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We are sitting silently through the very first weeks of what is perhaps due to be one of the coldest winters in the landscape of our lives. We sit quietly, living a life balanced between the isolation and silence that comes from an overwhelm of emotion and the gentle rhythm that comes from allowing the heartbeat of life to continue to move us forward day by day.

I’ve always loved winter. I love being wrapped up in warm woollens and layers and the comfort that comes from retreating into a cocoon. The thing I love most about winter is its promise of hope. Under the cold bare earth sit the seeds of future seasons just waiting to give life and deep within the bare branches the energy that will bring us the delicate buds of spring already lays in wait.

This winter is cold, but the future is coming, and every day it gets a little closer. It won’t be what any of us expected it to be, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.

x
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  • June 20, 2016 - 10:38 am

    Joelle - Sash, Beautiful crisp photos. I think of you often. Our travels in Canada are busy. Full days and exhausted girls. Sending love from the Bulkley Valley. xxReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2016 - 12:29 pm

    Tony Budak - Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2016 - 6:12 pm

    Helen - Beautiful thoughts and photos Sash.ReplyCancel

Fragile HeartPIN IT

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out
than it would have been if it had never shone.”
― John Steinbeck

We stand on the edge of our lives when we find the courage to surrender ourselves to love. In this moment and every moment that follows after we accept the risk that we may fall. There is always a risk of falling, it’s part of the beautiful fragility of life. I’ve made a career out of writing about living, but the art of writing life is that there can be no separation between the writing and the living. For a writer they are one in the same.

For all of us, we must not only bear witness to the world around us but to allow ourselves to be completely immersed in the emotions that come with the incredible uncertainty of it all. We are all present here in the world for such a short time, burying our head in the sand and not paying attention would be such a terrible waste of our incredible conciousness, a terrible waste of our ability to feel joy and feel pain in a way that may be unique to us as conscious beings.

The fear here is great. It is great for me not only in the feeling but in finding the right words to express those feelings in a way that is true and just. Finding the perfect words, even when there are none, to create a reflection of what it truly is to be human. It is the human-ness in each and every one of us that is on one hand incredibly durable and on the other, desperately fragile.

To write about life, to write about the incredible pain that comes often with the experience of living, one must be careful to craft words in such a way that encompasses not only ones own experience, but to also find words that pay respect to the incredible oneness that comes from being human. Our experiences are never ours alone, we all bleed our love and life into each other. We are alone but we are inexplicably connected always and we are, whether we know it or not, forever changing other people by merely existing in the first place.

I stood on the edge of my own life recently and despite my greatest fears I threw myself head first into something, someone, who I knew would be worth the risk. It was, so worth it. The love I felt, the love that was returned, was deep and it was beautiful. But when that person is tragically gone in a moment, the loss is insurmountable. There appears to be a gaping hole not only in the present but in the future that had just the day before promised its existence.

In times of great emotional distress and shock the human mind seeks to find answers, desperate to understand… but when trauma occurs suddenly we are thrown like a baby bird from a nest. Our surroundings that were once familiar are all at once completely foreign to us – but the need to comprehend is strong and so we search for answers even when our logical brain tells us that there are none to be found.

Like a small child, after trauma, the adult mind is fragile. It is as if we must learn all over again that the world is not the safe and predictable place that we had believed it to be. Terrible things happen. People we love die. The world and your emotional safety in it can shift in but an instant and we realise there are so many things that are completely beyond our control.

The beautiful and terrifying thing about life is everything that we believe to be true can shift in one small moment and we have no other option than to surrender ourselves to the emotions, to each other, to love and to hope and to a world that we will never truly understand. To find a way to accept that which tears us apart because there is no changing what has already been done.

The night before this terrible tragedy, I wrote a long essay for my book on my experiences of grief and how I found my way through the darkness and into the light again… it was as if I knew something I couldn’t have possibly known, as if I had been reminding myself that I already possess the skills one needs to survive the sudden journey I would be forced into the following day.

Grief is a long dark road that one must walk alone, no matter our age or our circumstance. We may be surrounded by those who share the weight of the grief and the weight of the loss but we alone must find our way through the darkness until we can feel the warmth of the light once more.

In the past few weeks I have had many beautiful people sit beside me and hold my pain for a moment. Whispering words of courage and bravery into my ear as I find a way to come to terms with the sudden erasure of everything I thought to be true. I am not brave. I am not courageous. But what I am is so much bigger than either of those things.

I am human.

Incredible loss and tragedy strips us of all of our masks, it tears apart the self that we build up for the world and it leaves us more our selves than we have perhaps ever been. We get some choice in how grief shapes us. We get to choose what we learn from it. We get to choose compassion. In the wake of the loss of love we must allow ourselves to be deconstructed, because only from there can we build ourselves up again.  None of us are ever the same after grief, it gets into our bodies and it changes the very fibres of our being and we must allow it to.

From the ashes, the phoenix finds its flame.

We are not strong but we are human. Fragile. Beautiful. Generous and capable of so much more than we know.

And we are still here.

  • May 26, 2016 - 9:02 pm

    Reannon - I’m so sorry you’re going through this Sash. Words always seem so empty when someone is grieving….
    I remember sitting in the car with my mother in law after my sister had died. She said to me ” grief is like a backpack we carry. Some days it’s so heavy we can barely move, barely breath from the weight of it. Other days it’s light & we don’t feel it but it’s always there. Always. ” I remember feeling so comforted by her words because I’d watched her carry her grief after her husband, my fathe in law, died suddenly.
    I hope you feel comfort in the company of your loved ones Sash. Sending strength & light xxReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2016 - 11:49 am

    Ecky - I shed tears for you, I cry for you oh Sash hugsReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2016 - 6:45 am

    Kim, Bob & Evan - Dear Sasha.

    We are so sorry for your loss and are thinking of you with love here in Grafton. What an incredible message you have written here. I hope you can find strength and comfort in having your loved ones around you. Sending love and hugs from halfway around the world,

    Kim, Bob & EvanReplyCancel

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“Time is how you spend your love.” 
― Zadie Smith

The morning I found out I was pregnant I had a killer hangover. I had been drinking beer all night at our usual beach bonfire party (though the night of the week could have easily been a Monday) and when I woke up I just knew something was different. I dragged my seedy ass over the rice fields (and fell at least once into the mud) to get to my friend Z’s house and climbed into her bed… ‘I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant and I have no idea what to do,’ I whispered to her as she slept. She was out of that bed in about three minutes. The thing was, I was unmarried, I was living in a muslim village and as such I had absolutely no access to any kind of pregnancy test. Z had it sorted though, I’m not sure exactly how she did it, I’m sure backpackers and bribes were involved, but she ended up in my house a few hours later with a pregnancy test. The pregnancy wasn’t planned. I wasn’t sure of anything except when I saw those little lines on that little paper dipstick I knew one thing… well several things… firstly that I had to stop drinking and secondly that I was all in on this motherhood thing.

But motherhood didn’t come as easily to me as pregnancy did.

In fact, I’ve been plagued by the never ending love and guilt and fear and unbelievable responsibility that is motherhood since the moment I found out I was pregnant.

I’ve watched so many of my friends become mothers and get lost in the same cycles of fear and guilt and grief and joy and exhaustion that I am starting to truly believe is just the universal experience of having the person you love most in the world drive you crazier than you have ever been in your entire life. When your life is no longer truly yours anymore because it is suddenly ruled by a tiny tyrant who demands that you never sleep or shower alone, who demands so much more than you often have to give and yet somehow you find it because you have to because you want to… even when really you just want to go to sleep and not be touched but instead you play my little pony and you paint tiny fingernails with glittery nail polish and save all of your toilet rolls just to make multicoloured jellyfish to hang under the table in an underwater sea world.

You give more of yourself that you ever imagined possible and you do it every single day whilst trying to swallow the fear that you are totally fucking it up and the desire from time to time to pack a bag and leg it out of there because man this shit is hard but moreso than hard sometimes it’s just really, really relentless.

I mean seriously, I have to make dinner again, didn’t we just do that?! 

There are just so many choices that we are supposed to make about so many things and there is so much shame and guilt and there is a lot of judgement in the land of mothering… but the simple truth is, if you care enough to be scared you are fucking it up, you are probably doing a fucking wonderful job. Because wanting to do the best by your child is how you make the best decisions, and we all have shit days and we all make bad calls and we all do the things we said we would NEVER do.

So, here’s to being a mother who is totally flawed, honest, caring, terrified and doing the very best that you can at least most of the time.

If your kid knows they are loved and is safe and you all made it through the day in relatively one piece… you’re doing a stellar job. Who cares if you ate cereal for dinner again.

I’m not much for hallmark holidays and think mums (and dads) should be recognised every day of the week for doing their best and somehow making the seemingly impossible somehow possible every-single-day. Regardless, Happy Mothers Day to the mums and dads and extended family and awesome humans who are mothering kids… I’m not one for fluffy socks or dressing gowns with bunnies on them, and I certainly have enough mugs, but if you’re into those things I hope you are suitably adorned in fluff and macaroni necklaces right now – but more than that I hope each and every one of you had at least one moment where you felt like you weren’t totally losing the plot.

Like my dad said in his text to me for Mothers Day… ‘you are not f….ing this up’

You’re 100% doing a hell of a lot better than you think you are. x

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  • May 9, 2016 - 8:58 pm

    Meegs - I needed this today. Relentless. Yes. This makes me feel so much less alone after a very rough weekend. Thank you. And Happy Mothers Day!ReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 10:39 pm

    Raquel - I too needed this today. I question myself constantly, but even more so when it comes to my parenting. Am I really doing this right? It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels like this. Some days are extra hard, but it’s all wonderful in the long run. We just need some reminders here and there along the way. So, thank you for this. :)ReplyCancel

  • May 10, 2016 - 8:51 pm

    Reannon - You make me teary Sash. As I lie on my toddlers bed, willing him & his sister to sleep & my mind asks the questions its asked a million, trillion times over the last 3 years ” why don’t these guys sleep? What have I done wrong to make them not sleep? Why did their older brothers sleep so well but these guys don’t?” Everyday I tell myself I’m fucking all four of my children up. Everyday I tell myself, & sometimes them, that I’m doing the very best I can in that moment. I hope only one of those thoughts are right.ReplyCancel

  • May 14, 2016 - 6:31 am

    Carla Cram - Thank you for this, a good reminder to slow downReplyCancel