Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Incredible SAMA Katoomba Street Art Walk.

"Grace makes beauty ... out of ugly things." - Bono

In one of the dingiest laneways in Katoomba, Blue Mountains ... a majestic transformation has occurred.

Don't you love seeing beauty rise amongst garbage, decay, neglect?

I love this one .... dirty pipes transformed into a GOLDEN FRAME

The detail and passion, artistry and vision. All from a humble aerosol can.

The SAMA (Street Art Murals Australia) walk launched over the Winter Magic Weekend Katoomba on the 20th and 21st June. A mixture of 25 local and international street artists converged and concentrated on their art ... and when art and passion and creativity and permission collide, amazing things happen.

I've known Beverly Lane for seventeen years. It's around the corner from the small rental house we brought Max home to after he was born. It was the shortcut I'd take to push him in the pram up to the shops when I didn't yet have my drivers license.

I had the most visceral reaction to this one, tears streaming down my face. Something about seeking land, seeking shelter, seeking asylum. Feeling lost and helpless, at the mercy of the waves. no stopping allowed.

This was one of my favourites. Yin yang good evil black white dark light. We all got it. Every one of us. 

Felt so sad for this bare guy with the green door. Does he feel left out? Less than, because everybody's now much, much fancier than him? Nobody looks at Mr Green Door the way they look at his now opulent neighbours. People would barely give him a second glance. But don't worry, Greenie. Look at all that potential you have, just sitting on those mismatched bricks. I see you ... I see your broken window cage like a rib cage bursting with heart and your leaky ceiling crying from neglect and your dirty walls and rusty pipes but it's no pipe dream - YOU are the most special building on the block now! YOU are the one with the most promise, the most to look forward to! Imagine what you will become, what transformation awaits for you.

Just be patient, sweetheart. Be still. Like all those caterpillars who think the cocoon is the end, that their lives are finished and they never amounted to much, wistfully staring up at the wonder of the butterflies.

Just you wait til you see who you're gonna be, Mr Green Door. Just you wait.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mother. Hood. (Slam Poem.)

On Saturday I attended and spoke at the best conference. I wouldn't even really call it a conference ... a gathering. A coven. A sacred circle of strong tough weak wobbly steel-capped soul-mapped women. And a few men - open, accepting, men.

I spoke. About my journey of becoming a mother and the difficulties and travails and joys since. About the "dark side" of motherhood. The hard parts. The shadows. The immense giving that our babies bring us but also the frustrations at the things that becoming a mother can rob us of - creativity, time, ourselves, our sanity.

Kristy Vallely from The Imperfect Mum put on the entire thing, with incredibly well-matched and intelligent sponsors. I love Kristy. She is not afraid of raw and real and rough. Nothing I say could ever shock her. I wrote almost my entire talk and subsequent slam poem in the toilet or out hidden in the fancy cushions in the pool area, mostly crying, avoiding everyone because wonderful warm-hearted women are terrifying don't you know. Shaming myself so bad because it was like writing out an overdue geography assignment in Year 9 ONE DAY I MIGHT BE ORGANISED .. Saturday was not that day.

I was the last speaker. I had no powerpoint presentation or fancy takeaway thoughts. There was just me in my poetry boots and crumpled heart and I announced to all of the people there that my head tells me that they are all better mothers than me. That this year I have really dropped the ball when it comes to keeping my boys feeling secure and their rooms and hearts tidy and how all of that is about to change in a big, big way. I told them I stood before them a broken woman. Told them a few things, launched into my story and then stripped off my bright green top to don a grey hoodie and performed the hastily scrawled "Mother Hood." An homage to all of you still in the trenches, way out of the trenches, about to enter the trenches.

Trenches. Motherhood is not a war, but it is a constant battle.

I tried to pull out the day before I flew to Brisbane but I got on the plane and went in spite of my head. One of the hardest things I've ever done, actually. Felt like a fraud. But I keep banging on about speaking our truth so I just did,  and in sharing my fragile, empty heart and outing myself as a broken woman standing there before them, I set a lot of myself free. Because it's just the truth, which is the whole concept and heart and idea behind Kristy's Imperfect Mum site. I told my truth. I spoke my words. Slammed down a few poems, and set myself - perhaps even a few others - free in the process.

Thank you Kristy, for believing in me. You have made me stronger and more determined to walk ahead the next bit of my life with a bit more substance and strength. I will now be kicking some serious arse in my motherhood, sisterhood, womanhood. Cumulative life events have robbed me of a lot. This year has almost annihilated me in many ways.

There's a huge Spiritual transformation taking place because getting real and owning up to who we are tends to propel us forward. I'm so grateful and glad and lucky and kind of in a disbelief that I'm still here. With a rock-solid yet quiet and scary but hopeful knowing that I have much, much more work to do before I go. Motherhood broke me open. Cut through my chest. Gave me open heart surgery. My boys are pieces of stars sent from the underworld, the nether, the unknown, the "heavens."

It's time I honoured that again like I used to before all the trauma and grief brought me undone. So I will. Made a decision. Handed it over. Let it go. It's excruciating and painful and sacred.

Thank you for being there that day and cheering me on. Thank you for the hugs you meant. Thank you for reading this post and watching this clip. I wrote the poem on some scraps of unlined paper and once I started I couldn't stop, truth and words and pain poured and pored. Wrote it for me. Wrote it for you - yeah, you.

The next Empowering Women Conference is on in Melbourne in August. I'll be talking and performing there too ... a new, improved, tougher version of Edenland. With different things to say but the message stays the same.

Life is hard. Deal and get real, baby.


Tickets to the Melbourne Conference available HERE

Imperfect Mum on Facebook (take a look .. no shirking the big issues.)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Found In Translation.

I can't quite articulate exactly why such emotion swells up in me when I watch this clip. Obviously, it's one of the most rocking songs ever with a wicked beat and stand-up lyrics but ... it's not even the fact that it's being interpreted to sign language.

I think it's Shelby's power, her raw and stunning real meaning when she signs. And the FIERCE. She didn't even do it for fame! Just quietly uploaded it last year to YouTube as a job application and a few weeks ago it found its way onto Reddit and boom. Viral.

I laugh when I hear marketing execs or agents or clients say, "Right, let's make this thing go viral!" Because the things that go viral are not because of some lame campaign. It's always, always because of a true resonance with people. Authenticity of the human Spirit can never be replicated. You can't force something to go viral. (Unless it's a virus that'll wipe out the entire human species but that's an entirely different kind of viral that reminds me I best dig that bunker soon.)

Here's Shelby Mitchusson signing Lose Yourself. I keep losing myself in it because she lost herself in it and I invite you to lose yourself in it too. Let's just all lose the hell out of ourselves for five minutes and sixteen seconds. As her neat hair bun gets messier and she CANES through the fast bit and I know the song so well but I've never known it like this.

Not like this.

(One of the things I adore the very most is her triumphant yet humble smile at the end. Because she knew she nailed the utter fuck out of it. NAILED.)

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Some Days Have Bouncers That Won't Let You In.

Sometimes I go silent.

I like silence. I'm an introvert. I'm also loud, obnoxious, caring, compassionate, and can be a huge fucking arsehole. All the contradictions, the different shades of beautiful colours that us messy complex humans can be.

Last week I had a shocker. People very close to me have betrayed, hurt, and cut me to the core. Deeply. Pretty sure I saw bone. It's been intensely difficult to deal with a lot of the relationships in my life for the last few years. I struggle and cry, obviously still in shock and pain about the death of my brother. I don't even believe in the word "grief" anymore. What I'm experiencing is far greater than that because when Cam died? My whole life flew hurtling from underneath the water and every single thing I have ever gone through in my life burst through the surface. I don't joke about having three dead dads anymore. It's not funny. I experienced a lot of trauma and suffering as a kid and have finally been able to let that go. With love. Hopefully. Shit. Mary Oliver once said that somebody gave her a box of darkness once and it took her years to realise that this, too, was a gift.

I can't write on this website about every single thing that happens in my life. It would be wrong, hurtful, inappropriate, and incredibly fucking juicy. I try to be a decent person I really do. Loving my boys and being a good mother is the most important thing in my life. Their parents separated and seeing the pain on their faces, especially lately, is awful. It's really hard to be living in this rented house by myself. Winter is here and there's no proper heating and the lawns are so big I have to pay somebody to do it regularly and on the weeks I don't have the boys I eat cold tinned spaghetti straight out of a can. I fucking hate tinned spaghetti but when there's just me here what's the point. I've put the same load of washing through the machine about five times now but keep forgetting to hang it up. It won't dry on the clothesline and I don't have a dryer. There's a mountain of mail on my kitchen table that I'm terrified to open. My Foxtel has been cut off and I have to pay a cancellation fee to get rid of it and I just might because how can I flick through over a hundred channels and there's still nothing to watch? Hey remember when we just had five TV channels and that was it?

The last time I felt this lonely was probably at the tail end of my drinking days in the nineties. Lost, confused, in pain, damaged, and successfully pushed away everybody in my life who truly cared about me.

I'm angry and so so hurt. And silent, because sometimes I go silent. Bono says some days have bouncers that won't let you in. People often assume that just because I'm not on social media much or have updated my very very important twitter or Instagram or whatever the fuck else there is out there these days - well, people often assume that I have gone off the rails. I know it's mostly coming from a caring place but it's really starting to piss me off. It's my blog and there will be tumbleweeds blowing through here if I want to. Some days everything is wrong and I want to punch inspirational quotes in the face, rage at the state of the world out there and the world in my heart. I don't even want to be happy - just ok. I just want to be ok. I fight to be ok.

Am I ok? No fucking way. But I do actually have a roof over in my head, beautiful beautiful naughty cheeky gorgeous boys that make my heart warm, and PLENTY of tinned spaghetti in my pantry. Some days are alright, a lot are beyond painful, and most I kind of just walk around and hope, dream and pray that one day things might ease. (Oh I pray that they ease.)

So yeah, sometimes I go silent but me and god ARE actually on speaking terms now. Lately I have wept and wept and sat outside on the side deck that I thought would be *perfect* for entertaining when I moved in but to do that you actually have to entertain and if I held a dinner party at this point all I could serve was spaghetti in a can, then perform a profoundly moving performance of Send In The Clowns.

Last week I asked god to help, to protect, to take some of my owies away. And I said thank you to the clouds up there for all of the beauty and goodness in my life. I was in so much pain I couldn't even stand up for about two hours.

But you know what happens when you're in so much pain you can't even stand up for about two hours?

Eventually, you're going to need to take a piss.

So I stood up.

And I intend to keep standing up and rolling with all the shit and mire every day. It's bullshit hard but I'm not a young girl from a small village in Nigeria who was kidnapped by Boko Haram while sitting at my school desk because in many places on this world, men do not want women to get educated. I don't have cancer. I don't live on a slum pile in Delhi, shunned by society. I'm not drinking or using drugs. I have the entire series of Orange is the New Black to look forward to. Dave Grohl exists. I have two arms, two legs, even some elbows hips and knees that are all starting to creak. Good. Get old, this body of mine. Get old and wrinkled and weathered and get real and get through this.

I still got so much to say. I hope that soon my words will overflow and fall right off the page and into peoples laps because jesus humanity needs to wake the fuck up, stop buying dumb shit, question our politicians, sign petitions, march in the streets, stop watching so much porn, and focus on things that will actually contribute something to the planet. Stop pressing snooze. Life is meaningless so we may as well stand up and put some fucking meaning into it.

Love and fucking light, you guys.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

When Somebody You Love Wants To Kill Themselves.


I'm not entirely sure how or why you've stumbled across this piece, but you have. It might be the most important thing you ever read, so listen up. Listen to my sad, broken voice of experience. It's a bit heavy, but that's ok! Heavy exists. Let's not ignore it. Heavy is needed, sometimes.

There's a lot of people in the world who would like to take themselves out of the world. Kill themselves. Suicide. For whatever reason - there's a whole HOST of reasons. I have a belief the biggest reason is that life is just HARD. So hard, and confusing, and tiring. We try and be part of things and keep up and look at other people living somewhat seamlessly and we're all, what's wrong with me?

These words are not aimed at people who want to die - sorry you guys, there's heaps of literature and help out there for you. This is directly aimed at the people who are desperately, crazily worried about the people they're witnessing going down, down to the nether where all hope is lost.

So what can we do, to try and make the people we love so much just STAY when they want to take themselves away? And why am I such an expert at this? Well, my younger brother who I loved more than life itself killed himself in October 2013. Only a year a bit ago. Some days swallow me whole and I am in hell's furnace. Other days are manageable. Every day is hard. Every, every day. My brothers name was Cameron - isn't that a beautiful name? I feel complicit in his death. I feel a lot of blame. I feel emotions that have no name. And I have written here on the site many times about the aftermath of his death and it has been ugly and messy and just too much.

To this day I receive emails from people who are terrified that their people are going to kill themselves. Mothers, fathers, cousins, sons, daughters - sisters. Just last week I got an email from a very caring sister so desperately concerned that her brother will suicide. She felt bad for asking me, but I answered her. Just like I answer all the other worried emails I get from people trying to help save their loved ones.

So here's some tips that I have learnt, all the things I would have done - SHOULD have done, to keep my beautiful Cam alive even though he was so intent on taking himself away.

1) Don't keep the secret.

For years my brother talked to me of suicide. But not all the time! Sometimes he was even *happy* and content, living his life and working and having a great woman by his side. But often - many, many times, he would call me up out of the blue and we'd talk for two, three hours straight. He was DOWN. He was FUCKED UP. He wasn't sleeping - sometimes he wouldn't sleep for two or three days straight. How could I not hear those warning bells? If a person does not sleep for that amount of time, they're bordering on psychosis. He refused drugs or therapy. I was his only lifeline.

2) Do not be the persons only lifeline.

You do not have the power just by yourself to keep somebody alive. I thought I did. I was wrong. MAKE them get help. MAKE them go on some kind of meds, even if it's just the short term, to calm them down or help them sleep. Tell other trusted people that know the person ... so you are not battling this alone. It was a hard, lonely battle for me. I lost. I lost.

(And speaking of Lifeline - well, it's not for everyone. Just saying. Keep searching for a helpful place that fits. You will find one.)

3) Research everything you can.

Present your loved one with a host of things they can do. My brother shunned therapy until the week before he died. He finally saw a psychiatrist. But by then it was too late, and he never went back. I have an irrational anger towards that psychiatrist .. she knows he killed himself. I wonder if she ever thinks about him? Therapy alone cannot save somebody. I think it's a mixture of meds, counselling, cutting through the denial, and the biggest one of all ......


Go to them. Sleep at their house. Pop popcorn. Stay up until 4am watching Bill Murray movies. Laugh. Lay down on the floor and rest your legs up on the wall and shoot the shit - talk about how stupid life is but isn't it a relief that it will end of its own accord anyway? Being an incredibly suicidal person myself, this knowledge gives me great relief. Life will end one day. Why not just live it anyway, not take it so seriously, see what happens? Stay with your person - for a week, two weeks. Put your whole life on hold. Commune with them. Eat burgers. Just be, together. There is enormous power in that.

5) Ask other peoples advice.

What would they do? How can they help too, surreptitiously? In the last week of my brothers life I went behind his back and told people and man he would have been furious and shitty at me - and he would have stopped talking to me. I liked that he told me everything. I felt honoured. He felt his secret was safe with me - mostly it was. But it shouldn't have been.

I wish I got my Cam committed into the mental health ward of his local hospital. I don't care if he had hated me - and to be quite frank, in the state he was in, he may very well have talked his way out and gone and locked the door of his flat and killed himself anyway. But you know what? He might not have. He might not have! And the pain of living with that every day of my life always eats me up and spits me out. It's dreadful.

See, all the advice I have is geared towards the people doing everything and anything they can to keep their loved one alive. So that if the very worst does happen, they KNOW they did everything they could. I did not do everything I could. I should have told my mum, told extended members of my family, told the whole fucking world. But I didn't. Oh. Oh!

I used to be full of bravado and say yeah I got regrets and if you don't have regrets then you're not really living properly. But this regret, this is the most painfully sharp insidious awful thing to live with, day in and day out. I didn't save my brother.

So, people who love people who want to die - do everything and anything you can. For your own sake. Don't end up like me, with the worst case of what-ifs this planet has ever known.

I loved my brother like I love my sons. I wail. I collapse. I hurt. I am fucking annihilated by such extraordinary pain of his absence, which is quite selfish but not really. He coulda been a contender. He could have lived an extraordinary life. He was an extraordinary guy ... he just did not know how to get out of himself, break free. This is where the murky world of showoffs on social media REALLY shit me. I appreciate people who are real and tell it like it is, not people who constantly showcase their life like a goddamn magazine. We're humans - flawed and hopeless and full of shit. Own that. Get real. Because the false image you portray to the world can be very, very damaging.

Good luck, dear worried people. Email me if you want - I don't mind one bit. If I even have a teeny part of helping somebody not die today, well ... what a gift.

You'll notice I didn't call this post "What To Do When Somebody You Love Wants To Kill Themselves." Because really ... I failed at that. The biggest failure of my life and I'll wrestle it like a crocodile always.

I will miss my brother to the end of the earth to the end of my life and I cannot believe he is gone. I'm trying so hard to stay here, make him proud, be a good mother to my boys. But I never knew such a pain as this and I would not wish it on anybody. So good luck. Go well. Hold your people close. Just love them .. love them very hard.

                                Beautiful Cam. 1980-2013 Loved and missed by so many people.

Hold on, darlings. Hold on.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Bring It: The 2015 Australian Poetry Slam Katoomba Heats UP.

I'm in. Who's in? You in? A whole year has passed since last years heats and I'm even still alive, seared on BOTH sides this time.

All I got is a killer last line, for the heat in Katoomba in a few weeks. That's it so far ... a killer last line. Sometimes I write the end before I write the beginning, what of it? God taught me. I'll be spending the next few weeks perfecting my slam, ironing it carefully like a school shirt, hanging it out in the winter breeze, setting it down in the sun, seeing it from all angles. All of my new spoken word pieces are ready, assembled, just waiting for me to reach in and pluck them out of my ribcage like a petunia. I have a pencil behind one ear, a notebook in hand, and my beautiful battered heart. So open it's broken, as all good hearts should be.

One of Australia's truest and talented performance artists, Omar Musa. Listen.

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