Tag Archives: love

The Day I Listened to the Great Bindi Irwin.

Standard

BY ABBY MAC

A week or so ago I went along to something called the National Young Leader’s Day.  I would like to tell you it was only a very select group of people who were invited to attend, however, there were around 1600 kids, just from one city, aging between 6 and 17.  So, it was basically a free for all. In essence, it was a day where around six speakers came and spoke to 1600 kids about the ways to be a good leader and what they can do in society to keep being a leader.  I met some really nice people and the speakers were pretty good, so all in all, it seemed as though it was a successful day.  Apart from one thing.  Apart from the treatment and reaction of Bindi Irwin, one of the six speakers.

For all of those who don’t know Bindi Irwin, she is a 15 girl, born into a family passionate about wildlife and conservation.  I don’t like to think of Bindi in just this way, but she is the daughter of the Late Steve Irwin, and he has definitely helped create and nurture her love of wildlife.  And endless list of awards are also included in her incredible achievements, however, I think what is more important, is Bindi’s ability and dedication to thinking about topics which people typically believe are beyond someone of this age.  In particular, Bindi is thinking and working through, over-human population.

Bindi

Miss Bindi Irwin.

I know.  I’d briefly thought of over-human population before, but, I’d never considered the causes, impacts or solutions to such a serious level and how vast and seemingly uncontrollable this issue is –  which is also seriously hurting our world.  When Bindi spoke at this conference, she was passionate and knew her facts.  Her knowledge was endless and unlike many people these days – particularly youths – she was dedicated to a cause greater than herself or something to help herself.

Bindi spoke of an essay that she was asked to write for Hillary Clinton’s e-journal about her views on conservation and she primarily linked conservation to over-human population.  An aspect which I remember is the analogy she made between over-human population and too many guests at a party.

She asked you to imagine if you had invited 15 friends to your house for a party and you had prepared 15 party bags, food and drink for 15 and only had enough space in your room for 15 people and then 70 people arrived.  How are you meant to cater for this extra 55 people when you don’t have the resources to support them?

A lady that Bindi knew lived for 104 years and during that time she had seem the world grow in population by 5.5 billion.  5.5 billion.  So, Bindi states that if the world only started or was intended to hold a certain amount of people, just like her hypothetical party, how is it still catering – equally – for these people today?  And, as Bindi puts it, this crisis is what Mother Earth is having to deal with, presently.

It’s a good question.  It’s a really good question.  I have thought about it and though it’s not my own greatest passion, I really believe that something must be done to conserve our planet and all its incredible attributes – flora, fauna, food, water and its people.  And, I am thankful that we have someone like Bindi Irwin, at only 15, who is caring about something as important and urgent as over-human population.

But, the leaders at the National Young Leader’s Day did not see this.  They saw a 15 year old girl trying, really trying, to talk about something delicate and crucial – and it just didn’t seem right to them.  I don’t know whether Bindi has been coached to speak publically or it was just her immense amount of passion, but she did seem over-enthusiastic.  To some, it seemed a little bit fake.  To me, it was passion.  When people asked her a question, she always answered “that’s a really good question.”  Some saw that as condescension.  I saw it as politeness.  She then made the fatal mistake of calling someone “love” to which this arena has erupted in disgusting sniggers.   Our future leaders.  Bindi handled it perfectly by commenting – “oh! Sorry!  I do sound like an 86 year-old woman, sometimes!”  And then that comment also received those little judgemental high school laughs and eye-balling.

I am Somebody

I am Somebody. The Banner for National Young Leader’s Day.

People walked out after her (amazing) speech, mimicking her, gossiping about her and didn’t even bring up the fact that she had STUMBLED UPON A REALLY IMPORTANT GLOBAL ISSUE THAT WOULD IMPACT THEM BUT SHE WAS TRYING TO FIX IT, FOR THEM. No.  They didn’t notice that, did they?  They didn’t thank her for taking the time out to talk to them, to try to inspire them. In fact, these leaders walked out as judgemental teenagers who claimed to dislike her because she was condescending but honestly, it was because someone possibly years younger than them was thinking about something more complex than the Snapchat which they didn’t get enough time to look at.  They were jealous because she was confident in herself and was making a difference in the world.

And, this annoyed me.  It annoyed me on the day, and if you can’t tell now, it’s still annoying me now.  Okay, so Bindi may have been over-excited but that is not something that she should change.  What needs to be changed is this culture that teens breed into themselves that for someone to be over-excited, passionate or thinking about something beyond mundane life, that it is laughable.  It’s not.  It’s great.  And, it’s time the whole world appreciated that.

Do you know someone or are you like Bindi?  How did you or others react?  What topics are you passionate about?

I love my sisters. It doesn’t mean I get to see them.

Standard

BY ABBY MAC

When I say sisters, they’re not my full sisters.   I sometimes say step-sisters or half.  Though, to me, it doesn’t matter whether we don’t share the same blood or family tree, they are still my sisters.

I dearly love my sisters and everyday I cherish the moments I did get to spend with them, however, just because I love them doesn’t mean I can see them.  Just like my dad, I haven’t seen my sisters for four years and that isn’t going to change in the near future.  The eldest of my two sisters is eight and the yougest is five.   My brother has had brief contact with my dad and he says that the eldest one remembers me and the youngest one doesn’t but she knows of me.

Every Christmas and birthday I receive a card from them and I rip open the envelope, shut the door to my bed room and sit and have a cry.  I sit and cry a mixture guilt, love and sadness.  I feel guity for not being with them, watching them grow and nurturing them.  I am sorry for not being the sister I should be.  I can only watch both grow through their handwriting skills, from just scribbles to carefully copied dotted lines and now legible writing that slides downwards.

The last letter I wrote to them I decided to add photos of my brother and I.  I know this may seem a minute step to most, but I never receive a reply to my letters where I ask a thousand questions.  The worst they could do is not reply and possibly stop talking to me forever, but I was willing to take the chance.  If they accepted this step, it would hopefully see the end to my unanswered question and a progression in our relationship.

I know that it is not their choice to not reply.  I understand that is my dad and his wife that limit the contact but it still hurts to never hear anything back from them.  When I decided to not see my dad anymore, it wasn’t a hard choice.  Part of our difficult relationship stemmed from his new family and he preferred to spend time with the girls than me.  For a long time I resented them over his choice and so when I left, I was definitely saddened that I couldn’t see them anymore because I did love them, but I did think that I could move on from whatever a one year old and ten year old could share.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

As I grew up, I found that I did not resent the girls, I resented his choice to priortise them over me.  I no longer resented my sisters but deeply missed them and felt a sense of guilt from choice to leave them.  Even now, I would still choose to not see my dad but I know the decision would be harder for me.  I know that if I stayed with my dad, I would have continued to become an angry and unhappy girl which is something that would be hard to undo however, I hope that I will one day rekindle a relationship with my sisters when they aren’t influenced my dad or his wife.

A part of me understands that there will come a time where we won’t talk.  I am predicting that my dad will try and persuade them to lose contact with me and he will tell his side to the long and complicated relationship we had.  Though, I do hope that they will want to one day find out for themselves what really went down.  That is something I have to accept.

Everyday I miss my sisters more and I will never stop caring and loving them.  I feel like I should be painting their nails and combing their hair.  Helping them with school work and talking about movies, friends and boys with them.  But I can’t do that.  I don’t know what school they go to, what type of clothes they like or want sport they both play.  I sometimes feel as though I have failed them.

For the first time yet, the girls have replied to my letter.  They sent back photos of themselves.  As usual, I cried.  I stuck the photos up in my room and I feel grateful for what I have now been granted.  I know that the youngest one has brown curly hair and the eldest likes tie dye clothing.  It’s minimal information, but it still feels like too much.  I can now compare how much they have grown from the images of the their baby faces in my mind, to their now grown-up ones.

Even though I love my girls to pieces, it doesn’t mean I get to see them.

From one the cards the eldest sister wrote to me:

‘…Dear Abby….I miss you so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much and I will love you forever.   I can’t wait until I can see you again…roses are red, violets are blue and I will never stop loving you.’

Accompanied by a beautiful drawing of the day we see each other again.

Have you been separated by a loved one by choice? Do you still keep in touch, if so, how?  How do you feel on this topic?

My dog’s my best friend.

Standard

BY ABBY MAC

Zaakie Grass

My boy.

My best friend is perfect. He listens to everything I have to say, he never questions my opinions and traits and he always greets me with a smile. Unfortunately, he’s my dog. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that I’ll end up being that crazy cat lady down the street, or in this case dog lady, but someone else please tell me you feel the same way?

I have other really good friends, of course, who meet my needs of human interaction better than my dog, Zaakie, but he still never fails to make me smile every day. Zaakie calms me down, reads my emotions and manages to always be there when I need him. And I think I do the same for him. When he is frightened, he runs to where I am or into my room and that makes me feel very satisfied. Our friendship isn’t just me talking to a dog, he feels protected around me. When I’m sad he comes and lies me and when he’s sad, tired or being lazy he lies on me.

I really do love my dog. He’s my friend. He’s the best one I have. But he’s actually so much more than I thought. It isn’t just Zaakie who calms me down. He isn’t a special dog, in that, any dog can calm and soothe you. According to Elizabeth Scott, wellness coach, author and health coach, it’s often hard to resist calming down when you look into their adoring eyes. Pets can reduce blood pressure and help with your stress levels.

I know Zaakie does this. If he walks in and I’m angry, I don’t yell or show anger in front of him. It will scare him and I don’t want that. His infective personality is hard to resist and his big goofy smile doesn’t help. I watch him rip up toys and try to steal teddies from my room. That makes me laugh. He makes me very, very happy.

He may not be able to speak back to me, but he knows me better than any other friend. As I wrote earlier, when I’m sad, he lays on me. To non-animal lovers, that may seem disgusting but it’s comforting. How can you not obey to his demands; calm down and just pat him? Dogs have other benefits as well. They can encourage you to do exercise and get outside. Unless, you have a dog like mine and I end up pulling him home or just driving him everywhere.

Zaakie Sunglasses

I protect him from the sun.

But most of all, my dog loves me unconditionally. No matter whether you like to dance in your dressing gown and slippers to Mariah Carey songs…at 1pm in the afternoon, or you have no friends at school, your dog will love you. And that is one constant friendship and love in your life. Your friends can be so conditional during school, and there is nothing better than having one assuring friend. Your pet.

Zaakie is my best mate and there are days where I have a bad day at school and I just want to come home to Zac. It is his love and smile and dog antics that every day, make me love him even more. And, so on days where your assignments are getting a bit stressful or your ‘friends’ aren’t being friendly, maybe you should turn to that little obliging dog or cat who will always sit by you.

And if I am the crazy dog lady, at least my dogs won’t judge me.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Standard

 

BY JESS WRAY

Hey all! I write on behalf of myself, Abby and the Growing Pains Team as we wish you all a very merry Christmas, wherever you may be! I hope you all have a lovely day with whomever you choose to spend it with. I hope you all share the Christmas spirit and enjoy your presents!

If you’re like me, I release the ‘inner-child’ in me on Christmas day. I sprung awake at 3:50 am on the dot. It was still dark and I was so excited to look under the tree, be the first one to see the gifts. I lay in my dark, chilly room and debated with myself whether I should get up or if I should just stop being ridiculous and go back to bed, “It’s 3 o’clock Jess!” The more reasonable, mature side of me won the argument, so I tried desperately to go back to sleep; I shut my eyes tight. After about 10 minutes I decided I just couldn’t do it, so I turned on my lamp and decided to read my book for a while. After I had finished reading, checked Facebook and browsed on Instagram, I was delighted to have a small glistening glow of the sunshine peep through my window! By this time it was 4:45 or something crazy like that. I immediately opened my curtains and let the morning sunshine implode in. I love the crisp smell of the early morning, the gentle cool breeze and the birds that sing in chorus with nature. I was happy that soon I would be able to go wake up Mum and Dad as well, but I had to wait for the time to be just right… If I woke mum up at 4:00, I think she would have a fit and ban Christmas all together!

Not really, but you get the picture. After further debating with myself whether I should get up or not, I finally got the courage to get up and explore beneath the tree! I tip-toed as sneakily and as quietly as I could, checking all my surroundings before I approached the tree. Roger, Roger, the coast was clear. I saw some presents under the tree, all beautifully wrapped with red and white ribbons and each person in the family had exactly 3 presents addressed to them. I tried to sneak a peek but I thought, “Come on Jess, you’re ruining the spirit of Christmas!” By this time, I felt quite lonely and I needed to talk and wish someone Merry Christmas, my mouth felt trapped! I am usually quite the blabber mouth so you can understand my dilemma! I was suddenly greeted, very excitedly, by my favorite kitty, Cooper – he’s my pet cat. We cuddled for a while and he meowed me a Merry Christmas! I held him in my arms and decided to walk into Matt’s room (he’s my younger brother) and to my surprise Matt was wide awake too! A huge sense of relief came across the both of us; I wasn’t the only insane person in the family on Christmas day. Matt and I and little Coops chatted for a while about how we couldn’t get to sleep, he had been up since 4:00 am, and Cooper, well who knows! Later, we transferred to the living room, perfect distance away from Mum and Dad’s room, for us to make a noise and be able to talk and watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ; it’s one of Matt and I’s favorite T.V shows of all time. We know every word of the song… sometimes, even the script! So we were entertained by Sheldon and the Big Bang gang for about half an hour when we heard a very exciting sound.

It was Santa! Or maybe just mum awakening from up stairs. We both look at each other and our eyes light up! It was what we had been waiting for since 3:00 am! Thump, thump, thump went Mum’s footprints and the noise got louder as she came down the stairs and towards us; we knew it was time…to begin Christmas!

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” we belted out as we ran to mum who was still half asleep! We bounced and cheered and Matt and I anticipated and waited for the five words that we desperately wanted to hear… “Let’s go open some presents!” Mum and Dad, Matt and I all sat in our formal lounge and each collected our treasures from underneath the tree. We all took turns opening one present each as we went around the circle. Just like children. Oh, how I love Christmas!

Our family was very lucky this Christmas to receive a holiday as our main present, I also recieved DKNY ‘Be Delicious’ perfume, an eye shadow kit and a Coldplay ‘MY LO XYLOTO’ Concert Tour T-Shirt! I am very happy with all of my gifts and I am very excited to spend the rest of our Christmas Day with our dear family friends, The Ducrays! They used to live in South Africa too and we have known them all our lives, Brigitte (daughter, and my very close friend) and I were born together only about a month or two a part! We do miss our family so much, all the time but especially on these precious days, I send my love and Christmas wishes onto all of my dear friends and family that I cannot be with today.

So once again, I would like to wish you all a very magical Christmas and I hope that you are able to share and celebrate the love and joy with people who are special to you!

How did you start your Christmas day? Do you have any family ‘traditions’ on Christmas day? What gifts did you receive? 

Experiencing the Loss of a loved one

Image

Jess and Her Uncle

Whenever I hear the word, Death, I want to cringe. I am one of those people who is absolutely petrified of death and the tragedy that follows these events. I find it very hard to express myself when it comes to these types of situations and I often feel very lost for words. I don’t know if any of you have the same feeling or if any of you also feel lost. I decided to be brave and try to post something about this issue so that I could let my emotions out and maybe encourage or inspire any one to write about what you are experiencing.

When someone mentions ‘death’ as a whole, I get this feeling of pain all through my body. I never used to, but my perspective of death and loss has changed so dramatically over the past two years. I would like to tell you about my brave Uncle Clive. He is still so special to me and I miss him as each day passes. When I was about 10, my family received the worst possible news. After a terrible car accident, my Uncle was injured and thank God he did survive the crash but only for the doctors to find that he had a huge brain tumor inside his head. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what it meant, I didn’t even think death was a possibility at that stage. I was blind to mortality and I was naive. I still remember my uncle so vividly, the way he laughed, his jokes and the passion that he had for the outdoors, especially the beach and the wildlife. As things started to change, I was a bit confused at that age. I would often see people crying and I would often ask myself if I should be crying too? As time went by, his situation got worse and as I matured I started to understand. His first operation went so well and he survived and I remember how happy my family was, we felt as if we could conquer the world now. I thought nothing could bring me down, he was alive and well. We used to laugh with him and he used to joke about how it was “…just a scratch” and my uncle continued to live life to the fullest, just as he had always done and for a while he felt infinite.

Months passed and we thought his illness was a thing of the past and I hadn’t thought about it for so long. About 3 months later the ‘monster’ grew back and it was like nothing I had felt before. It was like a re-occurring nightmare that just wouldn’t leave your mind. My whole family couldn’t believe it, it seemed so unreal. Anticipation grew high and for many months, family life was tense and painful inside but my brave uncle told us not to worry and to go about as we usually do, smiling with his funny grin that I remember. I admired him so much, I still do. Thanks to all our prayers and hope, we were granted yet another miracle when my uncle survived another head operation and that feeling of release and joy overwhelmed us, yet again. We felt ten times more powerful than before. I always remember thinking, “Now this is it, it won’t happen again” and at the time, that statement seemed so promising and so realistic. Scars from the operation left Uncle Clive with huge metal stitches across his forehead, and he always used to say, “you see, the doctors should just make a zip across my head, every time they need to operate” and we would all have a good laugh about that. My uncle was a real joker, always making us happy when things weren’t looking up. Clive started to grow back some of his hair and he really was starting to look healthier and more like himself again.

We all felt so proud and excited that he was getting well again. I wish I could end the story here and say that everything was alright after that, that he survived and we are so grateful to have him here with us today. However as much as I really, sincerely wish I could, I can’t. As much as it kills me inside, I must go on. By this time, my close family (meaning my mother, father and brother) had moved to Australia and we had got yet another devastating and gut wrenching phone call that broke our hearts. He was ill again. We were so far away from all our family and it was so hard during that time as we were alone. I missed everyone so much and I felt scared. Everyday I would think that I should be in South Africa, I should be with all my family at this very difficult time. I didn’t get to speak to my uncle often. I really regret not talking to him much, I wish I had called and asked him how he was going. Numerous of occasions I would walk in on my mum crying or having a serious conversation and from what I could hear; it didn’t sound promising or hopeful. I prayed every night and most of my prayers would end in tears. After weeks of anxiety and worrying about him we got a very surprising phone call, which brought us the miraculous news once again that he survived his THIRD operation and by this time, we really thought our blessed uncle had been kissed by an angel. After that we kept in contact over Skype and phone calls etc. Uncle Clive sounded and looked great! We were also so excited as my family were getting ready to actually visit South Africa again and see everyone. I felt like I was happy again. I was going home. I would love to say it’s the same here in Australia but unfortunately it’s not.

Seeing our family and visiting S.A was so amazing, it felt so surreal and spending quality time with the family was wonderful. I am really exceeding the word limit but I will tell you about a day, a day in South Africa that I will most definitely remember for the rest of my life.

Blue skies. Hot, Durban weather. My aunty said we should all go out to have a nice lunch at this cafe next to the beach. Life was good, everyone was healthy and happy. We had just driven for an hour and a half to visit my cousins, who were staying at the beach (I can’t remember the exact name). We all had a delicious lunch and we had the beach breeze cooling us down. My cousin Devon challenged himself with the hottest curry on the menu and so did his older brother, my other cousin, Shaun. Of course, you can only guess the result of that… Anyway, as we do, we all decided to take some nice family photos while we were all together enjoying that gorgeous day. I remember holding the camera and taking funny photos. Clive and his sons loved to pull the funniest faces and always tended to do so in ALL of our nice family photos! We love them for it though! I remember specifically saying  “Uncle Clive, look here” and he pulled the cheesiest grin and I snapped that moment, us laughing and having a ball. I still have those photos and I cry and laugh every time I see them now.

The memorable cheesy grin

Unfortunately, holidays come to an end and it was time to say good-bye. Uncle Clive was feeling sick again. It started to come back. I didn’t get to say good-bye to him because he was too unwell to come to the airport. I wonder what was going through my head at that time. I couldn’t have known. I feel like I should have. I feel sick in my stomach, thinking about our last hug and wave goodbye. Little did I know it would be our last one ever.

So by now you have probably guessed the ending. A tragic one it was. I can hardly finish off this story. I feel shaky and sore.

I came home from a hockey game feeling great, I’m pretty sure we won, then mum and dad called Matt and I to come and sit down on the couch. I could see that look in their eyes, I had seen it three times before remember. My heart literally sank and I swear I could feel it in my stomach. My heart raced at about a million rates per hour and all of a sudden the sound was mumbled as mum put her hand on mine and said the words I had been dreading for months, “There’s no easy way to say this, but Uncle Clive has passed away.” Everything went silent and all I could hear was my heart. It’s so clear in my memory I can almost feel it now. I had never felt grief before. I had never really experienced loss. To me, it felt like the end of the world. I couldn’t see a bright light at the end of our pitch black tunnel. My family was shocked but in a way, they expected this to happen. Mum used to say that I just be grateful to have known such a brave person and that we were all so lucky and blessed. I wished it hadn’t happen. Sometimes I used to shut my eyes so tight they would hurt and I would try to convince myself that this wasn’t happening, that it wasn’t real. To my horror, it was terrifyingly real.

I can’t say that I only mourned for several months, because in fact, I am still mourning. It’s not as bad anymore as everything heals with time but such a loss will never fully heal. I began to wonder what I would say to him if I could have said one last goodbye. What could I have done or said differently?

Dear Uncle Clive, 

I miss you more than you could ever know. I really admire you. I am so sorry that such a cruel, unfair thing had to happen to you. You were one of the most amazing, brave people I knew. I aspire to be like you. I really do. I sometimes cry, thinking that you won’t see your kids marry or see us graduate from school, but that is selfish of me. I am happy that you are not suffering anymore but you really gave those other 3 brain tumors a run for their money! I want to thank you for being such a great uncle, son, father and husband to all of us and let you know that we love you and always will. We will never forget you. You aren’t completely gone, you see, whenever I see the ocean, I think of you. I didn’t get to attend your funeral but I know that your ashes are somewhere in the ocean, where you would wish to be. I look at the sea and remember how you taught me to dive under the waves when I was scared of the ocean. I remember you teaching your boys to surf and having fun with us all on the beach. I wish I could have said this to you. Everyday, I think about this. Please remember me, and watch over all of us. I will look out for you. Thank you for being you and we love you.

Uncle Clive and Devon having a surf. Good old days.

I am sorry to really go into detail, but you must know that this is the first time I have written about this and I feel a huge sense of release. I was inspired to write this story today when I remembered that I am attending my old principal’s funeral tomorrow, we are paying our respects to her as she sadly passed away just over a week ago after suffering a long, hard battle with breast cancer and I feel that it somehow relates to my story. It also struck me that I have never actually been to a funeral before and to be honest, I am scared. However, I will hold my head up high, for my Uncle and for Jan remembering that just as life can be brought into this world, sadly we all have our departure dates. Unfortunately, some of us are not given a fair go and our lives get cut short but we will always remember the precious memories that will never evaporate or die in our minds and in our hearts. We must appreciate the lives of our loved ones every day and not take anything for granted.

May my Uncle and Ms. Newham and any of your loved ones – who have passed, rest in peace. I hope you all grow strength in your minds, bodies and spirits and I wish that you find hope, love and support during these hard times.