Blogging as therapy

July 13, 2010

Toll calls were very expensive and we didn’t have mobile phones or the internet when our son was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder.

We made a few calls to immediate family but telling most of our friends throughout New Zealand and overseas was done by writing letters and posting them.

There had been little technological improvement in the following two years when we got the diagnosis for our second son. Mobile phones were becoming more common when he died five years later but we still hadn’t heard of the internet.

Now, when people want to spread personal news, good or bad it’s relatively cheap and very easy to do it by text, email, Facebook or blogging.

Writing can be therapeutic for both the writer and those who read it and that’s what prompted me to choose blogging as therapy for my chat with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Blogs I mentioned were: Annie Fox –  written by Anna Wolfe who among posts on politics and life, wrote about cancer. The last post was written by a friend and includes tributes given at her funeral.

Kismet Farm wrote a variety of usually light hearted posts but mentioned a diagnosis of cancer earlier this year. The last post a few days ago was written by her husband, telling us she’d died.

We Remember is written by Lee Ann from Maryland whose son was killed in Iraq. The name was chosen because

 . . it seems more positive than simply not forgetting. Remember those we’ve lost, remember those left behind, remember why we are here. . .

Stoatspring is a mixture of reflections on life, retirement, reading and disability in poetry and prose by Harvey McQueen. He explains why he started blogging:

 . . . I’ve been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease. . . . I cannot travel. I can’t garden and I can’t cook for I cannot plant seedlings or lift a casserole out of the oven. . . .  I’ve had to give up driving which means I’m dependent upon other people. It’s very rugged on my wife Anne for it means I can’t help around the house  . . . Thank heavens, I still can read, use the computer, watch television and DVDs, talk to friends. From being a participant in life I’ve become an observer. Hospital waiting rooms loom large as other events narrow down. So I begin this blog to widen my contacts

The last post was a recommendation from Deborah at In A Strange Land. Had Jim and I not run out of time today, I’d have mentioned that she is helping herself in her determination to stay off the demon drink for a month in aid of Dry July with a virtual star chart. A page with links to each day’s post is here.


Against the natural order

December 2, 2009

The death of an elderly person, while sad, is part of the natural order of life.

We’re born, we grow up, we grow old, we die.

The death of a younger person is against that natural order.

Parents aren’t supposed to out live their children, young people don’t expect to lose their siblings and their friends.

When the death has come at the end of a prolonged illness like cancer, as it did today for blogger Anna Woolf, there may be relief that her pain and suffering are over. But that won’t lessen the grief of family and friends.

When someone young dies, those close to her lose not just what they had, but the hopes and dreams they would have had for her future with them.

I knew Anna only through her blog. I hope the example of her courage, strength and humour helps those who loved her.

As a member of the Bereaved Parents Club, I hope that they too will learn that, in time, it is possible to be happy again; and to know that a deeper appreciation and enjoyment of life are the most valuable legacy from those we’ve lost.

Not PC posted the news of Anna’s death. Kiwiblog , M&M and Whaleoil who knew her too, also pay tribute to her. Oswald Bastable knew Anna through her blog and writes from his experience with cancer.


Adios, Anna

December 1, 2009

One blog often leads to another. 

Usually it’s a single, fleeting visit but  occasionally a post hooks you and you become a regular reader.

So it was with Annie Fox, the blog of Anna Woolf.

There among the posts on politics, people and places were many on her experiences with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

They were written with humour, honesty and courage.

Although I knew Anna only through her blog, I was really sad to read at Not PC that she has been transferred to a hospice.

Anna wrote realistically and without self pity about her symptoms, treatment, side effect and prognosis. She has been an inspiration.

Gracias y adios.

 

 


Whose problem is it?

December 3, 2008

Phil Goff was crying crocodile tears on Breakfast  this morning over the New Zealanders stranded by the occupation of Bagkok airport and saying he’d ahve been happy to give John Key the benefit of his advice.

He didn’t, however, admit that he was the minister responsible when both the Air Force’s Boeing 737 passenger planes were sent for maintenance at the same time which restricts the government’s options.

Nor did he explain just why getting people out of Thailand was the government’s responsibility anyway.

There didn’t appear to be any risk to life so why wasn’t up to the people themselves, the airlines which were to fly them out, their travel agents and/or insurance companies?

It’s not as if Thailand is an island. Cactus Kate  helpfully provides a map for the geographically challenged.

As it turns out it seems the occupation is over and the Hercules the government planned to send since the Boeings weren’t available won’t be needed anyway.

Update: Ex-expat  thinks it’s a beat up and offers some travel advice.

Inquiring Mind  thinks the’crisis’ is a media fiction.

And Annie Fox  reckons socialism has sapped Kiwi initiative and Whale Oil  expresses a similar view.


Passing on the brillante baton

September 18, 2008

How exciting and heart warming it was to check in to Homepaddock yesterday morning and discover I’d been blessed with a Brillante Blog award.

It was bestowed by Deborah who’s In A Strange Land  where she writes intelligently and thoughtfully on feminism, motherhood, parenting, work,  politics, life . . . and occasionally posts on food with photos that cause weight gain if you look at them too long.

Once you get a Brillante you’re invited to spread the happiness by passing it on to blogs you enjoy.

The rules are simple:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominator on her/his blog.

So after a day of contemplation my nominees in alphabetical order are:

Annie Fox the nom de blog of Anna Wolf whose posts are warm, witty, passionate, frank, down to earth and full of life which is all the more remarkable because she’s writing about dying.

Phillipa Stephenson at Dig-N -Stir . There is on-going discussion about the difference between journalism and blogging. Pip does both supberbly, writing concise, well researched posts which reflect her knowldege and interest in the subject matter, her ability as a wordsmith and, where appropriate, her wit.

Dim Post for showing you can take a dig without getting dirty; and because every day is improved by humour.

Ex-expat who makes me think with posts that are educational, enlightening and/or entertaining.

Will de Cleene at goNZofreakpower whose posts aren’t frequent but point me to places I wouldn’t find by myself.

Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind  earns the award for the quotes and cartoons of the day by themselves. But there’s more: well reasoned posts on a variety of topics with special mention for not confining himself to New Zealand.

Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock for the quanity, quality, consistency and variety of his posts with extra points for his enthusiasm and sense of humour.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog because I can’t go past the godfather of the NZ blogosphere. It helps that I share many of his views, but even when I don’t, I admire his well written, researched and reasoned posts. He’s open about his bias but never bigoted.

Dave Gee at Life from Right Field because we southerners must stick together and with special mention for originality and pictures.

Macdoctor if he employs the same wit, intelligence, reason and compassion in medicine which he displays in blogging I’d be very happy to be his patient.

Monkeywithtypewriter , not just a token primate, he’s also got perception and a sense of humour.

The team at No Minister because they often amuse, sometimes shock and enable me to feel moderate. They get a special mention for visuals too.

Not PC for the art and architecture.

NZBC goes for quality rather than quantity and gets bonus points for humour and orginality.

Poneke for the quality of posts in which he uses the skills that made him an award winning journalist. Besides, you’ve got to admire a bloke who’s besotted with buses.

Busted Blonde at Roarprawn because she’s upfront, sassy, witty, in the know and shares it with style.

Bernard Hickey at Show Me The Money because he takes numbers and adds words that make sense of them.

Queen Bee at The Hive : she’s got contacts, she gets the facts and she’s the miistress of succinct posts with sting.

The team at Tumeke! for variety and originality. Tim Selwyn deserves an honourable mention by himself for doing the monthly blogosphere rankings.

Well the rules did say at least seven.

P.S. I have an aversion to chain letters or anything resembling them and I can do the maths: if seven people send something to at least seven people who send it …. it won’t be long to run out of blogs which haven’t got it. So should any of you on whom I’ve bestowed a Brillante want to change the rules or ignore them altogether, I won’t be offended, you won’t be courting calamity, your family and pets will be safe and the sky won’t fall in.


Household Guide To Dying

August 6, 2008

It’s not easy to write about death and dying. It is even more difficult to do it without becoming maudlin or resorting to cliches.

Debra Adelaide not only does it in The Household Guide to Dying she does it well.

Delia, the heroine of the story is the best-selling author of household guides. When she is diagnosed with terminal cancer she responds by writing about it with the same attention to detail she applied to domestic duties in her previous guides. The first-person account of living and dying is written with warmth, humour, depth of feeling and realism.

But realistic as it might be, The Household Guide is fiction. Over at Annie Fox, Anna Wolf is writing about real life dying. She not only does it well she does it without self pity. Her matter of fact approach to life with a brain tumour and her courage are both humbling and inspiring.


Another NZ First Donation Goes Back

June 18, 2008

The first of the nine charities to which NZ First donated money, in the mistaken belief this means it no longer owes $158,000 to parliamentary services, has repaid the $10,000 it recieved.

Not surprisingly Peters reckons someone got to Cystic Fibrosis:

“The real issue is who got to them,” he said. “It’s a very sad day when people put petty politics ahead of human interest.”

Goodness me, the master of petty politics doesn’t understand the real issue is that donating to charity does not absolve the party of its debt to parliamentary services.

Audrey Young said she was tempted to feel a smidgen of sympathy for Winston Peters because the charity had asked for a donation.

But I have resisted temptation. Peters dreamed up a stunt that he believed would inoculate himself from criticism – who wants to bag groups like Cystic Fibrosis Association?

Yet all he done is draw more attention to a stunt that has backfired.

He has dragged yet another charity into the midst of a political row. This money was always going to be contentious and tainted in the view of some because so many people believe it rightly belongs with taxpayers.

He sought to keep the charities a secret from the public, knowing that news is anything someone doesn’t want you to know, especially something a politician doesn’t want you to know.

Speaker Margaret Wilson has agreed to keep his secret. She knows which groups have received which money but says it Peters’ secret for him to disclose – or words to that effect.

It is time for someone to do the right thing.

It is indeed and Keeping Stock has a link for on-line donations to Cystic Fibrosis should anyone wish to support them for putting principle before their genuine need for money. So do Kiwiblog,  and Whaleoil. And Not PC links to the charity’s website.

Is it too much to hope that inside Winston’s cloud of hypocricy there may be a silver lining in that this is the action that finally allows voters to see through him? The media and bloggers already have: 

The Dominion editorial says:

But giving $158,000, taken from the public purse, to outside organisations does not constitute repayment of a debt. Nor does refusing to name the recipients, something he had previously undertaken to do, lend credibility to the exercise. Mr Peters says he has decided not to name the charities because he does not want them bothered by the “prying media”.

That is a one-fingered salute to those who hold to the quaint notion that politicians should be accountable for how they spend public money.

It is also unsatisfactory. Who is to say that NZ First does not regard the Re-elect Winston Campaign in Tauranga or, for that matter, NZ First itself, as charities?

By retrospectively changing the law, the Government obviated the legal requirement for politicians to repay the money they unlawfully spent. But the moral obligation to comply with the law of the day remains. NZ First has not met it.

If no other benefit arises, Mr Peters’ reluctance to do the right thing serves as a useful reminder of how a politician positioning himself to once again act as a post-election kingmaker, operates.

And Inquiring Mind  notes: Peters yet again demonstrates not only arrogance, but total contempt for the media and indirectly for the public, as according to him they should only ever know what he wants them to know.

Annie Fox  doesn’t understand why NZ First hasn’t been struck off for not paying the money back. It’s because they colluded with Labour to change the law to make their illegal use of public money retrospectively legal.

I doubt that Winston and his party will admit defeat and repay Parliamentary Services, but the other eight charities which received donations can follow the lead given by Cystic Fibrosis and Starship (which turned down the initial donation last year).

Then it will be up to voters to deliver the final blow at the ballot box.  


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