That was unexpected

It’s complicated!

What do you do when your husband is diagnosed with an incurable leukaemia, your anxiety-ridden son is desperate to return to his hometown, you decide you need to sell your house and you want to spend your 50th year in bed reading?

You do it all of course.

Misbehaving cells . “Wikicommons”

Multiple myeloma, you are a bitch.  I’d use a stronger word but I’m a lady.   We were not expecting you. I thought turning 50 would mean more time to read.  In the year of my 50th birthday, I sent up a wish that I might spend it reading, drinking coffee and wine and salute the first 50 years off with a trip to Europe –  in that order.  I got my wish. Well, some of them.   I read in doctor’s offices, chemotherapy wards and isolation rooms. I drank hospital coffee and wine at home alone while my husband lay sick from a stem cell transplant.  When my 50th rolled around in July, instead of Paris,  I was sitting in a lovely room at Royal North Shore hospital reading about Paris by his bedside. He was so sick he didn’t know I was there.  At least I got the reading part right.  I really should have been more detailed when I made that wish but details have never been my thing.  That’s his job, the sick husband that is. He took the year off to be an absolute superstar patient and left the details to me.

That was a mistake.

He’s always been the one who knew when the bills were due. He even paid them. On time! I was under some illusion that the lights stayed on through willpower and a little bit of magic.  I had no idea how a direct deposit worked.  I know how to order books though. I’m fantastic at that. However, ordering books online doesn’t fill the fridge.  You see my job was to read. Yes, I keep the kids alive with love, a clean bathroom and put enough washing through so that you can see the floor of the laundry –  and I write when the inspiration hit me.  Reading is my main job. Unpaid mind you. I do it out of the goodness of my heart. My loving husband accepts this. My introverted, anti-social oddness was endearing and he handled the details of our life so that I could get on with the business of being introverted, anti-social and odd.

Until January 2017.

In what was supposed to be an uncomplicated foot issue,  dependable husband – from here on known as DH, went to the GP after his loving wife, me of course, nagged him into it.  He doesn’t do doctors.  No one in his family does doctors.  It’s a thing.  They don’t need doctors.   “My leg looks like it’s falling off?  I’m sure I’ll be fine with a cup and tea and a band-aid.”   “This lump on my head?  That’s been there for years.  Don’t worry about it.” I’m serious. They don’t do doctors.  Who in their right mind doesn’t do doctors?  So I tormented him until he went to the doctor and because he hadn’t been to a doctor since the early eighteen hundreds, the doctor did all manner of tests.

One of those tests came back with news we didn’t expect.  He has leukaemia.  Multiple Myeloma.  Multiple what,  I said.  I’ve never heard of it.  I was soon to learn all about it.  There is no cure.  It’s rather serious and he’ll need some serious treatment.

The serious treatment began soon thereafter.  A bone marrow biopsy ( why don’t they knock a person out for that – it’s so painful.)  A double femur implant to stabilise both legs where cancer had weakened the bones and left its mark ( we call him Wolverine.) Chemo. More Chemo. Stem cell harvesting. More chemo.  Stem cell replacement. Recovery.  And here we are.  Over a year later but of course life goes on while your husband’s body is making other plans.  You still have a family, children to love, coffee to drink and books to read.  The world doesn’t stop when you get the news, though it should.  Everyone should look and feel as horrified and afraid as I did but they didn’t.  Everyone should have stopped in the middle of a car park and said out loud “how  would I cope without him?”  On one should have honked for me to move.  “Don’t stand there love,  you’ll get run over.”  No one should have needed to say that because the most dependable man on the face of the earth has been diagnosed with leukaemia and that should have stopped the world.

It stopped me.   What would I do without him, I wondered?  He pays the bills, he reminds me when we need food, he puts petrol in the car even though I use it the most – to go and get books.  He gets me out of the house to have breakfast on the weekends.  He patiently listens to the plot line of the book I am reading and the one I am trying to write.  Who else would I want to do that for me?  How on earth would I survive without him?  Who would love me as much as he loves me?  I couldn’t think of a single person who knew me so well as DH.  I absolutely refused for that to change.  I still had that laundry floor to deal with and a teenager with a severe anxiety disorder whose beloved dad was sick as a dog before his eyes. That dad who had always been dependable, strong and took care of details was bloated from steroids, bald and throwing up.  That is not something your son’s psychologist orders for his anxiety disorder.  “Mrs May, go home and conjure up cancer, it’s just what the boy needs!”  No,  that wasn’t the wish list. I checked it twice.

This son,  this beautiful, bright, quirky, introverted magical boy had asked to go home to Canberra where we raised him.   The moment we landed in Sydney on the eve of his entry into high school four years ago, he was miserable.  DH and I are from Sydney.  We love it. It’s home – but it’s not his home and as the mum of every socially awkward brilliant kid knows,  change is hard.

So what do you do?

I became a nurse, therapist, cleaner, organiser, bill payer, health advocate, researcher, dietitian, pill dispenser, needle giver, declutter and minimalist who lives in two states and tries to please everyone.   Oh,  and I  put a house on the market.  Did I read?

I shall tell you.



Breaking up is hard to do

In an effort to streamline and get some writing on the page, I’ve looked at parts of my day that can be devoted to fingers on keyboard in a positive way.  Looking at catalogues that come into my email is a total time waster.  I counted how many came in over just a few days and it was 27 of those little distracting pests.  I’m not sure how I collected so many but they seem to find me in this wintery corner of the world.  They worm their way and set comfy in my inbox and before I know it, I’m overrun.


It’s amazingly hard to unsubscribe. Have you noticed that?  The unsubscribe link is always hidden away in – 4 font down the bottom of the email. Sometimes it’s so stealthy it doesn’t say unsubscribe. It requires a magnifying glass and a safari suit to find the secret passageway to unsubscribe land.  Livingstone and sherpers couldn’t find some of them. When finally it is trapped and the link is clicked it took me to a site where a sad little message will greeted me.

Really! You’re leaving me?  Why? I’ve been so good to you. I’ve given you hours of browsing pleasure looking at things you don’t need so you don’t have to write.  Isn’t this a little harsh? At least take me out to dinner.

Just when I thought the relationship was over, a few of the more persistent – dare I say stalkerish sites – came back with a message.

We miss you. It’s not the same with out you. Here are a few deals to tempt you back.

Restraining order anyone!

I was ruthless.  I even broke up with Booktopia – a bookstore in Australia.  That one was hard.  There is regret over that one.

My email looks less cluttered  and I’m a minimalist at heart. My time is not spent on looking through online stores for things I have no need of but look pretty.  Breaking up was worthwhile, even if my eyes did take a beating from looking for that tiny link.


Social Media, you’re looking at me

How do we get anything done when the call of tweets, grams and posts are all around us? My phone beeps at me telling me someone liked a picture I posted to Instagram and my iPad buzzes if Idris Elba posts absolutely anything on twitter.

Shhh I say; I’m writing, Idris, I’ll get to you in a minute – said no woman ever.

There had to be a solution.  In January I resolved to fix all the holes in my WIP and that wasn’t going to happen if I was reading Stephen King’s tweets, even if they are brilliant.  Can he write a boring shopping list, I wonder? No probably not.

De-socialising my computer was the answer.

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This little zone is social free. To prevent any penetration of the online world I do not log into Twitter, Instagram or WordPress on this computer. If I want to check these sites I  have to go through the process of putting in my email and remembering the various passwords I used on each.  Who wants to do that? There is no quick bookmarks for these sites like there is on my lap top,  there is no easy way to get social on this monster. It’s a working beast. It’s my zone. It has Scrivener and Spotify and that’s about it.  As soon as my writer self sits down it thinks write, not social. The brain really is trainable.


It’s a cute little zone.

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It usually has a cup of coffee but I drank it 🙂

The social side, which I enjoy very much is no longer holding me back. That’s on all the other devices. Phone, iPad and laptop are very social.

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Here is the social zone hanging out around the lounge.  The addictive bullet journal (bujo for the initiates)  is waiting for me to finish my writing. My lap top is the fun online space. It has none of the responsibility of the desk top.  I think the big one resents its fun little cousin so I keep them apart.

And there you have it. My solution to getting work done. It took some will power but now it’s habit and I will do a post on the book I read that helped me implement habits soon, but now it’s time to write.

Happy Monday!





It’s tabs for me


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It’s time to admit that I’m addicted.  Not to the nightly tipple or a secret stash of chocolate. I’m talking tabs people. Little dividers that I’ve devised to help me find all the little notes I leave in…well  notebooks.

It started with the diary or more accurately , my bullet Journal.  I’m never satisfied with the store brought ones. Some things will work and other parts won’t, so I made a little black and white number to sit on my desk and track my writing. Nothing out-landish about that, you say.

But it didn’t stop.I’ve gone overboard, there’s no denying it.

You know how it is when you’re on the move and an idea pops into your head. A line here or there. A lightbulb moment. A bit of dialogue that sings. Oh the time spent thumbing back through notebooks for that priceless spark that would make the paragraph come together.  In an attempt to find those little gems we all scribble down I took to my current writing project notebook and before you can say rainbow card-stock it looked like little tongues were poking out at me. This miraculous idea would see bits of coloured paper scattered across three rooms, sticky tape on the bottom of each foot in the household and a fiendishly happy mother writing on tiny rectangles and flipping through the results.

This has grown.  This has become a movement. This is now a revolution.

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It soon included  general notes. Now it’s recipe books, shopping lists, to do lists….it’s changed my life. OK that’s over the top but it’s safe to say I’m spending less time flipping through a book saying where did I write that….


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