Category Archives: Chronic Illness

Unforeseen…Friday Fictioneers -15th June, 2022.

“Everything was meant to be okay. Not this.”

Despite her family history, Ebony had faith in early detection, and regular mammograms. Then, came the diagnosis .

“I’m going to beat this!” She wrote in her journal every day. However, grit and determination were no match for bad luck. The cancer had spread. She was only 28.

Arriving home, she found roses and a “Get Well” balloon from Mike on the doorstep. She’d told him it was long covid.

Ebony had no idea when the knife came from. However, the balloon was found later with forty stab wounds and was unresponsive.

…….

100 words PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Last year, two close friends of mine died of breast cancer, while my sister-in-law was fighting a rather gruelling battle with it and facing obscure complication after obscure complication and a run of very bad luck. One of those friends never told me she was sick and I found out after she’d died. The other was seemingly cancer free and after a gruelling eight year battle, the cancer came back with a vengeance and she was gone in a week. It was like one of these fierce Australian bush fires, and it consumed her. They both had teenage children, and the loss was obviously focused on them. However, grief rippled out. They were much loved, and it’s still so hard to believe they’re no here.

I hope you’ve had a great week!

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/ We’d love you to join us!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share…15th May, 2022.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This weekend I have the absolute privilege to share something incredibly precious and rare with you…sunshine. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s but a rare intermission in between our months and months of rain, but that makes it all the more special and I guess I should’ve been out there today to make the most of it.

However, I went for a magnificent bushwalk yesterday to my favourite little spot overlooking Pearl Beach and across to Palm Beach and all of Pittwater. While, it’s not Sydney Harbour, the views are almost as breathtakingly beautiful and from my vantage point, I feel like I had to all to myself. I didn’t need to compete with all of Sydney for a vantage point…only the birds!

Looking towards Umina Beach. We live in between the beach and the white sphere about a third of the way in from the right.

How was your week?

Mine was good, but fairly busy juggling family commitments, while getting stuck back into reading two novels by Australian literary giant, Ethel Turner, which are set in World War I and so also crossed over with my research there. I managed to finish: The Cub, which was published in 1915 and sees seventeen year old John leave for Gallipoli after his older brother who enlisted in England, was killed in action fighting in France. However, this forms only a fraction of the story, and the thread is picked up in the second novel in the series: Captain Cub. However, the books focus more on the home front than the war itself and the sagas of two families.

The reason I was binge reading Ethel Turner last week, was that I’d booked into an Open Day at her former home Woodlands in Killara, and I was trying to wake up my dormant brain cells so I could sound at least somewhat knowledgeable when I introduced myself to the speakers there, which included two of her Great Grandsons. However, it didn’t really work because all that happened was that I had all this Ethel Turner stuff in my head in a jumbled fog, and nothing was coming out in neatly defined packages, and especially not the whole grail where you can sum her prolific and profound writing output up in a single word and be the ultimate unrivalised genius on the subject. Or, at least that’s what distilling facts into a single word is supposed to do. Personally, I don’t feel it would do her justice, but when you’re trying to enter the realms of the academic elite, you need to play by their rules not your own.

Anyway, in the end I decided not to go. It was going to be at least a one hour drive, and they were expecting huge crowds, terrible parking and I couldn’t help conclude that I could well pick up covid. After two years of caution, it seemed stupid to throw caution to the wind. Moreover, I saw the doctor on Friday and in what sounded like a prophetic warning, she told me that more people have died from covid in the last six months in Australia than the previous two years. So, while the politicians might be telling us we’ve switched the clock back and returned to an almost normal, the stats and medical folk are telling a different story.

Meantime, while I had my nose stuck in The Cub from 1915, our daughter, “Miss”, posted a clip on Tik Tok and unlike any of my posts here on WordPress, her clip went viral and as far as I know has now had 2.5 million views.

Well, you might ask what attracted such a response, and fool like me, you might actually believe that her video was especially meaningful and required many hours of careful planning, creativity and construction. However, you’d be mistaken. It was a very spontaneous and erroneous piece which she’d put together during her Nursing TAFE course. The school has a small quasi hospital set up and she filmed the patient dummy in bed, and then turned to film her friend swinging in the swing chair. It lasts all of a minute, and while funny and quirky, doesn’t justify that many views, especially when my philosophical musings which really might improve someone else’s life, barely attract enough traffic to fill a lane let alone a super highway. I have been wondering lately what it means to live in a society where people can read, but choose not to. This could sadly be the result.

The Lockheed Hudson A16-112 built 1939 and received ex-USA on 5th December, 1941. Photo: Geoff Newton.

So, meanwhile Geoff headed North to Newcastle to attend the Central Coast Air Show. Here’s some footage from Seven News: https://www.facebook.com/7NEWSsydney/videos/371368371635055

Lastly, I thought you might appreciate checking out last week’s contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Our photo prompt this week was a single long-stemmed rose, inspiring various interpretations of love, marriage, relationships. I found them very thought provoking. Here’s a link to my story: Musings Of A Rose, and it will take you through to the rest: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/05/12/musings-of-a-rose-friday-fictioneers-12th-may-2022/

This is another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer at: https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Happy Easter Weekend Coffee Share- 18th April, 2022.

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed Easter and Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share! Easter was very low key and virtually non-existent at our place this year, because I fell at my daughter’s dance competition last Wednesday and for some reason haven’t been feeling right ever since in ways that go well beyond the sore foot.

Photo: Emily Stoddart Photography.

The dance competition was intense on steroids both in terms of how incredibly talented, moving and beautiful each and every ones of these dances was, but also in terms of the huge amount of physical and emotional energy it demanded from each of the dancers, their teachers and parents. Miss competed in seven dances I think, which really was a phenomenal effort especially when you factor all the costume changes and steps involved. It’s mind-blowing and I really don’t know how she does it, except she’s been doing it since she was three, and it is her absolute passion and calling. I doubt this is something you can even consider going into half-mast.

The life of a dancer is thwart. There are days where all your ducks line up andeverything goes your way. However, there are also times when it can completely fall apart, which we haven’t really experienced. While I’m a Christian, I still suspect there’s a Lord of the Dance out there too, who is either for or against you on the day. It’s almost like you need to leave a burnt offering on the altar outside when you go in. Well, of course, I didn’t do that, but I did pray that she would come first before she did her classical ballet solo with her new tutu and routine. I wrote a note to myself: Is it wrong to pray for your daughter to come first with her ballet solo? The other dance mums I conferred with thought it was fine, and were equally enthusiastic to see her perform, which was absolutely delightful and made my day. There’s inexpressible joy, but it can get a bit foreboding, and I can’t even begin to describe what goes through your mind while you’re sitting there. However, her dance went beautifully and she won. She has won other sections before, but this meant so much more. She was competing in the open section which is the highest level, but what it meant was that she’s on track for reaching her dream of becoming a ballerina. It was a resounding: “YES!!!” (although she still has such a long way to go!!)

Of course, I was proud. However, my overriding emotion was relief and pure joy!

BY the way, I drew on my years of supporting my daughter’s dance efforts, to write my 100 word weekly contribution to Friday Fictioneers: Last Flight of the Swans: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/04/13/last-flight-of-the-swans-friday-fictioneers-13th-april-2022/

However, somehow this ridiculously compulsive book addict managed to make it to the the local Pearl Beach Book Sale on Saturday. Trust me. For a book addict like yours truly, it’s up there on a temptation level right alongside a chocolate shop. Moreover, since all the Easter eggs had virtually sold out by Thursday according to my husband, feasting on books it is.

The other drawcard about this Pearl Beach Book Sale is that the books are top notch. Pearl Beach is a rather exclusive retreat, and attracts a lot of creative people, who seem to have great taste in reading material. I arrived mid-afternoon, and I don’t know how much the books were at the outset, but I was paying $2.00 each. Of course, this was an absolute steal. So, it didn’t make too much sense to be too selective. It was more a case of fill a box, another box, and while you’re thinking about it, why don’t you fill this one too. The irony of all this was that I’m actually in the process of seriously downsizing our book collection, and the boot of the very same car I drove to the book sale, was full of books I’m planning to drop off for the next book sale at the local PCYC.

Another issue is that I am not a voracious book reader. I read a lot doing my history research. However, that’s mainly involved old newspapers online. I also read blog posts. I also do a few Bible studies and try to read my Bible daily. So, it’s not like I’m not reading at all. I’m just not one of those people who polish off a couple of novels a week. Geoff was doing that without any dramas when he was commuting to work on the train. However, he’s been working from home for the last two years. So, he’s reading has dropped off a lot. He’s just finished reading a Harlan Coben novel: Hold Tight. Have you read it? We’ve been making our way through a few TV series based on his novels. I mostly love them, although there was one that I felt had too much violence, and was just too seedy. I managed to pick up another Harben Coben at the book sale: Just One Look.

Meanwhile, we didn’t really celebrate Easter. I haven’t been well since my fall last week, and my dad had surgery last week and we thought we’d leave it a week or two. Yesterday, was also my brother’s 50th birthday and he didn’t mind when we got together. However, I did spend last night going through my photos and fishing him out. I might actually manage to get this photo attempt printed up.

Anyway, I hope you and yours had a Happy and blessed Easter.

Love and blessings,

Rowena

All dance photos were taken by Emily Stoddart Photography.

Last Flight of the Swans – Friday Fictioneers 13th April, 2022

Age didn’t soften the blow. He was old, and she was old. Still, his death was brutal. She’d held onto his ice-cold body until the neighbour called their daughter. “It was time.” No! It would never be time. They would dance together for eternity: the swan and her beloved prince.

Celeste made them tea, right through Winter, and barely noticed he never said a word.

Now, the snow was thawing, and his chair had risen from the dead.

She couldn’t bear it.

The neighbor found Celeste lying on the snow still holding the axe.

The chair was split in two.

…..

100 words. PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know our daughter dances seriously. After a very disjointed couple of years, dance is back with a vengeance and I spent hours at the studio last week for open week and it’s dance competition this week. Part of me quite enjoys living and breathing dance, but am just a bystander and with my health issues, it’s really difficult to keep up with the demands of high pressure dance. At today’s competition, it wasn’t one of the dancers on stage who crashed and had a fall. It was yours truly who managed her feat of brilliance from her chair. I ended up on the floor and the whole competition came to a grinding halt for a good 10-15 minutes. I felt humiliated. What no one tells you about having offspring pursuing a high octane career path, is that they’re taking you with them. You also have to measure up. Sadly, I don’t believe I can. Well, not in a physical sense anyway. However, I’d imagine I’d be hard to beat if imagination had anything to do with it. However, that’s not the domain of a dance mum, and could even be a curse. Much better to stay in your place. Fire up the engine. Sew up those pointe shoes, and pay the bills. (Humph, feeling a bit sorry for myself tonight and very sore. Perhaps, my love affair with dance might return again in the morning.)

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields: https://rochellewisoff.com/

Many thanks and best wishes,

Rowena

Me & My Gal At Avoca, Australia.

Well, as you may recall, Miss is learning to drive, and has had her learner’s permit for about ten days now. In that brief amount of time, I’ve been to more of the local beaches than I have in the last ten years, especially in a short space of time. Although I had ideas about starting at one end of the Central Coast and working my way up North, that plan never got off the ground. I’m not sure why, but blaming covid is a pretty safe bet. It’s killed off so many good ideas, and not just ideas either!

Anyway, this new lease of life I’m having driving all over the place with Miss, has brought me to the confronting realization that instead of being the “carpe diem seize the day person” I believed myself to be, I’ve become more of a “tomorrow” type. Tomorrow, I’ll go for a walk. Tomorrow, I’ll get to the shops. Tomorrow, I’ll get to those emails, bills, cleaning, washing. It can all wait, and it’s a pretty reasonable philosophy when you’re drifting through lockdown, and your pyjamas have become your second skin. However, we’re no longer in lockdown and although we’re still being very cautious, there’s nothing wrong with outdoors.

Avoca Beach, NSW looking towards Terrigal.

I guess being Sunday, it was only appropriate that Miss and I headed out for another drive. This time, we headed over to Avoca Beach. It’s quite a popular beach, but has more of a village feel than Terrigal. There’s an ocean pool, as well as some great surfing spots.

Another beach closed due to water pollution from the heavy rain.

However, to be perfectly honest, we weren’t heading to the beach today. Unfortunately, It had been raining AGAIN, and Miss was also hungry. So, we headed into the fish & chips shop which is particularly good, and ordered a fisherman’s basket. Given the weather, we sat inside and enjoyed listening to live music, and feeling like we were in Byron Bay.

It’s a shame the weather has been so wet and overcast as we’ve been checking out our local beaches. Naturally, I’d much prefer blue skies dotted with a bit of white cloud and radiant, golden sunshine especially for photography. However, in the overall scheme of things right now we weren’t that concerned. As I said to a friend last week, we’re not living in a war zone, and the house hasn’t been flooded. We are good. Indeed, we are beyond good. Events of late have indeed been sobering, and I wish there was more I could do, especially as a solitary individual of limited means.

By the way, as we drove to Avoca, Miss asked me if she’d been to Avoca before. I remembered a trip with my parents once. However, I’d forgotten catching up with my school friend Emma there, and I had to share this beautiful series of photos. Miss was only six years old then, and clearly I was a tad younger back then as well.

Footprints in the sand.
An extraordinary moment.
My daughter took this photo of me and you can really see the connection between us. Mummy playing up for the camera.

It’s interesting seeing that photo above of myself. I look at her, and would really like to have whatever it was she was having. There’s such joie de vivre in that face. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone exuding so much joy, and yet life wasn’t easy then, and I was really quite unwell. However, as much as I can perform for the camera, you couldn’t bung that on. I was really happy to see Emma again, and we both enjoyed watching Miss cartwheel across the sand, although it was also bittersweet (but that’s another story.) Sometimes, when life is really hard and you’re just hanging on by a thread, you really do have that love of life where you’re simply grateful to be alive.

Anyway, I might put some thought into regenerating that joy, and reconnecting with my inner sparkle.

What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Driving to Pearl Beach, Australia.

The white chariot headed out for a relatively short drive over to neighbouring Pearl Beach with young Miss at the wheel again rapidly accruing her driving hours. In case you missed the big announcement, about ten days ago Miss got her Learner’s Permit and now has mostly me bailed up in the front seat while she accrues her mandatory 120 hours of supervised driving. She seems to love driving, and mostly finds it very relaxing, and it must be such a great feeling to be driving herself to all sorts of places we rarely ever seem to get to ordinarily. We are going to know our local area like the back of our hand by the end of next week at the rate we’re going.

Today, she drove us around to Pearl Beach in between dance classes, which only allowed me to squeeze in a quick walk, take a few photos and to also check out the Little Book Library by the beach, which has long been an absolute treasure trove.

Indeed, that reminds me that the Peal Beach Annual Book Sale will be coming up soon on the Easter long weekend. This is a time to leave the family at home and to ensure the car is empty. For booklovers like myself, this is TEMPTATION and by my very own definition of evil last last when I was referring to the pokies, EVIL. It appears that even something good for you can become evil in excess (and especially when your house is already bursting at the seams with books!!)

Meanwhile, I was also curious to see how the beach was looking after the recent floods. The last time I was at Pearlie about a week ago, a great river had opened up and was carving a path from a back estuary straight through the beach. Indeed, it looks like it has always been there. However, I don’t recall seeing the beach carved up like that before. Then again, I don’t recall it raining like this before either. It’s been so intense and seemed to out last Noah’s 40 days and 40 nights by a country mile.

There was still a trailing snake carved deeply through the sand where the flood waters had been, but the river had almost dried up.

What I did find was one of these little “houses” made out of driftwood on the beach. Although it wasn’t anything like approaching a proper house, and was little more than a handful of sticks thrown together, it spoke promise to me…hope, optimism, new beginnings.

Wedding at Pearl Beach today.

Then, I noticed a wedding taking place further down the beach. How exciting was that. Not only were the bride and groom celebrating their big day and promising to love each other through it all, they had a dry wedding and glorious sunshine. They must’ve been deliriously happy, amazed and grateful.

Stick Tepee

However, that wedding is but a bright spark in an uncertain world. Lately, I’ve really been wishing I could wave my magic wand over the Earth and just make everything better. End this dreadful invasion of the Ukraine. Magically restore homes, businesses and lives lost during our extreme flooding here in NSW and Queensland. Getting rid of covid is another aspiration. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a miracle worker?!!

Such a loving dog! This is how many hours are spent, usually with my keyboard resting on his back.

Meanwhile, I’m back home and Zac is sleeping on my lap, and the troubles of the world seem very far away, and yet our son is coughing and our daughter is staying overnight at her friend’s 18th. Potential trouble is never far away, even if it doesn’t actually knock on your door. However, hope is also there as well, often to be found in the little things, especially at first, and so it can be so easy be missed.

How are you going in your neck of the woods? I hope you are doing well, and thank you for popping in.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Warnie!

This morning, the awful news hit that Aussie cricket larrikin, Shane Warne, had passed away aged 52 – the same age as yours truly and even a few months younger. The news hit me like an electric shock. I didn’t burst into tears or anything like that, but it just felt so incongruous that this larger than life character could suddenly be “all out” without any warning.

Moreover, while 52 is just over a half century, I’m telling you it’s still young. It’s not enough runs…especially as he has three kids who need their dad, and his parents didn’t need to bury a son either. However, the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, was only 44 when he died in 2006. Crikey, that was sad and it was so hard to tell our son, who was only three at the time. He loved watching his DVD of The Wiggles at Australia Zoo.

Warnie had a special place in our family. When our children were very small, my brother was a Warnie tragic and it became a point of connection between the kids and their uncle. For one of his birthdays, we bought my brother this choice find from eBay:

Warnie

On a personal note, I find it bit hard to believe that Warnie has passed away, while I’m still here with all my health problems. However, it’s always confronting when someone your own age goes before you. Indeed, it can almost feel like death came ever so close and only just passed by your door.

Our family sends our deepest condolences to the Warne family, especially his three kids, Mum and Dad and brother. Must be hard also not getting that chance to say goodbye. Actually, just gut-wrenchingly hard.

I’ll leave you with a link to a story I really appreciated which appeared on the ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-05/shane-warne-obituary-dead-at-52/100885192

Love,

Rowena

Anything For Love…Friday Fictioneers.

Bill drove up the back paddock, and parked his ute. The cancer was raging, and the Doc was barely keeping up. There wasn’t much of him, and the end was coming faster than a speeding locomotive. Now, it was only a question of when, and on whose terms.

Of course, Bill knew God wasn’t the only player involved. Those doctors could do a better job of extending his lot than the power of prayer – even if the priest disagreed.

However, just as Bill was about to cast his vote, the dog jumped up on his lap.

Anything for love.

…….

Rowena Curtin 100 words. PHOTO PROMPT © Bill Reynolds

My response to this week’s prompt was fueled by various conversations I’ve had with people close to me about the end of life. One friend dreads having a stroke and ending up incapacitated, and vows he’s going to head into the bush and take matters into his own hands first. a couple of friends and relatives have had dashed his melanoma and other cancers where bits keep getting cut off to the point where they feel they’re barely being held together, or have anything left. Some people reach this point and will do anything to preserve life, while others pull the pin. They might not take drastic action. It might be as simple as refusing further treatment and issuing a “nil resus” order. I’ve had a few close calls and I resolved to do whatever it took to stay alive. My kids were young and needed two parents at least in an ideal world. Meatloaf’s epic song “Anything For Love” became my song. I would do anything for love, but I did wonder where my limits would be. I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that. Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out. I recovered and got back on my feet.

RIP Meatloaf

For those of you who know me, you’ll also appreciate that I had to add a dog to the picture. We have three dogs at home: Lady Border Collie x Cavalier, and Zac and Rosie who are brother and sister border collie x kelpies. You often see a working dog out there with a ute.

Rosie (left) and Zac when they were younger.
Lady with the kids a few years ago.

Anyway, I hope you’re all well and having a good week.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Book Launch of “Murdering Stepmothers” & the Case of the Rambunctious Child.

“Never work with animals or children.”

-W. C. Fields

There are times when every parent, and maybe even doting grandparent, wants to disassociate with naughty or over-exuberant children, and pretend they’ve never seen them before. Whether we admit to that in public or not, is another matter. However, we all know it’s true.

Things were doubly complicated with my two, because from the time our daughter was born and our eldest was only two, I developed a debilitating muscle wasting disease called dermatomyositis, and I couldn’t keep up. Hence, my parents had a much more active role with the kids and often had to step up and into my shoes. Well, that’s my justification for why my father was in charge of our rather unruly four year old daughter better known as Miss who could do no wrong.

My dad with a very unruly Miss Four while her mother hides behind the camera. Or, perhaps that was Geoff but this photo looks more like my handiwork.

This wasn’t the only sign of misbehaviour either, and to be perfectly honest I’m sure someone gave her red cordial, orange Fanta or something else along those lines` that night. Our kids were strictly “no artificial colours or preservatives”. However, strict adherence doesn’t mean the system was foolproof.

Anyway, my aunt was having an official book launch at Gleebooks in Sydney by Julianne Schulz from the Griffith Review. This won’t mean much to many of you who are overseas, (or in Australia beyond academic circles for that matter). However, my aunt is a professor and an award-winning author and she’s spoken at numerous writer’s festivals, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival ( which gave yours truly access to the Writers’ Greenroom. I was in heaven!!)

So, in other words, this was no backyard launch, and quite a serious affair. One of those events where parents always give their kids a talking to before you all arrive about being on their VERY BEST BEHAVIOUR!! They are to be seen and not heard. Of course, “not seen and not heard” is capital letter TROUBLE in these situations, and to be avoided at all costs.

However, 12 years down the track from said book launch, the behavior of Miss Four, (and indeed it was only Miss Four who was playing up) appears rather funny. She was pure mischief that night, and her brother and their friend were pretty good. Indeed, when I look at the photos, I think the friend is wondering what she’s on. Mind you, both the boys were already at Big School so they had an unfair advantage.

Legitimately drawing on the wall in the boardroom at Concordia College, Toowoomba while my grandfather’s portrait watches second from the left.

While we’re on the subject of taking unruly kids into adult situations, I also found a photo of the kids when we were visiting Concordia College in Toowoomba. My grandfather, Pastor Bert Haebich, was the first Acting Principal there back around 1948, and we were given a lovely tour of the school by the Communications Manager. She was such a kind soul and as we’re in the very prestigious boardroom which has my grandfather’s portrait in the very stately line-up, she gave them whiteboard markers and allowed them to write on the whiteboard. She was someone who really understood young kids and parents. At the same time, it does look funny and out of place.

They really look like they’re plotting and planning future mischief over dinner here.

As for the title of my aunt’s book, it’s full title is Murdering Stepmothers: the Execution of Martha Rendell. Martha Rendell as the last woman to be hanged in Western Australia, after being found guilty of poisoning her three stepchildren with medicine. It’s a great read but might be hard to get hold of.

Not the best photo of the kids with my aunt. I’m on the look out for a better one.

Of course, my aunt adores my kids, and still believes they can do no wrong, despite this eventful night.

Do you have any stories of your kids having a moment? Of course, you do. Even parents of cats and dogs have stories of pure mischief.

Well, my two are about to turn eighteen and sixteen and let’s just say the perimeters have changed, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Where To From Here?

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Lewis Carroll

I wonder if there is truly anyone whose life is exactly how it was back on New Year’s Eve 2019 we entered into 2020? I remember that night so well watching the Sydney fireworks on TV at a friend’s party. We had such high hopes for 2020. After all, it was meant to be the year of perfect vision – not the beginnings of a terrifying global pandemic which is still haunting us two years later.

Indeed, that also leads to the next question about whether we have changed. Or, to be more precise how much have we changed both as individuals and communities in all sorts of ways since covid first appeared?

There’s been a lot of talk about how vaccines are changing our DNA. However, I haven’t heard anyone mention how we might be reprogramming our own brains through the various covid or lockdown projects many of us are undertaking, and how the very structure of our brains could well be altered as a result – again in good and bad ways.

My world has been affected more than many because I wasn’t in paid employment when Covid hit due my lingering health issues, but I was more or less at a point where I was considering looking for some part time work. Before lockdown, I’m been beavering away on my blog and had various attempts at writing books, and have been trying to find my thing. With our son booked to go on a six week history tour of Europe and visiting the battlefields of France where his Great Great Uncle paid the ultimate sacrifice just three months before the end of WWI, I started retracing his steps and putting together his story. I also picked up on my Great Great Uncle Jack Quealey who I knew very little about and I had so much trouble nutting his story out, that I had to reach him through the letters and diaries of other soldiers. Before I knew it, researching our family members had expanded into a massive, obsessive research project. I saw no problem in that. Only good. Covid was the enemy, and I was going to have something concrete to show for it. Indeed, as lockdown continued, and it was still unsafe for me to venture out, and lockdown started up again, this project had totally overgrown it’s boundaries and it had become all consuming. While my friends were out there exercising with equal zeal, I was researching, writing, transcribing letters for hours and hours, days, months. Indeed, I didn’t mean this to happen, but along the way, I stopped playing my violin, my keyboard and even writing my blog. I also kept putting off exercise. Well, exercise is hardly my best friend, and it is a bit like swallowing that vile teaspoon of cod liver oil, especially before I get out there and actually see the roses and our stunning local beaches and coast.

Well, if you know anything about neuroplasticity, you know that the wiring in our brains isn’t set in stone. It is fluid – ever-changing. So the more you do something, your brain responds by building bigger fibres…whether these are good, bad, or indifferent habits. It’s part of the reason why practice makes perfect. It’s also the same with emotions. If you keep getting angry, the angry cable in your brain will just keep getting bigger and bigger unless you start bringing your anger in line.

This is all very simplistic. I’m not trying to be a neuroscientist. I’m just trying to give you the general gist.

Anyway, just before Christmas the penny finally dropped. Sydney had just completed an incredible four month lockdown and with my auto-immune disease and acute lung complications, I had to stay low. Moreover, after our fearless Prime Minister and his cohort, our new NSW Premier, decided to “let it rip” to save the economy, I burrowed deeply underground hoping the storm would pass by overhead and leave us alone. However, that hasn’t happened and now to quote a friend “it’s EVERYWHERE!!” Omicron is like the common cold on steriods. I’ve also decided it’s the fulfillment of all my grandmother’s most vivid nightmares of germs…germs on the toilet seat, germs on the public phone. She would’ve been beside herself through this covid crisis and her handbag which always seemed to have a bag of lollies (for herself as much as for us), dainty hankies which were useless when she cried in Church, she’d now be armed with industrial strength Spray & Wipe. The sort of stuff that dissolves the surface of your benchtop, your toilet seat, as well as a layer of skin.

To be perfectly honest I’ve found it much easier to hide than deal with all of that.

However, after two years of hiding, and after two years of fighting for the needs of vulnerable people with disabilities and chronic health conditions to be acknowledged and safeguarded and two years of detailed, obsessive but incredibly fascinating and productive research, I am not who I was before. I know I am seriously out of kilter, and all sense of balance has gone.

The other aspect to all this hiding away is that my social life is all but dead. For the hardcore introvert, that could be a blessed relief. However, as a fairly extroverted extrovert it has fairly major ramifications. I don’t know what it is to go our for dinner with friends anymore, and I’m glad I managed to get out for dinner with Geoff a few times before omicron flared up. I’ve become a prisoner inside my own body let alone the house.

After spending so much of the last two years reading, writing and researching and very little time socialising, exercising, or even doing such basic things as catching the train and using cash, I know I’m nothing like who I was before. I don’t know if I can or choose to go back to sit on the same seat on the bus I was occupying before. Or, if I want to get off. Or, Indeed, in so many ways I know I already have.

Of course, I know I’m far from alone in all of this. That many of you who are in the same boat, and you’re also asking: “Where to from here?”

The honest answer for me, is that I just don’t know.

My daughter goes back to school next week, but of more immediate concern, it seems covid has snuck under the front door and I’m not feeling well. Our son went to youth camp and we pretty much expected him to bring it home. I did try to get him tested before he came back, but that fell through. I tried to usher him straight into his room, but he was full of stories and so full of life. Meanwhile, our daughter’s best friend was also positive and just about everyone we know aside from my mum and dad has it or has been exposed. Dad is waging his own war on covid and he he won’t catch it, and it won’t catch him. A true introvert, he’s determined.

“When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”  – Lewis Carroll

So, where to from here? In the immediate sense I’m off to make a cup of decaf tea before heading to bed. Anything more than that, will have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts about what lies ahead and I should just mention that the first quote from Lewis Carroll comes from a book I’ve just started reading: Tea & Honesty with Jules Sebastian – wife of international singer and musician Guy Sebastian and now an author in her own right.

Best wishes,

Rowena