Wisdom from my past

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

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Alone together

Apologises. It seems the  only time I seem to do a real posts on here these days when I need to vent.

I went on a long journey yesterday to meet an associate in the Western suburbs and then travel with them to the airport. It was a 4 hour round trip. With a change on each leg.

I — The Eyes

As I got further out from the change at Strathfield I noticed people staring more. People stare at me all the time and everywhere. It was more noticeable because they were fewer words. I used to try to make-believe that it’s because I’m some stunning beautiful mystical creature here to bring peace or just a really hot woman (this particular imagining will become relevant later).

I am used to children staring especially those in prams stuck looking at me in lifts, but even others, and the pointing. And the adults; particularly those who 20 seconds earlier weren’t looking where they were going, and seemed shocked that “it” actually moves. Its odd when kids are dragged in one direction while staring back at me: parents disengaged.

Each time anyone stares it does tug at me. It wears me down. It accumulates. I’m not a circus animal.This is not the zoo. I don’t come with a label stuck to my cage (wheelchair) explaining my feeding schedule and breeding. I didn’t charge admission. I’m just trying to get through Life unscathed. By the 5th stare or glare (about 10 am most days) I want the ground to swallow me up and leave it to the Real Humans.

I know in the case of a child its curiosity. I get that. I try to be gentle. Really I do. I try to smile back. I used to try to say hello but these days that doesn’t seem to be well received especially with those of different cultures. I smile at the parents and get a stare back or a sheepish look or a glare for daring to speak to their child. So, in the case of the lift, after receiving whatever look I’m going to get I retreat. I crawl backwards, missing the days before the baby boom meaning that everywhere that works for me there go many prams/families which for me is super tough as I would love to be a Mum of some sort but it isn’t going to happen.

It used to be parents told their kids not to stare.
Now no one says anything.
Embarrassed giggles,
Language barriers

It used to be parents told their kids it was rude
So I could hear
Now they join in
Awkward glances.

It used to be kids were told to ask questions of me
when tugging and whispering on Mum’s arm
Now silence or adults ask their own

CG chose to use the stairs. Lucky him. To not get squashed or make more room for more of the same or not be seen with me. I’m not sure which. I wished I could join him. It’s why I use ramps. I control the pace.

So I went it alone.

II — The Mouth

Somewhere close to Blacktown a gentleman got on, elderly but not super old. English was not his first language. He sat on the opposite side of the carriage, in a pink polo shirt and pants. Looking at me, staring at me. I tried to ignore him, but could feel his eyes on me so that the hairs on my arm stuck up. I tried to ignore it as usual, but it felt strange.

My bag was next to CG and I sat next to the door with the glass between us having allowed for prams to pass me. I only put my face mask on sporadically. (can’t get an infection at the moment so should have been wearing it but people seem to lipread me more than hear me so I’d taken it off). I coughed so retrieved mask and put it on. Pink Shirt looked relieved. Oh dear.

It was obvious CG and I knew each other as I sometimes sat side on to face him. Approaching Lidcome or so CG was asked “how old is he”?, and stared back at me. I pulled down my mask so he could see my face which despite my Sinead O’Conner look still I hoped looked feminine complete with the floral dress I was wearing the wedge heals and the eye make up. I said softly but firmly I’m a woman. I said it twice. I didn’t yell it because I didn’t want to make a scene.

But that was not the point. He wasn’t looking to me for answer. CG eventually said “It’s not polite to ask a woman her age”. I stared away, into space and willed my eyes to stay dry. I wanted to get off the train, change carriage (not allowed given the need for the ramp to get off), anything but stay there.

In fact my world got hypersensitive and claustrophobic and I felt alone. Pink Shirt told me at one point to be happy. I think I grimaced and sent CG a text he didn’t comment on. As Pink was disembarking at Redfern he held his hands up in my direction, arms length. Was it prayer or a remote laying on of hands (which I love — not), or an act of warding off evil spirits. No idea.

CG seemed to distance himself even further from me. I noticed that. Can’t say I blame him. Later I had to remind him he’d said he wanted a hug goodbye and he seemed to want that to be over as soon as humanly possible as soon as someone else rang, only really interacting with me when no one else could see. Can’t blame him.

It wasn’t just the gender issues. Maybe he meant she but didn’t have the language. I get that. It was the fact that I have to be ready to hear questions like that whenever I leave the house. I’m public property. Even if I choose not to answer them. Even if I say they are rude. I may not get them, but I must be ready. The vigilance is exhausting but the minute I try and sit in a pleasant corner of my brain I get caught with defences down and it hurts more. It is the fact that he felt ok about staring at me and asking a 3rd person about me. If I’d been an upright I doubt he would’ve, of if he did, more than CG would have noticed and objected.

III — Fallout

I hear this happens to pregnant women too. Touching bellies, asking due dates etc. I get that. There are differences. Pregnancy is a time limited state undertaken usually by choice and with a reward at the end. I’ve been pregnant for long enough now. I want out. Its also publicly discouraged to touch bellies.

I know that in most cases it’s no individual or child’s intention to insult. That most people are just trying to be nice or are curious but it does accumulate.I try and be gracious. I want to go back to hibernation.

It was a long day and I’m not sure of the value.

I don’t know why, but this feels like an important post. If you like this or know me can you please send it on to someone else? J

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From yesterday
I’m still at the bottom of the well. But I guess the Sharks aren’t circling. Many of the symptoms I spoke of yesterday are still present. Strongest are numbness including in my hands, hypersensitivity to noise (and light today), easily overwhelmed and if I had to pick an emotion it would be sadness.

The well doesn’t yet have a staircase which is my usual way I get out from under. But there is no water, or sharks and now I can see light on the edges. Just a sliver mind you and it feels like glare (see above).
It still feels very debilitating. But I am about to leave the house. I saw my counsellor yesterday, which was reassuring but travelling to and from was really really tough.

Thank you to those that reached out.

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Cross post: Where I am at ****warning: really ick****

I’m not at all sure about the wisdom of saying this here. Or anywhere really. But I’m depressed. I woke up this morning feeling like I’m at the bottom of the well that has been my occasional companion and constant shadow and fear on and off for over 20 years. I have been stressed for weeks (with ample reason, though no single cause) and low for the weekend. But this morning is different again. Here I sit. Alert. But trapped. Or not. At the bottom of a familiar well with no edges. I don’t know if I have the strength to climb back up again. When the stresses and uncertainties will mostly still be there. For the term of my natural life.

I don’t want to scare those of you who know me offline. I’m safe enough. I recognised the well and organised to see my counsellor and that I’m not alone till then. I’m safe enough. I don’t feel like I have the strength to commit suicide.

Its everything and nothing. It’s the little things and the big things. It’s feeling like I’m a ship lost at sea. Its feeling like I’m being suffocated. It’s feeling lonely, misunderstood, neglected and abused. It’s feeling crowded and isolated at the same time. It’s the core busting sense that I really don’t matter unless I’m there, or achieving, or paying. Even to myself. It’s wanting to be alone or surrounded by love. Its feeling exhaustd just facing food or leaving the house.

Its the blanket of hopeless that means I can’t see anything beyond the next breathe. It’s being able to see too far ahead and not liking what I see or don’t see. It’s hearing nothing and being hypersensitive to noise. It’s the physical pain. It’s the disconnect. It’s trying to keep things light and social and being haunted at night regardless of if I fail or succeed. It’s remembering everything, but recalling nothing. Too much to do at once, too much I want oo change and not enough. It’s all the dichotomies. I can justify them all as stressors. But it doesn’t really matter.

For example It’s the hard drive crashing just as I was to achieve something I have wanted after other uncontrollable delays and taking most of 2 essays with it. It’s the fact that faced with rewriting them my mind is blank and any hope is gone. Its disrespect on the footpaths. It’s being made to use the back door and still make it ok. Its bank transfers that won’t work, despite funds and doing many successfully. It’s thinking through every phonecall I make and if I should make it and still getting it it wrong, like so much else. Trying to do the right thing and getting it so wrong. It’s being put on pause and pulled through the emotional mud for $300 and a box of stuff. But I matter right?

These are just some examples. Not that it is the events in life that has done this. It just is where I am.


I am not sure about if I should post this, but maybe it’ll help someone else going through it. Falling quickly like I tend to do is part of the fear.

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For those that know me offline


I’ve taken a self directed modified vow of silence for a few days. I just want to slow my mind down a bit and slowing my speech down will help me do that. I need to reflect and grow. I want to develop some more discipline even in just keeping this commitment. I enjoy feeling safe enough to be quiet and I want to now reinforce that I can be my own safe space. I want to choose the words that go through my mind. Time with fewer words will help.

Yes there were a couple of situations that triggered this, but right now they aren’t important. This is gaining peace, not running from pain.

I intend to do my life as normal. This is not a retreat so much as a practise. But neither am I wanting to become a Trappist monk. This is a modified vow.a vow of no vocal chord use, even on my own while still leading my life in public.

As such,
I will write notes, on paper, ipad, SMS. Email and phone (iMessage/SMS) will still be on and checked and replied to but probably phone will be on do not disturb a little more.i have noticed just by typing or scribbling one chooses how to speak differently.
If you want to avoid me in this time ok, but I would still like to see you if we have plans or a practise in doing so. I hope to listen well and show you without noise that I am with you. I have predetermined three situations in the next 14 days where I will speak if I’m still not but they aren’t social events and if you are reading this then it’s safer to assume I’ll be silent till I’m not.
I’m not doing this to annoy or embarrass or avoid you or the world. It will be a discipline for a predetermined number of days to slow myself down, lower my guard with myself and develop mindfulness, grace and clarity among other things. Iits not a game nor is this a spur of the moment attention grab. I’m ok all things considered.
Music, movies etc will be a part of my day still

This website gives the closest description of both the how and the why. But it is not a replica.
Like her, I don’t really want to talk about the process much. Not till later. I hope to hear from you (better) or see you around.i hope to smile and nod a lot.



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Just quietly

So while laid up I've been reading, thinking and researching. Whatever took my fancy really. Plus dealing with a couple of bits of people related drama

In preparation for resuming study next week I've been trying to build-in some routine and allow specific times for reading and writing especially which is good. Hopefully unlike when I first started studying I won't be alarmed by how much extra I suddenly had to do along with the disability and time wasting “very important stuff” that a teenager out of home for the first time has to deal with. Of course very little of that very important stuff was actually very important but that is very much the perspective of youth.

I'm trying to consciously read more. Speak less. Listen more. Solve less. Be quieter. I'm not finding this hard at all. In fact it is as if the peace that passes all understanding has landed. I'm leaning back into it and myself. I'm less exhausted in one sense because I'm not giving away so much. I'm calling stuff as I see it, if not aloud then consciously but silently

I have decided I don't like Sydney. Too busy and way too aggressive.

I'm learning to like myself I guess. Again, or for the first time at this new level I'm not sure which. Another stage of the getting of wisdom perhaps?


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Me again

So someone said something useful to me yesterday.

Well, said might be the wrong adjective here. It was more like wrote something. Although it felt like it had be written solely and directly to me and not in a online email marketing kind of pseudo way, but in a chills up your spine kind of way. As I sit here now prepared to type it I feel silly but here goes.

You are a writer when you write.



So I guess the next logical extension to that is: You are a blogger when you …… post?

So I am Joanna. I am a writer who has been afraid of the page, but writing at 750words.com for a while. I am a blogger who was afraid of posting. Afraid of not having a voice. Afraid of having too strong a voice. Afraid that people would run away

Less afraid now though so I'm trying to come back. With courage. Because I do love to write.





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So, Why? aka meet the other blog in my life

Ok, So I’m trying to some self branding here. Will keep willowdove.com as my experimental and my casual site. But given my name was available I thought I’d grab it for branding purposes and to eventually put the entire collected life n times (or links to them) of me online on the one site I guess. Writings and such especially.

Unlike willowdove.com though which only really had content on the one /blog/ subdomain; I plan to spend the new year padding joannanicol.com out with different sections and ongoing activities. There might be some cross posting for a while, but as I continue to work and think and write for myself and others, I think both domains will serve a purpose each.

Hosting willowdove since 2005 has been great. I’ve learnt a lot about blogs in that time. What I like. What I don’t and what I wanted to do differently if given a fresh start. I sort of regretted not having my own name more prominent especially when I’m now known professionally as my own person. i didn’t and don’t want to change willowdove’s purpose as a place to chill and muse as a weekend/ hobby blogger

I don’t want to over promise and under deliver though. I’ve done that before. So the safest thing to say is at this point at least is “watch this space”. But feel free to poke around and see what you find. Please don’t be offended is some places are locked up. Joannanicol.com is a place for my record of my writing and online documentation as much for me as everyone else.

I can say it will be very low fuss in terms of clutter. It’s about the words!

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