THE STORYBOARD CALLED LIFE

June Favs

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This is one of my favourite things I’ve drawn. And that poem by Anna Peters always gets me

 

  1. DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. My parent’s friend recommended this. I loved it so much that I’m slowly rewatching the series to see what I missed the first time around. I wish Tom Kirkman was the real POTUS
  2. Man in the Iron Mask – I love movies about honour, camaraderie and bravery
  3. Sugar is honestly one of my fav songs and videos ever
  4. My favourite plain white teeKinde co Tshirts! I know it’s a kids brand, but I don’t even need to wear the largest size and a few of my friends fit them too!
  5. Step – Vampire Weekend
  6. Just try to get over the Filipino accents – omg this rendition of Hallelujah. I can’t believe that the boy won, the girl’s voice and how she made this song her own is just, I can’t. Trust me, if you listen to this, listen to the girl and the end when they’re both belting.
  7. Jack Burger from Mate Burger – a Filipino food truck. Justin and I have seriously gone to Mate Burger three times in the last few months (maybe this is why I’ve gained weight haha). They also have taho!
  8. THE KOREN FRIED CHICKEN FROM RED PEPPER IN STRATHFIELD
  9. While we’re talking about KFC, pickled vegetables. I could eat this every day
  10. This photo of Benji
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Written by Candice

June 27, 2017 at 11:51 am

Love Stories – Episode 9: Storge the 3rd

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the tenth post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here, 6 here, 7 here and 8 here.


This series just keeps evolving, beyond what I originally planned. I’d like to say that I was super organised and knew how long it would go for, how many posts and who contributed. But every week it is changing. The order, more lovers contributing love stories and more love. What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

This post is so special to me. All of them are, but this one just orchestrated itself nicely between my ribs like Hawkeye’s arrow into my heart. I don’t know the author well – I approached his sister yesterday thinking it was a good idea, with a hint of a doubt that he would even want to be a part of this. But he wrote it that day and I got it by evening. The way he wrote it is I’m sure how parents feel and what I hope to feel as a parent in the future. But what really got to me is how he spoke to his child – it was as if it was my Dad speaking to me. #thefeels #caughtthefeels

Thanks for reading xo

 


Moments

I define my life in moments. Here are a few moments I remember sharing with you.

The first time I met you.

I was so nervous on that day. Because I wasn’t sure you would like me or even accept me. What kind of father would I be to you? And then you said hello. And you smiled. Then you touched my arm. And quickly grabbed the ice cream I was eating without even asking me. But you were considerate enough to leave me a bit of the ice cream cone. At that moment I knew my life will be different now. I would share everything that I have or can give you. That every decision or action I make from now on will affect you. I realised I have a small girl to live for now.

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The time you lost the potato sack race

You complained that it wasn’t fair. You were too small and the other kids were just too big and quick. But life is not fair. We were not created to be more superior or inferior than others. We were not created equal. We were created unique. I want you to learn to love what makes you unique so don’t compare yourself to others. Some kids are just naturally gifted potato sack racers. Especially the potato-shaped ones. But what you may lack in natural talent you can make up through hard work, dedication and practice. And I want you to be comfortable in making mistakes. I see you sometimes glance at me when you’re trying your best to do your swimming lessons. I love you for your effort so I hope you don’t feel like you owe me perfection. If you fail, you can learn and try again. Except when you’re skydiving.

The time you told me about your first crush

I’m sure he’s a nice boy. But I’m hoping that there’s more to this boy than his cool hairstyle you keep talking about. Beautiful hair does not last forever. Just look at Prince William. I hope that you end up with a boy that values you more than he desires you. I want you to know the difference between value and desire. And I hope he makes you laugh. You have such a beautiful laugh. I’d like to hear more of that. And it is totally normal and totally cool for daughters to let their boyfriends go through an interview screening with their fathers. Trust me when I say your daddy knows what is cool.

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The time I didn’t buy the toy you wanted

I understand it could be hard for a child to learn the concept of money when you see me buy stuff using this magical credit card with unlimited access to funds. But we have to live within our means. And money does not grow on trees (I checked on Google). Save your money but sometimes indulge yourself. You appreciate what you have more when you have earned it yourself. Be self-reliant. I hope you don’t associate happiness with how much toys you have. That girl on YouTube may look like she’s enjoying herself but we don’t know if her father had to sell a kidney to buy all those toys. Please, don’t ask me to sell my kidneys.

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You won’t be a small girl forever. And we may have less and less moments together as you grow up. But for now I will continue collecting these moments I have with you.

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Love,

Your “Papi”

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I forgot who I was and what I stood for in that dizzying moment. 

 


 

PreviewShe opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were saying, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?”

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Agape” will be live on Wednesday 5 July at 3 pm AEST as normal, unless something else evolves 😉

 

Written by Candice

June 22, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Episode 8: Storge the 2nd

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the ninth (?!) post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here, 6 here and 7 here.

I honestly only planned on having 8 but the series kept evolving as I kept going. We only have a few weeks to go 😥 

Thanks to everyone who entered the This Is Love competition. Kev and I have been “judging” based on specific criteria. We’ll announce a winner soon 😉


Storge

Storge is the familial love of a parent and child, siblings, kin. You would think that the Bible would just talk about all the nice aspects of storge. But apparently, the New Testament uses the negative from of storge, astorgos, twice. Astorgos meaning devoid of natural affection, without affection to kin, no understanding, no mercy, no love. In 2 Timothy 3:3, St Paul uses it to mourn people who lack natural love for their families. This implies then that love for family is a natural thing, not easy, but natural.

But why is loving family so important?

On one hand, the family is the first place a child is educated. They say (I don’t know who they are but they seem smart) that the formative years for a child are the most important because what they learn during the first few years impact on them for the rest of their lives. Families teach love, support, discipline and have a massive impact on self-esteem. But can’t friends serve that purpose?

Why is family so important?

When you have a friend or group of friends that you’re close with, you could say you consider them family #fam #squad But you never say about your family that they’re friends. It’s like the status of “family” is elevated in comparison to status of friendships.

Why is it so important for children to know/search for their biological parents if they were adopted?

So many questions, but really no answers from me. Maybe we can talk about it in a future post.

In a way, I think the state of families is the state of society. The family is a microcosm of society where the values being taught to children represent the changing values of society. So I think it’s interesting when people criticise young people – who is teaching them? It’s usually the people that are complaining.

Last remarks: in Romans 12:10, St Paul talks about an interesting idea of  philostorgos, which translates to “to be devoted.” The word combines philos and storge and means “to cherish one’s kindred.” Devote yourself to your family, blood or not. The love you show will ripple and reflect and create a better society.

 


4 Cheat Codes to be the Best Dad Ever! *

*I am just poking fun at click bait type titles – this story is legit. Before you start reading the story,  I want to tell you that the Dad of this story is the husband of the writer of one of the earlier stories. Some love stories still have happy endings 🙂

 

Precious cargo secured safely in the back.  Check. The engine of my car is revving loudly as I delicately drift my car through traffic, pushing the car to its limits. The dance between my car and Sydney traffic continues for another 20 minutes before we arrive.

Me: “Quick, help, my wife is about to have our baby!”

What I actually said: “Subba limu carrni haffa du wappa!”

Wife: What?!?

At this point, the triage nurse calmly walks over and asks my wife Kim some questions.  I can barely hear them over my laboured breathing from the short run.

Triage Nurse: “Oh that’s okay, you’re in the early stages.  Let’s head to the maternity ward and get your wife settled in”

17 laborious hours later, my wife and I became parents to a little man whom we would call Carter.

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To say that this was an emotional experience is really doing an injustice to the words emotional and experience.  It was as if I had finished reading a chapter in one book, and started reading a chapter in another book.  No number of books, videos, or advice from family and friends could’ve prepared me to comprehend what I was about to go through.  If anything, it left me asking a lot more questions.

I’m a Dad!  We made this little guy!  I must take care of him now.  How do I take care of him now?  Are we ready?  How is there not a test for this?  How do I set it to silent mode? Will I ever sleep again?

Looking back at this, two and a half years later, I must say I’ve felt like my wife and I have done an alright job so far.  But no matter how much I think I know, life continues to keep me on my toes and continues to show me where I can improve.  All in the quest to be a better husband, father, son, brother, friend.

If you’ve unlocked the new parent achievement, are expecting or even just thinking about having kids, then I would like to share with you some wonderfully golden and crunchy nuggets of practical wisdom/ cheat sheet/ life hacks I have learned and will hopefully help you on this amazing journey.

1. Get Involved

Just because you didn’t bear the child from your hips doesn’t mean you cannot have a deep connection with them. Get your hands dirty, both literally and figuratively.  I’ve always believed in the adage that you learn best by doing.  So pay attention in the birth classes, watch your friends, whatever it takes.  Failing that, 99% sure there is a Youtube video that can answer your question.

The feedings, the burping, the changing diapers… these things you’ll figure out.  But whether it’s your turn or hers, always make sure you’re there and present in the moment.  You don’t want to miss out on anything small or big that may happen, and it’s also good to provide support when needed.

As your child gets older, they’ll need more involvement from you.   Yep, of course, you’re going to have to learn the theme song to Paw Patrol.  If you don’t already, you’re going to have to love playing with hot wheels and Barbie.  And if you haven’t already picked a side, you’re going to have to choose between BATMAN… and superman.

Let’s be honest guys … we don’t ever really grow up.  So think of this as a chance to play with toys and sit down and watch a mind-numbing amount of TV again.  The missus can’t get mad… cos you’re spending time with your kids!

Just remember, however you choose to get involved, you need to give them 100% of your attention.  Keep your phone in another room.  Schedule to do your work in half an hour.  Just don’t be distracted when you’re with your children.

Chances are they’ll wander off to play on their own after 10 minutes with you anyway.

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2. Ask for help

From the dawn of time, parents have been under pressure to raise their kids right, feed them, clothe them educate them.   And the modern parent also has to balance looming deadlines, bills, and the fun other pressures life likes to throw your way. All of this can get overwhelming.

I’d like to think people knew this already, but it’s okay to ask for help.

From who though can we ask?

Family and friends – For me, this would be my first port of call.  I know that I have a number of great people in my corner, all of whom would give me the shirt off their back if I needed it (not that It’d fit me but that’s beside the point).  In turn, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them the same if they ever needed it.

Church/ Religious community/ Humanitarian/ Goodwill services – Watching people care for complete strangers is very moving, and we find it droves amongst these groups and organisations. A lot are equipped and experienced to help individuals, even whole families in times of need, from providing affordable clothing to providing shelter for displaced families.

So many times, I see people who ask for help and think that they’ve failed or that they’re useless.  Even worse is when people don’t reach out at all.  They tend to feel stuck or that their problems are spiralling out of control. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of courage.  Courage to know your limits, putting your ego aside and reaching out to better your situation.

N.B. As an aside, if you do need help and are unsure who to get in touch with, please feel free to contact Candice or me!

3. Look after your relationships

With the number of tasks we’re meant to be juggling as parents/adults, it’s very easy for our stress levels to rise and to let our emotions simmer or boil.  From there, anything can trigger it.  Then something happens, and instinctively we react in an angry manner.

We don’t mean to hurt the ones we love, but once something is said, there isn’t much that can be done to take the sting out of a situation like that.

Say Sorry.  Hug ’em and kiss ’em.

Going forward, begin to practice patience and learn to be mindful of your actions.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re about to make a lot of noise, stop. Take a step back and count down from 5.  This gives your mind time to switch to the logical thought process side of your brain.

Also, like above, it’s important to make time for you people you love. Make this time quality time. Get off the black mirrors, the phones, the tablets, the TV. Sometimes the things that don’t really matter in the end, or even tomorrow, become our priorities and we unintentionally neglect what is important.  Your loved ones will understand that the catch ups aren’t frequent if the effort is there.

4. I did it my way.

However far you’ve made it with your kid, I applaud you.  Reading back, I’m not sure if I’ve created a guide for help, or created a cause for further concern.  All I know is, my son and wife still love me and I love them so much!  Everything I do, every decision I make centres around their happiness and wellbeing.

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To all Dad’s out there.  Stay strong.  Heed my advice, or don’t.  That’s the beauty of this journey.  You’ll figure it out, as long as your actions all come from a place of love.

Peas and all the best.

Do it, Dad.

 


Best Frenemies

Anyone who has grown up with siblings would agree that there is unconditional love between siblings. No matter the misunderstanding and fights which can sometimes turn violent or passive between my siblings and I, there is a bond that makes it special and separates it from my relationship that I have with my friends and my parents. There is something profound about growing up with my siblings, too. I am the eldest of nine children. They’ve seen me at my best and my worst. Yet, I’ve never had to question whether they like me or not. I know they love me, as much I love them.

The older I’ve gotten, the closer I’ve become to all my siblings. Everyone teaches me something new every day. The unconditional love and support that we have for one another is one I know I cannot find in any other relationship in my life. These days, I’ll come across a person that may be difficult and I automatically think, “This is an annoying thing one of my sisters would do” and I react with peace knowing I’m able to love them, too. I won’t lie, it isn’t easy. But living with this thought has given me peace most days. Kindness and forgiveness truly are the heart of unconditional love between my siblings and me.

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I’m close to one sister, the sister just after me. We’re two years apart so we’ve been by each other through everything. After World Youth Day (Catholic youth gathering) in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I was in love with the Catholic Church and all it had to offer. I began devoting my time to youth ministry. During this time, I noticed that my sister and I became distant. One day, she said to me, “I just don’t believe in the Catholic teachings anymore. I don’t want to go church from now on.” I’d never felt more distant to her than that moment.

I started to think, “When did she start feeling like this” and “Why now”. I was so busy feeling upset that I didn’t have time to think about what she was going through. My sister was someone who was an instrument of my faith growing up. I thought she was just trying to hurt me.  I felt betrayed. I became mad. I became defensive. I questioned her. I fought her. She fought me back. I kept thinking, “She’s so jealous of my relationship with God”. I was leading people to Christ through youth ministry at the time but I felt like a fraud if I couldn’t do that at home.

My heart was heavy. I went to visit my priest one day and I poured my heart out. He said to me, “Before you pray for her heart, pray for your own heart”. Those words cut like a knife. I realised I was thinking about myself. I never once stopped and thought why I was getting so defensive. I didn’t think to consider her feelings or why she may be feeling this way or what even led to her decisions. She opened her heart to me and I silenced her whenever she spoke. I realised she never asked me to fix her or lead her back to her faith. She was asking me to just listen to her and be there for her.

Fast forward four years. She hasn’t changed her stance on what she believes when it comes to the Catholic Church and I’ve realised that that’s okay. What has changed is our relationship and who I have become as a person. We talk every day. We listen to each other. We still clash when it comes to how we view the world and religious views. But in the end, even if we still disagree, we come to an understanding without anger getting in the way. Isn’t that such a beautiful thing? My sister is kind and giving and thoughtful. She’s great at whatever she does. I’ve learnt so much from her over the years and if anything, she helped me grow within my own faith.

I learnt over the recent years, how to let things go when I don’t agree. To love and appreciate the truth, and that everyone forms an opinion based on their personal experiences. We grow constantly and evolve as people every day. The greatest gift you can give to your family, friends and loved ones is yourself and your time. Choosing to listen to one another and genuinely give others your undivided attention even when you don’t agree, is an act of love.

My siblings and I still find ourselves fighting over just about anything, even down to who my parents like the most. I still believe I’m my dad’s favourite (my gut feeling just tells me so lol) But one thing I know is, every day I’m choosing to love my sisters and brothers even when it’s tough. My friendship with my siblings challenges me each day, teaches me to be better and helps me grow daily as a person. I’ve learned we just should stretch out our patience the same way we do in school and at the gym. No pain, no gain.


Vulnerable

Some people love to make others feel good. Others only reciprocate an equal amount of love as what they receive. Others love to feel loved. In my experience, love is more than an emotional feeling, love is in action.

I experienced emotional abuse at the hands of my father. I think this is the root of my mental health battles. I would spend weeks without speaking to my father and yet would still get yelled at. When I stood up to him, he would throw things, hit things, threaten to hit me and or manipulate me. If my mum stood up for me, she too would end up copping it. I still remember times my mum would go to her room and my dad would be yelling through a door banging on the door nearly breaking it down.

I never believed this was his personality, but a reflection of his own father. I understood his pain and internal conflict. When he was not angry, we would get along, we would talk, take walks and go to sporting events. I had learned that his childhood had been one of abuse and in his adulthood, working for justice in Chile, he had seen and done things that still haunted him.

I was the one asking my abuser for forgiveness. I could rationalise his actions due to my own shortcomings and felt like I needed to work harder because I knew his love for me. When I needed him the most he would back me up, no question asked. When I failed in my goals he would hold me to a higher standard ensuring that I knew that I could do better. It was a tightrope of emotion but I learned one thing. His words didn’t make me feel loved, but his actions did. Love in action is what counts.

My mum and I have always had a relationship that has been special. She was the one that would play with me, stay up helping me with my homework and understood me no matter what. Her love for me was not only unconditional but fierce. She taught me that true love is a constant struggle and had to be built and, like any great historical monument, maintained with a high level of care and commitment. She had shortcomings that made us clash often, but if I’m true to myself I had my own shortcomings. I realise now that every mother and son have these moments, but it’s what happens between the heated moments that counts.

As a young adult, I searched for love but I had built defences to protect myself to a point that I was unrecognisable to even myself. I didn’t know how to love myself because I had associated love with recognition or admiration. I feared being abandoned and being hurt. It became easier to believe the love I longed for was impractical and a waste of time and effort.

I have several friends who are like family who helped me bring down my defences and learn what real love is. I was able to be open to the arrival of my wife Aimee who knows and practises love every day. She has shown me a love centred on what’s best for me. She has assured me time and time again that she isn’t going anywhere. That if I am truly remorseful, she could forgive anything of me. I still struggle to comprehend that someone would choose to not only live with me but also choose to love me. Her constant, gentle, fierce love drowns out my insecurities. Aimee knows that my past still affects my present and she uses these opportunities to understand me and my story better.  This to me is love.

Love seems to be more and more an ancient relic of love stories past. My parents weren’t perfect but they did give me glimpses of what perfect love could be. Love that is built to last and love which is the most difficult to build but that can survive anything. I look at my wife and daughter and strive to build that same type of love.

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As a father, I will be asked to lead our family in a way that my family is worthy. Part of that will be teaching my daughter, Magdalena, the traits of love and forgiveness. Show her an active love which she can recognise as an unselfish love. A love that is completely unique to her. Love stories are the epic stories we all love to hear about, but what storytellers often fail to tell us is that comes it takes a lot of hard work to keep love epic. It is not backing down from hurt or hardship but trusting that the pain will only make you stronger. It is an unselfish love which goes beyond what you yourself can get out of loving someone and I hope that this is something Aimee and I can teach Magdalena.

 


I was 21 when he proposed to me. That’s ten years ago now and it feels like a lifetime. I don’t think I knew at the time. Before we got married, I remember asking this question to friends and family. I was desperate to know the answer, to be affirmed that I was making the right decision. I searched my heart and prayed constantly for answers. But honestly, in that moment, it’s hard to say whether I knew he was the one. 

I knew that he was someone I wanted to be around because he treated his mum like a Queen and loved his family so much, both qualities familiar in my household and what I wanted in my very own. But was he the one?

While we were dating, it was a pretty solid relationship, no breaks, no massive fights and we resolved issues as much as we could accept. We respected each other a lot and deeply. But was he the one?

Loving him was easy and I don’t think I was ever afraid of it. It was organic and it grew. He was my first love. But was he the one?

When we were preparing for marriage with our priest, it was clear that we were making a commitment to each other. We had to choose to love each other every single day, both with the good and the bad. I guess at the time I knew I could do that. I entered marriage with the faith in God that marriage was his plan for us and a commitment to love him until I die, no matter what.

I can’t pinpoint a moment but it’s only now looking back that I can say that there were qualities that stood out – his love for his family, and out respect and love for each other.


PreviewShe opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were saying, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?”

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Agape”, on Wednesday 5 July at 3 pm AEST

Written by Candice

June 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Episode 7: Storge the 1st

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the seventh post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here , and 6 here .

Thanks to everyone who entered the This Is Love competition. We’ll announce a winner soon 😉


Storge

Storge is familial love between siblings, parents, cousins, spouses, and children. We’ll chat more about it next week, just wanted to share a special story this week.

Much love xo


The Best and the Worst Days

The day she told us she was pregnant was the best day. She sent us a message that said, “Hey look at this” along with a photo of the positive pregnancy test. It took them a while to get pregnant. They had tests done and the doctors would say, “You’re fine! You just have to keep trying.”

She and her husband set a date, It was October 1, 2015. She had said, “We’ll speak to the doctor. If we have to go through IVF, we’ll go through IVF. Let’s do a pregnancy test today. Let’s just see.” Instead of going to the doctor to think about various possibilities, it was to tell the doctor she was pregnant. It was the best day. We were so excited.

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We watched him grow. Watched her grow. She embraced it. She’s such a good mother. She just loved this child so much. Greg was finding his way, but you could see how much he loved this child, too. We’d go to parties and someone would bring their baby and he would hold it saying, “I don’t know how to hold this thing.” So he was really excited because this was his chance. He was gonna be a dad. It changed them. This was the next stage of their life, the next step in their journey.

It was a Tuesday when she went to her final scan to prepare for the C-section on Wednesday. I got a phone call at 2 o’clock. “I lost him.”

I said, “What?!”

“Rae, I lost the baby.”

I just shouted, I just yelled.

“I lost him, Rae. I don’t know what to do.”

That morning, she went to the doctor to have a scan. The doctor couldn’t find his heartbeat. They sent her to the clinic and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. So they sent her straight to the hospital because they had better technology, but they still couldn’t find a heartbeat.

Hearts were on the floor in that hospital room.

“I want this baby”

“I know you do”

“What am I gonna do?”

I didn’t know what to say.

I’ve never seen my dad cry so much. My dad would say, “I’ve experienced so many hardships in my life. But this would have to be the hardest. It’s something you never want your children to go through. Never.”

When they got home. There’s the bed. There’s the cot, there’s the pram, there’s the car seat, there are his clothes. What do you do? You pray.

We went back to the hospital at 4 o’clock. They let us stay as long as we liked. They were so kind. They catered to whatever we needed. She got a private room, right in front of the nurses. She was the top priority for that floor. We couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe how amazing they were at that hospital.

We called up our cousins, we didn’t want to tell anyone. We started the novena prayers for the deceased for 9 days. It was really strange. So much so that we started laughing. How do you pray for a soul that hasn’t sinned? But a prayer is a prayer.

I couldn’t imagine what Roscille was feeling that night. Her and Greg. They had to make a decision. Her choice was to have a C-section or natural birth. She goes, “I’m gonna do everything for this little boy. I don’t want a C-section.” The doctors don’t tell you what to do, they just suggest. Natural was the safer option and she said, “I’m gonna do that.”

So they had to administer a drug that would induce labour. On average, labour happens after 3 doses and then you can deliver. They administered the first dose at 6 am and she was already giving birth at 9 o’clock. However hard the situation was, God blessed her to make it a bit easier.

Giordan was due 2:30 pm – that’s when the C-section was scheduled. I couldn’t be in the room. She didn’t need an epidural. She was really good. I could hear her. I kept going in and out of the room. I sat outside and I prayed.

Whenever I think of Giordan, I relate him to the weather. Rainbows. Sunshine. While I was praying, the sun was on my back from the window. Literally burning my back. Like I was being embraced. I get it. It’s your sister. Let me look after you so you can be strong for her.

She delivered at 2:30 pm. Isn’t that funny? Who would’ve thought? The doctor was a Catholic man. He has 14 kids. As he was delivering, he was praying.

We got to meet him, they let us hold him, which was the best thing. Back in the day, they didn’t let that happen.  Holding him was healing. You should have seen his head, he was really cute! He looked like Greg. He was so beautiful. They thought if he had his eyes open, he would’ve had Roscille’s big brown eyes.  

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The little baby had to have an autopsy and from there, it was straight to the funeral parlour. Afterwards, the doctors came together, talked and debriefed. They were all in mourning because they couldn’t believe this happened. The hardest was yet to come.

I didn’t want Roscille to do anything. I made phone calls to the funeral parlour and to the cemetery. Mum and Dad already have a plot at the cemetery, for two coffins. However, they could fit a pocket so a small child or someone that’s been cremated can fit. That was one less thing that they had to worry about. Another blessing amongst the madness.

Choosing songs was hard. His songs are Somewhere Over the Rainbow or You’ll be in my Heart in Tarzan. That’s Roscille’s favourite. My friend said, listen to this song. It’s a Hillsong song, written by someone that’s lost a child.  We played this too. 

Greg didn’t want to carry him. Their friends really stepped up. They carried the little coffin. My dad carried the coffin. He was doing everything for this child. He said, “I’m gonna do everything I can for my grandson.” The cemetery was full. People we hadn’t seen in years. Friends from before, friends from now, family friends. The priest couldn’t believe all these people came, “This little boy is loved. This family is loved.” They set out 60 chairs. We had more than 200 people standing.

There’s a section where the parents go to pray for their child. My sister did it all. I can’t believe her strength, if I had half of that, I’d be a better person. She is amazing. I am in awe of her strength.

The little hearse drove him to where he was gonna be buried. Greg said, “I’m gonna carry him.” Greg and Dad carried him. I can still picture her laying over the burial plot “I miss my baby, I want my baby, where is he?”

She stayed at home with us. I didn’t go to work. We got to bond in the silence. This is how I know her spirit is strong. She goes, “Giordan was really fat, hey? He might not be able to fly with his angel wings because he’s so heavy. ”

We did a lot of family stuff. Her friends, Michell and Joanne brought her to the cemetery on her birthday, and we ate cake. She knows I’ll always be there for her, but it’s also the people who are not blood related who are also there.

After this happened, I had a work review one day at the gym. Every year this happens if you want to get a pay rise. I sat down with my boss and she asked me, “What happened? I had to fail you.” I don’t fail anything. She goes, “What’s going on? This isn’t the Raelene I reviewed last year. This is someone different. Is there something going on in your life?” I bawled my eyes out. She ripped up my papers and said, “We’ll do this again when you’re ready.”

She asked, ”Does your sister know how you feel?”

I said, “Nah I couldn’t do that to her.”

“You know what, you should talk to her. If you tell me that your sister is ok, maybe talking to her will help you find your strength.”

Roscille and I were chatting one day and she said to me, “Rae, I was just crying out of nowhere.”

I said, “You know you will.”

“I was just really sad.”

Then I let it out, “Me too”

“Really?”

“I still hurt.” I said.

“Yeah me too. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because  I didn’t want to burden you anymore.”

“Rae, we gotta get through this together.” She said.

“Ok.”

This has really strengthened our relationship. I thought we were good, I thought we had the best relationship. But this has taken it to a new level. It’s not as intense as it was. It still hurts, but it’s not as intense. Greg’s opened up too. He’s not really a feelings person. It’s opened up a different relationship between me and my brother-in-law.

Every day got better. I went to work. Then Greg went back to work. Roscille went back to work. I don’t think she would have coped if she didn’t go back to work. It’s very dark, but if you could see her now. You’d shake your head in awe. I told her she should write a book! Because it’s so empowering! Her strength is amazing. It gets me through. She talks to him like he’s there. She takes his rosary beads everywhere. They just bought a car. The plate number is Giordan. She just started a business. That’s in his name as well. Built a granny flat in memory of him. They remember him. So many avenues have opened up because they didn’t stop moving forward.

He’ll be 1 next month. I’m a little bit on edge again. I thought I’d be ok, but this is normal. I don’t normally cry. Now the floodgates have opened and I can’t stop! I love this kid, he’s my nephew. I just pray that God will bless them again because they’d make the best parents. They are amazing.

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My sister is so funny. You know how I told you there have been 4 (miscarriages, still births) since Giordan?

My sister goes, “He’d be the leader of the gang now, hey! He’s going to be very busy. I think it’s called AFC”

“What’s AFC?”

“Angels For Christ”

Whenever something like this happened, we ask him to look out for those kids making their way to heaven. Look for them, Giordan, look after them. Teach them what you know. Teach them how to fly.

I see life differently now. I’m not afraid to die. Not in a morbid way. If he can do it and he’s only a baby, what about me? I’m a grown up adult, what do I have to fear?

We say to my siser, “You gave birth to an angel. How many people can say that?” On mother’s day, we say, you stand up, you claim that. That’s yours, you claim that.

I missed a week of church because I questioned God. But something told me, if you don’t have faith, what do you have? Someone cannot physically give you feeling or healing. But you need to find that strength, I don’t want to feel like wrong has been done. Wrong hasn’t been done. You just have to believe that it happens.

I am honoured she’s my sister. Bottom line. Sucked in to everyone else, because she’s not yours!

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*She was doing this at the cafe we caught up at haha


If you or someone you know is suffering from a miscarriage or stillbirth, there are people that can help. The thing that surprised me was that this is not as uncommon as I thought. Funnily enough, I never met Roscille until last weekend (I’ve been friends with her sister, Raelene for a long time – she was my first leader in our youth group Youth For Christ). Roscille opened herself  to everyone – if anyone ever needs to chat about it, she’s available. If you would like this, please contact me so I can get you in touch.


As cliche as it sounds, I knew she was the one when I first saw her in 2009. That rare feeling you get about a person that one day they will have a great impact in your life. The rest was Gods work.


PreviewTo love isn’t easy. We get jealous, angry and hateful towards one another. I usually tell people, I would be a much better person if it wasn’t living amongst my family. My family brings out the worse me in me. Only my siblings would walk into my room and break something just because they were curious. Funnily enough, that’s never caused me to distance myself from them, ever. I mean, I can definitely hold a grudge and stop talking to them for few days but that always come to end, eventually.

Check out the next installment of Love Stories, “Storge”, on Wednesday 21 June at 3 pm AEST

Written by Candice

June 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Chapter 6: Philautia

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the seventh post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here.

TIH and I have also partnered up for a cool competition that closes on Friday! Details are here. We look forward to hearing your stories too!


Philautia

Philautia means love of self. The Greeks broke it down into a positive and negative type of self-love. And for all you dirty minded folk who are laughing at “self-love”, relax lol. It’s not about that.

In its negative form, philautia is selfish, narcissistic, arrogant, and looks down on others. Did you know the word narcissism is derived from Narcissus who was a hunter in Greek mythology (the Greeks are just on fire with this kind of stuff) who was apparently very beautiful, but was a bit of a prick (my boss’ favourite insult). A Greek goddess named Nemisis was against evil deeds and dudes and wanted him to chill out, so she lured him to a pool. Back then they didn’t have mirrors, let alone selfies. Narcissus saw his reflection for the first time in the pool of water, then fell in love with his own reflection. He couldn’t bring himself to leave his beloved (his reflection) and so he stared at his reflection until he died. No embellishment or heightening for the story’s elegance. I wonder how many people are the same today but with selfies and snapchat filters.

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It’s also seen when people just want to get ahead and bulldoze anyone in their way, Or only see their own needs. A lot of the time when people are depressed they actually can’t see beyond their own needs. But there’s another breed who have the ability to see, but choose only to see their own need. What is the point of wealth if you’re only building your own kingdom?

In its positive form, philautia is healthy self-love, self-esteem and self-worth. The Greek philautia is in line with Buddhist philosophy of “self-compassion”, an understanding that if you love yourself, you will be able to love others. In the words of Aristotle, “Όλα τα φιλικά αισθήματα για τους άλλους είναι μια επέκταση τα συναισθήματα ενός ανθρώπου για τον εαυτό του.” Looks like elvish, but the English translation is, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” i.e. the love you have for others is an extension of your self-love. You can’t love other well if you don’t love yourself first. When you can see your worth, it is easier for you to see the worth in everyone else. The opposite is if you are self-loathing, you will be world-loathing. In a minor sense, this is perfectly illustrated by internet trolls. I really cannot comprehend people on twitter who create whole new twitter accounts just to troll people. Get another hobby.

Hurt people hurt people.

There are a lot of studies that show the effect that parents have on their child’s ability to love – generally, parents that treat their children with love and respect will produce children who have healthy levels of self-esteem, self-compassion and confidence. Nature also has a part too – the never-ending nature vs nurture discussion arguing whether a person’s development is caused by DNA or experiences and environment. But generally, people who experience unhealthy environments growing up will have to work harder to have self-love because they were not shown this as children by those that are meant to love them.

I’m very passionate about this topic just because of what I said earlier: hurt people hurt people. Including themselves. I hate hearing stories of people who stay in toxic relationships because they don’t think they deserve anything better. The bruises of abusive relationships rarely stay between the abuser and the victim, the children see it too and it can often start a cycle of violence.

It’s awesome that we are getting a better understanding of mental health, but it’s still really incomplete, even among those suffering it. I saw a post on social media this morning that went along the lines of: A depressed person constantly questions whether they’re depressed or just lazy on a daily basis.

Be kind to yourself and to others. xo


Sick of Myself

I was 16 years old when I first started showing symptoms. Mornings were the worst. Every joint creaked, every muscle hurt. It felt as though I hadn’t slept at all. The hardest thing was keeping up with everyone ; friends and family. I wanted to be ‘normal’ – have a normal school day, hang out on weekends with friends, do what any normal teenager would do. Occasionally, I would be able to, maybe have a few hours here or there. But usually that meant days of recovery.

A doctor told me I’d be better after 3 months. Another told me I was not eating well enough. Another, that it was all in my head. People didn’t believe I was sick – because I had no outward signs of illness. It was mentally draining having people think it’s not real, your suffering.

I felt alone. Nobody understood. Nobody could see it. Nobody could feel it. I dropped out of school because I couldn’t keep up with school work, quit my job, stopped seeing friends. I felt like I had no future.

Illness broke me down. As well as my body aching, my mind ached. I slept. A lot. Whether it was from the fatigue or depression – who knows.

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If you’ve never suffered from a mental illness, whether it be anxiety or depression, you never realise how physically exhausting it can be. Everything is hard. Crawling out of the hole is too hard, too tiring. So you don’t. You stop caring. You stop wanting to try. You have no interest. Everything is bloody hard.

It was 5 years of loneliness – I was alone in my pain.

Then something changed in me. I just got sick of myself. I got sick of being the ‘sick’ one. I wanted to be known for more than my illness. Sitting around, watching life pass me, started to bother me more and more.

I found support groups – these saved me. I met some beautiful people, and listening to people in the same boat as you is an eye opener. I met one of my best friends at one of these groups, who I speak to daily, especially during the worst days. Having someone who understands is the best thing.

I started to study. It was hard at first, especially because of fatigue, but I got there and completed a few small Tafe courses.

Next, I started working. After a few hiccups, I finally found something I love and am super passionate about. I had to start working one day a week, and only just recently, started working full time.

I love my life now. It’s not easy – it took years to work up to this. Years of pain, tears and laughter. But I’m in a good spot mentally. I’m always looking out for the positives each day.


Rollercoaster

I was a rape victim at 13 years old, and it was then that I started to experience depression more noticeably. 25 years later, the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) still haunt me.  I am still dealing with the initial hurts that shaped some wrong views of how I see myself and others.

Sometimes the anxiety can be so debilitating that I sit and stare and don’t want to do anything at all.  Crying. Anger. Confusion and frustration. Crying takes a lot out of me, so I’m usually so ‘flat’ for a day or two. The ‘flat’ exhausted and emotionally stretched thin stage, easily turns into a ‘depressive low state’.

My depression and anxiety went undiagnosed for a number of years as I was navigating teenage years riding an emotional rollercoaster with thoughts of suicide, mood swings and confusion. I survived by putting a smile on to mask my pain, desperate to show my friends that I was ok. I had a desperate need to be loved.

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Sometimes, I can put on a happy face like a pretty bird just to survive the day. – A F Jess, 2016

I was bullied after a Year 12 Retreat because I was suspected and targeted as ‘dobbing’ on some girls doing drugs during camp. I just happened to move out of their cabin because I didn’t want to be involved and hated the smell. It was common knowledge these girls did this and someone told their mum, who told the school and subsequently the police.  I was threatened that I should watch my back, picked on in the classroom if the teacher stepped out. A friend had to escort me to and from classes. These ‘scary’ girls threatened anyone who was seen talking to me. Finally the truth was let out, they stopped and pretended to be my friend. I put a smile on my face and couldn’t wait to leave the school.

My anxiety/ depression was diagnosed by my GP when I was about 20 years old. It was no surprise. When I was diagnosed, it felt like such a relief that we could put a name to it, but I had mixed feelings. Growing up I felt that I was never good enough and this diagnosis felt like confirmation saying, “See, I told you she was broken, not good enough, not normal.” Without proper help, the diagnosis on its own tempted me to feel worse… you have to wait weeks, even 4-6 weeks for antidepressants to kick in sometimes.

I got married in 2005 at 27, had my first child, Nathan the following year in 2006, then fell pregnant 3-4 months after he was born! I experienced the first real stages of postnatal depression whilst pregnant with my second son, David. I had a wonderful Maternal and Child Health Nurse who I’ve had for 5 of 6 babies. I went back on antidepressants in 2007 and stayed on them for over 4 years, meanwhile having baby 3 (Angelica), 4 (Sammy) and 5 (Anastasia)!  

When Anastasia was 9 months old, I started a fitness journey to keep active and to channel my energy into something good for me. I started to wean myself off of my meds. Then went back on again when I was about 6 months pregnant with Alana (baby 6).  That felt like a relief but I also felt like a failure because I felt that I was somehow being selfish and that medication would hurt my baby (no Doctor would put me on meds if the benefit didn’t outweigh the risk). While I was pregnant with Alana, I had increased blood pressure, the baby scanned at a smaller weight, I was developing pregnancy induced hypertension / pre-eclampsia after 20weeks. Depression/anxiety kicked in because I had to slow down and also stop boxing and some exercises.

I was in tears one night and just couldn’t stop. The kids were asleep and we rang for an ambulance. I remember being in the ambulance, feeling so guilty, sad, confused, relieved, happy, alone, scared, brave, clinging to God’s plan for me.

Going into emergency for the first time and heavily pregnant for a long-standing battle with depression/anxiety, I don’t know why I didn’t go into hospital years earlier. It was the best experience! I thought it would be like how it was in the movies – dark and isolated. But it felt more like a shared ‘home’ with communal dining, my own room with a TV, and space to do my art every day.

Alana was born 10 weeks early on 17 December 2015 at a public hospital. This mumma had to set aside luxuries of the private hospital because the Neonatal ICU was top quality there for very premature babies. This stay was very different. Bigger hospital, busier, louder, more levels, lifts, walking around after my 6th major abdominal surgery – Caesarean section. I should have spoken up about my needs but I didn’t. It was more for this new baby. Alana was in hospital for the 10 weeks she would’ve been in my tummy.

The fight for survival, which lasted 2 -3 months after birth, were the toughest on my body both physically and mentally. I felt like it was my fault she came out early. It didn’t help when people asked if it is because I’m doing too much. I felt so helpless that I couldn’t hold tiny, tiny Alana close to me, only look at her through a glass box.  I desperately wanted to give her my own milk but I thought it might hurt her because I was taking anti-depressants.  I felt guilty because nurses wondered why wasn’t I at her bedside for long periods.

My family and friends have had all different reactions to my struggles, but all with the same intention of love and care. However, depending on how much you know about mental illness, reactions were sometimes more hurtful than helpful. Sometimes I had to weigh up whether or not I should explain myself for the hundredth time, do they really want to know how I’m feeling?

Comments were confusing and ‘advice’ drove me nuts at times:

  • Maybe you’re not praying hard enough?
  • Maybe you just need to relax
  • Don’t worry, just be positive!
  • You’re exercising too much
  • I just don’t want you to be addicted to medication…. that pi***d me off. I asked this person, if someone had an illness like cancer or asthma, would you tell them the same thing? Give wrong and judgmental advice about medication.  It might have some truth but I think it was because they’re not qualified and haven’t really asked, “How are you really?”

The best ways and reactions to my illness have been simple but profound. When people offer to cook a meal, babysit a kid, hubby telling the kids to let Mummy have a good rest, hubby asking if I’d like a cup of tea, hubby also gently prompting me with reminders to practise mindfulness and to talk me through more helpful thinking.

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I have the support of my husband and children. I have got an excellent team of professionals around me – really good psychologist and psychiatrist, mental health nurses, maternal and child health nurses, help lines like PANDA, Post and Antenatal Depression Association, my sister Laura and maybe one or two close friends.

Over 2 years later, I am now finally in the last leg of weaning off the medication!!! Woo hoo! I’m now 4 weeks off medication, but fully immersed in 3 times a week hospital visits – all day CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), all day Art Therapy and Counselling with someone at NCASA – Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault.  I exercise 4 – 5 times a week which includes teaching one Funk Dance Fitness class and seeing a Personal Trainer. I’m about to start a new Art group – dance and art, my great loves.

In CBT I’m starting to reverse the negative core beliefs that I have of “Not Being Good enough” and that people that love me will betray me or are not as they seem. I’m working on myself, with God’s gentle grace and compassion.

If you or someone you know if going through depression / anxiety, my advice would be:

  • Seek help if your gut feeling is that something’s not right.
  • Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It takes and it takes and it takes. Any age, race, gender, lifestyle or situation.
  • Know that mental illnesses are just that, an illness. A sickness that can be managed.
  • See a trusted GP, Counsellor, someone else who’s been through similar, go to websites like Beyond Blue or call someone a helpline like Lifeline.
  • Be patient with medications to work, I see them as lifting you out of the dark, to a better place to actually be more clearer in mind to start changes to get better.
  • Be patient with finding the right health professionals too, it’s like shopping around.  These guys will need to be trusted with your life & feelings.
  • Medications are not a sign of failing.
  • Mind, body, heart and soul all work together. Check things are in balance.
  • Find something you love to do, protect it with your life. It will be a source of happiness out from dark places.
  • Make decisions, even tough ones with confidence especially if it will help you get better and if others (like children) are relying on you to be better.
  • Practise mindfulness, being still, deep breathing, praying, meditating and seeking quality time out regularly.
  • Celebrate even the smallest of changes or smallest of victories!  Today I told myself, people coping with mental illness CAN live a full and meaningful life.
  • We are blessed in this country that mental illness awareness is growing. Bear in mind that not everyone is on the same page. This what I have to tell myself every time someone tells me to pray harder or just ‘think positive.’  It’s a little more than just that.

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‘The King hugged His daughter and said, “This will pass,”‘ – A.F. Jess, 2015.

I had mental illness before kids, during and after kids. Experiences of mental health issues are always heavy and can make life more unstable. In my younger years, suicide felt like a card to play. As a Mum, it feels like there is just more incentive, go deep in my heart to try harder, to keep going, to get better for my hubby and kids. Mental illness is a big part of my story, but it doesn’t define me. It is only a part of my story, and I’m grateful that I have found ways to express my story and make it into something beautiful.


The takeaway from these two Love Stories is that it can get better. Usually when you’re in the pits, it feels like you’ll be there forever. You don’t have to be. If you recognise something going on in yourself or those around you, you don’t have to face it alone.


As cliche as it sounds, I knew she was the one when I first saw her in 2009. That rare feeling you get about a person that one day they will have a great impact in your life. The rest was Gods work.


PreviewShe went to her final scan on a Tuesday, getting ready for the C-section on Wednesday. I got a phone call at 2 o’clock, she goes. “I lost him.”

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Storge”, on Wednesday 14 June at 3pm AEST

Don’t forget to enter our competition with TIH! Entries close 9 June

Written by Candice

June 7, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Love Stories: Chapter 5: Pragma

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the sixth post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here, and 4 here.

TIH and I have also partnered up for a cool competition that you can be a part of, details are here. We look forward to hearing your stories too!


Pragma

The word ‘Pragma’ has the same root as the words pragmatic or pragmatism, which means “dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.” Pragmatic lovers have a notion of being of service to each other and a notion of working towards a love that is long standing or enduring, beyond the the initial excitement of love. This usually translates into expectations in a partner or relationship. It may look unromantic because it’s not impulsive nor chaotic, but rather discerning and reflecting.

Pragmatic lovers often have shared goals and values. I guess a good illustration of pragmatic love can be an arranged marriage, particularly at the time the partner is selected. (Man if I was more pragmatic and organised, I would have asked for a love story that started with an arranged marriage. But the following will have to do) One of my colleagues is in an arranged marriage and told a group of us about the process that he underwent. His family selected suitable mates and contacted the family. He was given the chance to have 15 or so minutes with the girl to see if there was initial attraction, “compatibility” and a view of the future. After this, either party could say no. He turned down two women before choosing his wife. We didn’t ask what compelled him to say yes to her, but he showed us a picture and she’s pretty! But I’m sure there’s more basis to it than that.

This is a clear representation of a pragmatic relationship, where impulse and passion aren’t the deciding factor, instead it is secondary to the pre-determined values and standards. Perhaps the passion comes later? The families choose a partner that is of equal (or similar enough) social status, practicing the same religion, has the same values and goals in life, represented by the social standing and life that their family leads. Then the lover is given a chance to choose their life partner, based on a conversation. I know this isn’t how all arranged marriages work, but this was my colleague’s experience.

The lover often has a clear idea of the kind of person they want to have as their partner. Another example is a celebrity who is trying to find the best partner to boost their status and press. Another is the single girl who is listing all the things she wants in her partner including height and hair colour. The lover believes that these chosen qualities will set them up to be in the best possible relationship.

Pragma seems like the grown up ludus. All the play is out of the way and has given way to a desire for a mature love, a love that isn’t as fiery or tempestuous. It isn’t a game, but you will do what you need to do to make sure this love works. This is the love after you’ve fallen in love to make sure you stay in love. So it can also look like a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. One of my favourite quotes is this (I also write it in every wedding card I give :))

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

– Fr Pedro Arrupe

It may sound boring or lacklustre, but there is a comfort and beauty in feeling safe in your relationship and being able to be vulnerable.

For today’s stories, I wanted to focus on one facet of pragma – the long-standing or enduring nature of it. I curate a few stories to illustrate this.

Enjoy, lovers.


Love and Opportunity

Like any other sibling story, on the outside you don’t really show physical affection to them. Especially in public, unless it’s to humiliate them. However, deep down, even though they can drive you nuts, you’ll do anything to protect them, care for them when they’re sick and help them out with their homework. The loss of my brother, made me realise how much he meant to me. There are so many things that I regret that I didn’t get to do for my brother. I don’t think I’ll forgive myself anytime soon for missing out on those opportunities. All maybe dark and gloomy, but it’s the happy memories that I got to make and spend with him that is making his mark and memory in my life a little bit brighter

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The biggest happy 21st birthday to my Angel Brother, Jose “Jojo”! 🎉 🎈You may not be with us anymore but you’re always in our hearts and missing you everyday. Hope you’re having an awesome party in heaven!🍺😇 #angelbrother


I love you still

Eleven short months ago, I became a mother to a beautiful little 8 pound girl named Elisabeth Marie. Looking back at all the preparations we made for her, the books we read, the conversations we had and decisions we made – there is nothing that could have prepared us for the incredible blessing we were about to receive.

When Elisabeth was born, my entire life was transformed. All of the sudden, I started to realise just how selfish I had been before her and how much time I had spent on myself. Every day she demands more and more of me, and somehow by God’s grace every day, I find more and more of myself to give. I have learned so much in the past year about parenting, life, but most of all love. A love that looks past the marmite-covered hands and cheeks and says “I love you still”. That looks at the toys strewn across the floor, with a trail track leading to somewhere she is not meant to be and says “I love you still”. A love that gets out of bed at 2am (and then again at 3:30, 4, and 5) to stick a soother back in her little mouth and says “I love you still”. That looks straight into the eyes of a little monster screaming in her highchair and says “I love you still”.

17198086_10158285047065463_242234296_nWhile I have never been on the “giving” end of this love before, I have definitely experienced it. This is the same love I see in my mother’s eyes every time she looks at me. The thought of this makes my heart sing as I dream about where Elisabeth will be 25 years from now because I know that I will still look at her the same way. I know that she will most likely fail as many times as she succeeds, she will make mistakes, she will choose the wrong thing from time to time. But she will always be my Elisabeth, she will always be my baby. And 25 years from now, although her cheeks might not be covered in marmite, I am sure that my whole being will still radiate with the same love that it does now. No matter where life takes her, I will be saying, “I love you still.”


The Passion

 

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Picture by Odie Maunes

I want to start by congratulating my parents on your silver anniversary, managing not to kill each other or my brother, sister and me. I also want to thank all of you for being here today and helping us to celebrate this very special day for our family

I wasn’t there when the love story of my Dad and Mum blossomed (I came about 3 years and 9 months later ;)) but on every single account, especially my Mum’s, my mum was the typically hard to get Filipino girl

There is one story (that they’ve told us a few hundred times) when they were dating and had a massive argument, probably started by my mum, who stormed off the bus they were riding and into the crowded streets, leaving my Dad abandoned and lost.

Luckily, my Dad loved my mum enough to look for her and keep loving her.

The love story that I do know is a beautiful love story written by God. A love that as they grow older, the more in love they fall. On this day, 25 years ago, they probably thought they loved each other so fiercely and completely. That love does not compare to the love that they share now and the love they will have 25 years from now.

It makes me smile when I see the way that our Dad looks at our Mum, even though sometimes it makes my siblings and I embarrassed. Especially when they kiss in a photo booth and stick the photo on our fridge where our friends can see when they come over.

When we were much younger, we lived on the second level in an apartment and every day, my mum would know exactly when my Dad got home because she could “smell” him, even 2 stories up. My mum can’t even leave the house without kissing my Dad goodbye. My sister reminded me of a time when she and my mum were in the car about to leave to go to work. My Dad came out of the house, looking annoyed and when my sister asked, “What’s wrong with Dad?” My mum answered, “I haven’t kissed him goodbye yet.”

Mum and Dad, thank you for being an awesome example of love. Thank you for setting the bar high, showing us the kind of love that we should strive for and one that we deserve.

Separately, you are two amazing people, but together you are complete.

Please raise your glasses while I toast my Mum and Dad on 25 wonderful years.

***

Even now, coming up to their 30th anniversary, I see the love of my parents growing. I see how even at their age, they’re still growing as individuals, still pushing each other to be better and loving each other more because of it. I see how they enjoy each other’s company, whether traveling together, doing ministry together and when they have their way, just watching teleserye on the couch, cuddling.


Automatic

At 22 years old, I am currently juggling four big priorities; Firstly, I work 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. Secondly, I’m a student, studying business and events management. Thirdly, I have left the nest and have been living on my own for nearly 2 years now. As for the fourth… It is one of the toughest job in the world, and my biggest priority over all. Not a lot of people choose it at such a young age. I work every single day, for very very long hours. I usually juggle all four on the daily. It is physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and socially straining. I do not get paid over time or weekend rate. I actually do not get paid at all for this job, but it is the most rewarding thing a person could do. For my fourth priority is working for and serving a four year old girl – my daughter.

I am still quite young and have a lot to learn, but it’s fair to say that have experienced love in more ways than a young adult usually does. In my opinion love is a choice, rather than a feeling. To me that means, that no matter how one is feeling, what mood they are in, or whatever situation they are experiencing, they choose to love regardless. Whilst that is difficult to understand and do, being a mother has taught me just that.

Naturally, I did not choose to become a mum so young. I had all expected feelings one would get being 18 and pregnant. And so did my parents. I felt like a failure and a disappointment especially being the eldest child. So, I made a decision, and booked a very painful appointment.

Prior to this writing piece, I did not know what pragma love was. However, without even knowing what it meant, I realised that I have experienced “longstanding love” from my parents every day of my life. Even before I told them about the baby, this love was strong enough to change my decision. I knew how they would react and feel when I tell them I also knew my parents loved me no matter what. That’s when I realised that because I felt this longstanding love they had for me, I knew how I wanted to love my child in the same way.

A great deal happened during my pregnancy. Very emotionally traumatic series of events that I still carry with me. But the clearest memory I have during that time, was the day I chose to cancel that appointment. It was a Tuesday afternoon the day before my appointment in Liverpool. I remember exactly where I was sitting in the food court when I called the clinic. I remember her voice when she asked me why I wanted to cancel. I said: “I decided to keep the baby.” I remember the feeling of relief and joy happening on both ends of that call.

Word spread and my parents were the ones who did not leave my side the way others did. They taught me what love was about and I knew that I would always be in safe hands. How you love your children is different to how you love your partner, or your family and friends. In a romantic relationship, you find them, connect with them and then chose to love them. With your kids, it isn’t like that. With my daughter, I didn’t choose her. It didn’t seem that way at first, but there wasn’t even a choice to begin with. It was automatic.

The love that my daughter and I have has grown just like any other love. But the one thing that remained the same was that I do not need to choose her. The decisions I make – long term and short term has her right in the middle. Always. That means my career, my education, my lifestyle, my relationship choices and day to day activities, starts and ends with her. No second thought. At times, it does get too much that my whole world revolves around her. However, she never fails to make me feel like I am on top of the world being her mum – and that makes me I feel so powerful. Like I can do anything. It is her love for me that makes me feel superhuman. That I can move mountains for us, because I can and will.

There seems to be an unintentional recurring theme of choice here about my experience of pragma love. All the decisions I have made in my short-lived life, has lead me to the most fulfilling type of love that is so overwhelmingly powerful, that I cannot wait for those around me to feel the way I feel every day.

Falling in love is easy. Finding a person you genuinely connect with is a little harder. But it really is something different. When all the good that you have in you, all that you are as a person, a product of love that was created inside of you, is sitting right there in front of your eyes, learning to write her name. She is everything that love means to me – Kim the manifestation of my love.

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It’s hard to sum up everything I feel but I knew he was the one when I couldn’t take the stupid smile off my face, when I felt safe in my skin and that he would love me regardless of anything I did or said. Even when we fight I want to be with him.
Cass and Chris
 Photo by Captured Frames

PreviewI felt alone. Nobody understood. Nobody could see it. Nobody could feel it. I dropped out of school because I couldn’t keep up with school work, quit my job, stopped seeing friends. I felt like I had no future.

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Pragma”, on Wednesday 7 June at 3pm AEST

Don’t forget to enter our competition with TIH! Entries close 9 June

Secret message: He is still annoyed that I didn’t tell him I liked him too as soon as he told me. But he said I didn’t have to say anything? I made him wait a few weeks, should’ve made him wait a year. 

Written by Candice

May 31, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

It’s Gonna Be May

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Isn’t this just beautiful and relatable?

  1. A lot of people asked me where in the world I was when I posted safari photos on Instagram stories early this month. I was in Werribee Open Range Zoo in Melbourne, which is a lot of fun and pretty good value at $35 for adults
  2. The buttermilk pancakes at Pancake Parlour (Melbourne) kick Pancakes on the Rock’s butt
  3. If you feel like being sad, listen to Bon Iver – I can’t Make you Love Me
  4. I’m a little late to the party, but I loved Hidden Figures. All the women in that movie are so kickass
  5. Justin is frustrated with me because he’s been trying to get me into Hamilton the musical for a year maybe and it’s only now that I’m getting into it and actually more into it than he is lol. When I fangirl, I fangirl HARD lol. My fav songs now are Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Sir (I an pretty much rap the whole of those two songs), and Guns and Ships. Also Dear TheodosiaThat Would Be Enough and Helpless in the mixtape. I’m not gonna lie, I have been trying to learn all the raps and the one for Guns and Ships by Daveed Diggs is just nuts, I get tongue tied.
  6. Guns and Ships needs its own number. Honestly just look at the lyrics and speed. AMAZE #goals
  7. My work has a loaded pantry and fridge so since coming on in January, I have gained 6kg D: #CovataKilos Short stop donuts have probably contributed, too. So I have been going on a sugar cleanse and having a sweet tooth, I knew I needed something sweet to curb cravings. My two three favs are coconut water, peanut butter and protein balls 🙂
  8. I have been behind in my reading my book this month – A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is by the same author as the Kite runner. The first few chapters were already sad so I wasn’t so keen on reading, but it’s a good story so far
  9. Black Mirror 😐 Esp the first episode omg.
  10. Brooklyn 99 is one of my fav shows, it actually makes me lol. But from the newer episodes Moo Moo is my fav episode, going deeper and reflecting what’s going on in the US at the moment. It just goes back to my post about art imitating life
  11. Jimmy Kimmel talking about his son’s birth ❤
  12. Have you heard Harry Styles singing Landslide with Stevie Nicks?
  13. Not sure if you’ve been following the Love Stories series? The stories I’ve been able to share have been beautiful. I just feel so lucky to read and share them. Thanks to everyone that has been participating, sharing and reading xo

 

Written by Candice

May 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm