About Me

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Passionate mother of two wonderful children. Believe in people using their powers for good and not evil. Advocate for my kids. My eldest child is a talented, intelligent, socially aware, proud, young, androgynous person and my youngest is also talented, clever, loves the outdoors and has excellent problem solving skills, he also happens to have Down syndrome. As a family we love trips to the beach, park, shops and Maccas for the play equipment. I enjoy reading, writing, crochet and cooking.  I believe in equality and inclusion in all aspects of life for all. And I believe in justice. Hope you enjoy my blog :)

Friday, 27 December 2013

Family - Bah Humbug Warning

Lady Diana Spencer aka Princess Diana or Lady Di.  Now there's a name or three we all know.  No matter how old you are, even if you weren't alive in her lifetime, most people will know that name. She is famous not only for her position within the English Royal Family, but for the Humanitarian opportunities that position afforded her. The cute penguin picture above comes from a website that is a list of quotes from many people, and also lists many of the wonderful things Lady Di said. Some profound, some sentimental and some just sounded wonderful, because she said them.  People listened to her, they loved her.

This is why I wish she had said something more than this about family, something realistic.

What if you have no family.  What if your friends are the only constant you have in your life?  When it comes to the crunch, where do you fit in "that" family? What if you are not a part of the "huddle" depicted above?
It is wonderful to have good friends. I know. I'm blessed with many good friends. *Waves to those who I have heard from over Christmas*

I have lifelong friends that make it feel like we've never been apart when we get together, friends I've met at work and still keep in touch with despite life changes and location, friends who have been brought in to my life through common denominators and who have been great strength and support for me, friends who share many of life's woes with me and we support each other; I have many friends.

Friends, not family.

So when people say (and believe) that family is the most important thing in the world, where does that leave me and people like me?

I can tell you.

You are never the first person they phone with good news like the announcement of an engagement, wedding, pregnancy; on the other side of that, I suppose it is a good thing, you will never be the person to get "that" phone call either.

When your friends have family functions, you always hear about them, later, and how wonderful they were and how much fun was had and how happy everyone was. Or, in this day and age, you get to see the photos on Facebook.

Precious moments of "drop in" and visit never happen, people always plan to see their friends, make appointments, plan an outing.

When you fight with friends, they don't have to be your friend anymore. When you reconcile with friends, the relationship is scarred, it is never the same and there is no pressure from within any structure for it to be repaired, it's just you and your friend.

You very rarely hear families say, oh well, if he/she (brother/sister, Uncle/Aunt) is going to be like that, you are better of without him/her in your life. Again, the pressure from within is there persisting with the value of that family relationship and being part of a bigger whole.

WHY NOW? WHY THE FUCK NOW?  I hear you ask .... Come on Sandra, we are all still trying to get our colons to work properly after the feast that was, wallowing in the glow of over indulgence and simply being spoilt by our loved ones ... We are getting ready to make ourselves sick again, and try to stay up until midnight for the fireworks! We are away, on holidays, with our families ..... OOOOOOOHHHHHHH, now you get it.

This concept is what I ponder at this time of year, every year, because it is said, about this time of year ... "It's all about spending time with your family, being together.".

I've taken to just saying to people "We don't do Christmas", "We're not Christians" etc in response to the questions, 1. How was your Christmas Day? 2. What did you do? 3. Did Santa come? 4. What did you get? 5. Are you going away? 6. What are you doing for New Year? At least people who know me have learnt to be polite and not to ask about family, probably more to save themselves the embarrassment than for the emotions it may (or may not) stir in me.

Well, here are the answers.
1. I spent the day trying not to cry in front of the kids and justifying my complete disdain for the whole holiday. So, the answer is "Good!" Since I didn't actually cry at any point.
2. We slept in until about 10am, we sat around for most of the rest of the day, we all had showers, we went for a drive, we came home, we had dinner and we all went to bed.
3. No, Santa never actually comes, he is a lie, a marketing ploy.
4. Here's what we got ... that will save me having to recite the list again! (See pic below)
5. Ummmm, No ...
6. I will be in bed by 11pm.

So, I suppose you are all wondering what gem I will pull from my repertoire to make this seem like there is a Happy Ending .... well there is, NOW you are all more aware that not everyone has what is considered a "Normal" Christmas.

Now, maybe when you, out of habit, ask that friend of yours, your colleague, the woman at the check out in Coles what they did for Christmas, you might consider, the answer may not be what you expected. Loneliness is a feeling that people experience all, year, round. It doesn't go away on "special days", those days are special because of the experience of the day, and if you have nobody to share that experience with, well ...

Christmas, Easter, New Year etc etc, are different for everyone, and while our Christmas seems to have been one nobody would want, it was ours, and, despite all else, we have a roof over our heads, we did not starve to death, we weren't bombed nor was our house ransacked or set on fire, like the reality of people in various parts of the world, so, we still have much to be grateful for. So there ...
In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. John Steinbeck

Friday, 20 December 2013

Where is the Humanity?

There was a time I knew, when people organically cared about each other. I remember a neighbourhood of friends, not neighbours.  I still have many of those friends. We still care about each other. We may not live near each other, but when times are tough, we take the time to let each other know we care, and when times are good we rejoice together. We do what is within our power to do, we always empathise.




Empathy is something that does not seem to exist in some people, sadly, people who have the power to do good not evil, often lack that sense of empathy. Take for example the situation with Asylum Seekers here in Australia, the abuse and bombings of citizens in Syria, the withholding of Human Rights for GLBTIQ in Russia and the ensuing punishment for breach of their inhumane laws, and many, many more atrocities all around the world.



Some, we hear very little of they are so unbelievable. Even if we had heard an illegal or embarrassed whisper, we would be unlikely to believe it. Much like our history, The Holocaust and the many more mass executions that have taken place since WWII. Who would have believed the attacks in Syria if it weren't for this age of digital photography and media? We could not see the Holocaust during WWII, so people simply chose to not believe that human beings could be that destructive, that cruel and murderous to other human beings.

Unfortunately, that is the result of a mass mentality pushed in the direction of evil, not good.

I found this wonderful video today that I believe we all need to watch.
It talks about the evolution of human empathy. It addresses how we influence others and most importantly, it talks about where we find ourselves today.


Take the time to watch it. The second part of this post can wait for another day.

My Happy ending will be when the tipping point gains momentum and the world finds empathy again.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Where I thought I would be ...

When I wrote THIS POST just over a year ago now, I really believed it.

Some of it I can still believe ...

I know I have had another year of learning about myself, mostly things that have helped me to understand myself, and love and forgive myself for many things.
I know I am very proud of my children and I love them dearly.
I know I am grateful for what I do have.
I know, once again, that I have what it takes, and I can do what I need to do.

I am not however, exactly where I saw me being and once again, I will be glad to see this year end.





In Scotland they celebrate the last day of the year, Hogmanay, and express this celebration with a tradition of "out with the old and in with the new", First Footing symbolises this and marks the opportunity for blessings of good luck on the home.

It is a time for new beginnings, of leaving behind the old and embracing the new, it is a time of hope and dreams for the future.

So once again, at this time of year, that is where I am at.  I am at a place of dreams for the future because planning never seems to quite work out for me ....


Yes, the Happy Ending for me will be when I have enough stability in my life to enable me to plan a solid future for me and my children.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

How much social media do you do?

Today I took some time out to have a quiet coffee and regroup. 

As I sat down at my table in the Cafe, I noticed the local paper. Wow, can't remember the last time I read an actual real newspaper!

I flicked through. I savoured the sound the pages made as I turned them, the smell of the ink on the rustic paper, the feel of the rough texture only a newspaper has, the need to at times wet your fingers to separate the pages so to turn only one at a time. Heaven forbid I should miss the best story. 

My mind wandered off a bit as I perused the images that sprang from the pages. I really do spend a lot of time on my digital devices, I started to wonder if the electronic subscription trial I had just undertaken might be best converted to a hard copy subscription. 

My attention was caught again by an interesting local piece of news that was both refreshing and heart warming. It confirmed to me that I really do spend far too much time on social media, when I raised my hand and moved it toward the article, only to realise I was looking for the "like" button!

Do you ever consider cutting back on your computer time?  Should we be getting out more IRL?  Do you enjoy the tactile experience of holding a real newspaper, magazine or book?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Still in need of a Landlord!

Just thought I would update you all as to our housing situation.

I am frantically trying to find properties to inspect that may (or may not) suit LJs needs.

I have a few inspections lined up around Wollongong of properties that have been listed on the popular dot com sites, but of course, at this time of year, competition will probably be fierce with the University population in turnover mode.

I have had a bit of feedback from my first Community Call Out post, you remember? This One

ABC TV/Radio have interviewed me, but the TV version of that interview will not air until a bit later this week.  I have had reports of people hearing me on radio, so hopefully, a Landlord may hear me too.

In the meantime, I ask again, if you know anyone who has an investment property or a few, in the area, or you know someone who knows someone, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ... put them in touch with me.

Thank you all once again, my wonderful online community!





Happy Ending here will be my boys and I are settled in and able to put up a humble Christmas tree in time for Christmas Day in our new home.


Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.
Jim Rohn

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Landlord Community Call Out

When I started blogging, I had in mind many reason for doing it, none of which included asking for help from my online community.

Yes, I have asked for help in regard to signing petitions, one of which is Chloe's Law an Anti-Bullying Petition being sent to the Australian Senate.  This is something that is very close to my heart.  If you have not signed it I suggest you do that NOW and come back to finish reading this post. I'll wait ...




Nice to see you back.

And I also tried to bring to your attention the plight of an Australian family in Adelaide who had fallen upon tough times as a result of the Dad having suffered a stroke at a very young age. I will provide a link at the end because when you go and like their page on Facebook and see what they have done, you will probably stay there for a while getting familiar with their story and all the good they have since done, and hopefully get involved yourself if you can.  Out of  diversity, they have created something beautiful. It's called the Foxy Foundation.  Go check it out, but do that one later via the link supplied at the end of this post.



So, "Landlord Community Call Out", you are probably wondering what I can do for any Landlords.

Well, here is what I can do ... I can supply them with a reliable and financially reliable, honest, self sufficient, respectable, long term tenant, who will fill their home with love, respect and gratitude. Add to that my charm and wit ... what more could a Landlord want?

All jokes aside, I am a good tenant and I am looking for a long term tenancy for myself and my children. We have had so much upheaval and it is making life very difficult for us particularly around managing anxiety levels for us all, but particularly, LJ.

You may have read my previous posts about our situation, but to shorten all that for you, this is where we are at now. Due to major maintenance issues required in the property we are in (that existed when we moved in), the Landlord has requested "Vacant Possession"of the property to undertake those repairs. The Landlord requires that by 17th January 2014 and as of yesterday was not willing to negotiate on this matter.

Therefore, our situation is becoming URGENT, particularly since over Christmas, the Real Estate Industry all but shuts down and our required date to vacate is about the time they return to work. In real terms, I have about 4 weeks to find another property, hence my decision to blog about it!

I am a tenant who is registered on the Pathways Housing Register, which means Housing NSW and any other Community Housing Organisation are able to provide me with a service that will assist me to find a "suitable" property.

Herein lies the problem. The word "suitable". As you may or may not be aware, my son LJ, who is 11 years old, has Down syndrome.  For any parent reading this who has a child with a disability, you will understand disability impacts every person differently. So even if you have an idea of what Down syndrome actually is, unless you have close and constant contact or interactions with a person with Down syndrome you cannot understand how it impacts their life, or the lives of their families and carers. Let's just say, it adds a whole other dimension (or two). And, even if you have a person in your life who has Down syndrome, they are not MY person who has Down syndrome. Documented evidence of the details of LJ's disability and the implications formed part of our original application to Housing NSW.




Our kids are individuals, as are all kids, all people!

Unfortunately, the person who decides what a suitable property for us is, is not us. And, the person assessing a property that is "suitable" is a person who has never met or known LJ and therefore is unable to look at a property and assess it's suitability with regard to safety and security because they have no knowledge of LJ's ability when it comes to escapism or general seeking out things he should not be touching or playing with because of a level of danger. Another policy that applies to all agencies who could help us is that we are only entitled to two offers of properties and if I deem a property NOT to be suitable, there is a 28 day appeals process that I have to go through to be entitled to have that offer opportunity reinstated so another offer can be made.

Now, I know most parents are thinking, sounds just like my 11 year old ... this is where I might need to link in my previous post which talks more specifically about LJs disability.  Here is the link.  A quick overview though, LJ has an intellectual delay, receptive communication lack, delayed processing time, no idea of stranger danger, no concept of imminent danger to himself or others, the cognitive ability of a 4 - 6 year old in some things and the physical strength and ability and agility of an 11 year old. In short, exhausting. It breaks my heart every time I have to make a list of all the challenging attributes of my beautiful little boy, because he really is that, my beautiful little boy.



LJ is also a gorgeous, empathic, lovable, kind, energetic, funny and absolutely adorable child. He loves dance, sport, "shooting hoops", riding his scooter, playing with friends, watching DVDs, going to the beach, ten pin bowling and all the typical things kids love to do. He is a real social butterfly and because his favourite food of all time is ice cream, he has the energy to be one ALLLL day! LOL

Here is what I need you to do.

Share this post with ANYONE you think may know someone or who is someone or who has contacts and networks or who is in the media or who in any way whatsoever would be able to help me find this:

I need a three bedroom home in the North "ish" Wollongong area. I can consider anywhere from Figtree up as there is transport, buses are available from those areas.  We are currently in Fairy Meadow and the boys both are in Schools nearby. The property needs to have a securely fenced (level as possible) back yard, with minimal debris or obstacles, completely enclosed and preferably fences in excess of five foot with minimum foot holds. We obviously need all the other amenities such as a kitchen, lounge room, bathroom and toilet. An indoor play area would be a huge bonus.

LJ needs to have a backyard to blow off steam, he is a very energetic child and as I am a single Mum, I am not always able to supervise him in the yard, hence the need for such high levels of security and safety. To be able to see the yard from within the home would also be a huge bonus.

So go forth and spread the word.

I can be contacted at slynn0601@gmail.com, I am on Twitter s_lynn4 or you can leave a comment at the end of this post!


PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, SPREAD THE WORD!!!

I think you all know what my idea of a Happy Ending Would be in this situation, so let's get on with making it happen!


Thank you all, my wonderful online community!


Friday, 15 November 2013

Housing Update

For those of you playing along at home, the situation around our housing has worsened.

If you are not sure what I am talking about, the previous post is here

It has been proven now that despite CH organisation stating that they comply with Housing NSW policies, they have not.

I now have to wait 28 days for the appropriate process around my appeal to unfold while they do an "internal" investigation.

If I don't agree with the outcome of their investigation, then I have to make an appeal to another authority.



At the end of the day, I will miss out on a property (that we have now confirmed can be made safe for LJ) because of the time that will lapse while this due process unfolds as a result of them not taking into consideration LJ's needs for housing around his disability and my care situation, which were specified in our original applications to Housing NSW. A complete disregard for their own policy.

In short, someone didn't read a file, or someone doesn't know the policy, or someone has just made an honest mistake. But when those shortcomings mean that a family will potentially be put at risk of homelessness, does one not just put up their hand and say, "It was me, I made the mistake and I'm sorry. We don't need to waste 28 days, lets just move forward and get these people housed appropriately."

My Happy Ending - When I complete my Community Service Certificate IV next year, all this experience will only help me to do a better job than these people have!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Accountability

Are you the type of person who is true to your word?

When you say you will do something, do you do it? Always?

What would you do if you had promised someone you would do something, and then found yourself unable to follow through on your promise? Would you contact them and explain? Maybe even apologise?

This is what I would hope to do, despite the embarrassment and the obvious disappointment I will cause, simply because the disappointment of being let down with no explanation, is much worse, and I would not want to be responsible for making the choice to have someone feel worse than they need to.
What happens if you work for an organisation which represents themselves publicly as being the provider of a specific service at a particular level of service or who would provide that service in a particular manner to a particular group of people? Are you committed to uphold that statement of service just because you work for them? What if you couldn't with the resources made available to you? Would you still work for them? Would you strive to achieve that level anyway whilst banging your head against a brick wall? Might you suggest to your bosses the Mission Statement is actually NOT achievable from the perspective of resources and ability to consistently provide that service?

What if you were called out on that Mission Statement by a customer? Would you simply ignore its existence? Would you explain it was out of date? What would you do?

To avoid this looking like a simple rant, I will supply you with some facts.

My 11 year old LJ, has Down syndrome (DS). To most people that means he will look different, he has an intellectual delay, he may have some physical limitations.

The reality is this. Since LJ could roll, he has absconded, not unusual for a child with DS. He very rarely runs away these days or leaves an area that he is supposed to stay within, but he is now 11 and has learnt to climb! On tables, up paling fences, ladders, up poles, trees etc etc.

I know, you are all saying "Sounds like a typical 11 year old boy to me." Me too, except for the addition of the intellectual delay, Hypotonia, Hyperextension, receptive language delay,  expressive language delay, lack of understanding of stranger danger, lack of proper social skills and a long list of other smaller issues, which, added up mean, he needs supervision 24 hours 7 days a week.
In the past, when I had the choice as to the properties we rented, I would always look for a few basics in security. Front and back screen doors must key lock, no access to under house, 6 foot fences (preferably Colourbond).  Any gates require padlocks, if there was a garage the internal access door needed a key lock. Windows must not have broken fly screens, and must be able to be key locked. And that, mostly, covers the aspect of him absconding. Also, no double storey properties and one with a back yard so he can have some free reign.

As for other things like sharp knives etc, the usual stuff with little children, I need to be on the ball keeping those in safe places.  "Up High" no longer cuts it as he just drags a chair over and accesses whatever he likes.

And at this point, let me remind you LJ is 11 years old, not so typical anymore hey?

Couple the need for such supervision and application of the many therapies, with the role of a single parent of two children, it actually seems amazing we have clean clothes, a clean house, any food in the house or even cooked meals. I have no extended family nor any other network of support.

After 8 years as a single parent with no other support, I have recently secured some respite support, however, it does not extend to assistance with any day to day support for Luke. I tend to use the respite so we can attend social functions as a family or to attend to my other child's needs outside of the home.

Unfortunately, it was a direct result of the breakdown of my marriage that found me and my children back in the rental market for accommodation. While I was self employed, I had some control over the houses we rented, but since we moved just under 2 years ago and I was unable to reestablish my business, I have relied on welfare and a few hours a week part time I have managed to find.

As a result of our unstable financial situation and my ever increasing Depression, I needed to seek assistance to find a rental property via a Community Housing Organisation (Whose name I have changed here to CH), who, promise the following:


Our Mission
Creating quality community housing for people in need through proactive management , matching housing solution with need, creative partnerships and listening to our community.


CH was established in 1983 to prevent homelessness through the provision of community housing. We offer support to our tenants on housing issues, and always strive to listen and learn from our tenants and the local community in order to provide the best possible housing services we can. We are overseen by Board of Directors that is made up of skilled members of our local community.

Registered as a Public Benevolent Institution gifts and donations to CH are tax deductible.

Main Aims
To address homelessness through provision of housing
To promote consideration and understanding of issues affecting housing and the implementation of housing and related programs appropriate to local needs
To contribute to the process of policy development and change amongst relevant Government agencies and other authorities in relation to housing.

Services at a Glance
Long term Community Housing
Temporary Accommodation in Partnership with Housing NSW
Boarding House Accommodation
Housing for People with a Mental Illness
Youth Housing
Aboriginal Housing
Refugee Housing
Other special purpose partnership projects.


NB: One of the "Other special purpose partnership projects" they speak of is around people with Disabilities.

This organisation was thoughtfully and purposefully formed to service specific areas of our communities, those being, the marginalised.

People living with Mental Health diagnosis, Disability, Homelessness, Illiteracy, Physical Health constraints, and many other difficulties that usually mean they need support and advocacy simply to achieve a very basic level of existence in any community.

And yet .... the very agencies which were formed to serve these people, deny them that service because of their inabilities, not in support of them!

If you can't complete reams of paperwork, you are not able to apply for public housing or priority housing nor many other services.  Support is NOT automatically given, you need to qualify for that extra support and you have to have help to do that.  How do you get that help? By filling in other forms with some other agency so you can register with them to advocate for you.

Anyone seeing the irony yet?

And when you have more than one difficulty in your life, well, that means you don't meet their criteria, and so, they can't provide any services because they don't know what to do with you because their Policies and Procedures don't cover it and they, cannot think for themselves!

I am now in the situation where this organisation which is supposed to provide housing to meet the needs of its client base, are telling me I have to take what is offered (even if it does not meet my needs) or I will end up homeless AGAIN! WITH, my two children.

They are in fact exacerbating my situation as a full time carer and making it much more difficult for me to exist by offering me a property which by no stretch of the imagination, meets the basic security needs to enable me to care for my son safely, whilst also being a parent and attending to the usual stuff we all have to attend to.

As I said when LJ's Case Worker rightly suggested no parent is capable of 24 hour 7 days a week supervision ...

If LJ was a "typical" 11 year old, he'd be out riding his bike with his mates and I wouldn't have to be worrying about being able to keep him in!

When will Disability Service Providers TRULY understand the people they are representing?

My Happy Ending will be if this organisation will actually listen to my needs and meet them, like they say they will.