dogs, life

Telling Oscar’s story: a healing process…


When Dachshund IVDD Support Australia (DISA) asked me to write an article on emotional trauma following Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), my initial idea was to collate a collection of experiences from those who had gone through this tumultuous journey.

As I began to write, words that spoke of my own experience with my beloved Oscar poured onto the screen and with them, a time of healing.

What I discovered in writing about my own emotional trauma was this: it opened the door to healing, and for the first time in the 6 months since Oscar died, I began to feel the wretchedness of his loss easing. I also began to fully identify with a passage I read in Ben Moon’s book in which he says: “When you lose your canine soul mate, you not only lose the dog that has been your companion and friend through so much, you also have to let go of that chapter of your life, and who you were then. It forces you to grow into what you’ll become, the last parting act of friendship.”  Denali: A Man, a Dog, and the Friendship of a Lifetime.

What follows is our IVDD journey and the emotional trauma it forced upon us both.

If only there were a guidebook that prepared you for the emotional trauma the IVDD journey invokes. Yes, there’s an abundance of information and support out there, however when IVDD invades your reality, confusion, despair and grief wash over you in ways you’d never imagined.

As a dachshund owner for nearly 20 years, I believed I knew enough about IVDD to ensure I’d taken precautions to reduce the probability of this insidious disease entering our home.

I now know that despite my knowledge and preventative measures, IVDD was destined to crash into our lives and the emotional trauma left in its wake had me feeling bereft and at times, inconsolable. I’ve blamed myself, rehashed scenarios of the should’ve, could’ve, but the reality is this, there was simply nothing more I could’ve done to change both mine and Oscar’s life path.

Oscar came into our lives as an 8-week old, bundle of standard wire-haired fluff. At the time my Dad was an All-Breeds judge, and his contacts in the dog world were varied and vast. As such, Oscar’s breeder was well researched, well known and above all, well respected. Over the years her dogs had very few litters and IVDD was totally absent in her bloodlines. From a background perspective, the chances of Oscar succumbing to IVDD were remote. Of my four dachshunds, Oscar was the one I was least worried about.

On the night of September 15, 2020, Oscar went to bed without showing any sign of pain or discomfort. At 5am the following morning, I woke to see Oscar struggling to get off his bed. I shot out of bed as I thought he was ‘stuck’ on something. A stupid thought I know, but at that moment IVDD did not enter my head, particularly as he did not appear to be in any pain, moreover, he seemed to have his normal, happy disposition. I looked around him and could see no reason for his inability to move – it was only on lifting his back end and have him collapse back onto the ground that panic set in.

I was terrified.  I scooped him into my arms and raced down the stairs and frantically started knocking on my 24-year old son’s door. As the door opened, so did my emotions. I began to sob uncontrollably, and I could barely get the words out. Max was confused, yet somehow managed to understand my garbled mutterings about Oscar being paralysed.  I placed him in the car, and with sobs racking my body, I somehow managed to get him to the emergency vet, 10 minutes later.

After what seemed an interminable wait, it was explained Oscar was Deep Pain Negative and they suspected Stage 5 IVDD. She explained he would be transferred to North Coast Veterinary Service (NCVS) at 0800 and would undergo a CT and MRI to confirm their suspected diagnosis. They brought him out for a hug before asking me to await the surgeon’s call later that morning.

At that point shock had numbed my reality. I was floating in a fog of confusion and concern and all I wanted to do was be with Oscar. I wanted to hold him and comfort him, despite my all-consuming fear. I wanted to take him in my arms and run as far away as possible. Shield us both somehow with the ‘if you can’t see us, then we can’t see you and all of this is just a horrible dream’ approach. Denial was hijacking my thoughts, in all its ugly glory.

As I waited at home for the surgeon to call, I begged my memory to recall the previous nights events. To play a movie in my mind so I could see if it was my fault, if I missed something. I vividly remember him doing his nightly ritual of heading outside to wee, then plodding past the bathroom as I showered. My memory clouds when I attempt to visualise him in his bed, and keeping to my nightly ritual of kissing my boys goodnight before climbing into my own bed. I’m sure I bade them all goodnight, in my usual manner, however not being able to have an absolute recall of that moment, I fear I could’ve missed something. Did he look comfortable, or did his disc explode as he settled on his bed? Was he in pain then? Surely I would’ve known that right? Yet the thought he may have been in pain and suffered through the night was terrifying. I’ve read countless stories about other IVDD cases and majority state there were notable signs, yet Oscar did not display any signs, of that I’m sure.

Later that day, as I met with Dr Nima, a surgeon at North Coast Veterinary Service (NCVS), I felt terrified and lost – just as Oscar would’ve been. And whilst I listened to her heartfelt words confirming Stage 5 IVDD and all the possible complications, tears fell silently, and the helplessness intensified.

She began to speak of progressive myelomalacia (PMM), words I’d not heard before. And as she explained that it presented in only 5% of cases, I felt nausea rise in my throat. My heart raced, yet I did not want to appear weak and vulnerable, so I nodded quietly whilst digging my nails into the palms of my hands in an effort to distract myself from the wave of fear her words triggered. My nails dug harder as she relayed her concerns for Oscar, for in light of his diagnosis, the chances of myelomalacia presenting rose to approximately 30%.

Conservative treatment was not a favourable option, so Oscar was scheduled for surgery later that afternoon; a hemilaminectomy and durotomy for a severe disc extrusion at T13, L1. It was then that Dr Nima revealed the ugliest of truths – IVDD could in fact, be fatal. She reassured me that the possibility of this was slight, yet I needed to be prepared as Oscar’s condition was considered severe. Despite my despair, I appreciated her honesty.  She was kind, empathetic and clearly cared about Oscar’s well-being. I will be forever grateful for her kindness and I cannot fault her care.

Yet as I continued to listen, I felt the nausea rise again. This could not be happening; I’d done all the right things and why my Oscar? My soulmate, my heartdog, my everything. Once again I felt the need to find Oscar and run. Run far, far away.

When I returned home, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I paced the house not knowing what to do with myself. I couldn’t help him, I couldn’t protect him and now, I couldn’t hold his paw, stroke his silky head and tell him I loved him. He would be scared; he would be confused, and I couldn’t be there to support him. Not being able to be in the surgery with him, or be there when he woke was for me, the epitome of helplessness. My best friend was hurting and there was nothing I could do to ease his fear or alleviate his pain.

When Dr Nima called me later that night telling me Oscar had done really well in surgery, my heart soared. And when I saw him the next morning, I felt so relieved. They said he was doing well and even managed to walk, albeit aided with a specially designed sling to support his back legs and spine. Whilst I felt so happy to see him, he looked despondent and confused. Nurse Tegan reassured me and said he was on heavy painkillers and a little confused with what had occurred.

The following two days showed promise. There were no neurological deficits presenting, he seemed alert, responsive to physio, yet still no response to deep pain stimulus. Dr Nima was hopeful and on Friday, September 18, said he could be expected to go home the following Monday. Nurse Tegan sent me regular texts when I couldn’t be with him. I will always be grateful and thankful for the love and care they showed Oscar. Knowing he was in such caring hands made this traumatic time a touch more bearable.

The following day (Saturday, 72 hours post op), I had a mid-morning call explaining Oscar had deteriorated overnight and was beginning to show signs of ascending myelomalacia.  

I cannot begin to articulate the level of despair I felt at hearing those words. I had spent the last 2 days heavily researching and I knew what this diagnosis signalled.

I hung up and fell to my knees and sobbed inconsolably. I was alone, I had no one to share this pain with and I felt so, so lost. I had experienced loss of incredible magnitude several years earlier when my little girl died from heart disease; at that moment, as I lay weeping, the grief I felt was measurable to losing Meg. That may be hard for many to understand, but Oscar was my everything and the thought of losing him was beyond comprehension.

Over the weekend he continued to deteriorate, as did I from an emotional perspective. I spent hours at the hospital in his crate, lying by his side comforting him in every way. I held him, played music and fed him pieces of chicken and finely diced frankfurts. I felt so helpless and whilst I didn’t realise at the time, the nurses must’ve known he was now palliative as they were so kind.  On the Sunday I spent most of the day lying in his crate with him. The nurses would come by and offer water and biscuits and generally just ask if I was ok.  At one point, one of them gave me a huge hug, which simply allowed the tears to flow more quickly.

By Monday, Oscar had lost the use of his front limbs and was unable to lift his head. Dr Nima said he was not in pain and she assured me he was comfortable.  I clearly remember her saying that even if there was only a 5% chance of him surviving, she would do everything in her power. Yet, deep down, we all knew the reality.  Myelomalacia was fatal. And I’d done enough research to know that after paralysis of the thoracic limbs, which Oscar now had, paralysis of the respiratory muscles would present. I did not want that for him, so I knew I would soon have to say goodbye to my precious Bear. 

Overnight, Oscar deteriorated rapidly and on Tuesday morning, the 22nd of September 2020, I was told our only kind option would be to send him across the rainbow bridge. As per his clinical notes: Oscar has deteriorated overnight with progressive myelomalacia after severe disc extrusion at T13/L1 with flaccid paralysis of both fore and hindlimbs. Panniculus reflex is absent. He is mentally depressed and less responsive than yesterday. I have had a long discussion with his owner and unfortunately advised euthanasia and the owners have accepted this recommendation.

I knew this was coming, yet when those words were spoken, I broke. I was about to lose my precious boy and that was unfathomable. I asked how long we had before myelomalacia would begin to affect his respiratory muscles. I was told maximum 24 hours.

I decided to take him home as we wanted his last hours to be surrounded by those who adored him and in a place he felt safe and loved. I bundled him in my arms and held him close as we drove home. I opened the window and as his head rested against my shoulder, I felt his breath quicken as he tried to sniff the passing air. 

Being in the car was one of his greatest loves and he would sit upright, with ears flapping, nose sniffing and a look of joy on his beautiful face. As we drove home, I made sure he was doing just that and I sensed he knew I was helping him, and I knew in my heart he felt safe.

As I walked inside, Stanley and Eddie walked slowly toward me. I knelt down so they could see their brother and they gently sniffed him before Stanley gave him a slow lick on his face. I sat on the couch and cradled Oscar and noticed his breathing slow as I believed he knew he was home and he finally felt at peace. My heart was breaking, yet I felt comfort in knowing he was home and that in his final hours, he was bathed in love. As the afternoon drew to a close, his breathing became more difficult and we knew it was his time to leave. We had hoped to say goodbye at home, but sadly and despite our best efforts we had to return to NCVS.

Oscar crossed the rainbow bridge at 4.51pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. As he crossed, I held him close and through the uncontrollable sobs, I whispered that I would love him forever.

The emotional trauma IVDD invokes is both individual and undeniably painful.

There is no BandAid for the wound it opens, no aspirin for the pain it places in your heart. It simply breaks us in ways we could never imagine.

Many years ago, after the loss of my daughter, I read the words: ‘when tragedy strikes your life you can be one of two things – bitter or better – I choose better…’

Losing Oscar broke me, and in the last 6 months, I had moments when I felt I would never recover. On writing his story, in detail, something changed. I realised I had been so lucky to have known him and in knowing my precious Oscar aka Bear, I had become a better person. Yes, his loss was indeed a tragedy, and in moving forward, he would want me to continue to be better, and he would want me to embrace life just as he did: with love, laughter and light.

I will love you forever my precious Bear…

life

A letter to Mum…


It’s 0730, around the time I normally call, and knowing I can no longer continue this mutually enjoyed ritual of ours, one week after you passed is surreal.

In the few weeks leading to you leaving, I knew something wasn’t right: you seemed defeated, it was as if you knew your time here was coming to an end. You didn’t speak in a negative voice, for you never complained about your life, on the contrary, you were so happy, particularly these last 7 months. But I believe you somehow knew your stroke was pending, and you were at peace with that. You had completed your journey and now it was time to start another. And as I held your hand last week, I knew you struggled knowing you would soon leave me. I told you I would be ok if you needed to go and my words, I believe, gave you peace.

I didn’t want you to leave, but you were so frustrated at not being able to communicate or move your body. Yet you maintained your humour: pulling faces, poking out your tongue, albeit sideways and we could see the joy in your eyes at knowing those who truly loved you, were there, holding your hand.

You said many times how happy you were. You spoke of your happiness at being so close to me, the boys and the pups. You spoke of how you were now free of fear. Fear that came from worrying if they would find you. Once reassured they couldn’t & wouldn’t, your fear dissipated.

You did not harbour hatred for what they did, rather, you released them from your life without bitterness. We both did. We released those you trusted for deceiving and stealing from you. Yet whilst you were at peace with the deceit, you didn’t forget. Didn’t forget how those who were once family, used your money at whim and depleted your once healthy bank account.

Yet we took their deceit for what it was and found their blatant audacity in leaving their digital fingerprint across countless transactions the epitome of stupidity. Such ignorance made it so easy for detectives to find and create a fraud investigation. Pages and pages of transactions showed over a period of 3 years, $30,000 was spent without your consent or knowledge. We wondered why you spent so much on cigarettes when you didn’t smoke, and found it highly amusing that you bought sperm in Seattle. We figured that was for when you found that man your searched for with the E Harmony account you somehow created without internet access. Yet what intrigued and amused us most, was the fact you spent thousands, at age 89 years old, to undergo IVF.

Oh how we laughed at that IVF discovery Mum, we laughed at their blatant ignorance at believing their expenditure of your money would not be discovered. And we rejoiced at knowing it had, knowing they were exposed. Rejoiced that one day, their time will come. You won’t see that now, but it will, even if it does take the detective’s estimate of 5 years to come to court, I will see it through for you.

Most of all we rejoiced at being free, being together and being so, so happy. We forgot about them and simply lived happily. You would speak of having 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. You were not sad, you were at peace.

Whilst sorting through your clothes yesterday, I found a t-shirt you wore often. It reads; No Regrets. You definitely did not have any regrets and I love wearing that t-shirt as it smells of you and that makes me smile.

I’m so grateful for our relationship, so grateful that I was always there for you and so grateful you were always there for me. I’m so happy I took you to Europe, Bali and many other destinations we found ourselves in. So grateful we spent the afternoon of Christmas Day watching the world go by at Mooloolaba beach from the comfort of the car. Dogs on laps, we laughed as you did a running commentary of people strolling by. You loved that. You loved it when we took a leisurely 3 hour drive through the countryside to take my foster, Buddy to his new home. We stopped many timed to take in the quiet, and simply to be.

Mum, I could write for hours about all the things we did together and : slipping in Singapore, crazy mattress rides in France, accumulating traffic on Austria’s winding roads and drinking vin chaud in Switzerland.

I won’t pretend to say I’m not sad, I am, I’m heartbroken knowing I can no longer create memories with you. Yet despite my sadness, I know you were so happy these last months and that replaces all my sadness with joy.

Mum, you were my greatest support.

I will miss you forever…

life

Saying goodbye…


How do you say goodbye ?

We can rationalise, question, rationalise and question again, but we’re never prepared to say that final goodbye.

Then you realise it is his journey, not yours. Realise you have to let go. Realise it’s time to say goodbye. But it’s okay.

It’s called grieving. It’s called love. It’s called loss.

Bottom line though, my heart is breaking. Breaking into a million pieces. Breaking as though its never been broken before.

You’d think it’d get easier. But it dosen’t. Hurt is hurt, pain is pain, grief is grief.

And there was so much hurt, pain and grief at being told 8 weeks ago that our beloved Simon has a highly aggressive cancer. In the 8 weeks following, we have seen our beautiful boy succumb to this ferocious disease.

Our beautiful Simon aka Big-bigs came into our lives 6 years ago as a happy go lucky 9-year-old dachshund whose attitude was simply divine. He was in need of a new home following a divorce, and from the moment he set his furry paws on our doorstep, we became one and our family was complete.

Over the last 6 years we have been so lucky to have shared our lives with this beautiful, quirky, funny soul. He has lit up our lives and given us so much more than we have given him.

And now it’s time to let him trot, as only Big-bigs does, across the rainbow bridge where his soul will be forever free. Free to dig for bugs hidden deep within the dirt. Free to grumble at any other souls who try to take a favourite toy. Free to bark as loud as he can when playing in the pool.

We will love you forever, special soul. We are broken, but we are so blessed to have shared our lives with you.

Sweet dreams Big-bigs …

life

Stay home, be grateful, and embrace this new way of living…


Today I had to go to work. But today was different, very different, as along with 4 of the most amazing, beautiful and honest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, it was our last day.

Me, Proooo, Tanya (manager extraordinaire), Merrin & Grace

The company we worked for, like thousands of other businesses, has closed as a result of the economic downturn brought on by Covid19.

Sadly though, we have not been asked to take paid and or unpaid leave with the hope of returning in the future. The company went into Voluntary Administration, and along with all stores Australia wide, our store has been permanently closed.

And whilst I feel immensely sad that I’ve lost a great casual job and I’ll no longer share my working hours with those fabulous women, we all still have our health and our families, a sentiment countless thousands of others around the world cannot share.  

Unfortunately, this scenario is being repeated, not only in Australia, but throughout the world.  So many people have lost their jobs, and as I walked through Sunshine Plaza with my son today, to drop off my shop keys, the reality of those job losses was evident.

The massive shopping plaza that houses over 340 stores, was deserted. Over 95% of stores were closed.

Yet, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. From a financial perspective, I am able to comfortably stay at home and share this difficult time with the best family anyone could ask for. I am not alone; I have food on the table and an abundance of love from human and canine family alike.

So please, whilst it may be difficult that we cannot travel, go on holidays, see friends or simply do what we took for granted, be mindful of what you can do.

You can simply take the time to embrace what is really important. Time. Time spent with those you love and who love you in return.

Stay home, think about those not as fortunate, and embrace this new way of living…

life

The colour of leaving…


Recently I wrote a short post titled, The colour of leaving & the importance of being present.

And last night, long before the clock struck midnight heralding a new decade, those words reverberated in my mind. Maybe because outside, my son [the inspiration of that post] and his friends were celebrating the end of 2019.

From the sanctuary of my room as I readied myself for sleep with my beloved dogs nestled beside me, I could hear the laughter and the somewhat incomprehensible [and loud] chatter that often partners an over-indulgence of alcohol.

I smiled at this cacophony of celebration and felt immensely grateful, yet also, melancholic. Grateful for being able to listen to life being celebrated in the present moment and melancholic because I was witness to the colours of my son’s life, moreover, witness to hues changing and present colours leaving forever.

The colour of leaving is of course a metaphorical statement that evokes a myriad of interpretations. And for me it is about how the hues that once coloured my son’s life are now awash with vastly different shades.

This is not a negative statement, rather, as every parent will attest to, witnessing your children become young adults who are no longer dependent is a little melancholic.

For when the colours associated with infancy, toddlerhood and teenage years fade, leaving in their wake, colours representing vibrancy, maturity and growth, it is bittersweet and melancholic.

And as I witness certain colours leave, I feel comfort as I bask in their receding light knowing those unique, magical colours are now blending with the new, and will shape the colours exclusive to my sons’ lives.

Yes, the colour of leaving and the importance of being present…

life

Remembering Meg…


At approximately 4am on October 29, 1995, Dr Derek said, ‘I’m sorry, Meg just died’.

I don’t recall what I said, but I vividly remember every detail of that moment seeing her, in her bed in Melbourne’s Royal Children’s hospital Intensive Care Unit. It was if my mind took a snapshot of that exact moment when Meg, my first child left this world and my life changed forever.

And like an old album, every now and then, I dust off my mind and remember.

I’ve only shared the memory of that early morning with a couple of close friends over the years, not necessarily because of the pain recalling that traumatic time caused, it was more about how people would react. I would see pity in their eyes and whilst well intentioned, I simply didn’t want to feel like that person.

I’m not sure why I’ve decided to write about it here, now. Maybe it’s because her ‘anniversary’ recently passed, or maybe it’s because I simply need to write about a time that had a profound effect on my life.

Meg was born with a severe heart condition known as a Tetralogy of Fallot: a combination of 4 defects, three of which included Tricuspid Atresia, Sub-Pulminary Stenois and a Ventricular Septal Defect.

Her prognosis was not positive, however cardiologists advised that her condition could be managed with a shunt, followed by intense medication with a view to perform an operation know as a Fontan when she reached 2 years of age.

At 6 weeks old, surgeons performed the shunt operation, and in the 8 months following, Meg did quite well despite the daily medications and regular visits to the hospital. She was on drug called Warfarin, which causes thinning of the blood and her doses needed to be closely monitored.

Despite the traumatic hospital visits that required injections and echocardiograms, she was a happy baby who seemed to have an uncanny ability to draw people to her. For example, if we were out shopping, people often commented. I recall one lady smiling as she walked toward Meg. When she reached us she said to me, “I’m sorry if this sounds strange, but I simply had to come over and see your baby, it’s as if she’s calling me…”.

It did sound strange, yet this happened often. Meg was not any more beautiful than any other baby, but she had something about her. I sometimes thought she knew her time on earth was short and therefore radiated this, which drew people to her.

Due to her condition, she did not reach the usual milestones. She did not crawl, nor was she able to roll easily as young babies do. She could however sit upright once we had helped her to the position. She loved to just sit and either watch me doing whatever needed doing, or just playing with her favourite toys.

Sadly though, her time away from ICU was short-lived. At 8 months old she went into heart failure, which revealed a shocking diagnosis: mitral valve regurgitation that required immediate open heart surgery to replace the valve. To say this was a major setback is an understatement, this diagnosis was catastrophic for it meant there was little chance of the future Fontan operation being performed. However the medical team did not reveal this to us at the time, I guess it served no purpose, for whilst this diagnosis left little hope for Meg’s future, there was still a fragment of hope that we all, medical team included, needed to hold onto.

The following day Meg underwent the 6-hour operation to replace her Mitral Valve. The risk involved in performing this procedure on someone so young was high, and there are no words to describe the emotional turmoil we felt during those 6 hours.

Later, after being told all had gone well, we were taken to see her in the ICU. And whilst the medical team had prepared us for what to expect on seeing Meg post surgery, I saw past the numerous tubes and beeping machines that enveloped her, and simply saw my sweet, beautiful baby.

She spent the next few weeks in ICU, gaining strength with each passing day. And in the months following her surgery, she began show small signs of improvement and there was a glimmer of hope that she may grow into a beautiful woman, whose life would be filled with love and laughter.

This was not to be.

On October 28, 1995 I noticed Meg’s colour was bluer than usual. Her breathing was very laboured and she was not able to sit upright. I have vivid memories of that morning and my reaction. It’s been said a mother’s instinct is intensely strong and now, when I look back, it was that instinct that delayed my trip back to the hospital. As I sat on the lounge room floor nursing her and looking into her beautiful blue eyes, I knew. I knew if I took her back to the hospital, she wouldn’t come home.

But I made the call and Dr Fong said he’d send an ambulance, but I decided to drive her myself.

On arrival, she was re-admitted into ICU and placed on a ventilator. Throughout that day she fought hard, yet in the early hours of the following morning we received a call in our hospital accommodation. I will never forget those six words.

“Jen, come quickly, Meg’s taken a dive…’

Strange wording, yet the team in ICU had become friends, with staff adoring Meg. It could be said the wording was not professional, but it didn’t matter to us as we hurriedly dressed and raced downstairs to the ICU.

Walking into her room was like walking into a nightmare.

The floor to the left side of her bed was smeared with the remains of a blood bag that had been accidentally dropped. Dr Derek stood beside her bed, the frayed edges of his jeans stained red from remnants of the broken bag. The buttons on his white, collared shirt had been incorrectly fastened, making his shirt look oddly ‘uneven’. He’d been the doctor on call when the buzzers went off, dressed quickly, and as a result misplaced buttons.

Again, I do not know why or how I’ve remembered this tragic time in great detail, as I wrote above, it really is as if my mind took a snapshot and it’s now stored in my memory forever.

Across from Derek was a female doctor I’d not seen before, she was frantically working on Meg and I could hear her saying, ‘fuck, I cant find it…’. Alongside her there were a number of other medical staff calmly, yet methodically adjusting tubes and checking monitors.

I walked around to the right side of her bed, gently kissed her forehead and placed my mouth to her ear. I clearly remember my words. “It’s okay Meggie, you can go if you need to, I’ll understand…”. I do not know why I said those words, and for a very long time after her death, I blamed myself. If only I’d asked her to fight harder, would she have still been here today?

I now realise that was not the case. I loved her deeply and maybe deep down in my heart saying those words was some kind of acceptance. I don’t know, I really don’t. I only know that my heart broke into a million pieces when a few minutes later, Dr Derek spoke those six words I’d never wanted to hear.

At that moment, my world fell apart. And in the months that followed, the grief I felt was indescribable. But the old adage, time heals, is true.

A few months after she died, I remember reading a story about a man who’d lost his teenage daughter. His words resonated and they are words I have carried with me and lived by.

When tragedy strikes your life you can be one of two things: bitter or better. I choose better”.

Today, 24 years later, I have put the pieces of my life back together, knowing I am a better person for having had that beautiful soul in my life. Meg taught me many things and I’m so, so grateful I had the honour of being her mother.

Remembering Meg: a gentle, wise and magical soul…

Note: There may not be many who do read this post as I lost all of my followers last year due to a massive faux pas when trying to upgrade my blog. But it’s not about who reads it, it’s more about documenting digitally, knowing it will be here when I need it.

life

The colour of leaving and the importance of being present…


beach24

‘I think you will like these lyrics Mum,’ my 21-year-old son said as I accompanied him to Brisbane yesterday so he could sit a uni (college) entrance exam for the Feb 2020 semester.

‘The song’s called The Colour of Leaving‘, he continued. 

I was immediately drawn to the title for it was cryptic, beautiful and could be interpreted in many ways. I also found it ironic considering I’d just completed my post about Meg before we left.

As the kilometres ticked over I absorbed the lyrics and as I glanced over at my beautiful son, I also embraced the importance of being present.

The moment was bittersweet and melancholic for the lyrics generated sadness, yet at the same time, the present enveloped me with love and gratitude: an interesting juxtaposition of emotions.

Settling lower into my seat, my gaze resting on my son’s strong hands, holding the steering wheel, I took comfort in knowing life is a kaleidoscope of colour, with the colours often changing with each passing moment.

And sometimes, those moments blend to form magnificent rainbows, allowing the colour of leaving to fade, and the importance of being present to shine brilliantly…

photography, travel

Not all who wander are lost…


Wandering excites the senses and creates a myriad of experiences.

Emotive, exciting & reflective experiences that shape who we are.

What follows is a small snapshot of experiences that have shaped my greatest loves: travel, animals and photography…

life, travel

A French love affair…


Walking along paths framed by wheat fields, climbing across majestic mountains and traversing through forests whilst being stalked by horses was an experience I’ll never forget.

And already, I deeply miss walking the Camino.

I miss the feeling of knowing the morning heralded another day of simply being in the present. Another day of simply placing one foot in front of another, hour after hour. It was so humbling and and so rewarding.

I truly wish I’d had more time to finish the entire Camino: unfortunately I did not.

But like others before me, I will return.

Instead, I’m continuing my love affair with France, a country I adore. The language, the landscape and the friendliness of the people.

Some may ‘tut tut’ at that last sentence, but I’ve always found French people to be warm and friendly.

This visit is no different.

My chance encounter with a French couple who’d just completed the entire Camino [Le Puy en Valay to Finisterre, approx 1600kms]. They happily shared very useful advice on walking Le Puy.

Bruno, my Airbnb host who warmly accepted my very last minute booking ( 1 hour), and who then praised my poor French language skills.

The wonderful people who invited me into the masses to enjoy and support Gay Pride.

And today: the wait staff at a restaurant where I stopped for lunch. They chatted animatedly with me before inviting me to join them later for drinks and dinner. I declined as I needed to get back to my Airbnb, however I was humbled by their kindness.

Tomorrow I head further north for a few days of walking through old villages, before heading to Lyon to spend time with an old, dear friend who I’ve not seen in quite a few years.

And just as my love affair with France continues, so does my love of travelling solo.

I’m never lonely, never frightened and despite missing my precious sons, special friends and of course my beloved sausages, life is sweet.

To those who fear solo travel, fear not, for it truly is an amazing experience that heightens the senses and soothes the soul…

❤️❤️🐾🐾❤️❤️

dogs

Living a Sausage life..


A dear friend messaged me the other day and spoke about how the best ideas are those that come from the heart. And when you follow those ideas with passion, those ideas are more often than not, successful.

For a very long time I had an idea, one that was born from love and driven by my passion for animals, in particular dachshunds, aka Sausage Dogs.

My idea was to create a space for Sausages to come and stay whilst their humans are away.  A place where they feel loved, secure and a place where they socialise with my own beloved Sausages.

So I took my idea and made it a reality: Stanley & Bear, a hotel for Sausages is open and thriving.