Blog

Gregory Neil Barry

I became a widow at twenty-four

Hello from Alaska! November 2019!

Here I am in a space I’ve not been in for years. Spending time with a dear friend from my Eugene, Oregon days. Both sharing our memories of Greg and who we both were when we first met 27 years ago.

I’ve come out of my hiding place–not that I was hiding actually. I was finishing off my final year of my writing degree. A lot has happened this year. Lots of good, lots of busy, lots of writing and loads of reflecting. And sadly, I lost a brother in September. My older brother, Allan. It’s been sad for all of us and being so far away and missing his funeral was extremely hard for me. His death came at the same time major assignments were due, but I pulled through it. I found strength within…again. Thank you to all of those close to me who checked in on me and helped me navigate through a tough time. You know who you are.

I think my last post was back in April this year–sorry. It’s been way too long.

Greg

For those of you who don’t know Greg, He was my first husband. (Yes, I was married before.) We got married young, well it didn’t seem too young to us. We were twenty-one but we only had a few short years together. I became a widow at twenty-four.

Greg died on 18 November 1995, a day I have re-lived, thought about, questioned, obsessed over, and re-arranged the events of that day in my mind for years.

On 19 November 2019, Greg will have been dead more years than he was living.

My friend, Michele is my validation.

She was there for me after the craziness of that night. She held me, she cried with me, she played with my hair and her heart bled along with mine.

She was there with me then, and I’m here with her now.

This year, I’ve been writing a lot, working on my story, working on my book. I’ve written a lot about my childhood, and the first husband that I lost when we were both only twenty-four. It’s now that I am 48, it’s easier to look back and see how 18 November 1995 has shaped me over the years.

I’d like to share a snippet of that writing with you now…

Our engagement photo

Saturday, 18 November 1995

Eugene, Oregon

I hate baby showers and usually try to avoid them. I’m only here out of sheer guilt. I smile, I laugh, I play a few stupid games thinking about my impending exit. As I sit on the couch, I hear my own voice say to me, ‘You’re OK without Greg’. A thought that just randomly enters my head and scares me. Why would I think that I wonder. I look at the clock with a sickening feeling, 8.30 pm. I decide an hour and a half is long enough. I say my goodbyes and make my way to my car.

I’m a nervous driver, but I haven’t always been. Last year, I was in two car accidents, neither of which were my fault. Both drivers were intoxicated.

The first drunk rear-ended me while I was stopped at a red light. I walked away from that one, but our week-old wedding gifts in the backseat were a write-off, along with the car. Six months later, a second driver hit me while I was attempting to turn at an intersection. This drunk ran a red light too. He smashed into me on the driver’s side, causing my car to spin into a telephone pole. He didn’t even attempt to stop.

People came running over to help. I recall someone saying, ‘I’ve got to pull you out. Can you see the flames?’ I did see the flames, but I couldn’t register what that meant. My response was, ‘I have a husband.’ But my brain couldn’t remember his name. I was in shock.

The next thing I remember was seeing Greg’s worried face, waking me up with kisses in the hospital. He was in shock too.

I leave the baby shower and get into the car and pull up to the corner of an empty street. I look both ways, then again and once more, before pulling out onto the road. It’s a straight shot home, an easy drive, with Greg sitting next to me in the passenger seat.

‘There you are obeying all the speed limits,’ says Greg.

‘Of course, I don’t want to get into another accident,’ I reply out loud as if he were there.

I don’t think much of it. Maybe it’s a way to deal with the fear of driving on my own, imagining him there, keeping me company.

When I pull up to our townhouse and get out, Riley is meowing at me.

‘What are you doing outside?’

He starts to purr, weaving in and out of my legs, making it hard for me to walk. I scoop him up and cuddle him as I walk up the steps to the porch. I twist the knob, but it’s locked. Lights are on inside so I ring the doorbell five times fast and knock. ‘Greg, open the door.’ I let Riley jump down feeling annoyed about having to get my keys out of my bag. I unlock the door, drop my keys back into my handbag and call out to Riley to follow me. I turn the knob and step in, but the deadbolt is locked. Now I have to search for my keys at the bottom of my bag again, and I’m irritated. I unlock the deadbolt and open the door and walk into a wall of silence. Greg was just lying there on the floor between the coffee table and TV stand.

‘Greg, why are you on the floor? Didn’t you hear me knocking?’

‘Greg, are you sleeping? What’s wrong?’

‘GREG!’

I run for the phone. It takes me three tries to dial the number.

‘9-1-1, what is your emergency?’

‘I need an ambulance quick …something’s wrong with my husband. I just came home to find him lying on the floor. He’s not moving. Please hurry!’

‘Can you please describe him?’

I run over to him and kneel. ‘He’s on his back, legs stretched out, arms near his sides. His head is turned to his right, away from me, eyes closed.’

I hear her quick typing as I rub his hand.

The 911-operator keeps talking. I’m annoyed at her questions and spit out the answers as best as I can.

‘Are they coming?’ I yell.

‘Yes, I’m dispatching an ambulance now.’

‘Thank you.’

I confirm the address.

‘Don’t hang up,’ she says. ‘I need to stay on the line with you until they arrive.’

‘Hang on, Greg. Help is on the way.’ I take his hand in mine. It’s cold, but his hands are always cold. I hold it to my chest, trying to warm it up and kiss it.

She reassures me they are on their way and asks if I want to try CPR. YES!

I know CPR, but I can’t think. She tells me what to do. I straighten his head and tilt it back. I lean over him then see a pool of blood. ‘There’s blood,’ I scream.

Then I notice something on the floor between his right leg and his right arm.

His gun.

‘Kaylynn, I need you to check the doors and windows.’ She’s now worried about my safety. I put the phone down and run around checking, but everything is locked. The clunk of the deadbolt still echoes in my head.

‘No one else is here.’ I tell her

‘Kaylynn. They are close.’

I go back to Greg and try to wake him with my kisses. ‘I love you, Greg.’ I lay my head on his chest, craving comfort and reassurance from him.

It’s just him, me and the 911-operator.

Clarity comes, I sit up taking a big gasp in, staring at my tears on his T-shirt.

What if this is it?

A calmness comes over me.

Preparing myself for the worst, I talk to her.

‘I’m going to describe him, and you tell me what you think.’

‘OK.’

‘He’s cold. His face is white, and he’s not moving.’

‘It doesn’t sound good.’ Then she says. ‘Kaylynn, they’re on your street.’

I open the front door to lights and sirens: three police cars and two ambulances. I scream, jump and wave. An officer takes the phone out of my hand as four big paramedics step onto my porch.

‘Get in there and fix him! Get in there and fix him!’ I’m screaming and crying standing outside the front door.

They come straight back out. I push the first guy back in. ‘You didn’t fix him.’ He falls into the others behind him.

‘I’m sorry, he’s gone.’

Everything goes black.

Thanks for reading…Here is a post about how Greg and I first met in high school. Let me know if you’d like to read more. xoxo Kaylynn

Me stuff

Feeling comfortable

I’ve been a chameleon all my life changing my spots according to the environment I find myself in. I know when I need to be the funny one, the happy one, the supportive one, the one that takes the lead and the one that lets others lead. I have changed my stripes so many times that sometimes I even don’t know who the real Kaylynn is.

I have listened to the world tell me who I should be, I have listened to others and their opinions of me but when I sit with myself I can feel what direction my heart lies.

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

What do I want?

-I want to be in the presence of beautiful things.

-I want to be touched enough to bring me to tears.

-I want my heart to race so much that I need to gasp for air.

-I want to be a part of making this world a better place.

-I want to be involved with my community and volunteer my time and efforts for things that make a difference.

-I want to love my Heavenly Father without judgment.

-I want to laugh.

-And most of all, I need to feel.

-I need to live in a world where truths are shared, where hearts are touched and deep changes are made to the soul.

I am done altering who I am for the sake of making others feel more comfortable.

The insanity stops now.

I don’t mean that to be harsh or seem that I am set in my ways without compromise. It just means that I finally know the person I was meant to be. It’s only taken almost 48 years to find her.

I laugh, I love and I live an honest life doing what makes me happy, saying what I know, sharing my truths. If I get hurt, I will act hurt instead of pushing it down and moving on. I will sit with the hurt and find a way for it to be fixed…if I can. If I hurt another, I will make amends. I will be the friend that has the courage to say what’s real. I hope I can say it with a whole lot of love and a big handful of friendship. I only want to surround myself with authenticity.

Why do we walk around thinking things about others and then avoiding them instead of sharing our insights to help that person become a better friend? Or worse engaging in conversations with others about those negative thoughts? Avoid gossip, it’s not good. Why not tell them how you feel? PERSON UP!

I am done sacrificing my muchness. I want my light to shine. My light is only ignited by how I feel on the inside. My outside is the megaphone for what’s happing inside. I want to live a life free of chains. Free of ‘have to’s’ and only full of ‘want to’s’. I am shedding the guilt and shame that have ruled my life. Most of it has not even been my guilt or shame, things others have placed on me. I am cutting out the cancers of my life. Toxins that have never brought me happiness. Why hold onto those things? Because of guilt? Pride?

GET RID OF IT. ALL OF IT.

Lighten your load.

PUT IT DOWN.

Learn to forgive.

Forgiveness is never for the other person. It’s for you, a tool from God to help us move past the anger, hurt or resentment that is holding you back.

Photo by niu niu on Unsplash

STOP HOLDING YOURSELF BACK!

The only one who knows what you’re holding onto is you and if you don’t know what it is, then may I suggest you do some soul searching of your own.


Feature photo above by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Growing pains, Motherhood

My baby is leaving me

This is a true story, she really is leaving. Today is the day when we drive almost five hours away, spend one last night together as a complete family in an Airbnb, then drop her off and (here’s the worst part) drive away.

How will I drive away? Well W will be driving because I’ve never been good at driving with blurry eyes.

As I type this impromptu blog post, my heart is crumbling.

My mothering-heart has two beats, her and him. My little man’s heart is breaking too. Tears last night about wanting to hang out with her and her friends…her last hang out, her last ‘playdate’ I explained to him. “But she never plays Mario Kart with me, mom’.

Our first daffodil of the season – I miss them being this small

W is being strong but I know he’ll have his moments, not so public possibly.

Alpine Leadership School is the reason, an amazing opportunity. I am so proud of her. I am so proud of the adult she growing into. She’s funny, she’s clever and smart. She is so much smarter than I ever was at her age. That she gets from her daddy.

We get to pick her up on my birthday and bring her home…best present ever! But that’s nine weeks from now, but who’s counting?

She’s walking around our cold morning house in a blanket, singing, as she downloads the last few final songs she can’t live without. She’s happy. I’m happy. Music is the air in her lungs too.

She can’t take her phone. This is a great thing because when you live in your 14-year-old bubble, your phone becomes the only thing you see. Tunnel vision. Her heart is bigger than her phone, a meme, a gif. But sometimes she can’t see beyond her anime obsession.

Because she also loves her books, I don’t beat myself up as her parent. She has almost a whole suitcase packed of books. I lost count while helping her pack–this she gets from her mama.

We will be pen pals. She will learn to put pen to paper. 4 pm is when the post is delivered at the school. 4 pm will be a happy time for her as I will write her often, for me.

So if you see me around without my usual smile, give me a hug, I’ll need it.

Feature Photo by Gabriela Braga on Unsplash

Me stuff

Music, the best present ever!

Ever since I can remember, I have been madly in love with music. The melody, the emotion it can provoke and the lyrics…the words. Music has taught me how to love, how to feel, how to get back up and how to heal. Music has helped me find who I am.

Through the years, my taste in music has changed and we have more variety than we ever had before. More access to music without having to buy the album.

In The Beginning…

Music first came to me in my baby crib, a wind-up mobile overhead. I remember when I was a little older, the countless times I took a musical toy to my mother and ask her to ‘make it go’.

Then when I was old enough to wind-up the toys myself. I had one particular toy that I couldn’t get enough of. It was a box, a music box of ‘Jack and Jill’. You would wind the plastic knob until you couldn’t. Then the nursery rhyme would play out in visual drawings that scrolled along with the song until it lost its energy and another twist of the knob was required. I spent hours, hours listening, watching and singing ‘Jack and Jill’.

Photo by Simone Acquarot Unsplash.com

As the years pushed on, I got a tape recorder when I turned twelve (BEST PRESENT EVER!) I would spend hours (and I mean hours) listening to my clock radio. When a song would end I would race over to my tape recorder ready to push the play and record button simultaneously if the DJ was about to play a song worthy of my blank cassette tape. If the two buttons had been pushed, I would go around the house with a finger in front of my lips telling everyone in the house to be quiet because I was recording. I was very important and my tape was going to save the world one day.

Usually, after I had told them I was recording, they all came into my bedroom to hear what song made the cut with overly mouthed words ‘ARE YOU RECORDING?’ Pointing with big eyeballs as I still had my finger to my lips, shaking my head yes and eyes of death if they ruined my recording. If someone spoke accidentally, and they usually did. I would hit the stop show my exasperation and rewind the tape to find the spot where the last song had finished.

You always had to allow a few seconds of recorded emptiness between the songs. I learned after a while that I could hit play, record and pause at the same time, then when a song came on, I just had to release the pause button. A much better way to record without the clunk of the buttons being recorded on the tape.

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

Mixed Tapes People!

I got a little older and the cool ingenious invention of the ‘mixed tape’ was born. This was the grandfather of playlists. If you were lucky enough to receive a mixed tape (BEST PRESENT EVER!) then whoever gave it to you thought you were really something special. Like, I mean you were one of their number ones. Like, at the top of their friendship or crush list. I received a few mixed tapes in my time and I have given them too.

You would put your entire heart and soul into making one of these for someone. It could take you weeks, months especially if the song you were waiting for needed to first be played on the radio. But technology matured and the stereo with a double cassette player was invented. Dun Dun Daaa! This changed everything! You could record from a record to a tape, tape to tape and my favorite…radio to tape without being quiet.

Then hail the Compact Disc. The CD sort of chased away the mixed tapes for the technology junkies, you know the ones that were always jumping on the bandwagon for the next best thing. I liked CDs but mixed tapes still held a big place in my heart. I would walk around with my off-brand Walkman listening to my mixed tapes until I wore them out. Yes, they could break…sad but true.

Then the discovery of the Discman appeared…

Now you can listen to your favorite CD while walking around. It was bigger and chunkier than the Walkman but who cares! I got myself a Discman from a garage sale. By the time I got mine, people were starting to get sick of them. You couldn’t really run or exercise with a Discman because the laser could skip and scratch your disc. I think maybe some went back to the mixed tape, and then there were others who never left.

Hail The Digital Age…

Photo by 90 angle on Unsplash

Now years, many many years, have passed and the Y2K bug is a thing of the past. In October 2001 a company called Apple (the computer company) came out with a thing called the iPod! Say what? It was smaller and could fit almost your entire CD collection! My husband gave me my first iPod, a pink one, a second model they called the iPod Mini (BEST PRESENT EVER!). I was excited but had no idea what to do with it but I learned quickly how to download my CD collection onto this teeny little device. After that, I never went anywhere without my iPod and my book.

Then cell phones got more sophisticated and today at the touch or our fingers we can click onto a memory. Memories of the people we once were, memories of the people that once touched our lives, memories of the people who helped us become who we are, memories of the moments that made us who we are today.

A BIG thank you to my mom and dad who were lovers of music and always had it playing around the house. Love you both to the moon and back.

Here is a soundtrack of my life…

Put your headphones in your ears and settle back and enjoy this ‘Mixed Playlist’ for you. My favorites over the years, 50 of them actually, I had too much fun putting this gift together for you. Just click on the links. You’re welcome.

Oh! But wait, before you go, will you share a song or two with me in the comments below? What song makes you weak in the knees or has stayed with you over the years? I love new music…Thank you!

Before my time…

James Brown – ‘Try Me’ (1958), The Letterman – ‘Hurt So Bad’ (1964), Glen Campbell – ‘Witchita Lineman’ (1968), The Doors – ‘Love Street’ (1968)

The 1970s-Me Decade

Neil Young – ‘Old Man’ (1972), Billy Joel – ‘You’re My Home’ (1973), Fleetwood Mac – ‘Landslide’ (1975), Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’ (1975), The Beatles – ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (1976), Kiss – ‘Beth’ (1976), Paul Davis – ‘I Go Crazy’ (1977), Bob Marley – ‘Three Little Birds’ (1977), The Commodores -‘Still (1979), Christopher Cross – ‘Sailing’ (1979), Dan Fogelberg – ‘Longer’ (1979), Kermit the Frog – ‘The Rainbow Connection’ (1979)

The 1980s-Old School days

The Climax Blues Band – ‘I Love You'(1980), Styx – ‘Babe’ (1980), Dire Straits – ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1980), Boz Scaggs – ‘Look What You’ve Done to Me’ (1980), Journey – ‘Open Arms’ (1982), Restless Heart – ‘I’ll Still Be Loving You’ (1985), Peter Gabriel – ‘In Your Eyes’ (1986), Kenny Loggins – ‘Meet Me Halfway’ (1987), Garth Brooks – ‘The Dance’ (1989), The Judds – ‘Young Love’ (1989)

The 1990s-The Dot-com Decade

Collin Raye – ‘Love Me’ (1991), Richard Marx – ‘Hazard’ (1991), Little River Band – ‘Lady’ (1992), Alabama – ‘Angels Among Us’ (1993), The Whitlams – ‘No Aphrodisiac’ (1997), Ben Folds Five – ‘Brick’ (1998), Willie Nelson – ‘Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground’ (1999)

The 00s- Gen Z

Heartland – ‘I loved her first’ (2006), Pete Murray – ‘The Game’ (2008), Zac Brown Band – ‘Free’ (2008), Blue October – ‘My Never’ (2009), Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – ‘Falling Slowly’ (2009)

The Twenty-Tens-Here and now

Ed Sheeran – ‘Kiss me’ (2011), Hillary Weeks – ‘Beautiful Heartbreak’ (2011),Alan Jackson – ‘Where were you’ (2012),Prince Superbowl Medley (2012), Jason Mraz and Christina Perri – ‘Distance’ (2012), Chris Stapleton – ‘Tennessee Whiskey (2015), Until The Ribbon Breaks – Blondie cover ‘One Way or Another’ (2015), Red Hot Chilli Peppers – ‘Dark Necessities’ (2016), Kenny Chesney & Wendell Mobley – ‘There Goes My Life’ (2017), Colin Hay – ‘I just Don’t Think I’ll Get Over You’ (2017), Phoebe Bridgers & Noah Gundersen – ‘Killer’ (2018), The Weekend – ‘Call Out My Name’ (2018).

Feature photo by feliperizo.co | heart made on Unsplash

Australia

Yackandandah is Yack-amazing!

Yackandandah the country town

If you live in Victoria and you don’t know about the Yackandandah Folk Festival, you really are missing out. This place is magical in the ordinary sense. All its residents really care about the environment and show it in their actions. We can all learn from Yack…

Photo by Thandy Yung on Unsplash

In 2018, Yackandandah only had ONE rubbish bin that went to land fill! ONE rubbish bin for the whole year from a whole town. That is truly incredible!

And here’s what they do with the money the town makes from the festival…

In case you are not aware, Yackandandah is now the greenest festival in the country with a share of all ticket sales going to TRY. TRY is Totally Renewable Yackandandah and with the funds from the festival – and other sources, TRY has purchased solar panels for community facilities. With the funding provided Yackandandah now generates more than 5 times the power used during the festival.

They will be the first Victorian town to totally go off the grid. The term “off the grid” refers to living autonomously without reliance on a utility for power. Off-grid living is often ideal for rural locations where there is a lack of reliable grid access. Off-grid homes will require alternative power options like solar energy.

Yackandandah the music

SO you know now how amazing this sweet little town is but let me tell you about the Music Festival they created and have been hosting for past 22 years. My family and I have been lucky enough to attend the last three.

Photo by Tony Rojas on Unsplash

The Yackandandah Folk Festival sells out every year with two camping options in town. Quiet camping and loud camping, each set on a footy oval. Quiet camping is exactly that, where families usually camp and loud camping is where the artists are usually found strumming, singing and drinking into the sunrise.

Each year the festival is set up little different. There are anywhere between 9 – 11 different stages set up around town. Outdoor and indoor stages. Big stages, small stages. Some totally free and some you need to have the Music festival wristband for entry.

You buy a little program book or download the free app to see who’s playing where and who are they. I like a bit of a strategy going into it as it’s impossible to catch every act. So you’ve got to find your taste then soak up their talent.

I always fall in love with some incredible acts. Usually, their music sings right to my heart or makes my body want to dance. Last year it was Ukulele Death Squad. The year before that it was Les Poules A Colin a French-Canadian band that came over for the festival.

One of the best things is having access to these talented artists on the way to bigger pastures. After each set you can find them selling CD’s for $10-$20 and they will be more than happy to have a chat and sign your CD.

This year I even got several hugs and you know that makes me happy. I was in my element listening to beautiful heart-telling prose accompanied by acoustic rhythms. There were great places to get beautiful food but I just wanted something quick to appease my stomach as I ran to the next stage.

There were so many acts that turned my head. Lovely people with amazing music. I don’t buy CD’s from everyone. I have a budget I need to stick too (sort of) and my son obsess over how many CD’s I usually purchase. This year I kept the number from him but I’m happy to share it with you.

I purchased CD’s from all of these artists, in no particular order so I can reive my fun experience in Yack over and over…Joel Havea, Fred Smith, Maja, Montgomery Church, Monique Clare, Melissa Crabtree, The Neon Effect, Dayan Kai and the Maes. PHEW! I’ve added their websites to their names. Check them out.

Maja

Love this girl!
Photo taken from Maja’s facebook page

First my heart skipped a beat when I listened to the beautiful Maja, a Melbourne girl originally from Brisbane. She is young and extremely in tune with all the life lessons that have come her way. She learned things that took me 40 years to understand. Her songs opened the doors to her personal life with a welcome mat to brush your feet on before you came in and sat down in her world. Look her up. Incidentally, she is playing in Fitzroy on 16 April at The Night Cat. Please check her out on www.majaofficialmusic.com.

Melissa Crabtree with Dayan Kai

The increadibly cool and talented Melissa Crabtree

On Saturday afternoon, in the intimate Clarence Room, I had the pleasure of hearing the poetic prose of Melissa and Dayan. They have been playing off and on together for over 17 years. Both American and extremely talented. They are born performers and in an instant let you into their personal world with details of each song. They took turns singing their own songs while the other accompany with sweet harmony and Dayan plays a rainbow of instruments.

From the first strum of the guitar strings and their harmonized voices together I was captivated so much that when Melissa said: “the next song is about a river in Utah.” I put up my hand and said, “I’m from Utah.” I met them afterward to buy a CD and offered up my house for a gig in Melbourne which took place on Monday night. I was humbled to have them play in my living room for family and friends.

My living room in Newport Australia right near The Newport Lakes Sanctuary

Dayan (and partner Maya) have gone back to Hawaii, however, Melissa is still here in Australia touring around for another month. If you are in Byron Bay next weekend, check her out…

On a little personal note, Melissa has had some serious unforeseen financial tour complications and is kind of stranded in Australia at the moment. If you have been touched by this post and/or her music feel free to make a donation to a traveling musician. The easiest way to make a donation is to go to Melissa’s “about” bio page on her website https://www.melissacrabtree.com/bio and scroll down past the bio and quotes and you will see a tab that says “donations”. If you click on that tab you can donate directly here. on her PayPal account at melissacrabtreemusic@gmail.com

Also here are some links to their incredible work together… (here).

Thanks for reading everyone!

My sweet husband

Holy undies, Batman!

Today my lovely husband (the over returner) asked if I could return some undies he bought a little while ago at Costco.

“Sure. Where are they?”

He then hands me a plastic shopping bag with three pairs of used Calvin Klein undies. Clean but used. He’d only had them a few months when holes started appearing in the undercarriage area. I hesitate for a moment then grab the bag from him unsure of how I felt about it. I talked myself into it, he’s bought tampons for me over the years, he even rode my girl bike with flowers on the basket into the city to get it serviced. Now that’s love. Yes, I can do this.

I’m in line at the register. A guy with David on his name tag smiles. I walk up to him with my plastic bag of used husband undies. “Hi, I’ve got an embarrassing and bizarre return but I’m sure you have seen lots of weird returns over the years.” “OK,” says David hesitantly. “I’ve got a bag of undies my husband has asked me to return, but I promise they are clean.” David almost takes a step back from the register unsure if I’m joking around with him. “I’m completely serious. My husband bought these not long ago and holes have started appearing.” I open the bag to show him. He takes a peek but keeps his distance. No man wants to look at another strange man’s used undies. His uncomfortableness fills the gap over the counter between us.

Photo by James Barr on Unsplash

David starts looking on his computer-register for the purchased undies. He can’t find them. That’s when I learned that even though my husband and I share the same Costco membership, we have different card numbers and the purchased undies where on his card. So David starts to scan my husbands card purchases.

“Are they XL?” David asks. I handle the undies looking for the tag that will reveal the size. Nothing. David is pointing and telling me where to look. Nothing. Finally I say, “How about we say they are XL.” “Done”, says David. And finally I can close the bag and we can forget the undies ever happened.

I make small talk as David does the paperwork for the return. “So what is the weirdest thing you’ve ever had returned?” I ask. “The return I just did.” We both laugh and I say I should have made my husband return them.

“Where is your husband?” at my son’s basketball training I tell him and I explain how I take my daughter to her ice skating lessons each Wednesday. “I would have made him take your daughter ice skating so he could do the return.” Then I tell him how my husband does lots of lovely things for me. Like purchase tampons. David said, “Buying tampons is nothing.” as he has me sign the receipt to complete the transaction after I tapped my card which made it heavier by $23.50. I thanked David and walked away from him with the image of my husband riding down Footscray rd passing other bikes on my baby blue vintage bike with flowers haloed on its basket. I smile. He loves me. I wish David the same sort of happiness in his relationship one day.

Feature Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Australia

Newport Lakes Flasher of 2019

It’s come out recently in the news, that we had a man expose himself to some ladies walking around the Newport Lakes. This is where I walk every morning, by myself. With music in my ears, but never in the dark for safety reasons. But it seems it’s not early in the morning when you need to worry. This flasher works his magic after lunch time. Here is the news article from a few days ago. Since this was written he has been caught and locked up and Newport Lakes is currently rid of this flashing pervert.

Photo by Matt Benson on Unsplash

What is so special about the Newport Lakes?

Newport Lakes is the best-kept secret in Newport and Williamstown and quite possibly in all of the inner west. It is my peace, my sanctuary and it’s only a 20-second walk from my front door. It is the reason we bought our home.

Twitchers come from all over the state to get a look at the rare birds that find their way to this peaceful special place. Walkers and runners pound the trails in the fresh air. Families enjoy balancing on the big boulders, that separate the two lakes, watching the wildlife enjoy their sanctuary. Newport Lakes is a very special place. It’s my families backyard. We’ve played too many games of hide-and-seek to count. A place that my two children are growing up in and one day will share with thier own children.

Newport Lakes Park is a bushland oasis created from a former bluestone quarry.[7] The park is 33 hectares in size and has been extensively revegetated using native plants, with over 200 species of plants and 85 species of birds recorded here. The park has a picnic area, toilets, drinking taps and free electric barbecues.[8] Dogs may be exercised in the Pavey’s Park and Picnic Area, the north west area of the park and in the Arboretum.[9]

What is so different now?

Last month, I walked around completely clueless that there was even a threat inside my sanctuary. I pass the same people each day. We would share a smile and a ‘Good Morning’ simultaneously. Mostly older men breathing heavy out for a jog or a brisk walk. But sometimes you don’t see anyone because of the all the trails and pathways.

Now that the Newport Flasher has been on the 5 o’clock news, the community is talking about it. When I went for my walk on Saturday morning, there was something different in the air. The lakes were the same, the animals still scurrying in the bushes, the happy birds overhead singing their songs, the ducks doing their water skiing landings and me watching out for the two foxes that live in the area. The difference was those men, the same men I always passed, they seemed nervous as they passed me. No simultaneous ‘Good Mornings’ today. I said it first and they would give me the nod. These men who love the lakes as much as me, are now cautious over the recent flasher news I’m guessing.

They are not worried about being flashed, they are worried about being accused of being the flasher.

Since the whole #metoo movement, some good men are left unsure of how to talk or act around women and that’s all because of those other men who think they can have whatever they want.

A Story my good friend told me…

She asks me, “Did I tell you about the time I was cat-called last week?” She was walking home from the train station when a group of boys in a car yelled out to her, “Show us your vagina!” Now she could have been upset or disgusted like the rest of us, however, I love how her brain works. She is one of a kind and they broke the mold after they made her and that’s why I love her so much. Anyway, they call out “Show us your vagina!” She wants to yell out back “Are you sure? I’ve had three babies. Do you still want to see it?” Those silly boys had made her night and before she could yell out “THANK YOU”, they were gone. And she walked the rest of the way home with a sping in her step.

So what kind of a world is it now?

So we have a flasher in the Newport Lakes (x a million in the world), a car full of boys being boys (x 100 million in the world). We have 7.7 billion people in the world, every second person (a woman) is trying to figure out their place in the world. Now I don’t need to be cat-called by a carload of boys, or flashed by some pervert to make myself feel better about getting older. However, I don’t want those good men and boys out there to feel uncomfortable about paying a woman a simple compliment either. Nothing is wrong with giving up your seat to a woman on the train. Or opening a door. Men are unsure where they stand in this modern age of women finding thier voices and making them be heard loud and clear.

Another friend put it beautifully in some of his writing I just read this weekend. He was writing about an old boxing coach he had and what he learned from him. This line sums up so much about how things are today… “I learned about what it means to be a man in a world where masculinity is poisoning such concepts”

So what do you think? Tell me? Am I way off base? This is just my opinion and I would love to hear yours. This is also coming right off of my post about International Women’s Day.

And a big THANK YOU to the Friends of Newport Lakes and all you do to keep our land beautiful and all you’ve done to make it what it is today.

Feature photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Being Mormon

Happy International Women’s Day!!!

This is the talk I gave in church last Sunday. I just wanted to share it with you.

In the spring of 1842 Sarah Granger Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret A. Cook, discussed combining their efforts to sew clothing for workers constructing the Latter Day Saints‘ Nauvoo Temple. They determined to invite their neighbors to assist by creating a Ladies’ Society. Kimball asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution and by-laws for the organization for submission to President of the Church Joseph Smith for review. After reviewing the documents, Smith called them “the best he had ever seen” but said, “this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord, and He has something better for them than a written constitution. … I will organize the women. .. after a pattern of the priesthood.”

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters. I’m so excited to stand before you today. For those who don’t know me, my name is Kaylynn and I’ve been a part of the Footscray ward now for seven years. I’m married to a non-member and I have two beautiful children who have decided they wanted to stay home with dad…for now.

Today I’ve been asked to talk about the Relief Society Moto and what it means to me in my life. The motto of the Relief Society, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:8, is “Charity never faileth.”

Relief Society Purposes…

  • Help all women to increase their faith and personal righteousness.
  • Help strengthen their families and homes.
  • See out and provide relief for individuals and families in need.

Twenty LDS women gathered on Thursday, March 17, 1842 (almost 177 years ago!) in the second-story meeting room over Smith’s Red Brick Store in Nauvoo to discuss the formation of a Ladies’ Society with Joseph Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards. Smith, John Taylor, and Richards sat on the platform at the upper end of the room with the women facing them. “The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning” was sung, and Taylor opened the meeting with prayer. The women present were Emma Hale SmithSarah M. Cleveland, Phebe Ann Hawkes, Elizabeth Jones, Sophia Packard, Philinda Merrick, Martha McBride Knight, Desdemona Fulmer, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Leonora Taylor, Bathsheba W. Smith, Phebe M. Wheeler, Elvira A. Coles (Cowles; later Elivira A. C. Holmes), Margaret A. Cook, Athalia Robinson, Sarah Granger Kimball, Eliza R. Snow, Sophia Robinson, Nancy Rigdon and Sophia R. Marks. The women present were proposed as the initial members and the men withdrew as the motion to accept all present was considered. The motion was passed and the men returned. Then another 7 names were proposed by Joseph Smith for admission. They were: Sarah Higbee, Thirza Cahoon, Keziah A. Morrison, Marinda N. Hyde, Abigail Allred, Mary Snider, and Sarah S. Granger. The men again withdrew as the women considered and passed the motion. Smith then proposed the society elect a presiding officer and allow that officer to choose two counsellors to aid her. They would be ordained and would preside over the society. In the place of a constitution the Presidency would preside and all their decisions should be considered law and acted upon as such. At appropriate times, the body of the society should vote and the majority opinion of the sisters would be honoured as law. The minutes of the meetings would serve as an additional guide to their governance. Whitney motioned and it was seconded that Emma Smith be chosen President and this passed unanimously. Emma Smith then chose her two counsellors, Cleveland and Whitney. At that time Taylor, who had been presiding over the meeting, vacated that honour to Smith and her counsellors. The men then again withdrew as Smith chose a secretary and treasurer. The three members of the Presidency were then ordained and blessed by Taylor.[13]

Smith stated “the object of the Society—that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor—searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants—to assist; by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the female community, and save the Elders the trouble of rebuking; that they may give their time to other duties, ect. in their public teaching.”[14]

It was proposed that the organization go by the name “Benevolent Society” and with no opposition the vote carried. However, Emma Smith made a point of objection. She convinced the attendees that the term “relief” would better reflect the purpose of the organization, for they were “going to do something extraordinary,” distinct from the popular benevolent institutions of the day.[15] After discussion, it was unanimously agreed that the fledgling organization be named “The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo”. Joseph Smith then offered five dollars (worth $150 today) in gold to commence the funds of the Society. After the men left the room, Eliza R. Snow was unanimously elected as secretary of the Society with Phebe M. Wheeler as Assistant Secretary and Elvira A. Coles as Treasurer. Emma Smith remarked that “each member should be ambitious to do good” and seek out and relieve the distressed.[16] Several female members then made donations to the Society. The men returned, and Taylor and Richards also made donations. After singing “Come Let Us Rejoice,” the meeting was adjourned to meet on the following Thursday at 10 o’clock. Taylor then gave a closing prayer. Of his experience Joseph Smith recorded: “I attended by request, the Female Relief Society, whose object is the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes. … [W]e feel convinced that with their concentrated efforts, the condition of the suffering poor, of the stranger and the fatherless will be ameliorated”.[17]

The new organization was popular and grew so rapidly that finding a meeting place for such a large group proved difficult. Under Emma Smith’s direction, the Society was “divided for the purpose of meeting” according to each of the city’s four municipal wards.[18] Smith and her counsellors continued to preside over the groups. Visiting committees were appointed to determine needs in each ward. Young mother Sarah Pea Rich, wife of Charles C. Rich, recalled, “We then, as a people were united and were more like family than like strangers.”[19] By March 1844, membership totalled 1331 women.

***

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash

This subject could not have had any better timing coming off of International Women’s Day last Friday. As my kids and I were getting ready for school on Friday, I hugged my 14-year-old daughter tight and wished her a happy IWD and told her I was very proud of her and how she was growing up to be a brave, strong, amazing woman. Then my son asked if there was an International Men’s Day? I cheekily said, ‘every day’. But then I explained to him how important this day was for women because of the history women have been through; how a long time ago (before Anne of Green Gables) that girls were not even allowed go to school because they were destined to just clean, cook and look after their families. How once upon a time women didn’t have the right to vote and how now the fight today is for equal pay. But it’s not just about that. IWD is all about recognizing the women in your life and how they contribute to molding who you’re growing up to be. So I told him to wish his teacher a happy IWD and we practiced him saying the mouthful. My son is in the back seat repeating the words and I congratulate him on getting it right. Then he said ‘No mom, I’m saying that to you.’…he’s catching on.

It’s so important to raise strong girls who will grow into strong women who are not afraid to use their voice. But it’s just as important to raise a little man who honors and respects women, especially when it’s hard for women to find that strength on her own. She might need a respectful man to help her find that strength.

Women are so important. More important then a clean house, a meal made, or makiing sure little teeth are brushed. Heavenly Father knew exactly what he was doing when he made us. We are daughters, sister, mothers, aunts, cousins, and wives but we are also complicated, moody, strong, soft and have superpowers. 

The Relief Society was formed in 1842, 51 years before New Zealand became the first self-governing nation to grant women the right to vote, followed closely by Australia in 1902. The United States, Canada, England and many other countries did not follow suit until shortly after World War I in the 1920s. In Saudi Arabia, women were only allowed to vote in December 2015, less than 4 years ago.

On August 26, 1920 American women won full voting rights but the ground work started in 1840 and I know the women mentioned above had a big hand in bringing that to fruition. I stand before you extrememly thankful for those strong brave women.

We are part of a very progressive and oldest women’s organisations in the world where all women are welcome.

Being a part of the Relief Society has had a big hand in molding who I am today. I have sisters I can go to for help as well as give assistance when I think they need help and mostly it’s giving a hug (of course), a listening ear, or going for a walk but we are here for each other. Women are here for each other in ways that men can’t be. Some of us are all doing the same job or have done the same job; raising little people to be big people, holding a corporate job, trying to sort out the bumps relationship or trying to put yourself out there to catch a relationship.

Relief Society is a safe space to share some of your deepest feelings, experiences and spiritual desires. It’s comfortable like stepping into a warm bath or hugging your mother.

I remember going to Relief Society the first time after I was 18. It felt weird, award and full of old ladies. And it still is, I’m just now one of those comfortable old ladies.

Being a part of this church has changed my life for good and being a part of the Relief Society has helped me change other’s lives for good.

I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Feature photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

Being Mormon

Hello, huggable New Year!

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been” 

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As it’s a fresh New Year, I thought now was the time to introduce my fresh new blog name.  “The Melbourne Mormon is in the process of rebranding to “Confessions of a Serial Hugger”. It’s still me though…

Back in August, President Nelson (president of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) asked us not to refer to ourselves as “Mormons” anymore. Just to clarify, we are still Mormons and our faith has not changed.  Everything’s the same, except for the nickname that we’ve called ourselves for years (read more about it here). Oh and we shaved off an hour of church starting this year.

Change is always good. I even cut off my long hair.

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New Summer hairdo in the bathroom mirror selfie

One of my favorite things in the world is hugs. It’s been said that a hug is a handshake from the heart. Whoever said this is speaking my language. I am a hugger. Hugs make everyone feel better. Quick, hug someone right now…come on, I double dog dare you.

I hug everyone…especially those who say they are not huggers and even people I’ve just met. Sometimes I warn them I’m about to hug them and sometimes I can sense they are a hugger too. Hugging is a win win.

Who doesn’t love a good hug?

Americans seem to be more huggers and Australians are more kissers. Aussies do the cheek kiss as a greeting.  So when I first moved here, I didn’t know how it worked. I got nervous when I’d arrive somewhere and the lean-in greeting would come my way. What if I lean to the wrong side? or turned the wrong way? What if an intended cheek kiss turned into an accidental lip-lock? Now that I’ve lived in Australia for nineteen years, I’ve learned that men usually kiss the lady’s cheek and we just kiss the air. Or its kind of a go cheek to cheek thing and both kiss the air. It always seems to be right cheek, so tilt your head left. But if you’re kissing a European, you kiss both sides. CON-FUS-ING. But a hug, I think, has no rules at all. Just open your arms and invite them in.

So welcome to the first blog post of Confessions of a Serial Hugger…at least that’s the name I think I’ve decided to go with…I did play around with hug-a-holic???

What do you think?

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Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Happy New Year Everyone

♥♥♥♥♥

Feature photo: by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

 

Fluffy life stuff

Your world is only created through you. So what kind of a world are you creating?

Our adult lives begin with a moment of stillness. When you’re not on a forced schedule. When someone is not telling you what to do and when to do it. Then you realize, it’s all up to you. It’s sweet and exciting until it gets hard and then in the back of our heads, we hear our parents’ voices telling us that ‘life is not meant to be easy’.

So we live the best way we know how.  We make mistakes and hopefully we learn from them. We get busy making a life for ourselves. It’s sometimes fun, sometimes hard and sometimes the joy drains out of us and sometimes we live a life that’s just content. I don’t want content.

Do you feel alive? Or are you just going through the motions of someone living?

Are you happy or sad? Satisfied or empty? Full of purpose or out there searching for meaning? Or do you feel stuck and unsure of what your life needs? Maybe something is missing? Does your life have meaning and purpose?

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Meaning and purpose are what make a life. Without these things, we have no story. Without a story, we do not exist.

Everyone has a story and everyone’s story matters, right? Although Sometimes I feel like if I just sat on the couch binge watching Netflix, who would care? But if I did that, then nothing would get done and at the end the day I would feel like I wasted it and my to-do list would still be waiting for me. Things piled up is a worse feeling for me because I get overwhelmed and more all I want to do is hide under the covers or binge watch Netflix.

So a day (or days) spent binge watching can leave you empty.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

In order to come alive, you need to serve something greater than yourself. You need to find that thing that makes your heart beat a little bit faster. What greater purpose are you serving? And are you really serving it? It’s important to be a part of a larger journey.

A life that matters, is a life that has MEANING.

Do something that you are passionate about every day. Every moment you stay longer in a place you shouldn’t be, you start to become extraordinarily ordinary. Because it keeps you from falling into your own truth.

Stand in your truth!

So how do you know you’re heading towards your own truth? Where do you belong? Well, I think your gut tells you. An evolution that lives inside all of us that leads us to where we belong. All those little inklings, those feelings that steer you around in life. God sends messages…your life is always speaking to you. The busy and chaos of today are so loud, distracting and noisy we often don’t hear or feel those messages. It’s only when we allow ourselves to sit still, then we might be able to feel it. God talks to us in the still and these still small voices come from within.

What is your life’s calling? What were you put on this earth to do? We all have one, something that only you can do. Something you came here to fulfill. Your treasure of true self that you already possess.

“Let your life speak”

Your life calling is your foundation.  It’s solid and keeps you grounded especially whenever your house starts to fall apart. You know when you feel not right and off balance. Your foundation is that thing that keeps you going and makes you feel you want to keep working at it no matter whats going on around you…that is your calling.

Be impactful. Where do you have the most impact?

What is your real work and who or what will you fight for? Doing something every day that you do not believe in gives you a scar across your collective soul. Don’t waste your life doing meaningless projects. Don’t talk about “one day” just get started. Do what you know you need to do. Do what you’ve been thinking about. Make that choice.

Be careful of the imposter syndrome…telling yourself “I’m not worthy of this” or “they are going to figure out I’m a fake”. You are in that room because you belong there. Don’t feed yourself cruel words that can barricade or put roadblocks up in your path. I usually know that I’m heading in the right direction when initially its hard or seems crazy or I’m constantly trying to talk myself out of it. But once I start on that path I quickly start to feel right inside and know I’m doing the right thing. Mistakes are all part of life. Even our worst decisions don’t separate us from humanity.

Don’t let people that don’t matter too much, matter too much. 

Your crown has been paid for and all you have to do is put it on your head. Understand the power from which you come from.

 

Figure out what inspires you and do that.

Start today.