Through the fog…

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Image credit: pinterest.co.uk

My journey with depression started 2 weeks before my grandma passed away. Or maybe earlier, I’m not too sure but I’m most aware of the last 6 weeks. When it was happening, I didn’t know what it was. I felt like I was not 100%, nor was I unwell. I just felt off but I didn’t know what it was. I may have been picking up on how my grandma may have been feeling before she passed away as I have felt her spirit since her passing in more ways than one.

On the morning of my grandma’s death, I had woken to go to the bathroom – this happens frequently during the night but what made it odd was that I had to do a bowel movement. This is not usually the case and it was very difficult but nothing much happened. I went back to bed and my mobile rang and it was on low volume so it took me a while to figure out it was my mobile. The call went to my voicemail. I think the call was at about 1.30am. Before I even checked my voicemail, I knew it was about my grandma’s passing. I can’t explain how, but I knew. I listened to the message, it was from the hospital saying she had passed away at 12.10am. I woke my husband and told him and asked whether I should call my mum, I wasn’t thinking, I was numb. He advised I should let her sleep and call her at a decent hour later in the morning. I did not go back to sleep that night.

My phone rang at 4.00am and I knew it was my mum calling to inform me about grandma, I was numb. My mum was distraught and I went into protective mode – of myself and my mum. I went into autopilot and starting doing what the eldest daughter needs to do at that time. It was hard seeing my mum’s grief, I was holding myself together the best way I could. I had to help my mum go to the cemetery, organise and purchase a plot, go with her to the funeral home and organise the funeral, flowers, hymns, readings, pall bearers, readings, pictures and slideshow along with the viewing and wake which ended up at our house. There was much to keep me busy, I went into auto-pilot and reminded my mum to eat, drink, rest and sleep. In the process, I was neglecting to do these things myself. I lost my appetite, was sleeping around only 4 hours each night and just kept going with everything that had to be done.

To make matters more hectic, I had my sister from Perth coming to stay from the night before the viewing until the Funeral, 3 days later. Every day since the phone call, I had every sibling, mum and other family members over at our place for 2 weeks. It was overwhelming to say the least. My younger siblings tend to drain my energy so I was conserving what little energy I had to get through this difficult time and trying to shut out the ‘noise’ from my sisters. I was trying to hold in my grief and not express it but when I read my remembrance at the funeral service, I broke down and you could hardly understand what I was saying about my grandma. I had to recover and do a reading later on which I was able to read more coherently.

I had no energy to tell anyone of my grandma’s passing except three good friends – one who I’ve known for 40 years, another for over 20 years and another whom she and I have a different spiritual connection. We can’t explain it but it is there. I did write a post about it to express some of my grief and emotion as I find writing helps me process thoughts and feelings. It helped to an extent. I felt at peace when we laid my grandma to rest because I knew she was in a better place and no longer suffering. I felt she could finally spread her wings and fly. When everyone left our place after the wake, I finally had some peace. Saturday was devoted to cleaning up and taking my daughter to ballet. I felt somewhat better.

Sunday, I took my mum to watch the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” to bring some laughter back into our lives, even though there were some tender moments that also brought some tears. It was just my little family around me on Monday which was nice and brought some peace. The next day, I was going back to work. I thought getting back into routine would help – it turned out I was very wrong about that. As I am also a Life Coach, I provide Management Coaching at work. I love the coaching experience but it does take a lot of my energy. Something I didn’t have much of at the time.

I remember surviving through each day with very little sleep, I was making myself eat even though I had no appetite. I couldn’t afford to get sick. After being at work for 1.5 weeks, I received a work email and was also receiving coaching myself – yes coaches need to be coached too! Both the work email and coaching made me realise I was breaking down and not coping – it was costing me my inner peace which is too high a price to pay. I realised I needed to ask for time off work to grieve. I had been holding it in for far too long.

The weekend before my week’s leave, I had a Holy Communion to attend which was giving me anxiety. I experienced the worst anxiety I had ever felt. I was up early in the morning going to the toilet several times, not able to eat breakfast and not wanting to socialise as I knew there would be other people I knew at the service. I was using all my energy to get dressed and out the door. As I walked into the church, a friend saw me who I had not seen for some time, looked at me she asked “Are you OK?”, I manged to reply “I’m ok, Just Ok.” She let me have my space as I went to find my other ‘friend’. When I found her, she did not ask how I was, did not check if I was OK. She laughed and smiled and chatted. Every sound was too loud, laughter was an assault to my senses and smiling was painful.

I used all my energy to get through the mass and held back tears. During the mass a friend sat next to me who always gives out positive energy. I think that helped me half way through the mass. It was so difficult during mass as there was an elderly man in a wheel chair with his loving daughter which reminded me of my mum with her mother when she was still alive. When I turned behind me to shake hands to say ‘Peace be with you’ there was a lovely elderly lady wearing a hat which reminded me of my grandma. It was tough. When the mass was over, I could only manage to see the girl who was having Holy Communion to say “God is in your heart”. I was almost at breaking point, I was trembling with the effort of keeping my composure for that long. Her daughter has anxiety and I could see how strained she was on that day as well. We bid our goodbyes and went home. It was tough but I survived!

spbh.orgImage credit: spbh.org

The next day I went to my family doctor because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I knew something was out of balance but I didn’t know what. I didn’t know what was happening to me, I felt like I was in a fog and couldn’t get out. I burst into tears when I explained what I was feeling, what I was doing or not doing and he diagnosed me with depression. It was both a relief to know what was wrong and also filled me with dread to tell the news to my family. My doctor prescribed me antidepressants so I could sleep because the chronic lack of sleep was contributing to my depression.

I had a good night’s sleep for the first time in 3 weeks. I had the week to recover and time to grieve. I scheduled a few activities I wanted to do on my own and also visited my Grandma’s grave on the one month anniversary of her death. I had anxiety that morning too but I was determined to go. I bought hot pink and white roses and drove to the cemetery. I grabbed a flower holder that is provided by the cemetery, put some water in it and placed the flowers in the holder. I walked to my grandma’s grave and placed the flowers at the top of her grave. I took off my shoes, sat on the grass and grieved, wept, spoke to her in Vietnamese and at times sat in silence. I felt such a release and my heart was finally lighter. I finally felt like the fog was lifting. I thanked my grandma, said goodbye and left.

I finally felt like I was on the road to recovery. I hope my story helps others who may be experiencing anxiety and depression or helps others pick up warning signs from friends, family or loved ones who may be experiencing anxiety and depression. This week, I finally took my own advice to take some ‘me’ time to look after myself so I can then look after others. I also put into action something I posted on my Instagram Coaching page:

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I let go of energy, habits, behaviour and people that didn’t serve me. I was taking back my power – something I coach others to do and it was good to finally take my own advice!

Someone once showed me this quote by Buddha:

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The Buddhist way of life resonates with me and I found this saying to be fulfilled during this week. I am going to borrow another saying by Buddha when he was teaching about the Not Self “This is not mine. This I am not. This is not myself.” but insert the word ‘depression’ into it – “Depression is not mine, Depression I am not. Depression is not myself.” This has been a tough week but a journey I had to have. I feel I am stronger because of this and enables me to be a better coach to enable others to Laugh.Love.Live! Peace and blessings – Namaste!

 

 

 

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One month on…

grief

Image credit: themindsjournal.com

It’s been a month since you left your physical form on this earth,

Yet your soul is ever present.

It has been both comforting and sad,

Today, I visited your resting place,

And finally released emotions – both good and bad.

I know you are in a much better place,

You can spread your wings and race.

It finally feels as though the fog is lifting,

Sunshine, warmth and joy – uplifting.

Thank you for your love, kind words, compassion and understanding,

Our love and memories of you are never-ending.

Grief alone

Image credit: balmtomysoul.com

Weary

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Image credit: doyoubelieve.com

My heart is heavy,

I’m sick, mostly sick of people being unkind to each other

Inner peace, a high price to pay

When it is absent or in conflict

Transform, change, renewal

Time needed to heal

Release emotions, grief and sadness

Find hope, new beginnings

Everyday moments of wonder

A new day, a fresh start

Being present, focus on the now

Release fear and look ahead.

Weary - greet the new morn

Image credit: hugsandkissesandnot.com

 

What sets your soul on fire?

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My own learning journey has been lifelong and my passion is learning. I have been lucky to build my career in learning, specifically in adult learning. As part of my journey, I am now also a qualified Life Coach, something I have been wanting to do for 4-5 years. I have been on my own learning journey, learning about myself and others – especially due to losing loved ones.

I am so energised by coaching others enabling people to live their best life. Seeing people feel they have the power to change is amazing. I feel that this is what I am meant to do. I have also realised that due to losing my Grandmother, I have not had the time to grieve – I’ve been taking care of others – my mother, sister, husband, daughter but not had time to renew and rejuvenate myself. I have found that I need my alone time as this is the best way I can recharge and bring my best self to help others. Decisions I have been making in the last few weeks have not been optimal and have been affected by not being able to release my grief. This is going to change – it needs to change. For my sake and the sake of my family.

I’m not angry or sad, just done. This time will enable me to refresh, renew and regenerate. This way I can continue to Laugh.Love.Live and share the love with others.

I’ve included a link to a blog post below about the reasons why Life Coaching sets my soul on fire. It has also been shared on other social media sites. Taking time out to be true to myself will enable me to continue this passion. Peace and blessings – may you have a great week ahead. Namaste.

https://www.learning4life.com.au/blog/wwwlearning4lifecomau/blogpost-5

 

In Loving Memory…

Winnie the Pooh

Image credit: Pinterest

Our family suffered a loss last month. It is still quite fresh as we laid our beloved Grandmother, Mother and Great Grandmother to rest last Friday. I feel as though I was in a fog for the last week and a half after we were informed of her passing. Seeing my mother’s grief, organising the funeral, burial, wake and viewing was tough to say the least.

I believe everyone grieves differently – there is no right or wrong, just different. I tend to be quite private but I feel posting about this contributes to my healing process. I have fond memories of my Grandma with my family. Grandma was a kind soul, always friendly and tolerant. Grandma had a hard life, she lived through the Vietnam War, losing a few children and her husband before her. My grandma lost everything she had and still fought on, forging a new life for herself. Even so, she lived a long life, living up to 96 years old. Grandma would have turned 97 in December this year.

My mother was able to sponsor her mother, our Grandma and we met her in November 1995. I remember thinking Grandma so cute, funny and friendly. She talked incessantly of her grandson in Vietnam who she had to help raise as his father passed away when he was young. His father, my uncle was a soldier in the South Vietnamese Army and when the North Vietnamese won the war, he was captured and tortured as were many. He was finally released and his family were so happy to see him, most of all his mother – my Grandmother. However, shortly after he arrived home, he passed away in his sleep. The joy of having her son back was short-lived.

My Grandma is from North Vietnam but ended up living in South Vietnam with two of her children, my mum and older brother – my uncle who passed away. The reason for this is because my Grandma went to visit her father who lived in the South when she was upset with her husband. My Grandfather was a very good looking man and my mum said apparently, he could be a bit of a playboy.

While my Grandma was visiting my Great Grandfather, the instability between North and South Vietnam increased. As a result, travel and communication between North and South Vietnam was cut. No one was allowed to travel between the two or communicate via phone or telegram. This meant my Grandma was now cut off from her husband and other children. My Grandma had about 10 children. She had her only daughter, my mother with her and my mum learnt later from an Aunty that her father loved her dearly as she was his only daughter and thought my Grandma took her away to punish him.

When the Vietnam war was over and communication between North and South Vietnam was restored, her sons went looking for my Grandma – their mother. They did find her and this was a happy reunion for my Grandma but her husband had moved on. My Grandma chose to stay with her father in South Vietnam with my mum and uncle. She raised them on her own. The rest of the children stayed with their father in North Vietnam.

It is amazing to think of what my Grandma has lived through and experienced but was still a loving, kind, compassionate soul. She lives on in our hearts and our memories. Grandma is in a better place now, no longer suffering as she suffered two strokes in the final years before her passing and passed away with pneumonia. I believe she is now free to spread her wings and fly, always watching over all of us. My Grandma was happiest when surrounded by family and when she could express her independence – something that was taken away from her after her second stroke. When we visited Grandma, I felt she was no longer smiling with her eyes.

Remembering my Grandma reminds me to Laugh.Love. Live. Life is too short to only survive, it needs to be embraced and lived to the full – be present, enjoy the little things because I feel it’s the little things that you cherish in life. Peace and blessings.

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The City of Fountains – Part 2 (The Eternal city)

 

 

This is where our European vacation was nearing to the end and I felt like we had only scratched the surface! The previous week relaxing and exploring the Amalfi Coast was just what we need to rejuvenate and come back to Rome for a few more days. We had a couple of places we were going to visit before we went home. This time around, we stayed closer to Termini station, which is the main train station in Rome. It was much more convenient for us – closer to shopping areas, food and transport. It made it easy for us to catch the metro and train to get to a few of our final destinations.

We arrived back in Rome in the afternoon and had the evening free. We decided to explore the neighbourhood and find a place to eat lunch. We found ourselves on the Piazza della Republica, a semi-circular piazza and is one of the busiest roundabouts in Rome with a fountain called the Fountain of the Naiads whichwas a little controversial in it’s time due to the statues of nude water nymphs. From this square starts one of the main streets of Rome, Via Nazionale.

We walked along Via Nazionale, window shopping and taking in the busy-ness of Rome again after our restful week down the Amalfi Coast. The next morning we had a day trip to the Vatican Museums – or so I thought! We had to meet at 10am so we planned our trip, ensuring we knew what time to leave our hotel to catch the metro and walk to our meeting place. We woke up, had breakfast and made our way. We found our way to the meeting place and then I asked my husband what date it was when I realised it was for the next day! We took the metro back to Piazza della Republica and made our way to Termini train station.

We wanted to fit in an impromptu day trip to Florence instead. We weren’t sure how to purchase our tickets but as we were making our purchase, a man came up and showed us how to book and pay, which I did by card. He then proceeded to walk us to the platform as our train was due to leave in 10 mins. As we were walking to the platform, he asked my husband if he could be paid for helping us, my husband checked if he had any cash on him as we tended not have cash on us or very minimal. He pulled out a 5 euro note, gave it to the man who thanked us and left. Apparently this happens frequently, one of my husband’s work colleagues had the same experience except he paid by cash and as the change was being dispensed, the lady who helped him took the change and walked away. They were helpless to do anything and had to catch their train. So, please be careful when people offer to help you without you asking. It is a nice gesture but not so nice if they walk away with your money.

We got on the train which was quite clean, comfortable and fast – the train reached speeds in excess of 200km/hr! I had been told that Florence was beautiful so we were excited to be on the way! We enjoyed watching the Italian countryside change as we headed further away from Rome. Florence is 274km north of Rome, the train trip takes about 1.5 hours so it was a pleasant journey to and from Rome. There are an average of 35 trains a day between Florence and Rome which made it easy for us to catch a train for our impromptu day trip.

When the train arrived, we disembarked and eagerly walked out of the station to explore the beautiful city of Firenze! Only when we walked out of the station and onto the street, we were underwhelmed to say the least. My daughter and husband both said to me “I thought you said it was a beautiful city?”, to which I replied “I have never been but that is what I’ve been told!”. We walked along the road adjacent to the train station trying to get our bearings and decide which direction we should head, we found the CitySightseeing bus office and walked inside to grab a map to help us work out the direction we should take.

As we were walking back in the opposite direction, we happened across a small non-descript Chinese take away restaurant and since we hadn’t had a decent Asian meal for a while, my daughter asked if we could eat there as she felt like having a noodle dish. It turned out to be one of the best Asian meals we had in Italy! Fuelled by our lovely meal, we headed out towards Piazza Santa Maria Novella.  It took our breath away and realised this is why Firenze is described as a beautiful city! The first thing we saw was the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Novella – we all gasped in awe at it’s beauty and splendour! The exterior is painted in the Al Fresco style so the colours are still quite vibrant. We visited the little chapel and enjoyed walking around the garden – this definitely confirmed we had made a good decision to jump on a train to Firenze for the day – even though it was unplanned, unlike our other day trips.

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After being taking in the beauty of this Piazza and Basilica, we headed down one of the narrow streets leading off the Piazza to see where that would take us. We got to the end of the street and when we looked up, what we saw literally took our breath away! It was the majestic Duomo! We all gasped when we saw the Duomo, we thought we were in awe when we saw the Basilica but the Duomo was another breathtaking moment! Words cannot describe it and I feel the pictures we took do not do it justice.  The best way is to see it with your own eyes, if possible!

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After taking in the Duomo, we decided to keep walking and take in the sights as we walked around. The city did not disappoint – we came across piazzas with Michelango’s  statues, taking Street Art to a new level! We walked past the Da Vinci Museum, Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio and many other piazzas! We perused some stores, markets and shops along the Ponte Vecchio. We had gelato in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella before returning to the train station for our return trip to Rome. We had seen so many wonderful things in Firenze and yet there were still more things to see! We’d have to leave it for another time – I’ve shared photos of some of the wondrous sights we encountered in Firenze. We decided next time we come back to Italy, we would say a few days in Firenze to see things we didn’t get to fit in like Piazzale Michelango,  Palazzo Pitti and many more! We would also plan to visit Pisa, Venice and Milan if we stayed in Florence! There is so much to see but we did not have enough time! We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip and returned to Rome buzzing from a great day!

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The next day we got up early, had breakfast and headed out to the Vatican city! This time, it was the correct day and we were excited about this tour as it would be our last official tour as our trip was coming to an end! We had a tour of the Musei Vaticani , we entered via the Museum entrance and our tour guide sat us down to provide us with information about what we’d see, the story behind the paintings of the Sistine Chapel and what to look out for in the paintings. We were advised no photos were allowed in the Sistine Chapel but we had plenty of time to stand, and look up and admire the artwork and find the things our tour guide had pointed out to us. I feel photos would not do it justice anyway – the Sistine Chapel is an absolute marvel that you must see with your own eyes!

We passed through the Vatican gardens which housed some amazing sculptures and artwork – one of which is a golden sphere in the Courtyard of the ‘Pigna’ – Pinecone Courtyard by an artist named Arnaldo Pomodoro. Our tour guide demonstrated how you can move the sphere and it will spin, it is called Sfera con Sfera which translates to Sphere within a Sphere. We walked through the Vatican museums, the museums are composed of several sections:

– the Gregorian Etruscan Museum
– the Pinacoteca
– the Missionary-Ethnological Museum
– the Raphael Stanze
– the Sistine Chapel.

They are all amazing in their own right! We found the galleria-delle-carte-geografiche (Gallery of Maps), was amazing! The gallery houses hand-painted aerial maps of Italy and the amazing thing about them is the fact that in those days there was no physical way of capturing an aerial view of Italy!

I have include some of our photos of our Vatican City tour – we enjoyed taking it all in with our eyes! We learnt the Vatican City has it’s own postcode and you can send a postcard from the Post Office there! My daughter sent one to her classmates and I sent one to my mum, both of which arrived weeks after we had returned home! The history surrounding the Vatican being it’s own city within a city is based on Mussolini needing to have favour with the Catholic Church who were quite powerful at the time. Maybe that is why there is credit in the saying “Politics and Religion do not mix!”.


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Inside St.Peter’s Basilica there is a giant bronze altar under the dome. There is also a statue of St.Peter where you can touch the foot and pray for his blessing. There is a long line but it moves quite fast. His foot is worn down from the many people who have touched his foot – me included now! All in all, we were amazed but a little put off by the opulence. Although, we were grateful for the experience to be able to see it all with our own eyes. We were amazed by the sheer size and vastness of St.Peter’s square when we came out of the Basilica which marked the end of our tour. All in all, it was a very educational day, steeped with history, scandal and intrigue!

We also learnt that even though the dome of St.Peter’s basilica was large, the biggest one in Rome belongs to the Pantheon. This led us to our last tourist attraction visit in the city of Rome. We headed off in search of the Pantheon! On our search for the Pantheon, we walked through the narrow streets of Rome and was amazed to be standing in front of a temple that was built in the 2nd century! It is reported to have been built between 118 – 125 AD! We joined the long line but it moved quickly to get a glimpse of the interior and see the largest dome in Rome! There is an inscription above the entrance to the Pantheon. The inscription reads:

“M. AGRIPPA.L.F.COSTERTIUM.FECIT”
“Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”.

Being able to see the Pantheon before we left Rome was a great way to cap off our visit to the eternal city.  We were sad to come to the end of our trip but we had seen, learnt and experienced so much! We are truly grateful for this experience, standing and being in the presence of such historical sites. This trip was one that I never thought would happen so we could fully appreciate the experience enabling us to Laugh.Love.Live to the full!

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Thank you for coming along the journey with us and apologies for the delay in posting the last part of our European Vacation! I’ve included some photos we took in and around Rome below. We definitely have plans to visit again and also hope to visit other European countries – exploring, learning and experiencing live history in person. I hope you have enjoyed our journey as much as we did and may you get to have a similar experience. Peace and blessings!

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Pause

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Image credit: pledgetalk.com

I’ve had to press Pause for a little while on my blog posts due to study and work commitments. I will be blogging again soon, I have missed blogging dearly and I am eager to get back into it again. I have had a post in draft since May because I started studying for an accreditation so will finalise and publish it soon. The accreditation is something I have been wanting to do for 4-5 years and this year the timing was right.

I’m slowly getting some time back and although I have been MIA for a little while, I have been reading some fellow blogger’s posts when I’ve been able to steal small moments and will get back into soon. I will start blogging again soon – lots to catch up on! I have also been busy getting my little business up and running which I will reveal more about later!

While I have had a pause – to study, to ponder, to organise, rejuvenate and begin or resume…a journey – it’s served it’s purpose, I am energised, looking forward to the what is coming up for me. This has given me a renewed sense to Laugh.Love.Live and enable others to do the same! Have you been able to press ‘pause’ along your journey? Looking forward to reading more of your journeys and exploring mine more deeply. Peace and blessings.

yogaman

Image credit: yogamangala.com