stop, look, breathe, feel, love…
Posted in personal March 4th, 2015 by pia


I wrote this with a rock, on a rock at Balmoral Beach yesterday while looking out to sea and feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and the cool ocean breeze on my skin. I wondered if anyone would come across it during the day before the tide washed it away. Perhaps I was thinking also of this quote…

“Beauty abounds all around me, yet the state of my heart is the ruler of my vision.”

It’s something I wrote in my diary a number of years ago. It’s in My Heart Wanders, in californya font. And these past months it’s been a part of my email signature. While hitting ‘send’ on an email a moment ago,  I read the lines again, and realised how pertinent it is for me at this time in my life, and at this very moment when I feel so consumed by what’s been happening and how I feel about it.

I have a growing collection of unfinished blog posts here in my wordpress account. I have lists of things that I’d like to get done that haven’t been touched. There is a pause in my everyday. How do I get on with my everyday? How do I compartmentalise ‘that’ part of my life? My blog and my everyday life feel like worlds apart at the moment, and every time I sit to type and share my life and thoughts here, to find a connection, to bring the blog back into the everyday, something happens again to pull me away and the gap grows ever wider. I have wonderful ideas on how to refine and perhaps redefine this space that will also connect to a new book I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year. But that’s been halted, for now. It’s hard to get into a creative bubble when the bubble keeps bursting.


I’ll try to connect the dots here as I realise I’m rambling without context. As Nadia wrote on an instagram photo of hers the other day, “Today words are tangled up”. I’ll try to detangle what I can…

Those of you I have met in person over the years or exchanged personal emails with may know that one of the reasons I moved back to Sydney was to be closer to my Mum. I may have mentioned it fleetingly here on the blog as well, though no doubt trying not to make a big deal of it. In my family, making such a decision would be taken as a sign of my weakness, so even though it was ‘the’ reason, as a matter of survival instinct I just dropped it in with a number of other reasons – like Romain was ready to experience life in Australia, having a baby, and at that time (2011), for the book launch of My Heart Wanders since it was published by an Australian publisher. I don’t think I’m ready to go into the details of why and how I feel I needed to be closer to Mum at that time, but to sum it up neatly, I felt her illness was progressing, and knowing that Romain and I were feeling ready to start our own family, I wanted her to have this time with my child, whoever that was to be. As it turns out, it was our beautiful Laly now 3 years old.


That time is now coming to an end. It’s been intense. Even more so these past weeks. And I sense it is going to get even more so. Mum has a will like no other, she is a rebel and a leader at that, and although again, the family I grew up with define sickness as weakness and physical prowess as superior I know that Mum and all she has been through is nothing but strength and courage, even if she refuses to recognise it herself. I can’t imagine her doing anything but calling out demands, right to the very end. These past few years for me have been rough, tough, wild, and most often without appreciation and certainly with a whopping amount of frustration and hurt.  Navigating this terrain, mixed with raising our girl at the same time, has been incredibly ugly, and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s at times wild and other times smooth. When it’s smooth, I am drained and exhausted, yet I feel in those times instead of resting I am supposed to just pick up where I left off. Sometimes, if the path has become consistently smooth and even seems to have stabilized, I do manage to get back on my feet, replying to emails, returning phone calls and text messages and even saying ‘yes’ again to people, friends, work, projects. But then the path, even though I’ve been carefully watching it the whole way (which in itself is a tiring addition to the everyday), turns into a massive rocky drop which I have to scramble and slip and slide my way down, leaving all that I just picked up in my hands at the top . Looking back up, knowing I’ll never be going up there again, I wonder if I’ll be able to pick those things up again somehow or if I just keep going and try not to feel what I feel for the people I’ve disappointed in not upholding those commitments. It’s always my hope that some part of them understands, even if they haven’t been through what I’m going through.

It’s a roller coaster of mixed emotions – at one moment I feel a flood of gratitude for all of this – for it being such a suffering-filled and slow journey for her as in my caring and witnessing of her I have grown and learnt so much. I feel immense gratitude for my friends, those who have stood by me through this time, listened without judgement or expectation and let me weep on their shoulder. But then something is said to me in her feeble state, something that cuts to my core and the gratitude flies out the window and turns into deep sadness. I would love to say it’s all gratitude (like the word ‘authentic’, I can almost not type ‘gratitude’ without feeling such resistance as it’s been so heavily overused online these days), but it’s not.

I know other long time carers will relate to the roller coaster, perhaps there are some of us on it together, right now at the same time. Holla if you are, and if we can hold hands virtually, I would love that – my hand, palm up, is reaching out to you now.

I’ve been reading a book by Zen Buddhist Joan Halifax, whose knowledge and experience has helped me so much, and this statement here, sums up what I am learning to do right now: “…the waves of birth and death…our challenge is to learn to not drown in those waves but ride them freely.”


I have much more to say, much more I feel, but small steps, right? Small steps as I pull out these tangled threads and cords.

Thank you for being here.


« « « Leave a comment » » »


  1. kylie says

    no words – just love, simple love to you dear heart… x

    March 4th, 2015 | #

  2. Barb McMahon says

    Eight years ago, I was where you are now. My hand is here, ready if you (or anyone reading this) needs it. xo

    March 4th, 2015 | #

  3. Ana says

    Much love to you, Pia, from someone whom you’ve never met but has had a tough year too. Joining hands. 🙂

    March 5th, 2015 | #

  4. Angy says

    “from the complications of loving you i think there is no end or return. no answer, no coming out of it. which is the only way to love, isn’t it? this isn’t a playground, this is earth, our heaven, for a while. therefore i have given precedence to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods that hold you in the center of my world. and i say to my body: grow thinner still. and i say to my fingers, type me a pretty song. and i say to my heart: rave on.”
    ― Mary Oliver, Thirst

    March 6th, 2015 | #

  5. Bobbi says

    Pia, I’m not a carer but I can relate to many of your feelings so much. I’ve struggle with finding a balance and accepting things, most of all accepting my family, the way i was (not) mothered. I felt the judgement and the disappointment of my family and for a long time their eyes became the same eyes with which I saw myself. Something I always tell myself is that whatever comes from a point of not love is not real. And yes, ride the waves, always. I know this comment is a bit of a rambling and off topic, but i felt I had to say this for some reason. Sorry. Love.

    March 6th, 2015 | #

  6. pia says

    Thank you so much Bobbi, knowing that you have similar feelings and experiences helps a lot. Don’t feel sorry for commenting, you’ve lifted my heart by reaching out. Thank you. x

    March 7th, 2015 | #

  7. pia says

    Thank you Angy X

    March 7th, 2015 | #

  8. pia says

    Thank you for joining hands Ana xx

    March 7th, 2015 | #

  9. pia says

    Barb it helps so much to know you’ve survived and strengthened since, thank you, hand is linked with yours xx

    March 7th, 2015 | #

  10. pia says

    thank you kylie xo

    March 7th, 2015 | #

  11. Cate says

    I’m not a carer Pia, but I believe I understand. I send you love from my heart to yours, and lots of beautiful bright light to make the next steps clear, xo

    March 10th, 2015 | #

  12. Ramonne says

    We all should indeed stop and look, and then breathe and start to feel and love again. It was inside once, isn’t it? Now we’re overwhelmed with things and facts that make us blind to the real life.

    March 12th, 2015 | #

  13. amanda says


    March 13th, 2015 | #

  14. linda says

    Lieve Pia, in my own very raw time, when my mom was failing this year 5 years ago, I went on your walk thru Amsterdam, a bunch of strangers together, I was quiet and sorta not always present in my body and mind but remember it felt so good to be in a normal afternoon. You were so gracious and kind to all. I enjoyed going into a artist atelier and bought a tiny piece of ceramic with a flower. all my experiences with my mom the good the bad and the ugly I treasure give me so much comfort,mixed with Love its the power that makes it all just how it should be in the end when you look back, The rawness of emotion is a powerful healer always. from Seattle I wish you inner kindness peace and sending you love

    March 15th, 2015 | #

  15. Teresa says

    We don’t know each other Pia but I just wanted to say how brave you are to put yourself so close to such turmoil by moving back home. My own unmothered life created such darkness for me and at 46, with two children, I’m just coming out the other side. I know your mother has passed away now. I dread mine doing the same. I don’t know how it will be. I could never do what you have done. I understand your kindness and generosity, the need to give freely and the roller coaster ride of that but goodness me you are strong. That strength will heal you now and you must let it. Let it in and bask in its warmth. Let it be your time now. Hand out to you. X

    March 21st, 2015 | #

  16. Caroline says

    Hugs to you Pia, This year indeed has not been as great i should say having gone through so much already Hope since we are in July now it got better already

    July 15th, 2015 | #

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