am up to my elbows in Gryffindor ties.