Posts in Mental Health
The Language Of Loss: Giving Grief A Voice (Part 2)

Being an orphan is something we associate with young children, yet that’s exactly how Helen felt when she lost both her parents within three months of each other. A Canadian native with an easy smile, I met Helen a few years ago through professional circles and she’s a woman I continue to admire through her community work. She’s unapologetic for her honesty and has learned to walk in her truth, but not before acknowledging the shadow parts of herself. Her emotional layers are complex, and I feel the school of hard knocks has only strengthened her resolve and resilience.

Like Helen, her son is an only child. She says that her son has her nose, hands and feet - all the features that people say she has taken from her own parents. He also has a similar sense of humour. As much as it brings her joy to see herself in him, there’s also a tinge of melancholy because he never had the chance to meet his grandparents.

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A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

It’s my first Christmas away from New Zealand in almost ten years, maybe more, I can’t remember. This time of year has often been a time to recharge more than being about the “festive” season, and because my family has been scattered around the world over the years, gift giving has mostly been more about making the time to catch up or sending each other pictures of the food we had that day. You know, the simple things in life.

December has been a full on month, teaching four classes including Saturdays. I know some teachers do more, and they even study at university after their classes. It’s something I often joke about with one of the teachers, like, when does he actually sleep?

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The Not So Typical Like Letter

I actually told someone I liked them today, oh wait, does it count when you also tell them that you “used” to like them? You know, like in the past tense. Not really sure on that one.

It’s been a weird few days for me, my energy has been really up and down. My mornings, when I would normally go to the market and then make time to cook lunch, has been swallowed up by extra commitments. Falling back into those old patterns of being in the business of being busy, not eating as healthy and definitely not sleeping enough.

As I sat there watching my students frown at their exam papers, on impulse, I tore a piece of paper from my notebook. It made that satisfactory tearing sound that made you feel productive in a sea of silent tension. I picked up the pen and began to write. My hands had the usual onset of cramping that anyone who ceased to write essays in their high school years knew too well. No matter how neat your penmanship was back then, as an adult, it just looks like chicken scratches.

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And The Love Kickstarts Again

There was a guy, and I say “was” because something in my gut said that this connection wasn’t what I wanted to have in my life.

We started hanging out, you know how it goes. Then it was the little things I started to notice, like the conversation being one sided. He didn’t really ask a lot of questions about me, while I felt I asked a million about his life before Huaraz and what brought him here. Then after awhile, he only really messaged when he needed help, or feeling stressed. I became “that” friend.

What used to be a feeling of excitement when I saw him slowly faded to a point that my body had a physical reaction to avoid him. He’s not a bad person at all, far from it. Whatever I saw in him is a projection of whatever I was felt was lacking in my life. It was a sensation strong enough to manifest in my body, not through illness but the need to speak my truth.

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Whatever This Is, Just Go With The Flow

When I was 22, I had a grand plan for my life. How many of us really knew who we were and what we wanted in our early twenties? Here’s the thing, it really is OK not to know, just as much as it is to change your mind when that plan no longer fits the person that you become. Now at 35 and living in Huaraz, Peru, that young woman’s body hasn’t changed much physically, but she’s learned that the magic often lies in trusting the unknown.

There was a lot of anxiety before coming here, and somewhat of an expectation that this journey to South America would help to give me clarity and direction for my life. It’s been almost two months since I set foot on this continent, and I learned quickly to strip away all my grand expectations of whatever this part of my life needs to be.

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When You Lead From The Soul, You Find Purpose

Loneliness comes not only from the disconnect with others, but most importantly with ourselves. The more I chose to listen and fulfil my needs first, the less external validation I sought. Before I left New Zealand, my friend Nyre and I had been experiencing a similar shift in our way of thinking and living. Since we met three years ago, she had been a positive influence in my life – especially with her bubbly personality and infectious smile. Then I learned that before this shift, deep down there was a need to fit in, to please others. Somewhere along the way her soul had a growing longing, craving to feel whole again. Feeding her soul became a priority, not only for herself, but also for her family.

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