Raising awareness and funds for SIDS
Wearing my red nose shirt today - 24 years ago Paul and I had the most beautiful baby girl - her name was Isabella Bethany and I got to be her mum for 7 wonderful weeks - unfortunately she died from sudden death infant syndrome.
It was a devastating experience for a young couple and our world was turned upside down. In our grief Paul and I decided to get involved in a parent network for support which was incredibly helpful. But it also motivated us to want to make a difference for others going through the loss of a baby or a child - we raised money, but we also volunteered our time to families in the same situation - taking the time to be there for families when they they felt alone or overwhelmed with their loss. We also played a part in developing procedures with the hospital and different organisations in our community to create better support to families.
It was an important time in our healing as a couple - eventually our lives changed as we healed and we started to build our family again with the birth of Annabel and Imogen.
I have never forgotten this beautiful baby and I am forever grateful for all she has taught me in my life. Such a tiny girl yet a powerful impact on all that her life touched.
Today I think of Isabella and remember how days like Red Nose Day bring awareness to Sids, raise funds to support families and continue to help with research. To this day there is no known explanation for Sids.
So today as you are out and about - if you see a red nose - take the time to purchase a product - because it can help. ❤❤❤
SMALL CHANGES THE KEY TO REGAINING CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH AND FITNES
Fitness and living a healthy lifestyle are my passions. Over the years it has been very helpful and has given me the strength to tackle much in my life. It has also provided me with many laughs and fun times with the people I have met and trained with on both a personal and professional level.
Each week I am lucky enough to get to write this article and it is always my mission to inspire and motivate you, the readers, to start getting active and take control of your health and fitness. If I'm very lucky someone may discover their inner passion for this lifestyle as well.
If you are reading this article then I know you have been thinking about making a change and are interested in health and fitness.
There was a time in my life when I was extremely unwell and I was diagnosed with Graves' disease, a thyroid condition which impacted on my health and fitness for years.
I had a young family at the time and to be experiencing ill health at a time when they needed a healthy strong mother was extremely difficult for me and my family. During this time I decided once I had my condition under control I would do everything possible to regain my health and fitness so I could enjoy life and my family to the fullest.
I had gained weight during this period and my confidence was at an all-time low. I knew if I was to make these changes permanent and realistic, they had to be done with small, manageable steps, which would eventually get bigger and motivate me to become a part of the fitness industry.
For me, the baby steps I took were:
. To review my nutrition and make positive changes with my diet, I eliminated processed foods, started to eat fresh, controlled portion sizes, cut back on caffeine and increased my water intake.
. Walking, I started walking three times a week for 30 minutes. As the weeks progressed and I started to gain some fitness back, I increased that to a daily walk and eventually that led to a walk/run, which then led to a daily run.
. I bought a bike and started riding to school with my children.
. I consciously increased my incidental exercise whenever I saw the opportunity - for example, I would walk to the corner shop and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
. As my health and fitness increased I started to feel a little bored with my exercise routine and was ready to try something new, so I joined my local gym. I found being a member of a gym gave me the opportunity to try many different types of exercise and the encouragement from the trainers was extremely motivating and kept me focused on my goals.
Through this process over the years I have discovered so many strengths within myself, I've tackled things I never thought I could do, especially after many years of ill health and being so physically weak.
Now I am physically stronger than I ever could have imagined. Every day I think about my nutrition and what I want to put into my body, my training, but most of all I get to pass this on to the people I meet each day, including you.
Never feel defeated by your health or your life - change is always possible and it can start by taking baby steps, just like me.
The final journey
Originally Sue and I hoped to write a blog for each day we were away on our holiday together – but we found ourselves completely distracted with relaxing and enjoying the beauty of 1770.
The last two days Sue and I have been the girliest of girls – we have been pampered from head to toe – stone and body massages, pedicures, manicures, facials – hair treatments, yoga, slothed by the pool and swam in the spa, ate good food and enjoyed good wine – you name it we have done it and loved every single moment.
Both of us are always busy with our work lives and I know that I have made myself so busy these last few years, so that I haven’t been able to stop and think – I think there has always been a part of me that has been frightened to really stand still in time for fear of what feelings or grief may come up. Guess what? I was ok and in fact taking this time has given me the clarity I have needed for so long about how my life should be moving forward and it has also given me the confidence to say I can do this!
Another part of this trip has been that I have got to explore my inner Tom boy – as you know I love to exercise every day, lifting weights, running, and boxing – always looking for ways to pound my body and keep active. This trip has been a little different, I did do a crazy two hour run the first day, but the rest of the time Sue and I have been out bush walking every day, keeping active as I like to do – but getting to experience the wonder and beauty of this amazing place.
What I did discover about myself this week is that I really enjoy the bush, the mountains and the ocean – I have been so relaxed and probably the happiest I had been since the accident. Yesterday Sue and I went on a long bush walk, it led us to the ocean, up over cliffs and eventually to the most majestic ocean cove I have ever seen - I sat in this cove alone on the rocks – with the most beautiful view – the waves washed in over the rocks sometimes fierce and strong – sometimes gentle and calming.
As I sat there I thought of life, my past life before the accident and the love, laughter, dreams and happiness my family shared together. I then thought of the last three years, the sadness I have felt but also the blanket of love I have felt from family, friends and my gym community – you have made me feel so safe and protected and you have helped me and family survive the worst time in my life. I also know that the last six months I have been in a holding pattern in this safe cocoon I have created for fear of the unknown and my life changing again – I know this has not been healthy for me and I need now to let go and move forward.
So in this moment in the cove for the first time I allowed myself to feel and trust that I have a future -one that will be happy - one filled with new experiences and challenges and I can create a new life without Paul and it will be ok. I have made it this far and I am still standing.
Finally I can begin to dream some new dreams and start to live them. Yesterday’s cove was perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have experienced – it made me realise there are thousands of equally beautiful places in Australia and all over the world that are calling for me to visit.
Who would think a woman who is in her late forties can still continue to grow and learn – feeling happy for the growth this week and ok about future!
I have been privileged to be on this journey with Shelley. We have been friends for all of our adult lives and I have been beside her for all of the momentous events in her life – the good, the bad and the ugly. To be with her when she came to this place in her heart and life is probably the most momentous of them all.
Day two: Relaxation, pampering & dreams of the future
Day two began with a long deserved sleep-in for Sue – especially after her marathon drive yesterday to get us here to 1770.
For me an early run up to the headland to explore the landscape and see the ocean was in order – running always clears my head and gives me focus and water is a place of peace for me and I often feel happiest when I’m near it – to combine the two first thing in the morning is what I would call a perfect start to my day and to my holiday!
A beautiful breakfast by the poolside, it was a picturesque setting - Sue especially loved watching the swallows swooping and dipping in and out of the water – we both felt relaxed, stress free and happy not to be rushing.
We talked about what we wanted to gain from our trip to Bali and discussed how we could achieve the same outcomes here in 1770. Anything is always possible and Sue and I are resourceful enough to find a way.
We decided that each day we would find ways to nourish ourselves as this was a priority in both of our lives for very different reasons – no matter what we both wanted to do yoga – yoga was a big part of the journey to the mountains of Ubud. We have both practiced yoga at different times of our lives and have found the experience to be incredibly healing both physically and emotionally. For me I have very special memories shared with Paul as we did yoga together for a number of years.
We also wanted to pamper ourselves with a little self-indulgence in the form of relaxation massage, facials and manicures and pedicures - these are things we both rarely do. Luckily we stumbled on the perfect little beauty salon called ‘Glamour puss’ – we booked in for our first session with Kirsten to have a manicure and pedicure and had a wonderful afternoon, laughing, sharing our lives, hopes and fears. Kirsten proved to be a kindred spirit with a similar outlook to life, love and expectations for future!
The biggest part of our day was the decision to buy books to record our dreams and goals for our futures. Often we all like to talk about what we want to do in our life time – but fail to make it a priority as we get so caught up in day to day life.
Last year my daughter gave me a beautiful Audrey Hepburn calendar which I spent the year of 2014 filling up by doing special activities and creating memories with people I love – I had an amazing year and got to experience so many new things.
It reinforced for me the importance of living and fulfilling my dreams – life is short and things can happen as I well know – I never want to put my life on hold and always want to find ways to live, experience and honour the people in my life that were unable to follow through with their passion and dreams. I also know the importance to do this for me.
I thought it was time for me to bring back my Audrey calendar – (only this time makes it a life calendar with no time limit).
My life has changed so dramatically in the last few years and I know that I need a new focus. No longer do I have someone to share my life with and I may never find love again. I need to strive towards creating a new happiness. It has been three and half years and I need to take steps to value my beautiful memories but know its ok to let go of the past and continue to create new life on my own (of course with my children and friends).
When your life changes overnight you suddenly feel so different about life and what you wanted to gain from it – money and objects have become less important - people, experiences, adventure, creating, smiling, laughing, and valuing life have become everything to me – this is what gives meaning and hope in my life and I know it is what will lead me back to a life of joy and happiness – something my heart desires so much!
As you can imagine my Audrey list is a little long as I do have a tendency to get a little carried away - but here are a few things from it – some of the things I came up with really did surprise me:
Travel is highly important to me – this was something Paul and I dreamt of and never got to do – we were always focussed on our family and their needs – thinking we would have time to travel together – but that time never came.
But most of all I need to travel for Imogen – she had an adventurous soul and wanted to explore the world – I know that I cannot live her life but I can make sure that I fulfil my dreams and make the most of the life I have been given.
Sue here and feeling a little daunted by exposing my dreams and aspirations but this is partly what this holiday is about; a time to reflect and ponder on what is important to me in living my life and to take time to concentrate on me rather than others.
A deep breath… my wish list is more global than specific; more fuzzy than defined.
I want to explore my creative side more fully through the women’s crafts I learnt from my mother and aunts and continue to improve upon. Maybe creating crocheted iconic scenes from horror movies is a place to start. And builds on the skills I’ve gained crocheting cartoon figures and super heroes for my grandsons. For many a long year women only had their “crafts” to express their artistic selves and I want to keep those arts alive.
I’ve always intended to write a book and have played with many plots for a socialist feminist detective series for years now. Whether my words are ever published is irrelevant. The very act of creating and sustaining a storyline true to its aims is what I want to achieve.
Travel and taking a path less travelled to use a cliché are very important to me. I need to continue to put myself out there, take risks, and learn about myself and others, all of which happens when I move out of my every day. It can be particularly challenging for me to do. I want to keep doing it despite the risks. Leading a more adventurous life, being less timorous but also less clamorous is something I want to achieve.
And lastly I want to position myself to become one of those amazing and daunting older women with Magic Silver White hair, stunning frocks and impossible shoes.
Day One: Unexpected surprises and embracing adventure
A few months ago I was feeling restless and wanted to do something that would signify change in my life – I decided that I wanted to head overseas to do a wellness retreat as it would replenish me ready for some big changes that I have needed to make to move forward.
With this in mind my dearest friend Sue thought she would like to join the journey with me – one Saturday afternoon we stumbled into a travel agent, thinking Fiji would be lovely only to find ourselves booking into a luxurious resort in Ubud Bali.
The weeks passed with very little thought or planning except to know that in July we would be heading off on a trip we felt would be significant in changing the direction on our lives (my life anyway – with Sue by my side to reign me in when needed).
As time drew closer both of us began to count on our Bali adventure – to refresh and reframe our respective lives. Hectic work schedules meant we still didn’t look at the tickets. We just talked more about our expectations and excitement leading up to our time away.
Enter volcanic ash cloud. Eight days before we were to depart, mount something in Indonesia erupted. We ignored it. Completely. Sue and I continued to flaunt our holiday excitement to everyone around – as you all recall I even managed to wear my much loved kiss me Ketut TShirt – very sad now when I reflect on the events that have unfolded in the last few days.
Friday 10 July dawned fresh and clear in Toowoomba. Perhaps a little brisk but we could tolerate it easily as we were only one day away from Bali. Throughout the day, many people suggested to us Bali was off the agenda. We scoffed. Some said we were in complete denial. A large ash cloud was hovering over Denpasar. No we said. We are leaving on Saturday regardless.
We made a moonlit trip to Brisbane on Friday night after receiving official word that Bali was on – only to discover into the evening flights had been cancelled. Saturday was out but Sunday was on and we were booked in for the 12th. The roller coaster ride began.
Saturday was a day very much in limbo as we waited for official word on the fate of our Sunday trip but never giving up hope. We did have the foresight to discuss lacklustre alternative plans should Bali be off the agenda. Many a google search ended with wishy washy ideas of what we might do; not quite wanting to settle on any alternatives as we still knew we were going to Bali.
Saturday afternoon exciting news came in the form of a text from Virgin confirming the cloud had lifted – ash cloud what ash cloud – and we would be travelling on Sunday. Yay we said and did a little happy dance and rechecked our passports.
Over dinner at a local Indian restaurant we discussed what we intended to do in Bali. By this stage we had actually looked at our itinerary and resort stay and had reviewed local knowledge provided by our many lovely friends. Early to bed only to toss and turn all night with excitement at the following day’s journey.
Sunday morning dawned and our day had arrived. Eagerly we showered and dressed, gathered our many belongings together and made the short journey to the airport fortified by coffee. We noticed our flight wasn’t posted but eagerly joined the check in queue confident all would be right. Unfortunately this was not the case as shortly after an announcement was made that the ash cloud had returned – ash cloud what ash cloud – and all flights were cancelled until at least Wednesday with no guarantee even then.
A moment of complete disappointment we shared as we realised our journey was off. Gathering our belongings and our strength we retrieved the car and returned to Highgate Hill to decide our future. Never girls to throw in the towel, not easily defeated we decided to jump right back on the horse and create a whole new adventure.
Life is full of unexpected surprises and both Sue and I have become adept at rising to the challenge of these moments as we have shared many throughout our history together.
As girls of the 21st Century we put our need for a new destination on Facebook. Many amazing ideas came forth. By the time we reached Highgate Hill the universe spoke and 1770 was where we were destined to be. A cup of tea and a google search had us booked in and on the road by 10. Thus began the road trip filled with 70s anthems, loud singing and frequent stops. We took in the scenery, we rejoiced at the cows all framed by beautiful mountains as we drove into 1770 eight hours later. Thelma (Shelley) and Louise (Sue) had embraced the adventure, had a wonderful day and began the journey.
With the beginning of each year there is a part of me that craves for something new or unexpected to happen in my life - for a new beginning, a new happiness to appear, one that is far removed from the memories of the past and the grief of the last three years.
This year I thought I would enter the year with the momentum of “Shelley have no expectations and see what will happen” – I think I was just secretly hoping something would magically appear in my life and all would be different. When you have been dog paddling for so long with your head just above water and you’re feeling pretty exhausted - you just want something to happen, that’s easy, special and wonderful!!!
Well here is my revelation – Life is too short to wait for the magic to suddenly appear, and it’s not going to just come to me, I have to do the hard yards and make it happen – it’s now April and if I keep on waiting for my life to be different I will waste precious time and miss opportunities. This is not me or the girl I know and I know Paul and Imogen would not want this for me.
So this week I have said to myself – start making your own magic and see what happen – which is really how I have always been only I think I was just feeling worn out.
One of the things that make me happy is to see others happy; when I see someone smile, I feel so alive and a little bit of magic suddenly comes my way. I also love giving flowers to people – so this week I have decided to give flowers all week to special people who are part of my life every day. Giving the flowers this week has been so special and last night when I looked into my mums eyes to see her so happy – I felt the really felt the love between us and it was magic.
Unfortunately I am on a budget and can only do this for a week and there are so many people I love and would dearly wish to surprise with a beautiful bunch of flowers.
I guess what I’m trying to say is - Don’t ever wait for the magic to happen – make your own magic and when you feel it – enjoy and make the moment last as long as you can – life is too short you have to live it!
Sue and Shelley's Big Adventure - Day Three
Have you ever wanted to just hit a pause button on your life, take a break, let go of everything for just a moment of time – no troubles, no worries, no pressure, no grief – just bliss? Well this is our day three.
My life for the last few years has been filled with all the things I have just mentioned above – from the moment I open my eyes I have been hit with the sledge hammer of life. I have taken the deepest of deep breathes and said I will make this the best day possible, even if my heart if weighed down with the sorrow of Paul, Imogen and all that my family has lost.
The tears I have cried on my way from my home to work could fill a river – but always before I enter the gym, I know that I must muster the strength to be the strong and invincible Shelley Myatt. My dearest friends know that this has not been easy for me – they also know how much I rely on my belief in strong body strong mind and strong spirit to get me through my days. Sue herself often sends me a text in my day to remind me that I am a string woman.
As you all know me well - I am a master of hiding my feelings - I always smile, find ways to laugh and experience joy in my life and I am always grateful that I have the capacity to do this even in the most difficult moments of my life. But truth be told my days have not been easy and my heart has cried every day for a life I can no longer have.
This trip with Sue symbolises more than a holiday to me. Sue knows this and so do a select few friends who I have confided in about what this time truly does mean. You see I do need a change and I do need to let go of the heaviness that has burdened my heart for so long. This is what the trip to Bali was to me – but now I am here in 1770 and suddenly I feel that all I had hoped for from Bali is coming to fruition here in this remote beautiful place. It is like food for my soul and my heart. The need to get away, slow down and be has been strong. That’s what Bali was to be. A road-trip instead I have found what I was looking for.
So now that I have completely exposed myself to everyone that I love and know – people who probably have known what my life has felt like from the outside but haven’t said – I thought I should tell what today has meant to me. I have plumbed new depths and acknowledged feelings and thoughts of the past and the future (PS I am so glad to have my special friend Sue here to share this with me – we have been the best of friends since the beginning of Paul and Shelley and she knows me well but she also loves me and has been committed to sharing this journey of our lives together.) Today we explored – thoughts, feelings and landscapes.
Day three - Sue and I decided to put our plans from Day Two into action. We decided to get out and explore the true beauty and essence of 1770. After a late start (yes guys, I did sleep in and not get up at 4.30am) we had a hearty and healthy breakfast and discussed our plan of action for the day. We decided that we needed to physically connect with this hamlet.
A trip to the information centre was in order – we needed to find out where to go and the best walks to take to discover all of this area.
Our first bush walk led us to what I said to Sue was like a Swiss Family Robinson deserted beach – only people arrived shortly after our arrival spoiling the serenity of the moment!?! This place felt like heaven to me and I could have sat forever on the rocks looking out to the majestic ocean – this I think is the first moment since the accident that I can say I felt at peace and as I stood on the rocks I knew this is where I needed to be and maybe it was ok to be happy and maybe I can do this life on my own.
Back to the luxurious unit for what some people would call a nanna nap but Sue and I call a power nap – ready to re-charge for another bushwalk this time to a lookout over the ocean.
Our afternoon walk did not let us down – Sue and I embraced the nature surrounding us – I snapped pictures and dreamt of becoming a famous hermit photographer, while Sue collected leaves and flowers to stitch into a beautiful cushion cover representing our trip.
It was an incredible afternoon for both of us and we both felt relaxed and removed from our everyday lives, something I have needed to do for the longest of time.
After our walk we settled on the ocean-front to watch the most beautiful sunset – Sue felt we needed some clouds to give definition to the sunset but to me it was stunning. I sat on the rocks and snapped picture after picture – looking for the perfect moment but in reality I was sitting in that moment. To cap it off two dolphins appeared in the water. It was a perfect way to end our day.
One thing I know - life is changing. Sue is facing personal changes with a move to Brisbane, a re-shaping of her job and sorting out how to be there for her children and grandchildren while embracing the life she craves.
For me I am now looking forward to a new life by myself. One that I hope will be filled with adventure and new challenges (of course shared with the people I love most in the world) and one that will bring a new and different happiness. Paul would want this for me and Paul would want me to be happy – he loved it when I was laughing and living and smiling. He would want to see this genuinely in me.
Don't use a tight budget as an excuse to not exercise and get fit. You don't need expensive equipment to make dramatic changes.
BODY WEIGHT EXERCISE CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE WITHOUT THAT EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT
Reflecting on lessons of life, love and loss
This weekend I am down at the coast with a very special group of friends who have traveled with me throughout my adult life. We have come together for all of our life moments – the good and the bad. This weekend is for a happy occasion, a 50th birthday.
I love being with these guys and I have been looking forward to spending time with them, as we laugh, chat about life, share our thoughts and of course solve all the social and economic problems of the world and we do this all in a matter of a few hours.
Sometimes being with these guys can be a little bittersweet, as Paul was very much a part of this circle of friends and his absence is always felt amongst us when we gather together – this weekend for me I feel his absence immensely as my wedding anniversary is approaching on Tuesday and it is always a time where I start to think and feel all that we shared in our marriage.
This year it will be my 4th anniversary without him – which in itself is hard to believe that it has been three and half years since I have spoken with him, laughed with him and felt the warmth of his embrace and love.
Much has happened over the last few years and there have been so many times I have needed his wisdom to help me to piece back together a life and family that was left so shattered and broken.
When the accident happened I had no idea where to begin, my entire identity was intertwined with this man, we met at 17 and were joined at the hip from that moment on – never Shelley Myatt – always Paul and Shelley Myatt. We grew up together, created our family and travelled the roller coaster of life side by side. Every decision I made I ran by him – he was my sounding board and the one person I could count on, trust and rely on implicitly – he truly was my everything and I know that is how he felt about me as well. We were the perfect couple together and a fantastic fit to share a life together – I was one lucky girl.
So when Paul died I was so lost – I had no idea who I was, no longer “Paul and Shelley Myatt”- but Shelley Myatt bereaved wife, bereaved mother and mother to three grieving children who were also broken and lost.
Where do you begin in this situation – for me I just had to fight like I had never fought before, I had to reach down deep within and find courage and strength that I never even knew existed within me, and try to survive and show my family a way forward.
From the moment of the accident all I have ever really wanted was for my children to come through this experience OK; for them to be able to have time to grieve, heal, to achieve their life goals – but most of all I have desired for them to feel joy and happiness again.
For me I have had no real plan except that along the way I might find Shelley Myatt – which now on reflection on this anniversary – I think she may have emerged and I wonder just what Paul would have thought of his girl now and all that she has had to do over the last few years to create a new life – I hope he would be proud of me as I have tried so hard to honour us as a couple and our mutual beliefs along the way.
I know that my family have come a long way over the last three years – we have ridden the waves of grief together and held each other tight on so many occasions. Now I can see changes happening with the kids – the girls especially are beginning to move forward, moving out of home, relationships, and their studies and careers going well – I feel it is time to take a deep breath and start to think about what I need to keep my healing and life travelling ahead.
Finally I am ready to take some big steps I have needed to take for some time - but have felt unable to do so until now, as it has means letting go and saying goodbye to some of the my past - I have been sorting through Paul and Imogen’s belongings – deciding to sell the family home and make a fresh start (coming to the realization that no matter what I do with the home I just can’t shake the feeling that they should be there). These have been emotional decision to make but I know that holding onto the past will eventually hold me back from healing and finding happiness again.
Looking back over the last few years, it has been the most difficult and challenging experience I have ever had to face – there have been times I thought I would fall down and not get back up again – but I did - and I am still here living, and appreciating life. My spirit is still strong, I am passionate, my heart still loves big, my compassion for others is stronger - but most of all I am determined to never ever give up!
There is a whole lot of living to be done and I know Paul is there in my heart urging me to make sure the kids and I do for him, for Bella, for Imogen but most of all to do it for ourselves.
Today is my wedding anniversary which is a very special day to me - but in reality our commitment to each other did not start on the day we married - it started from the moment we first met.
When I first saw Paul I new he was the one - he just caught my attention, he was handsome, very very cool, he was a guitar player, could write songs and looked hot up on stage, he was an athlete, an extremely intelligent man plus he wanted to change the world - I was so smitten and when he looked at me with his blue Paul Newman eyes I was gone - I knew I would love him and follow him anywhere and I did.
We had a long and wonderful marriage and together we created a life with our family, we had good times but we also had difficult times - that is what happens when you choose to share a life together - but no matter what we had love as a foundation to always go back too and we had our beautiful family.
The week before Paul died we were heading out the door for a dinner - I stepped from the bathroom and as all women ask their partners - I said to Paul - 'How do I look?' He looked at me and he said 'Well Shell - you would look hot in a potato sack' - I looked at him and thought how lucky I was that he still thought I was hot after so many years - plus I did think he was the master of romantic words.
I guess what I am saying is that I was lucky to have found Paul and shared so many years together.
Remembering Paul today with love, warmth and appreciation.
Shelley Myatt is the owner and operator of Shelley Myatt Fitness and Well-Being, Columnist, Life Coach & Motivational Speaker based in Toowoomba, Qld.