270 days until Antarctica - "With My Own Two Hands" Ben Harper

 Approximately 5 minutes reading time

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Mark Twain


What a crazy week. Some great things happened this week. 

 I’m currently working towards lining up my ducks, one at a time. My aim is to achieve my goals. This is a painstakingly slow process and incredibly frustrating. Every day I am one small step closer to achieving my goals. Slowly, I am progressing.

My house finally went into the construction phase. Finally, only took a year. Now I must wait another twenty days for the build to actually start. I hope that it is a fast build. I don’t want to end up homeless. From my first conversation with Masterton staff and throughout this process they have said that they would look after me and push the build through quickly as I am a Bushfire Victim/Survivor and this is a Bushfire Build. Ba-Humbug! They have done nothing of the sort. Their incompetent, lazy staff and processes have dragged this process out over a year and my first conversation with them was on 10th January 2020. Hopefully the build is quick, easy and painless.  I should be so lucky, just like Kylie sang. My friend is building a house with Allworth and her house was built in less than four weeks, slab, frame, windows and doors, roof frame and roof. I should be so lucky.

We just want to go home for a chance to finally start recovering from all the horrors and traumas of the last eighteen months. Going home will come with its own challenges. I’ll deal with those later. One baby step at a time.

Last week my friend called me to tell me that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was running a writing contest for Tiny Stories. I was urged to enter the competition, it was advertised on ABC Radio National. I believe that it was a national competition. I googled it but couldn’t find any reference to the competition. I kept googling and finally I found it but it was via a FaceBook page and I don’t have access. I kept searching and found an email address. The entries closed within three days. I was in such a dark place. I wrote my one hundred words about the change in my life. It was grim. I wrote the truth. It was what happened to me, a distilled version of the horrible, ugly facts, my reality since losing my home and life to Bushfire. My friend said it was strong. My sister hated it. It makes other people uncomfortable. How do you think I have felt and feel? Anyway, I re-wrote it and presented a better, still raw, real and honest but more positive. This was my Disney version. Two days after the competition deadline I received a lovely email from the ABC to tell me that I had been selected for publication on their sites, in this competition. I am delighted. My story will be publicly displayed on an installation in Sydney. I am waiting to hear from the Advertising Agency about what they need from me. I am excited and terrified that my story will become public. I am a very private person. This is not about me. It’s about my story. In telling it and sharing what has happened to me since my home burned down in January 2020, in the hope that it will help others dealing with terrible tragedies and trauma. The same reason that I write this blog. I will ride this wave and see what happens, see where it takes me.

I am still struggling physically and emotionally but I am okay. I shut down for a few days, it has all been too much. I have needed regular physiotherapy sessions. My physiotherapist introduced me to the TENS Machine. I love it. It has helped with the pain and is worth the money. I have discovered that I have trigger points that are aggravating the muscle and nerve pain. I have been worried because my nerve pain in my hands and arms has increased. My hands, especially my right hand is feeling weaker. I am hoping it is just the increase in exercises. I did struggle more with playing my guitar, Johnny this week. My dexterity and finger strength is being pushed but hopefully this will lead to stronger muscles. Johnny and I practice, every day when I am able. I really enjoy playing Johnny and I know that I am improving. My guitar teacher says I’m doing well and getting really good sounds. We persist.

My sister, nephew and niece came to stay this weekend. We had a wonderful time together. We went Antique shopping and had loads of fun but ran out of time. My adorable five year old, tutu wearing, Unicorn and Fairy loving niece informed us, after spotting several up close, that she wants a Buffalo Skull for her upcoming birthday, to hang on her wall. Hilarious and won’t happen. We have missed them and all the noise since they left.

Murphy, my friend’s dog and Schrodie’s best friend is holidaying with us for a couple of weeks. We are all having fun together. We enjoy our daily walk. The boys play and rough-house together. It has been very cold and we’ve had a few wet, miserable days. Whenever we are out everyone wants to pat and play with Schrodie. It doesn’t matter how old they are and he is happy with the extra attention.

My sister and the kids were warm enough and comfortable overnight as this is the coldest time of the day. Schrodie has had a few treats and drumsticks. Yesterday morning I found what was either vomit or diarrhea on a puppy mat. He’d been outside but wanted me to find this and I was worried when I saw drops of fresh blood. I rang the vet. Sometimes this can happen when they eat grass, apparently. I watched him like a hawk, he’s fine, thankfully.

My therapist tells me that everything I am going through is expected and normal, especially given everything with which I am dealing. I am feeling better I am so glad. It’s not easy. Everything is a challenge.

I am relieved that I have only one week left of my writing course. Much as I am learning and enjoying the material, it is too much right now. I have so much going on and so much to do that it is not as pleasant for me with a lack of time. I am doing well, which makes me happy. There is so much for me to do. I tackle one task at a time. Making headway is important and completing each task and achieving every win is satisfying.

Laughter has been bountiful as has joy, mixed in with the despair and sadness.

Food is still a joy even though I eat like a little bird compared to how much food I used to eat. Today I’m having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I’ve need made or eaten this before but I thought I’d try something different. I cheated, the meatballs are pre-made, they were on special. It is a quick, easy meal with baked not fried meatballs so it isn’t loaded with fat. It’s nutritious as I need carbohydrates in my daily meals, we all do to keep our body and especially our brain working. It’s another cheap as chips meal. It smells hearty and delicious. I am looking forward to my dinner. Then I am indulging in a Magnum Caramel Ego, my favourite. It is too cold for ice-cream and this will be one of my last.

Anyway, that’s it from me for this week. I hope that your week is a good one. If you would like to know about something specific or leave a comment, please include it below.

I need to be so much stronger to manage Antarctica and time is waning. I really hope that Covid-19 doesn’t stop my trip.

Take care, stay safe. Have fun, stay happy and well. Until next week.

Watch this space…






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