January is a quiet time here at Diva Central and I am using this time to re-visit, re-vamp if you will, my “Diva Diaries” blog and share the ramblings of my quirky mind. My days, actually my entire life, is spent primarily alone which, for me, is not necessarily a good thing and so this year I am going to try for (ahem) the 6th time lucky to use the wonders of the internet as an outlet for my musings.
As I am sat here, I have realized that tomorrow is my beloved daddy’s birthday; were he still with us, he would be turning an impressive 85 years of age! I make no secret of the fact that my father was indeed my hero and I feel so very blessed that, at the time of his passing, we were as close as any father and daughter could hope to be; that is not say that I do not miss him so very much, but I am thankful for the time that we had in the years before he passed away; I know that, in the very best sense of the term, we had nothing left unsaid between us, this is indeed a rare gift, and one that I treasure to this day.
So, as I prepare for 2015 – the “Year of the Blog”!! I came across a piece that I wrote for my own pleasure many years ago, it brought a smile to my face as it captured (rather eloquently I must say) the unique relationship I had with my dad, and reminded me that humor can be found in the strangest of circumstances. For those who read this, I thank you for allowing me this indulgence…
(Originally posted on private blog 03/09/2009)
“A few years ago, circumstances in my life led to a nervous breakdown. Not a melodramatic parody designed to gain the attention of family and (not that I thought I had any) friends, but a full on melt down of mind, body and spirit.
Given that, at the time, I was living alone there were grave concerns for my safety and, as I had already made several attempts to remove myself from this mortal coil, my parents were forced to act on my behalf as (frankly) I was unable to do so for myself. I imagine their discussion of who was actually going to schlep all the way from their home in the beautiful Southern Highlands to Sydney went something like:
“Oh no, no, no, I’m not going, YOU go!”
“Please, for the love of God, I’m begging you please – YOU go!!!
The matter was no doubt settled in a best of three game of paper, rock, scissors that my poor father obviously lost as he then effectively moved in with me for a period of (about) a year. For anyone who has suffered a breakdown of any sort, on any scale, you know just how excruciating the mental and physical pain is. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for the person trying to care for you, but good old dad got stuck in and tried his best.
I feel that it is important for you to know that my dad was a very old school, “don’t wear your heart on your sleeve” kind of man. While I loved him very much, up until that point I would not say that we were especially close. We were not really estranged, but since I had got married six years previously it seemed that a wall had built up between us. My personal recollections of specific day to day events are not clear enough for me to share (and possibly this is no bad thing), but I do know how he struggled to get me out of bed, to shower (or to stop showering when I was taking my 20th hot shower of the day), at some point modesty slipped away for both of us as I do have vague recollections of him having to dress me on at least one occasion.
Once he had achieved the monster task of getting me up, showered (hopefully only once) and dressed in clothes suitable for public viewing, the next big challenge (aside from getting me to talk) was to get me out of the house. I am not too sure what psychological treatment style his method would come under, but my darling daddy would take me to the local shopping mall. To be honest, I suspect this fulfilled two important objectives for dad. Firstly, it got me out of the house and among other people; and secondly he LOVED to go shopping, not spending money mind, but just meandering through the shops, making friends with shop assistants as he went along; win-win for him I guess, and frankly he deserved as much in retrospect really.
Of course getting me out of the house was one thing; keeping me out was another matter altogether, and so dad was forced to tap into quite unfamiliar (to him) resources in order to achieve this. Thus he became quite familiar with the beauty routine common to most women – waxing! Yes, dad quickly learned that it takes AT LEAST thirty minutes (if not longer) for an eyebrow, upper lip, chin, underarm and half-leg wax. PERFECT!! He would scrutinise my appearance semi-regularly and then (as necessary) make my appointments for me. Somehow dad knew that soothing words of comfort like “you’re beautiful as you are” or “don’t change a thing about my little girl” were completely irrelevant to me – I certainly didn’t care, so his preferred phrase was “come on, you haven’t had a wax for a while, and it looks like you need one!”, strangely this worked – arm in arm we would stroll into the salon, me not noticing the strange looks from the other clients and dad not caring. He would gently hand me over to the care and attention of his (and my) favorite beautician and then settle outside to wait for me, flicking through the only magazines available to him – Vogue or Cosmopolitan. When I emerged, on the arm of Laurence (wonderful, wonderful Belgian woman) he would scrutinise her handiwork and, when satisfied that all was well, would ask her (not me mind) if I should buy any of the beauty products on display. Then, and only then, would I be allowed to go home to the comfort of my bed!
The horror of that time is now behind me and, although I would never want to relive the agony I went through not to mention what I put others through, I am beyond grateful that it brought my dad and I so close together. He once wrote to me when I was undergoing treatment that “like the phoenix, I would rise from the ashes of my past” and as I sit here typing this, I realise just how right he was.
Sadly, daddy passed away earlier this year and while I miss him so very much and long to feel the warmth of his bear hugs, while I still miss him so very much and long to feel the warmth of his bear hugs, I feel so very, VERY blessed that during a time of such sorrow and desperation we created a lifetime of memories that I shall never forget and the father-daughter bond that existed between us at the time of his passing will not weaken; I also now have beautifully shaped eyebrows!!”
Every morning I look at myself in the mirror, by now familiar with how my physical features are assembled:
Face – oval-ish (tending toward round depending on the time of the month and fluid retention);
Skin – an interesting mix of white Australian mother and dark Jamaican father;
Eyes – dark brown (and I have never quite worked out if they are slightly closer than they should be or not??) with quite long eyelashes;
Nose – standard (I have always thought that you can’t really say too much about a nose);
Mouth – not too big, not too small and really seems to fit the rest adequately and;
Two ears, either side of head that work (selectively of course).
All of the above is held up quite nicely by a neck that is long enough to suit the rest of my 5’9” frame and framed by hair that curls when it wants to and still remains (mostly) the dark rich colour I was born with.
So far, so standard; and yet each time I observe my reflection, I see only the hairs that are crying out to be plucked from my eyebrows, upper lip and (more horrifyingly) chin. I see the double chin forming as testimony to the 30 or so kilograms I should lose. I see, on a good day, something not be hidden under a paper bag, but not something worthy of my care and attention; on a bad day I see a piece of nothing. I certainly do not see the product of two people who (at the time) loved each other enough to join together to create me and I certainly do not see the reflection of years of memories that have moulded the creature that is me.
Well, right now, I do not have the answer to that particular question, but it is one that I intend to explore and will share the outcomes with you as I discover them.
This website is the culmination of my 38 year journey to womanhood. I have realised that I am not just weighed down, but buried UNDER the emotional baggage collected over these years. Baggage I have happily collected that has me convinced that I simply cannot be beautiful because I do not fit the mould of what a stylish, beautiful woman should look like.
With the help of many, many wonderful people (most of whom I have not even met face to face) I have decided to dispose of this baggage, and I invite you to share this journey with me. I have no doubt that this process will be quite hard as I am sure as there are many pieces that I am particularly fond of, but just as I purge my house of unwanted items in the physical sense, I must also do the same in the emotional sense.
Along the way I hope to share some learning experiences as well as beauty tips, fashion and styling ideas that have been shared with me.
I am calling this place Style and Substance, and I invite you to come and have a look inside
It has been an interesting few months here at Diva Central and slowly but surely, I am finding my feet. It helps to have an amazing (truly amazing) team behind me, carrying me at times, onwards and upwards. I am thrilled to be writing my first blog in ever such a long time and cannot wait to connect with you all on a regular basis!
During the past year or so, I have become curious, perhaps fascinated by motivation sayings and images (or visual memes as I believe they are called these days) and like many of us, my Facebook account is, at times inundated with such memes. Some are funny (I confess that I absolutely adore Grumpy Cat), some are not to my taste (and so I make great use of the “hide” button), others appeal to my “Inner Diva” and then there are the ones that cause me to stop, and think or cause me to literally catch my breath in surprise as the words or image just seem to sum up me thoughts and feeling at that particular moment.
Today, I was blessed to speak with a young lady whom I have never met, but is getting married in a few weeks. Such a special time in her life deserves treats and celebrations to help create the special memories she will hold dear for the rest of her life. Of course, I do not know her story and it is not for me to know, but I was stung to hear the she will have no attendants, hens night or other pre-wedding celebrations and it brought tears to my eyes.
We all have our hurts, and our fears, weaknesses and strengths; I guess that some days it is just easier to focus on the things that bring us down, even though we strive each day to stand tall, as magnificent and beautiful women and perfectly imperfect in every way. I am blessed to have some truly, TRULY amazing friends and I am also blessed that my beloved Style and Substance is back and so these visual memes that I share with you are from my heart, and offered with love.