Wednesday, April 9, 2014

 FACEBOOK MESSAGE FROM MICHELLE (I don't think she will mind me sharing this)
Michelle Whyte 5:41am Apr 6
Kiaora Kat,

I was clearing out my emails the other day and came across a conversation I had with Gary over a couple of months. Brought a wee tear to my eye. It always brings me right back down to earth feeling humbled and counting my blessings when I think of Gary. It's funny how someone I never met was a bigger part of my journey than some of my good friends! Anyway, respectively it got me thinking of you.

I hope all's well with you and your family. I guess you'll be coming in to winter now. Hope you had a good summer and life is treating you well.

I have been thinking about how to start my blog post this month. It’s a bit late as I have had my head in starting Arts therapy and working out how to manage. Funny how we can lose ourselves and what’s important, when we start new things that are also so important.
I have been spending the best part of the last few weeks dealing with anxiety and its repercussions. Looking at how it arrives and what it does, how it affects me, my relationships and acknowledging it is something I will never be free from really but I can start to befriend it a little and stroke it into submission. I decided last week that as well as my old tricks  (breathing meditations and chamomile tea. Prayer being essential) and knowing that my anxiety can override all safety mechanisms; I really needed to do a workshop on it or seek some serious help.
I walked into class this weekend. Most of the first day was focused on techniques and approaches for dealing with a difficult emotion and the tutor chose anxiety as we were all expressing this in some way or form. So an answer to prayer. I have become very aware of how I am breathing again and where I am holding my breath.
Michelle’s email above talks about being bought back down to earth and the feeling of humility. These two things have been travelling with me also. One of the exercises we were given was to stamp our anxiety out with our feet into the ground. Enables us to ground ourself self as anxiety causes us to want to take flight.
I came across the passage last week where Jesus washes the feet of others and also lets his own feet be washed with expensive perfume that could have been used to help many others. There is in this so much richness in this passage and what I am with is the humility and honour that each of the people show in this process to the other. We all need our feet washed at times by others and the acceptance of this is so very hard. Trust me I am learning I can’t do it alone and I ask when I need help now and accept it. I am still finding it hard but learning I have to. It's a process of accepting you are worth helping and learning to see yourself. Jesus knew his worth.
Hana and her boy bought me a wee book with new testament stories when I met them in Auckland and the first story I opened on was about Jesus washing feet.
On the way up in the plane I read the book of Esther with the feeling I was supposed to be reading it. I didn't figure out its application in my life until I was driving to the airport with my beautiful friend Fifi. We drove past a hair salon in the burbs called Becoming Esther. I told Fifi about the book I read on the plane and explained my take on the Salon. Esther as a young girl was chosen with many others to under go a beautification process that took a year, the purpose of which was ultimately to be chosen as the wife for the King at the time. In this she was taken from her community, all she knew as young Jewish girl, isolated and changed. Queen Esther (as she became) was pivotal in saving her people from massacre by humbling herself , taking a risk, trusting and being completely brave.
What I started thinking about from this is the idea of sacrifice and suffering in order to prepare for something greater than ourselves.
I wrote this poem in the week previous to this one in response to a painting I did as part of my study. It was on PTSD and I used the grief process and the idea of complicated grief as a way to relate to the diagnosis.

Beauty from ashes

There is a space 
in my center
An actual hole
I can see through me
how to this keep sacred
This trauma lies not only the loss
of him
but in the loss of me
How to make sense of photos
or hear his name
without hysteria rising
Complicated thoughts images and feelings
arise from daily things
‘this is so tough Kat’
I hope that with time they will lessen
and take their proper place
and I despair that exactly this will happen

tell myself it will be ok
it will be fine
Beauty will come from ashes

God reiterates in so many ways, pays to keep the eyes of my heart open.

I got a facebook message last week from someone I thought I knew but turns out I don't. Quite a surprize to find out someone snuck through my radar I am usually quite fierce. This is what she wrote and what I wrote back.

Hello my friend of a friend, who is now my fb friend.  Can you please tell me how u find time to do art and study?
I am struggling to fit study in, with kids and house etc.. and I miss my art... but cant even contemplate how I can find time for art.
Feeling really tired and despondent. ?. Any advice would be appreciated! 
Good luck and you go girl!
Hey Margaret sure thing. Am just heading out the door but will be back in touch xx An artist here Sylvia hmm cant remember last name ..but she is famous in nz so you could google sylvia and artist. Used to carry a clipboard around with a biro tied to it when her kids were small and just drew everything on the same page. I will be back in touch.
March 28th, 10:05pm
Thank you x
March 31st, 12:07pm
I just checked your page out to see what you studying. That will be full on. I can see why you are having a few moments:).Do you journal? I have found it invaluable as a way to look after myself in this process. Write scribble make a mess anyway you want to, for Playtime, think time. Its important to take care of yourself. Your question made me think a lot. I think the core of it is value. Valuing yourself and therefore others around you and taking care of yourself what ever that means to you. Mine is walking juicing and journaling and these make me feel good. I think when you are doing a course such as what you are doing process journaling would be helpful.
April 1st, 12:39am
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond in such a kind, caring, informative way.  You are so right in your point about taking care of ourselves.   We cannot truly nurture others, unless we nurture ourselves.  I like it, journaling, juicing and walking.  I can do the journaling; I just have to make time. Walking I love!   And I have recently changed to a healthy diet.. Juicing is on the cards!  Thanks! I look forward to meeting you one day. Take care xx
Chat Conversation End

Wanted to include this as the whole thing made me think hard about how we see ourselves and how others see us. I certainly didn't think I was doing anything particularly well or handling anything in a manner that was fruitful. It really made me consider the core of it all, which is value. I have started eating properly again and juicing and a regular walk. Small most days but I stretch out others and have just pumped the tyres on my bike. Yoga on the cards. I am reminding myself that wine is not suitable as a dinner food just sometimes it seems the perfect thing. The two bible readings I mentioned above reiterated this for me. Humility and Value, both I struggle with and both I am working on.
Grateful Grateful for Fifi driving me to the airport. I came home to a clean house by the ever organized Macker, made an enormous difference to my landing. Got picked up by Trudy and I had the energy to clean my car for the first time in a year. Gaz would be pleased, never liked my dirty car.

Saw Awie and Andrew (Gary’s work mates) at Auckland airport. Had just finished saying to a stranger that ‘it is odd I never meet any one I know on this flight’ and there they were. Realised that for the first time I was able to compartmentalise the airport and not look for Gaz. If I had met them even a month ago they would have had serious concerns about my reaction. Airports are a trigger as I keep expecting to see Gaz come and meet me and I look for him. It was so lovely to see them. Terribly hard, weird and lovely all at once. Just wanted to keep staring at their faces.
Thinking about marking the year anniversary coming up. Still thinking. x

 Isaiah 61:3
New International Version (NIV)
3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

And lastly a journal page I did inspired by an exercise in class
Its a Banksia, they reseed after bush fires.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Back from Auckland and tumbling into my week

Stumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen pour myself a cup of ambition yawning stretching trying to stay alive
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumping out on the street the music is jumping for folks like me on the job working 9-5

If I could pink up these words and add some rhinestones it would be near perfect.

You may have guessed that I made it to a Dolly Parton concert when I was there, cant believe I almost didn’t. I wasn’t sure how awkward it would be to get there, but it turned out fine. Man do I love Dolly.
This Gal knows how to maximise her assets and is not at all shy of sharing this. She is nearing 70 I am guessing and she wore diamanté stilettoes for roughly three hours singing and dancing. She was funny and clever and engaged beautifully with the Audience. Storytelling, evangelising and flirting. Her energy was awesome and so great to see someone so professional doing her thing.
Her persona and how she does it is who she is.
As a stage act she is one of the best.

I’m not doing 9-5 this year, but feel I need to borrow some of the structure, as I muddle around in the point four to six bracket with study and volunteer in between.
Came back to Dunedin trying to sort my computer out. Arrived on Tuesday and ended up with both computers out of action for two whole days. No access to course info or email either. I got to work on Thursday night very stressed and emotional. Gary always did anything to do with the computer and trying to deal with it all and him not there I felt my brain and heart popping. Had the urge to run away. Consequently I have given up trying for the time being. At least until I get some of my work written and handed in.
The work looks great and the layout of study is interesting. Great group –interesting, intelligent thinkers and feelers. Articulate.
I am calmer today, really didn’t enjoy the stress of yesterday just made me want to bawl all the time. Yuck!
It rained yesterday and overnight and my garden is singing, and now also thankfully sunny. We need a few boosts like this to speed up autumnal crops.

Had my second session with some young mums and babes down at Plunket. ( I am a volunteer) We have started making sock monkeys. They are such gorgeous young women I am learning a lot being around them. Think it went well.

Back to Dolly.
Someone texted when I was away and said ‘well Kat you would have been on your own at that one anyway as I cant imagine Tai there’
Actually a little known fact about Gazza is that he also was a dolly fan. Not necessarily of her music but of her.
He liked that I liked her. He appreciated her enthusiasm for life and how she did it. He did also download a few tunes for my playlist he made me and would play them in amongst others.

The history of Dolly and me

28 years ago I had my knee operated on and spent two (maybe three-cant quite remember…) weeks on bed rest in the hospital. Gary loved that I was stuck in hospital and couldn’t go anywhere. Before hospital I was keen on him but was still sorting out how I felt about someone else. So there I was in one place.
He visited everyday, sometimes with his text books and studied. Consequently our relationship took a different turn. About the third day I think after the op, Gary had just left and I could see him walking along the street to the Captain Cook out my window. I was feeling pretty miserable and was in pain. I asked the nurse for some paracetamol, she said I wasn’t due for any but that I could have Morphine. I wasn’t keen on that as it made me sick and so I stuck it out.
I turned on the wee tele that mum had rented for me, and Dolly and Kenny came on. Two hours passed with them singing and talking, and at that point I fell in love with Dolly. She cheered me up, took me out of the space I was in and I felt she talked just to me.
 Gary joined Google circles and added Dolly as a friend so he could update me when she emailed him. His face the first time he got an email and told me was so funny. We laughed and laughed. She represented joy.

He may not have been there as a music fan (more ACDC) but definitely as a Dolly fan.

Something about Auckland I found tough was being downtown in the business district and seeing suits everywhere. I was tired and feeling a bit overwhelmed with all I had participated in in the weekend. Burnt the candle a bit at both ends and so my feelings and emotions which I can regulate a bit easier now became harder to contain. I found myself looking at every man in a suit searching for Gary. I wanted to go up to people who looked like they might be in IT and ask if they had ever met him or heard of him. Had they seen him?
There is always two parts to self. The rational that knows and deals and the other which is predominant that says 'this doesn't make sense, its all a dream, snap out of it and things will revert and go back to what you have always known.
When I was younger-much, someone very dear to me died, my boyfriend at the time. There are things in this process now that I recognize from before. The searching for the missing person being one of them.
When I committed to Gary I made him promise to never leave me. He thought this was silly as he could not see that he ever would but I knew that it happened. I also knew asking for the promise was impossible. Still I asked. It was my biggest fear. And here I am.

My chickens are watching me through the glass in my study. It is old and runny and they wobble slightly as I look. Sun is filtering through the trees and patterning my desk.
Time for a sneaky wine I think. x


When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
John O’Donohue 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Desire lines

Excerpt from Wiki

'A desire path (also known as a desire linesocial trailgoat track or bootleg trail) can be a path created as a consequence of foot or bicycle traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. The width of the path and its erosion are indicators of the amount of use the path receives. Desire paths emerge as shortcuts where constructed ways take a circuitous route, or have gaps, or are lacking entirely.'

I have become acutely aware of my chronic desire lines in the past four years. Situations or circumstances I feel like cutting a shorter track through.
There is no short track through grief and I think if you try it will eventually catch you up. There is also the  sense that  doing so would be very disrespectful. This space is sacred for a reason.

I think (and I say  'think'  as I am going with my feelings of the last week) that the reason I can say that is that I am feeling stronger. I am having longer times of feeling ok. Before I went to Australia ( 9th Jan) I was still weeping and weeping. I felt exhausted with Grief and its scouring process. I accept that christmas and holidays and everybody coupling up and going away contributed to this but still every day echoed the same. A relentless missing ache. I prayed and wondered when I would feel better. I have spent time researching grief and reading about complicated grief. I decided this was the case and it made sense.
There are no clear guide lines.

The best thing to do is just be, sit with it, look at it in the eye and do the best you can.
I havnt been able to cover my words or guard my actions this year. Odd words associated with what I mean spill out and somewhat randomly at times. All I can do is truly be me in all that it is. I have noticed that it is uncomfortable for some people and actually at times I surprise myself, but I as yet don't have have the resources to be someone else when required.

Aussie. I was terrified to go and scared and sad alot of the time I was there. But I managed.
There was a lot that was good and there was so much more I found hard. 
First time in 28 years that I didn't have Gaz at my side directing traffic. I had to problem solve by myself, navigate roads and maps and relationship with my sister. Decide what to spend and how to spend it, all by myself. And fly.

We went to Jervis Bay to do an Art Journaling workshop with Orly Avineri. Seeing the good and enjoying the wine but not feeling it or relaxing. I was restless.
I am not beating myself up for this as I know its a process and eventually it will come.
I became aware of  how much rest our partners give us from ourselves. Gary and I loved holidays and being together away. It was where we connected and planned and dreamed. 
Imaginary houses and bridges were built between places. 
It was good and hard and tricky and scary. At the end of it all I realized how capable I was and that I could do stuff by myself. I like my own company. 

Every single thing and action you do from the moment they are gone is new. Before there was a way I did things thought acted and all in relation to Gary and my family. Now I second think, I over think and and I am aware all the time that this a first. The first time I cook a meal for myself. Make a coffee for myself. Dig spuds. Drive the car. Go out. 

The missing of Gary never goes away. It is right in the centre left of my body where my heart is.  
I can feel it.
It is an actual space.

What I am doing now and practicing every day is learning to live with the grief. Leaning into the pain and stitching my life around it.  I am forming heartwood inside the space that loss has created. Every time I do something brave another tree ring forms. I don't know how long this will will take but I do know that loving Gary and having been loved back fully helps. I feel immensely grateful.
What I practice daily.
I look at what I have got and whats in my life, not what I don't have. Training my mind to what is front of me and around me. At this stage in the process, it is really helping. I couldn't hold those thoughts before. When I tried this I could see what was good but not feel it. The feeling has caught up now mostly. It sits there along with the sad.

I am practicing feeling grateful for small things and big things. Cups of coffee, a roof over my head, People that care, work at Wakari, a cheap Rose I have found that is delicious, my Dog, people that look after my dog that my dog adores, Church, music, a playlist Gary made, the years we have had -  more would be better - much better. Garys voice in my head encouraging me saying Good job Kat and Go for it- you can do it and when I feel I talk too much, him telling me I should talk more. Cabbages growing. 

I have to confess all this sounds like I might have it together but alot of the time I just muddle through. I feel quite bewildered parts of the day and then remember that Gaz isn't coming home, its not an extended business trip. It is surreal.

I went out to dinner on Friday with people I didn't know a random invite that I accepted it was fun. It was restful being with people with no emotional associations. Easier
I start my Arts Therapy Masters next week and am looking forward it. This I am pleased about as I didn't know when the time came where my head would be at. Every day I pray for peace and Joy and it is sneaking in sitting with the other..

This is what Gary wrote on Andy's window in ChCh when we stayed.

 Kia Kaha Devlins Be strong move forward. Change is good. TAI

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was all over, it became a butterfly

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The newness of the everyday

I woke this morning to the sound of cat biscuits trickling against plastic as puss ate her breakfast. I knew it was Spacey as Jerusalem sneaks in at night so as to avoid Mango chasing her. Familiar sounds and recognizing them offer a comfort they can also trigger an avalanche of feelings.
I have a picture f myself as a rain-meter. One of those ones on the side of the house that measures rainfall. Mine is constantly near the top and periodically overflows. The rain just sits there in the bottom it is a given and is becoming familiar in a way that the sound of trickling biscuits has.

When you lose someone and face each day it is all new. Every single thing is different and you face it for the first time. It is exhausting. Grief is exhausting...a steady and relentless letting go and facing new.
I am practicing my mantra of bird by bird and putting good things in place. I can see that there is good things happening and I know them. I expect the feeling that accompanies these things will attach at some time.

I have had had a fresh view of spirit and are starting to connect in again which is a relief really.
 The river that flows through and provides a rich source of life. The well-spring.
Arihana described it as a cold clear mountain stream.
It was such a good picture and took me back to tramping around as a child in Glenorchy, being hot and thirsty and finding a stream. Always a bit too shallow for a swim and made your ankles ache when you paddled. But delicious to drink.

Mandy gave me a good expression, which has been carrying me through this week..Concrete in your boots. I like it. So concrete in my cowboy boots, concrete in my Gumboots. Getting some necessary things done...Concrete in my rain-waders.

Image taken from

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gazzas birthday on the 9th

Some photos, just a few...he would have been 50 and the party would have been huge in true Gary style. Zach and I went to the movies a boys flick and ate some mexican. Gaz would have liked that and I found another tui bottle cap to thumbs up the deal. Shame I don't like to drink it although much better to find them when I need them. The girls were at Waiora scout camp and sent some boats off down the river. Such a hard week to get through. Reminded me of the weeks leading up to scans.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Auckland, Art therapy and variegated threads

At the Symposium weekend, I met some beautiful people with big hopes, dreams and huge passion for making a difference and helping others. Made some good connections. Feel very peaceful now after this process whatever the outcome. Going away and going to the Symposium and the interviews confirmed for me that Art therapy is a good fit. It is a huge commitment and I am getting my head around what all that means.
Its a wait and see from here- many talented people being interviewed. Somewhere around twenty eight with eight places to be filled. Find out at the end of November.

"...his old coat had life in it still. He lifted it out and slipped his arms into its dark sleeves. Now, as when he was a boy, it looked too big, and yet at the same time it fitted him like a second skin. And like a shamans coat, it was easy for him to conjure up spirits and memories of the past it its embrace. He took Daniels hand and drew a deep breath....
Daniel,  the soldiers never found the secret world inside my coat, never noticed the pockets within the pockets. You see this coat has its own magic. But let me start at the beginning.Let me tell you exactly how it happened."

And so it is, the story of the puppet boy..a story within story, that we bring ourselves too. I was sitting at a Cafe table in Kohimarama completely immersed in a Siberian forest when my friend Fifi arrived. She spoke for about 1min I think before I could clear my head from images of forest.
It is a rich full book. Strong metaphor and psychological frameworks. The immediacy of how she started threw me at first. Its not a gentle polished way of starting but tumbles you straight into the book, as you read further, the start makes sense.
It is a book that can travel with you through all aspects of your own life. Being away and negotiating different spaces. Paying attention to my scared self, my without Gary self  and reminding myself of my centre and feeling that strength. I was with the characters. I cried when they lost things. I held my breath as they attempted daring missions outside their comfort zone. It was as if I was child again reading Enid Blyton's Five on Kirrin Island. No comparison to the writing and the sophistication but the ability to transport the reader somewhere else.
I read the Book Thief last year and its way of evoking colour from concrete skies ( thanks to Bic Runga for that) and its rawness came to mind. It is a BIG book. I strongly recommend. And if anyone reading this has my Book Thief  and Potato Pie Society one..time for their return :-).
The Puppet Boy of Warsaw  Eva Weaver

A word that has been in my head all year is  Move
Keep on moving.  I hear Gaz so clearly. I have a picture of him and Zach driving behind me cheering me on when I got back on my bike two summers ago. Gaz was able to bike part of the trip and the rest they drove behind me yelling encouragement. I remember it was hard work and lonely on my bike without Gaz beside me but felt ridiculously pleased to have my own private cheering team.
In the group interview part the facilitator got us to move before we settled to a written and drawing task. Wriggle felt so good and my thinking was much clearer. More peaceful and centered. Bit nervous before that. I have been doing the hokey tokey before I do something creative ever since. It has also reminded me yet again (why do I need so many reminders) of the value of starting your day walking. I have been putting all all these good things in my day when I can but what happened in that session was the connection was made more clearly between mind and body.

It was a privilege to be with Hamish and Amy( nephew and niece) and see them together. Gorgeous young people. Generous and inspiring. They are on a raw food bender and I have come back with a new appreciation of raw and simple.

In one of the classes I attended the tutor shared a wee notebook in which she made a daily mandala. It was something she did to support herself when her friend was dying. I have read about this on many blogs and people are very enthusiastic about its value. I have doodled around a bit with it but never got the hang of what it all meant until this weekend.
Where I tripped up was in the making and the intent....I have started off always traditionally, drawn a largish circle and tried to do even patterns all the way around. I found it ok but a bit boring.
This wee book was filled with circles about the size of a large coffee cup circle and filled with whatever came to mind as the person met the page. From pictures to words to marks..scribbles colour.
It was a way of accessing the subconscious and emptying the mind.  The circle was a given and contained space. So I tried it. Its like IDT and how I journal but small and contained. I love it and look forward every morning to seeing what appears on the page.
I bought the small sized jasart notebook. $1.65. Spiral bound. Easy. I flicked it around upside down and glued a retro postcard on the cardboard back and made the plastic front its back. Good if you doodle in coffee shops and the table gets wet.

 Cover and first page day 1
 Day 2
 Day 3

 Day 4 at PBO coffee shop with Hana


What I also did in my other wee book I carry with me

At church - title of a Laurence Aberhart photo

Pete is painting the house. I have been digging and clearing and gardening around him. Graeme has been repairing and replacing rotten boards and windows. Its starting to feel and look good. Scaffolders in tomorrow and I have a days work this week so far..whew. Pleased about that. Hana and Macker are off to Circulation at Whare flat and Zach has finished school. Some Exams coming up. Mango has had a summer haircut and is very pleased with himself. He looks like a wee bear cub.
My tomatoes are growing well at least three trusses on most plants sometimes more.
Keep on swimming keep on swimming keep on swimming 

The two colours old and new

Petes nifty drainpipe work