Category Archives: Challenges

Automation kills compassion

Helping a loved one cope with anxiety is a difficult and confusing time. My heart aches as I try my best to support Jane through a low period in her life. It’s really tough watching a loved one go through this battle, while sitting on the outside, feeling helpless.

Anxiety disorders are different from ‘everyday’ anxiety; they are more intense and persistent and interfere with a person’s life. Such disorders share an extreme sense of fear and worry accompanied by physical symptoms that can affect all systems of the body. Anxiety disorders occur when someone has an intense and paralysing sense of fear or a more sustained pattern of worrying when there is no apparent real danger or threat.

I will do anything to help Jane feel better about her life and would swap places to save her going through this torment. As best I can I remain calm, firm and consistent and show her she is loved and supported. In addition to her family support network I’ve have urged her to seek professional counselling advice.

I started asking myself what should I be looking out for? What can I do to help? What support is out there for people on the perimeter of anxiety disorders? I rang the helpline of the most reputable organisation providing an information and support service helping Australians achieve their best possible mental health. This organisation is widely known for its helpline advice for people struggling with anxiety/ depression or who have suicidal thoughts. It was daunting to make the call as a supporter of a loved one so I can only imagine how overwhelming it might be for people feeling helpless to make the decision to reach out for help.

After deciding to call I dialled the number and heard a click followed by a long recorded message spruiking information about the organisation and the types of services they provide. Then came an automated message to press 1 for this, press 2 for that, press 3 for something else. Feeling confused about which number to select I had to wait to hear the message repeated so I could make the correct choice. Once you choose an option a further recorded message announces that calls are recorded unless you state your objection, and then invites callers to press another number to agree to stay on the line at the end of their call to participate in a survey. By now I was getting agitated and wanted to speak to a real person to ask for advice. When I was eventually connected with a counsellor she was helpful to a point and reassured me that I am doing and saying the right things to help Jane.

After making the call I felt disappointed with the unfriendly vibe around the process of getting through to speak to a real person. I doubt very much that people who genuinely need urgent help choosing between life or death would stay on the line long enough to speak to a counsellor to guide them in their time of need. I think this is really sad.

Saying it out loud

It’s been bothering me that I’ve barely posted on my blog this year. I’m afraid I’m withdrawing and slipping away from the blogging community, which is not what I want. Each day I enjoy reading posts by bloggers I follow. I laugh, feel sad, agree, disagree and learn from the words and photos people post. I comment on posts and interact with bloggers who unreservedly accept me in their online community space.

When I created Jenna Dee blog three years ago I discovered that writing about repressed feelings is cathartic. After tentatively unlocking the courage I progressively gained confidence to acknowledge my feelings and move on from the past. For two years my life was optimistic and I felt more in sync with other people. I enthusiastically shared positive messages, words and stories and truly felt like a useful cog in society.

misty blue dayLately my old feelings of alienation have been rearing their ugly head. After a few recent confidence kickers I’ve retreated back a few steps. Even though I am content filling my days I feel a necessity to embellish my life so it appears more interesting to others. I question the quality of my posts and struggle to think of things to write about. I compare myself to others who consistently share original thought-provoking posts every day of the week.

I have always had no hesitation sharing the joyous times of my life but today I promised myself I would be honest and admit to the insecure feelings that are lurking around me. Life has its ups and downs and I accept this.






The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

I’m confused. Decision making is difficult.

Sometimes there are no right or wrong answers.

Finding a solution to a predicament creates different scenarios, each making perfect sense. The tricky part is choosing the right one.

Inspiring words about contentment are whirling around in my brain.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.
~Ann Brashares

Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re real quite lucky.
~Dr Seuss

 At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
~Lao Tzu

But I’m also hearing words urging me to leap out of my comfort zone and take chances.

If you dare nothing,
then when the day is over,
nothing is all you will have gained.
~Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.
~Albert Einstein

Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

But he’d learned long ago that a life lived without risks pretty much wasn’t worth living. Life rewarded courage, even when that first step was taken neck-deep in fear.
~Tamera Alexander, Within My Heart

Maybe I’ll spend time pondering Picasso’s words and see what transpires.

Everything you can imagine is real.
~Pablo Picasso





Lost in the wilderness

Have you ever had an idea you desperately want to write about but the words refuse to flow? For a year I’ve tried to write a short story but all I have to show is countless discarded drafts.

To stimulate ideas for expression of my short story I’ve explored different writing genres including poetry, narrative and creative writing.

Reader feedback from my poetry writing attempts tells me my style is too obscure because my intended meaning is usually missed or misinterpreted.

My dabble in creative writing wasn’t much better than poetry and produced lots of chunky paragraphs containing over exaggerated description. When I read my creative writing it reminds me of someone trying to use superfluous words to appear more intelligent.

This led me to narrative style that better suits how I want to write, with characters and a plot woven into a story with a beginning, middle and end.

Recently my interest has peaked in folk tales because they appeal to my simple nature. Traditional folk tales use unsophisticated language and have a moral lesson as the underlying purpose of the story.

Usually folk tales have animals acting like humans, a problem and a virtuous message.  The setting is often in the wilderness, as the woods represent a source of mystery, danger and excitement.

“Writing original fables is a good way to use creative writing to develop critical thinking about ethical issues, consequently building moral reasoning within children”.

So what seems like a lovely simple form of expression is presenting more difficult than I thought. I’m not sure my story lends itself to animal characters nor the wilderness but let me mull it over for a while and I’ll come up with a new draft.

Somehow I will write this short story before I die, I promise.

No turning back

The way the human brain adapts to exposure  to infinite data within the online environment  fascinates me. Continual advances in technology must affect the way people gather and process information.

Sometimes I wonder how much time I spend searching and following online threads. Hours can go by and eventually I’m either satisfied with what I find,  get swept away to a different topic or become frustrated and give up.

Am I more knowledgeable or better off for my online experiences? My answer is both yes and no. I have a love hate relationship with my computer.

Yes –  via the Internet I have access to

  • instant news about current major world events
  • accredited educational courses
  • plentiful information and multiple points of view
  • social connections through blogging, email, Facebook and Skype
  • music, movies, e-books,  photographs and images

Nomy exposure to the online environment has resulted in

  • information overload – my brain can’t absorb the volumes of information so I only retain scant detail
  • a lack of willingness to read articles more than 400 words
  • skepticism about the accuracy and validity of  information
  • an awareness of scams trying to extort money or private information
  • less time for face-to-face communication

I love having access to the online world but constantly remind myself that I existed for 40 years without it.

I think we should embrace the positives of technology but prevent it from becoming an obsession, which it has already become for many people.

Maybe one day per week (at least) we should unplug our computers, phones and I-pads?
I know I would find this challenging.
Would you do it?
What are your views about the online environment?

Get groovy

Have you noticed how everybody seems to be extraordinarily busy?  Every day I see people swept up in the momentum of life relentlessly pushing themselves to satisfy all of their self-appointed tasks.

Getting caught up in the pursuit of busyness comes at a price and usually results in a loss of freedom.

We all have the same  24 hours (or 1440 minutes) in each day we live. How we choose to spend it is entirely up to us.

During 2013 I revisited my past many times in my blog posts but now choose  to write only in the present. I’ve spent enough time thinking about past mistakes and will not waste another minute doing this. What’s done is done and I’m leaving it behind.

If you live with regrets, have a crappy job, are trapped in a loveless relationship, have lost your creative edge or lack motivation to do anything fun in your life, then snap out of it right now. This is your life and you should make the most of every day.

My challenge for you is to press  play on Feelin’ Groovy and sing along as loud as possible (see lyrics below if you weren’t around in 1966).
I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face and almost two minutes of joy to your day. How you choose to spend the remaining 1438 minutes is up to you.

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last

Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da…Feelin’ Groovy

Hello lamp-post
What cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo
Feelin’ groovy

I’ve got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all it’s petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy

Closer to the edge

Most of the time I’m comfortable in my existence and can fairly accurately predict my reaction to most situations. As an introvert I’m not usually emotionally demonstrative.

Writing helps me see things with clarity and put my thoughts into words. It is my strongest form of expression and communication.

Recently I stepped outside my internal written world when a writers group held an open microphone event for people to read aloud their work to a like-minded audience.

As the event coincided with the first year anniversary of my blog I eagerly signed up to read Zen Moments that summarizes the highs and lows of my year of self-discovery.

Listening to the other readers was motivating and I didn’t feel nervous. Soon it was my turn to step up to the microphone to read.

The moment I began reading the reality of speaking my truths hit me like a brick and my voice started to falter. My vulnerabilities and insecurities erupted and involuntarily flooded my body. I was completely thrown by my unexpected emotional reaction.

As I spoke tears sprung to my eyes and words choked my throat.  I couldn’t go on. My heart thumped like a ticking time bomb and I wanted to run out the door, but I stayed still.

Another writer kindly came forward to stand beside me and continue reading my piece. As she spoke my words it was if I was hearing them for the first time. I felt like I was standing naked on the stage.

She had almost finished and invited me to resume reading, but as soon as I spoke again my tears returned. Again she kindly continued to finish reading for me while I stood beside her.

The audience applauded as I self-consciously left the stage.  Immediately someone who I have wanted to become closer with for some time gave me the warmest hug and told me she was proud of me. This made me very happy to know she cared.

My old self would have lamented my awful public speaking experience  but I chose to accept what happened for whatever it was.

That day I was proud to have satisfied my intention which is

Letting things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

Television trauma

All my life I’ve felt different to other people.  It’s not because I have distinctive skin colour, ethnicity or appearance, it is more about my thoughts and attitudes. As a child I remember wanting to be like other children but never feeling completely at ease with who I was. I was happy but felt I was looking in from outside the circle.

I think children’s television shows in the 60s and 70s should take some responsibility for my confusion. My child self didn’t fully comprehend that these shows were make-believe and subconsciously my life didn’t measure up to the exciting lives of my television idols.

Everyday after school I’d watch television and imagine how great it would be to live in America and belong to one of my tv families.

The Brady Bunch, the antics of a blended family with three perfect boys and three perfect girls entertained me every day. When I first started watching I desired Cindy’s cuteness but by the end of the series I craved Marsha’s popularity. And if only I could have close brothers and sisters like the Bradys (*sigh*).

The Flying nun; The nuns in the convent San Tanco had fantastic adventures and made me wish I was religious so I could join their sisterhood. But  more than anything else I wanted to fly like Sister Bertrill and to this day I often still dream I am flying like her.

I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched were favourites shows that had me secretly practicing twitching my nose or making genie arms to create magic and travel through time. Sadly I never managed to make anything happen, not for the want of trying.

Everyone had a dog or a cat but I dreamed of having a talking horse in my backyard like Mr Ed or a pet dolphin like Flipper. I couldn’t understand why this wasn’t possible even though I lived in the suburbs.

As a teen I dreamed of hanging out with Richie Cunningham and the Fonz at Arnolds after school and going to the high school proms I saw on Happy Days.

But my all-time favourite show was Little House on the Prairie about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the 1870s. My dream was living the simple country life of Laura Ingalls.

Now I’m older I know tv families and characters are make-believe, animals can’t talk and people can’t fly or change situations with magic. The funny thing is that all these years later I still wish I could live in that little log cabin in Walnut Grove just like the Ingalls family. (*sigh*)

Seize the day

Enjoy yourself.  It’s later than you think.  ~Chinese Proverb

I’ve  been feeling pensive and restless since my birthday last week.

My past year of soul-searching sees me in a peaceful place and I’m proud of the person I am, but I feel there’s more to do to further enrich my life.

It is not that I’m mourning the loss of my youth because I am middle-aged, it’s about wanting to squeeze more fun in to each day by stepping out of my comfort zone.

When people tell me about their amazing life stories I can’t help comparing myself to them by thinking I’ve been too conservative with my life choices.

Today on Facebook I saw the following post and it hit home with me

Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day-to-day.
Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course. Each of us has such a bank. Its name is time.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes it off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.
It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no drawing against ‘tomorrow’.
You must live in the present on today’s deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost health, happiness and success. The clock is running.
Make the most of today.

So come on Jenna, take this challenge. Live for today, carpe diem.
Stop planning for the future. The future is today.
Be bold.

Postscript: I just saw this quote on another blog and thought it was a perfect comment to make on my own post “Seize the day”,steve jobs

Don’t tell me….show me how

Is there anyone out there who can help me interpret words of wisdom and put them into practice?

Like thousands of others I am committed to a journey of self-discovery striving for utopia in my life.

There are literally millions of inspirational sayings and quotes created by people who share their wisdom about living a harmonious life.

Most of these words are imaginative and thoughtful and although I enjoy reading them I don’t think they help people make personal changes.

I’ve always wanted to be a creative person but the reality is that I am a practical person. It is innate for me to use a recipe or follow a plan to achieve a goal. I think a lot more than I dream and maybe that is my underlying problem.

For example I relate to the message of the following statements but I bet I am not the only person who is unsure how to act on the words to instigate different attitudes and behaviours.

 If your world is full of black and white I think it is time for a new box of crayons.

Let today be the day you stop harming yourself with thoughts of your past.

The treasure chest you are seeking is within you. It is shining brightly just waiting to be opened and appreciated.

If you want to fly then never be afraid of heights. And if you want to shine like the sun, then never be afraid of shadows.

I saw a video clip of a motivational speaker telling an audience how most people carry around their problems like a sack of potatoes slung on their back. She said every time we encounter a problem we throw another potato in the sack and eventually they weigh us down until we cease to function. She shouted to the audience “Do you want to drop your potatoes?” and then asked them to chant “Today I will drop my potatoes.” They cheered and clapped as though it was a defining moment in their life.

But I want to know HOW DO I DROP MY POTATOES? What do I actually have to do?
How do I  colour my world? How can I push negative thoughts and past regrets out of my mind?
How do I find the hidden gems in my treasure chest? How do I rid myself of fears?

Is it possible for me to learn how to dream more and think less?

Any practical advice will be most welcome.

Tears in heaven

Mia has been hurting for many years.  A deep sadness has festered in her heart penetrating deep into her soul. She can’t understand why people are unkind to each other.

The people who have the same blood as hers running through their veins openly despise her and she doesn’t understand why.

Mia has held out an olive branch and attempted to reconcile with her brother and sister a couple of times over the years. At Christmastime she sent a heartfelt letter telling them she loved them and of her hope to be friends, but neither responded.

This morning after another restless night she woke with clarity realising that it’s time to let go of the dream of ever being embraced by her siblings.

girl-and-heart-balloonShe tells herself that moving on doesn’t mean giving up it means making a choice to be happy instead of continuing to feel hurt.

Her mum once told her that the greatest step toward a life of happiness is to learn to let go of things you can’t change.

Mia really misses her mum.

The winds of time

On the twentieth day Jenna senses that things may soon improve.

Her head has been throbbing and nothing eases the tension.

Her sleep patterns are erratic, she sleeps fitfully and wakes for no reason at odd hours of the early morning.

Days pass slower, little things become big things and food tastes different.

Words stop flowing, she can’t write freely which makes her head feel like it is going to explode.

She should be used to it, she’s battled the same symptoms several times over the past four years, but it never gets any easier.

The first and the last twenty-four hours are the hardest, her emotions fluctuate and are more intense.

Jenna paces up and down, her eyes glued on the automatic doors opening and closing again.  After what feels like an eternity  she sees her and for a brief moment time stands still.

Jenna smiles and waves excitedly. She deeply exhales.

Finally the fresh breeze blows again and clears her head.

She can breathe again for another couple of months.