Happy Birthday to you

A year ago I sat down at my desk and began to type. Id been promising myself every New Years Eve that this would be the year that I’d take the leap and start to write. For the last 8 years before that I’d spent my time writing down the stories of other people. On some level I think I had waited for someone to ask me what was my story, I gave up waiting and created the platform for myself. If I genuinely believed that everyone had a story worth telling then I had to believe the same for myself.

A blog can change a lot in a year, I thought Id spend most of my time writing amazingly insightful pieces about life, the universe and me but what I found was that the more I shared the more I wanted to keep some of my universal truths silent. That baring your soul makes you feel more vulnerable some days and that a bad mood can swiftly pass but a blog post remains forever. (unless you delete it, but that’s beside the point). That was when I stumbled upon the idea of asking people about their spaces, where their gaps existed between themselves and other people. I actively sort people out who had a new perspective on life, one that I thought other people could benefit from.

Over the next 365 days my blog wasnt far from my mind. It shaped the way I viewed the world, every experience was a potential post, every heartbreak a possible share and every achieement a possible exploration. Ive worked out that not all of my stories are mine to share and Ive also found that the power of telling my story has released me from its stronghold. Onwards.

For all 22123 visitors over the last year, for the average Joe or Josephine that stayed for around 3 and a 1/2 minutes I say thank you. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy days to read and comment…when I looked back over what I’d written I felt both proud and amazed that in between 2 chickens and 2 step-chickens I found the energy to tip tap away on my trusty mac. Perhaps Ive just been avoiding the washing up for a whole calendar year?

For those new to my blog, or those keen to know what stood out, the most popular posts about other people’s stories can be found here, here and here.

The ones where I laid my little heart on the line resonated here, here and here with people.

Thank you to my husband for reading and listening and for kissing me on top of the head, not using any words when he reads something he doesn’t know about me, thankyou to my new lovely friends at Sydney Writers Centre who push me to keep going, thankyou to my new friends in the online world and thanks to my brain – for trusting that what I thought might be worth jotting down.

Hip Hip Hooray

Frankie says…Choose Life (a guest post)

Lisa from Giving Back Girl responded to my plea that I was lost for words. Writing for uni and freelancing with tight deadlines can do that to a person. Im word spent.

Here she is talking about her space in between. I love her writing and I love that we have carved a friendship out of a chance meeting and a few online shenanigans. Follow her blog here or her twitter feed here,  or just send a big fat Like out to the universe if social media isn’t your thing.

And as Molly Meldrum would say…do yourself a favour (and have a read and share)


My mum died when I was 28, she was 55.  Hers was an unhappy life, and even though I like to think that she adored my sister and I, and would have walked over hot coals for us, I think she may have even been a little disappointed in us.  And let me just get the record straight, I loved my mum and would have walked over coals for her without flinching.  But this isn’t about that.  Or maybe it is.

I have a crazy-detailed memory.  My life memory is like a whole series of mini movies that I can replay at will, to see what I was wearing or eating or doing.  But there is a period of my life where my memory movies are dark, I don’t replay them often, perhaps when I’m with my sister and too many pinot gris’s have been consumed and we feel we need to talk about our “stuff”.  Because I saw things that frankly a child should never, ever have to see.  And I lived my life in a way that no child should have to live.  There was nothing sinister, just negative and destructive, snipping away at any chance I had of a normal childhood.

There was a period when my mum was in a hospital (I’ll pause while you fill in the blank about the kind of hospital it was) when my powers of memory decided that “no, this is not something we’re going to save”, and my memory thankfully deserted me.  I have no memory of that time, just an occasional bleep.  The power of my consciousness to protect me still intrigues me.

But what amazes me most is my adult reaction to my life, when I think back on it.  You see, I could have chosen to be a victim, to drape myself in a cloak of self pity, to wallow in my memories.  I could have let my childhood experiences shape my future, to manipulate my relationships.  I could have dragged it around all my adult experiences like an unwanted suitcase that you can’t get rid of.  I could have worn a name badge with a “Hi I’m Lisa and I’m damaged”.

But I didn’t.

I chose to not let my childhood experiences have any impact or influence on my life, the life that I’m in control of.   They are part of me and always will be, but I have come out of this as a survivor, someone who has chosen a “happy life” and chosen not to be a victim.

I am not a victim, I am in control of what I choose to do with my childhood experiences.

And I choose to remember the good memories.

I choose to remember how clever mum was, of the shape of her fingernails, of how she loved when I got promoted in a job, of loved the weather, and watching big seas. Now I always pick up shells from the beach, because she taught me to do that.  I love that I share “Grandma” memories with my three young boys even though they never met each other, so I have given her a personality, quirky and a little kooky, which she was, and which my boys love.  I love that my eldest looks like me, and that I look like my mum, and that somehow we’re keeping that part of our gene pool going.  I know that my Mum would have been so proud of me for creating my beautiful boys, and for taking a gamble on a career path that she would have loved to have done herself.

My space in between is a little special, because even though I could choose to take on a role as a “victim”, I unconsciously wanted no part of that.  Maybe I was a little exhausted from it all, and craved normality and happiness, or maybe I knew how destructive that could be on all the things I wanted in my life.  And I think this choice has done something a little magical to my relationship with my mum.  I miss her dreadfully.  I love her dearly.  And I have regrets that we didn’t have a second chance at life together.



Saying no, to being a victim is a powerful thing. Having worked in the ‘victims’ field for eons Ive seen how the move away from promoting resilience, how buying in to labels, letting the world and all its darkness take you away from seeing the light is something that is not helpful.

I also like that through my blog I get to see the little bits of peoples lives.

What did you think of Lisa’s space in between…whats yours?

What garden path? a TSIB interview

Tash contacted me a few months ago asking for some room to explore her space between her man and his illness. After a few speed bumps we managed to get the interview together and what we finished up with was a poignantly funny piece about living for now, having a love and hanging with your soul mate. I get a little frustrated by the continual sharing on social media sites of inspirational quotes – they depress me, more than uplift me as we can’t all be up all the time. Its ironic then that I think Tash’s next business venture should be  writing little manifesto’s for just getting on with it!

Its bloody cold in Sydney at the moment, so pop on a pair of daggy old slippers (if you’re in these parts or swan about with your skin showing if you’re lucky enough to be in a warmer climate) and sit back and learn about what it means to love, in sickness and in health.


Tash…tell me a little about you

Hello!  My name is Tash and I am 26 years old. In the past year I have moved to Ballarat in Victoria, with my partner Chris. I really like to make things, dance in my lounge room on Saturday nights in my pyjamas, read-lots and I love comedy of all sorts. One of the most important things I think we need in life is to laugh. And be comfortable. (Hence the pyjama pants)

I live with my ‘Chef-man’ Chris, Matilda (our Border Collie) and Mary (our cat). We moved to Ballarat from South Australia because we were not happy in SA and we needed a fresh start. We both were in jobs that were unfulfilling, and we could not work out where to go next. We had had a few years of really average things happening-Chris has a form of bowel cancer called ‘Lynch’s Disease’ (officially called the very scary sounding, Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer) and quite frankly we were both emotionally tired and felt like we were facing a dead end.

So we packed up our life, put our houseboat up for sale (yes we lived on a houseboat!) and drove to Ballarat. Now we live next door to my brother and sister in law-we even have a gate in out back fence. I feel like I escaped. I am so happy in Ballarat and love our life we are building together.

What makes you love Chris like you do?

So many things Sarah! I think he is marvelous…right now he is sitting across from the couch from me, watching QI with a glass of wine. He is laughing at Bill Bailey, with our Border Collie curled up next to him. I feel very lucky to have his love, I feel very blessed to be sharing my life with him. I like that he can laugh at me when I am grumpy and make me laugh at myself too. We play cards together at the pub. He writes me cards for Mothers Day from Matilda and Mary (our cat), his laugh is deep, his soul is large, he has kind eyes and a slow smile that creeps across his face.

When we met we would talk for hours, all through the night. He is the strongest person I know. He has to face the reality that one day, the cancer will come back. He has to have tests every three months, for the rest of his life. He does not get the luxury of remission.

We are 23 years in age apart. We fell in love whilst working together (oh God it was complicated!) We danced around the concept for about a year before we finally bit the bullet, had a massive fight on New Years Eve and ended up kissing that same night, somewhere on the Murray River.

I think one of the main reasons I love him is because he adds so much happiness to my quality of life. We love going for long country drives together, poking about in markets and spending nights in with cheese, wine and a good movie. We are a partnership and we support each other in the ways that the other can not.

How does illness live between the two of you – is it there some days and then forgotten on others or is it always in the background?

Chris has a hereditary form of bowel cancer. It is in his DNA, his father died from the same form of cancer, and his brother has the same cancer too. (a real shitter eh?) We have dealt with numerous operations and rounds of chemo. Chris is currently in the clear, but he did have a tumor removed from his shoulder last month. Lynch’s Disease has an increased rick of getting other cancers too because of the mutations in his DNA.

We live in limbo. We do not plan a future, perhaps further than a year. Being 26, most of my friends are starting to think about kidlets and marriage but Chris and I know that we will not have kids, because his cancer is hereditary, which is something which I have learnt to accept, as much as one can anyway. Our everyday is the same. We live exactly the same life that everyone else does – rego, bills, dreaming of holidays – but there it is, always hanging around the edges, the sinister. We are scared that it will come back. Every three months, there is the slow build up of tension before his tests (Chris calls it his turkey basting-I’ll leave it to your imagination!) then the waiting for the results, then the release when it is all-OK.

I think the thing that we try to remember is that if we did not follow our hearts (as clichéd as it sounds) we would not be sharing this experience of our relationship. It was not an easy decision for either of us to let go of our individual fears and jump in.

I definitely do not regret it, and I am pretty sure Chris does not either!

How do you sit not knowing what the future will hold? 

I have never worried about the future prior to Chris and I definitely do not focus on it now. I have learnt that you never ever, ever know which garden path you will end up dancing down, and that is honestly what I love about life the most. This may sound strange to some people, but I would rather have a wonderful time with Chris now, and in the future when something does happen to Chris, I can hold onto the wonderful memories we have created. I know, that because of my age, that there is a possibility that I will have another partner in life-but then again, I may not. Who knows? We concentrate on the here and now, and what makes us happy. I hope this does not come across as sounding frivolous and shallow. But there is no point in worrying. You will miss things that happen right in front of your nose.

What would you say to people in a similar situations?

Do what makes you happy. Accept whatever may come will come. Tell everyone you love them, all of the time.

Live for today.

Make sure you are happy with your doctor, and then trust everything he says. Do not Google any medical terms/symptoms EVER. Be gentle to yourself. Utilise services that are available to you, social groups, doctors, everything. Remember that when things are really, really shit (and they will be!) that you will be OK.

Surround yourself with people that make you feel safe. Make sure you laugh a lot and fill your life with colour and love.

I think the main thing I have learnt is that I am strong. I can deal with most things that come my way. That is not to say I do not cry, or get angry, or feel weak some days. I have learnt to be very content in the right now.

To not worry about the future.

To not worry if the couch is old, or if we have an old bomb of a car, or if we do not know what we will be doing in five years.

I wake up every morning with a big black dog that runs in and jumps on us as soon as she senses we are awake, a little cat that sleeps on my feet at night and next to a man who loves me….even with bed hair.


Thanks Tash, its hard not to get caught up in collecting what we thing we need when what we want is some chances to laugh and be surrounded by people we love. I must admit Im also partial to a poke around at a good market too! Tash also writes a blog which you can visit here, if you liked Tash’s story and you’re new to TSIB jump over here and read some of the other interviews. Im always happy to chat with other people about their space in between…

Oh and yes, Dr Google is never a good idea.


No other explanations…part two


Thanks for popping back this evening to read the second half of this lovely interview. If you didnt read the previous posts click here to have a read.

Like I said in my opening last night one of the main reasons for asking to Emmanuel to chat was for me to learn more about how we, as helpers, look after ourselves. Also a couple of years back I hosted a roundtable for siblings who had someone missing – it was the first time many of them had been given the chance to share their story. Their story away from the glare of their parents, away from other people’s interpretation and without having to worry what their words might mean to others.

These ideas shaped the remainder of my questions.

Here it is….love and light to you all x


Working in the trauma field how do you manage looking after you?

To be honest I probably look after myself rather badly. Part of my job is listening to other people’s problems and trying to help them in some way. I always thought if I listened to other people’s problems then I could forget about my own to some extent and not have to worry about what wasn’t working in my own life. The problem with that is that your own problems never really go away and at some point you will need to face your own issues.

Self-care and being kind to yourself is definitely something that you are aware of when you work as a counsellor and it is something that gets discussed in supervision especially. I think it is important to have rostered days off and not to feel guilty about them. When you do it is important to do something nice for yourself and to enjoy it.

The hardest lesson to learn is not to take work home. In the early days of my career I was very bad at that and would think about clients on the bus or at dinner and even before going bed. The more experience you get the easier it becomes to switch off and to detach from work at home.

One important element in all of this is never to talk about work at home or socially. Friends and family have a curious fascination about your job when they know you are a counsellor. Other than the obvious privacy and confidentiality issues, I find it is easier not to talk about work generally when out socially. Having a clear distinction between your life at work and your life outside of work is very important.

Some things I do specifically to take care of myself include going for long walks and learning to meditate. After spending an 8-hour day listening to people talk and then responding in turn, it is very nice to not have to do that when you get home. It is important to me to have that down time when I first get home of not having to engage in any conversation and to spend some time unwinding. I need at least an hour when I get through the front door to unwind and switch off.

The flip side of that is that when you have a particularly bad day or are working on a case that challenges you and pushes your buttons it is important to talk about it in supervision and with your manager so as not to take it home. Having a high level of self-awareness is also very important because you need to know what pushes your buttons and why. If you know the answers to those questions then you usually know what you have to do to address the issue.

Does the wider community understand the losses you have endured – do you feel confident to speak about your experiences?

I often talk about my brother’s death with those closest to me both personally and professionally. When my brother died I got an enormous amount of love and support from work colleagues. All my team came to his funeral and most of them had never met him. The support I got from work colleagues made it easier to talk about.

On the downside I can’t hide from it either. Now that it has been nearly 5 years since he died it isn’t as easy to say to them I am having a bad day because I miss my brother. People look at you funny as if to say, “how much longer is this going to go on,” or “aren’t you over it yet.” I am more selective with what I tell them now. I am open about his birthday and anniversary of his death and Christmas being a hard time, but find that I talk about him less and less at work because I no longer get the support and understanding I did initially.

My brother died on a Thursday and for the longest time Thursday was the worst possible day of the week for me. I could barely function and I could hardly breathe or cope with work but somehow you find a way through it. I would get home as quickly as I could and then I would lock myself in my house and close all the lights and just sit and stare in the darkness and allow myself to feel the grief. I don’t do that anymore but I think for the first 2 years every Thursday was like that. Now I can get through most Thursday’s without feeling this way but if I have a bad Thursday I won’t talk about it because it takes more effort to explain why rather than living through it.

With regards to family and friends it is often hit and miss these days. Many members of my family that were close to him miss him just as much as I do. My brother’s death has had a devastating impact on lots of people. Yet any discussion about him is left to me to generate. They often say to me we don’t want to upset you by mentioning his name and talking about him, but sometimes I wish they would! Not talking about him and my paranoia that they may have forgotten him is infuriating at times and I wish they would communicate more about what they are thinking and feeling.

Most of my friends have been very supportive and have been an excellent outlet for me, but they have also been the ones who have said some of the most hurtful things. I saw a bereavement counsellor for over 2 years after Theo died and I remember talking to a very close friend of mine about the fact that it was coming to an end and how anxious I felt about that. Her response was – “it is about time you stopped seeing the counsellor – now he can finally support someone that needs it!”

What do you think people need to know to understand more about sibling loss?

Bereaved siblings are often called the ‘forgotten mourners.’ All the attention whether rightly or wrongly seems to go to the parents and any other surviving family members that your sibling has (i.e. spouse/ children). As a sibling you are made to feel that your grief is not as important and for some reason you are never able to fully acknowledge the devastation that you feel at your sibling’s death.

Anniversaries and holidays are especially difficult because for some reason most people ask you “how are mum and dad coping?” It amazes me that these people never stop to think that I may not be coping or that I may need someone to talk to at these times. Christmas especially is like that. My brother loved Christmas and would get excited about decorating the house and buying presents for those he loved. We haven’t decorated the house since he died and I find it hard to celebrate at all, but we force ourselves to do so knowing how much he loved it.

Prior to my brother’s death I never would have thought that there was such a thing as competition or a hierarchy of grief, but as a bereaved sibling you are constantly made to feel as if your grief is not as important as what others may be and you are definitely made to feel as if you are at the bottom of the pecking order.

When my brother first died I thought that it would be fairly easy to find some literature and books on sibling grief. Reading has always been an outlet for me and I respond well to structure and guidelines. To my astonishment that was not the case. If I was lucky enough to find a section in a bookshop that had more than one book in that area, inevitably there were no books on sibling grief. There are books on just about every other type of grief but yet again siblings are largely non-existent in the literary world.

Similarly I thought it would be helpful to join a group where I could listen to other bereaved siblings and hear what they had to say and how they deal with their grief. Yet again this proved to be virtually impossible. To the best of my knowledge there is no adult bereaved sibling group in the whole of NSW. Young children who are bereaved siblings get lots of support and interventions and yet are left to fend for themselves when they become adults.

So I took matters into my own hands and created a support group for adult bereaved siblings. I joined The Compassionate Friends NSW which is a worldwide volunteer organisation supporting bereaved family members. Through lots of advocacy and hard work I established its first adult bereaved sibling support group in April 2008. I subsequently also became the siblings representative on their council for a 2 year period.

Society in general just doesn’t recognise adult sibling grief. I think part of the reason is that people are surprised to know that my brother and I were very close and I miss him dreadfully. As adults we sometimes have antagonistic relationships with our siblings and there is this perception that adult siblings aren’t as close as they were when they were younger. This is not always the case. Through my group I have met many adult siblings who had positive and loving relationships with their siblings and who feel the same way I do.

I don’t know why sibling grief is not more widely recognised or considered in any way. Especially as an adult I feel that there are certain expectations that I am able to ‘cope’ better than I have and I feel a lot of judgement when I tell people that I still have bad days and find it hard to get out of bed and do what I have to do. People’s initial response is something like “aren’t you over it yet,” or “it has been nearly 5 years and you really need to move on.”

Of course on a superficial level I have moved on. I continue to work and eat and sleep and go through the motions of living my life. I have travelled and am currently studying and generally do everything I can to keep myself busy. Yet there is a part of me that died the day my brother died and that part of me will never be brought back to life. As much as I want to I cannot pretend that my brother hasn’t died and that his death hasn’t affected me in profound ways. I just do the best I can to get through each day the only way I know how. By the same token I don’t mean to paint a bleak picture and I am not severely depressed or suicidal. I just think it is important to acknowledge the sadness I feel and the reasons why.

The best advice I have received since my brother died is 2 very simple things. A good friend of mine in America wrote to me in the days after my brother’s death and she said to me that all I needed to do was to put one foot in front of the other and to try to keep walking – left foot/ right foot/ left foot/ right foot etc. I didn’t need to do anything more than that in the early days. That took an amazing amount of effort in itself but was something I could relate to.

The other piece of advice I received was to remember to breathe. As simple as it sounds it was something I would often forget to do. When things are so overwhelming and I feel as if I can’t possibly go on and the pain and grief is unbearable all I have to do is simply remember to breathe. Just breathe.

So as simple as it sounds and for whatever it is worth, that has become my mantra now and I remind myself of it on a daily basis – remember to put one foot in front of the other and to breathe whilst I am doing it!




I dont have any questions to pose at the end of this. I just think that its important to sit with the words. Thanks M x

No other explanations…a TSIB interview


I asked a good friend who I met through my own space between, that being my passion about my work and me as a person, if they would be interested in chatting on here. We clicked the first time we met over the phone, he was calm and measured and unflappable. The opposite of me. Part of the reason for asking him to talk was I was to see how he dealt with the intersection of life and loss when you deal with it everyday at work. At some times in my life I haven’t been very good at juggling the two things. I can remember my life falling apart as a single mum and then having to back it up and tell a woman her son had died. Ill always remember another social worky buddy of mine who looked out for me that weekend when I thought the weight of the world would literally crush me.

Ive split this interview over two posts…I wanted people to sit with the honesty thats spoken here. I wanted people to give it the respect and time it needs, to honour someone who has put their heart on the page and shared the darkness and light.

Grab a seat, eat some of that leftover Easter fare and learn something about those people whose job it is to step in at bad times in life. His backstory is amazing…


So M…tell me about you?

My name is Emmanuel and I’m in my mid-30’s. I have a degree in social work and I’m currently employed as a counsellor. I am the oldest of 3 boys from an Australian-Greek family. From the age of 14 I knew I wanted to be a counsellor of some sort and am grateful to have found work I am passionate about. My family is typical in many ways and yet sometimes it feel as if there has been a dark cloud hanging over my family for many years.

My father died when I was 3 in quite traumatic circumstances. He was killed in a workplace accident. He was a painter by trade and fell off a ladder from the roof of a 3-storey building. As he fell he landed with the paintbrush handle going through his eye. He was taken to hospital and they operated to remove the paintbrush but he was declared brain dead. He was on life support for 3 days and then died when he stopped breathing of his own accord. He was 27 when he died. To this day I have not heard of anyone else dying in this way and I guess it is one of those things where you all you can say is that it was a freak accident and there really is no other explanation.

My mother remarried when I was 7 and my brother Theo was 5. They subsequently had a child together (my brother Peter). Growing up I felt as if I had to keep my thoughts and feelings about my father a secret, as he was never openly discussed in my home or by my extended family. Even now that I am an adult no one really talks about him and no one mentions his name. I acknowledge his birthday each year alone and the anniversary of his death too. No one rings me or texts me to see if I am okay. Other than my mother I really have no one to share these feelings with. I guess people think that given I have had a substitute dad all these years there is no point talking about or remembering the real one.

My brother Theo had contracted meningitis as a baby and was left hemiplegic (which basically means one side of his body was paralysed). He was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 19. The doctors told us there was a direct link to his childhood meningitis and the brain trauma he had suffered. Over the next 8 years we supported him the only way we knew how – by loving him and giving him the space he needed to live his life with this affliction. I’d like to think that I understood as best as I could what it must have been like for him but I suspect I really had no idea. Theo’s seizures were what they call tonic-clonic and he would have an epileptic fit every 6-8 week’s.

Initially it was well controlled with medication, but over time the medication only contained the illness. His doctors had warned us that if he had a seizure that was severe enough it might kill him, but we didn’t really believe it and we never thought that it might happen. Sadly we were wrong. On 28 June 2007 Theo had a seizure and never woke up. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest, which had been induced by hypoxia to the brain following the seizure. Theo was 27 when he died, the same age my father had been and the irony of this is never far from my thoughts.

In thinking about your life what is your space in between?

I guess for me everything boils down to a life before my brother died and my life since he died. My space in between would be the delicate balance I have of continuing my relationship with my brother even though he is no longer with us in the physical sense, and trying not to allow his death to overwhelm and consume me.

I think also my space in between is the space where I can be completely honest with my feelings and emotions surrounding my brother’s death and the fact that I think about him every day and miss him dreadfully, versus the space where I am expected to put one foot in front of the other and get on with my life and continue to try and find joy and happiness when a lot of the time all I feel is sadness and despair.

Grief is such an individual thing and the intensity and rawness of it is something that you can never fully be prepared for. Even though I had lived the majority of my life with my father’s death, I was completely blindsided and torn to pieces when my brother died. The unresolved grief I felt for my father also manifested itself following my brother’s death and this has been difficult to cope with at times.

Space and time are such strange creatures. When Theo first died I remembered time dragging by so slowly. Everything related to time seemed to be out of balance. I wasn’t sleeping properly. I didn’t eat for about 2 week’s. I was living off coffee and cigarettes literally feeling as if I was slowly losing my mind and was convinced that I was going crazy. My senses were affected in the strangest ways. Everything seemed louder and noisier. Things smelt more powerfully and I felt completely disconnected from the world. It was as if time stood still, and yet all around me life continued to go on. I just didn’t feel as if I was part of it.

Now I can hardly believe it has been nearly 5 years since my brother died. That is my current reality and yet how can that possibly be? It honestly feels as if it happened yesterday. When you have moments when you look around you and realise it is 2012 and not 2007 anymore, you start to panic for a minute. You start to wonder about all sorts of things. What have I done with my life since my brother died? How have I managed to get by? More importantly how could I have lived this time without him? Am I honouring his life and memory with the choices I am making today?

The answer is I don’t really know sometimes. All I know is that now my space in between is a constant merry-go-round. It is a rollercoaster ride that never ends and I am on a journey that I will need to navigate as best as I can with the resources that I have at my disposal.



The second half of the interview will be up tomorrow….I think that multiple losses, regardless of how far apart they are, are ones that we dont understand. As a society we are not accustomed to the ambiguity of loss, we don’t necessarily understand the impact of each loss – I think when concurrent losses happen they can be viewed in unison and as direct impacts on each other.

I also wanted to say that Im always so amazed that people are so open and willing to share their piece of the world with me. If any of the content in any of my interviews are confronting please visit the Your Space In Between page for details of support services.

Has anyone dealt with multiple losses…how did you survive. Did time speed up or did it feel like the second hand on the clock was ticking so loudly that it was deafening?

From tutus to two babes….a TSIB interview

Well! I’m having a bit of a run of goodluck with lovely people offering to be interviewed by me for a TSIB interview.

This week, just like last week, we have a blogger talking about her space in between. I actually got in touch with Amy about her call out for guest posts and then in a generous twist she ended up saying yes to having a chat about the impending arrival of a new bub to join her little (and big) man.

Take a break and if, like Amy, you’re about ready to pop eat some snacks and put your feet up. Here she is…

Ames…tell me a bit about you

I’m a stay at home mum to lufflump, who is turning three this year, and ready to give birth to sesame hopefully around her due date in early March. I live in Brisbane with my boyfriend, the mister, who works in hospitality while applying for the air force.

You’re coming up to the end of your second pregnancy. I remember before having my second babe that I was fine until the home stretch when I suddenly remembered about the birth…how are you managing?

So far this pregnancy has been so different to my last breezy pregnancy where I often forgot I was actually pregnant. I can’t wait for it to be over but at the same time I’m petrified about having a newborn and a toddler around the house. The birth doesn’t really bother me as I know the feelings after birth so will be using that as motivation to get through it all nicely. All babies are so different but I’m hoping that sesame will be a happy baby like lufflump was, that’ll make it easier to manage two children.

What about that space between your son going from being an only child to a big brother. Are you sad about what that means in terms of you having to share yourself with another small person?

I’m sad as this was an(other) unexpected pregnancy, we wanted to wait until lufflump was in prep (two years away) until we had another baby. At the same time though I’m excited. He’s at the age where he is happy to help, can to an extent but still wants mummy time. I’m an only child so never had to experience my parents splitting their time with someone else which I think will make it difficult and scary for me to do with lufflump and sesame. Everything in life is a lesson though and I think the mister and I will work together to learn what works best for our family.

If you could go back in time and tell the childless you what you’d learnt from being a mum would would it be?

Sleep! Sleep is precious, do more of it. Take long, hot showers. Pamper yourself often. All those things taken for granted that are such luxuries now.

What are you looking forward to the most.

Meeting sesame, getting to know her, watching lufflump be a brother, having a newborn in the house and watching the mister’s heart melt again.

Thanks Amy….Amy has a lovely blog that you can visit here. I can remember when my little girl (who was almost 5 when her little brother arrived) became a big sister…she struggled for the first few months and would pretend that she couldnt remember what his name was. Once he got a bit more interesting, she became a bit more interested. A bit like life (or relationships!!) but it all worked out in the end.

Pop back and read some other interviews if you’ve got a few seconds!

Hanging from the Chandeliers…another TSIB interview

A bit of a change of pace this week….I seem to have been in contact with a lot of women in the last few weeks who are contemplating what they do with their lives as their kids grow. Whether thats women emerging from the fog of small babies, women dealing with teenagers who don’t ‘need’ them as much as they used to or just people thinking how they can fit a new career into the mix.

As soon as you have kids you get a lot of chatter amongst groups about ways to fit in exercise when you have tiny babies. The mothers group I belong to (my second one…) has always been pretty proactive about finding ways to catch up without coffee and cake, a lot of us meet for walks, meet at parks or talk about the fun runs we enter (or fail at…oh hang on thats me).

Facebook is great for reconnecting with old buddies – last year I got a page suggestion from a school friend who was setting up her own business as a personal trainer and food coach – she makes me laugh with her hard line approach, the way she seems to balance her kids and her lack of tact in putting up with people’s excuses. Here she is chatting about her space in between…she married her Year 10 formal partner – I can still remember that night…chokers were in fashion and Boyz II men were the slow dance specialists…I chose a guy whose bow-tie matched his vest (little did I know I would remain inept at choosing good men until I was in my 30s…)


Lovely Maree…tell me a little about you?

Wow, this is harder than I thought ….. Usually I’m talking about my kids or my job and that’s quite easy. Have I lost me, is that weird that I can’t string a sentence or two together to tell you a little  about myself???  Do  I even exist anymore? Mmmmmm. Well I guess I do because that washing doesn’t get done on its own, neither does the cooking or the cleaning, so there you have it,  I am a person.

Me , Maree,  a 34 year old woman with 3 beautiful, hyperactive kids (and yes 2 out 3 have diagnosed ADHD so they are hyperactive,  the little one is too young to be diagnosed, however he is definitely showing signs of it) Georgia is 11, Kaylan is 9 and Kye is 4, he was my little surprise. I am married to Bennett, my best friend, my soul mate and someone I can be my silliest, craziest self around. We have been together since age 15, a long time I know, but when you’re friends before you’re lovers it seems effortless.

I worked in retail for many years and loved the challenge of getting the sale. The Body Shop was my last retail job and there I was trained as a makeup artist which led to my secret passion for makeup.

Tell me about being a young mum?

I started a family young (23) and was not really worried about anything but being with my babies. This led me to isolate myself a little, as my friends were all off travelling the world and having adventures, studying at uni or just out partying, I was at home content with my little girls. But after a while you need a little something for you! So I joined my local gym. I have always loved being active and playing sport and I thought this was a great way to do something I loved as well as something that was good for my body and mind. After 2 weeks of visiting the gym, I got a job there on the front desk, it was great, and I got to be me, Maree! I enjoyed being around other people who enjoyed being fit and healthy.

How did you choose to react when your girls were diagnosed with ADHD??

During that time I had another baby, a beautiful boy. Back to being mum it was for me. During this time was when both my girls were diagnosed with ADHD. It was a tough year. Going from doctor to doctor, all wanting to medicate them. I chose not to, but instead to change their diet, no colourings, preservatives and additives. I did loads of research and put it all in action, it worked! Not only were they on the food plan, the whole family was. Their behaviour improved and I lost weight. Was this how easy it was?  So I took on studying nutrition, fitness and personal training. I wanted to help other kids and families.

So what did you do with what you’d learnt?

I knew I was not able to work the hours I needed to still pick up and drop off my kids at school in a regular job, so I decided I would work for myself. I could choose my own hours and still be there for my kids.

So today a year and a half on, I am successfully running Health Me, a Food and Fitness Coaching business,  I have 3 crazy, loving kids that are no longer hanging from the chandeliers (well more like IKEA lightshades)

I have changed as a person because I no longer care about what other people think, maybe because my life is so chaotic (in a nice way) that I don’t have the time. I think as you grow older you do prioritise things a little differently. Dinner needs to be cooked before you can even think about when you last had a haircut? And I’m not saying that you should neglect these things however, you do master the art of making a pony tail look great, and your 5 minute make up job is not bad either.

Life is good, if only we took a moment each day to look at what we have achieved and celebrated it, even if it is a silent 3 cheers for me. Hipbip hooray x 3.

Thanks Maree…click here for more info about her

So what do you think…whats one of the ways you took a challange and turned it into an opportunity??



Older than my older sister…a TSIB interview

This blog is working just as I had imagined in the dark recesses of my brain (and thats a pretty odd place for most of each week) its creating opportunities for people to come forward and share their own space in between. This year has been a time of reflection for me, Ive been able to sit with friends facing so much sadness and then spend my spare time studying the exact same things. I feel like Im a vessel for the stories that fill my time and I want to share them.

So sit back, grab a cuppa and read about Alicia..she bravely puts words to the space between hope and despair and she takes great pics of lovely things. If you don’t believe me click here

Alicia tell me a little about you…

I am 31 years old, I live in Cairns, Far North Queensland the town that has been called “home” for my entire life. My husband Jamie and I are proud parents of 2 beautiful, energetic children, Kiara who is 5 and Noah who is 2. The words often heard around out house is “life is Never Dull”, and it sure isn’t. We are constantly kept on our toes, stressed out, entertained, delighted, or rushed by some event happening, though more often then not it may be some self inflicted accident Jamie has had around the house!

Jamie and I met when I was still a teenager, our relationship, like many others has been filled with many ups and downs, laughter, joy, tears, but it has all been worth it. We married in a simple ceremony at a local beach 7 years ago, there was many people who didnt want us to get married, or thought that we wouldnt last, and we have proven them wrong so far.

I have had many different jobs over the years. On leaving school, I went straight into working in the childcare industry, which is the one job I have the most experience in over the years (although many years of child care couldnt even prepare me for what motherhood is all about!). I have held a variety of other jobs. I am currently working part time in my husbands family business, Jamie is the manager. I am actually having a lot of fun working with my husband, more then I expected. At this  point in our life, this position fits our family well.

I feel blessed to be living in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, I love the beaches, rainforest, cane fields etc that make North Queensland so beautiful, we are lucky to be living in a place that so many people love to visit. I love raising my children here, and feel there is a sense of freedom of running around barefoot, at one with nature. Though I have to be honest in saying that the summers still get to me at times, the heat makes me tired and cranky!

Photography is a real passion of mine, I still have a lot to learn, but I do enjoy taking photographs, and the creativity it releases, and the memories it captures.  I have afacebook page, in which I take a photograph of something I am grateful for each day for a year.

When thinking about your space in between what stood out for you?

I think that there are so many spaces in between in each of our lives. I tried to list all mine down, and the list was huge, so I will just focus on one.

The space between hope and despair..my sister was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 12, our family relocated briefly to Adelaide for Tamina to be operated on and treated, it was scary watching her in so much pain, witnessing her hair fall out, and
being only 8 at the time, I briefly thought that her cancer was contagious.

It was a long tough fight, but before we knew it, we were hosting an end of treatment party for her, and celebrating the hurdles she had overcome.  Fast forward 10 years, and as a young Mum to a toddler, Tamina sadly relapsed. The cancer this time was throughout her body. After months of treatment, the Doctors said there was nothing more they could do but send her home to be comfortable.

While I knew that she was sick, I still held onto hope that she would overcome this battle as well, and was wondering how we would celebrate this time. Sadly this wasnt to be, and in April 1999, at the age of 22, my beautiful big sister passed away.

I can’t even think of words to describe the feelings, thoughts and emotions that I felt in that time. I was very close to my sister, we often joked that we would be found on the verandah of a nursing home in years to come, rocking chairs side by side, as we
chatted about life.

Some people, would comment “at least her death wasnt a shock, unlike those who lose their loved ones in accidents“, but I had to disagree. In looking back on photographs now, I am shocked by the frail, 30kg body, but at the time, all I could see was the spark that she always had in her eyes. In hindsight, I realise that she was terribly ill, but at the time, I held onto every inch of hope I could find, that she would be ok.

There was so much guilt in Taminas death, guilt that we were created by the same parents, raised in the same house, on the same food, yet she was the one who got cancer. I especially felt guilty as I attempted to clear her airways  on the night of her death, as instructed by the paramedics as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I
held so much guilt over the years that I had not tried hard enough, or that there was something I could have done differently to save her life. The Ambulance took Mum with them as they took Tamina away to the hospital, with their words faint heart beat in my head. I followed behind, my heart filled to the brim with hope that she would be ok. I arrived at the hospital, told them I was there to see my sister Tamina, expecting to be directed to a hospital bed, instead I was directed to the social workers room, where my Mum was waiting, tears streaming down her face, and the 2 words that took away any hope I had….she’s dead.

I felt guilty that she would never get to see her beautiful daughter, Jazmine grow up, or that Jazmine would never get to know her Mum, yet here I was, with no children at the time relying on me.

For a long time after that, life was a dim, dark, place. Losing a loved one is not something you ever get over, it is just that you eventually find a day that you can utter their name without bursting into tears. The tears still come, sometimes unexpected, sometimes without warning, but thankfully less frequently. The ache for the person you have lost, the wish that they were still there to walk life’s pathway with you is still there.

Many moments in my life bring up the pain of my sisters passing. The day I turned 23 was the worst birthday in my life, suddenly I was older than my older sister, something I found very hard to deal with, and a issue that is still rather huge in my life to this day.

I hate that my sister never got to meet my husband, that I have photographs around the house of a woman that was so significant in my life, yet no one in my house apart from me has met. I talk about Aunty Tamina to my kids often, and want them to know what a wonderful, inspiring person she was, but that is just not the same as getting to
meet her.

At the time Tamina passed away, I was working at a Child Care Centre only minutes away from the cemetary she was burried in. I would often go to her gravesite and sit beside it, while I ate my lunch, and had a silent chat to her, tears streaming down my face as the many cars drove by. I look back on those times and feel a bit crazy, but at the time, I needed to feel like I still had some sort of contact with her.

The best way to describe that moment between hope and despair is that it only took a second for the hope evaporate, and the despair of not only losing my sister, but the woman I considered my best friend to take over, and in a way, that despair still lives with me. Thankfully not as suffocating or overbearing as it was to begin with, but its there, in the depths of my soul, and I will continue to miss her every day.

Losing my sister forced me to also change my way of thinking, my views on life and death, and to realise that life is just too precious, and too short. While the despair lingered on for a long time, I found things to give me hope as well, things to look forward to, the biggest being a backpacking trip around Europe, which I did just before I turned 22, the age Tamina was when she died. I decided life was just too short to keep saying “one day”, and I had always wanted to travel, so I jumped in head first, and went on an adventure, I made sure that the inspiration of Tamina and what she brought to my life lived on.

I have also been fortunate enough to witness Taminas daughter, Jazmine grow from the toddler she was when her Mum passed away, into a beautiful young lady of 14 that she is today. There is hope when I get to look at her and see a piece of Tamina continues to live on in her.

What prompted you to start your gratitude project?

I was in a pretty negative mind set, there was no huge reason to be in that position, but the aspects of every day life all mounted up, the worry of finances, working a night job at the time and constantly being exhausted, as well as health problems, I was becoming a bit of a poor me person, and I really didn’t like the way I was heading. I would listen to myself on a daily basis bitching and moaning about so many things, and would silently tell myself to just shut up, I was aware that many people had it worse off then me, but I just didn’t seem to change the vicious cycle.

I accidentally came across the idea of a 365 gratitude project one night when searching the internet for something completly different. Something inside me just clicked, and I knew that this was a project that I just needed to do, it ticked all the boxes, a tool to assist me to become more positive as well as an excuse to take more photographs!

The project was set up on its own facebook page as I didn’t want to annoy my personal friends by posting picture every day on my page. I thought by giving them the choice to view my gratitude project or not would be a good idea. I never expected strangers to show any interest, or the love and support I have recieved from doing it.

Do you think that being mindful is a way that we can a manage life with its up’s and down’s?

Most definately! As a friend said to me today “negativity breeds negativity” and that works the other way too “positivity breeds positivity”, you change your way of thinking and you change your way of living. It is so easy to let your thoughts dig you into a big huge pit of despair, but with little steps, you can dig yourself back out again.

On saying that, of course it’s ok to have a bad day and tough moments, and acknowledge them, without having those challenges in life, we won’t always be thankful for the great moments. The most important thing is knowing when to let go of the negative moments. It is important to be mindful of your feelings and emotions, not to stuff them inside until
they explode out.

It is however also important to not let yourself be suffocated by all the negative thoughts and feelings that you may have, it will only spiral into a huge mass of negativity, and before you know it, you will be looking at everything with a negative point of view, and only seeing the bad in life, when in fact there is so much good.

Sometimes you just need to trust yourself, tune into your own needs, perhaps that means you need time out to yourself, or a friend to just listen to you talk about what is going on in your life, or the simple words from someone “I am here if you need me”.

What have you learnt in sharing your gratitude? What have others taught you?

I have completly changed my way of thinking, I look back on my project so far and am so thankful for all the wonderful people, gifts and moments in my life.  I have also realised that regardless of how bad a day may seem, there is always at least something to be grateful for. On an absolute shitty day, having a roof over my head, food in my belly and air in my lungs is more then enough to be grateful for. Life really has many wonderful joys laying out for each and every one of us.

Through my page, I have met some wonderful people, have been inspired by so many beautiful stories as well. I have also been forced to look at the people in my life with fresh new eyes, I knew I was blessed to be surrounded by a great gang of people, but I never really stopped to think what a wonderful support team I have, and what great moments they all bring into my life. I am blessed to have friends who are more like family. Without sounding cliche, you can have a load of tough things going on in life, but if you have at least one friend to listen to you, or support you, then it is all going to be ok.


Thanks Alicia…so often we forget to give ourselves the chance to hear the story behind the story. Talking about your sister, honouring her memory and taking the time to reconnect with her is a brave way to acknowledge your loss. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

What resonates most with you about Alicia’s story? For me it makes me grateful for my bond with my sister, she makes up half of me and I’d be lost without her….