The now and beyond.

I sit here confused as to who I am.

Willy Wonka tells me to, ‘hold my breath, close my eyes and count to three’. When I open them, for a moment I see the real me. I believe in magic, freedom, love and all things natural. The bush, the sea, the mountains and the desert. I believe in miracles, in smiles from a stranger, in the warmth of a touch, in all things that support me. I believe in giving. I feel whole when I see people enjoying food that I have prepared with intention. I also feel this when I give love to an animal, especially to those that do not always have the privilege of someone’s time to just be with them, sit with them, walk with them, talk with them.

As I get older and healthier with no more issues around dying to face, I feel the road ahead is more daunting than ever. I have a lovely home with a sustainable mortgage, no other debts other than a small credit card, am surrounded by a loving community, have a supportive family, the epitome of a loving husband by my side and live in a beautiful part of the world but in the last 6 months my world has suddenly been turned upside down. Why now after all these years of coping relatively well with living a life unknown waiting for a kidney transplant to having then experienced the ultimate gift from a stranger to have a second chance at it all, felt so incredibly charmed and energised that I became somewhat of a career person and fulfilled so many personal goals and achievements, why now do I feel so empty?

The definition of ‘barren’ in the dictionary is something or someone who is not productive or fruitful, or a place with few or no plants. This term actually relates to being ‘infertile’ but there is no term to simply describe a woman who has no child except ‘childless’. I’m not sure if I truly relate to my friends with kids. As I sit around and try and join in with their conversations I sometimes joke, ‘Oh yes, my dog Karri does the same thing.’,  but it’s difficult and sometimes boring but I smile and try my best to fit in. My feelings have nothing to do with being left out, simply that my life took a different road. I find joy in hearing about my friends and families kids, I adore them all but the fact is I will never bear my own children.

I never doubted I would find love. If it’s one thing I have always regarded highly, it is myself. After living and surviving an illness such as mine my WHOLE entire life, self doubt never really crosses my mind. For this gift I am eternally grateful and actually have and will continue to search for the meaning of my resilience until the day I die. I owe self love to why I am here. Yes science played a part, but it was the practice of owing it to myself to allow these practitioners, alternative and otherwise to help me that ultimately saved my life. I stand proud of this achievement so I always knew I had this kind of love to give to another. The kind that stands for trust, instinct and pure joy. I am truly grateful for this man for simply knowing he accepted all of me. No, it’s not always easy but when it’s not, I know we can talk, yell, swear and simply be honest because life is not easy. No judgement. We are all in this together.

In May I lost my Uncle Sam to cancer. I went through this journey mostly through my cousins hearing of their struggles living with a dying father. I visited him when I could but not so often as you have your own life and struggles to bear but he was never far from my thoughts and my parents filled me in to where he was at week by week. Two months to the day he died, I lost a second Uncle. My dear Uncle Tony. He was too young to die. He was 66 and left behind four children, the eldest just turning 40. He died within a few hours of feeling unwell. With only a history of diabetes, his fate was to die suddenly of a heart attack. Our world as a family unit, at that moment, fell apart.

In a way, I still does not seem real. His immediate family understandably, cannot move on. We grew up in a close knit Italian family. Four brothers in partnership, my dad being the eldest. My siblings and my cousins were bonded by our families owning a huge family business where we got to spend most days and nights together, all throughout our childhood. I have the fondest memories of never ever feeling alone. We had each other while our parents worked tirelessly to provide for our future. Cracks started to form when the matriarch of the family, my grandmother, passed away, also of a heart attack. I was 18 and around that same time I went into acute renal failure and started dialysis. The business folded, the brothers went their separate ways and that bond we had as kids, for some of us, drifted away as we turned into adults.

I feel lost. It’s hard to move forward from grief, especially when people so close to you are suffering so much more than you. They know I am here for them. I write to them, speak to them and hope that one thing I say, might ease their pain, even just for a moment. I came close to death, too close but it shames me to say, I was not scared. It was only when I was at deaths door did I get a true sense of P.E.A.C.E. The kind that fills you with a warmth I cannot describe, a sense of serenity that stimulates every cell in your entire body. It scares me to admit to how beautiful it felt to surrender. I clearly wasn’t ready then and I know I’m not ready now but how do I live in this world as a healthy person who now has a future when I have never really lived a life where a future existed?

The last two years I became the store manager and buyer of a very successful shoe store in Margaret River. It was a dream job for me. I had been with the company for four years prior whom supported me through my illness, even when I had to take months off at a time to recover from getting my old transplant removed to receiving my new one. Managing and buying used to be different roles but when changes occurred, it became a combined role. For the first year I did this over four days a week and in this last year, I did this three days a week with the management side being shared by my previous boss who’d had come back from maternity leave one day a week. As much as this helped keep up with back office duties, the stakes became higher from the buying perspective. The responsibility to fill a store with high end, mostly European made shoes to cater for specific styles, age groups, with a focus on comfort ,quality and improve from the pervious season, straight after the deaths of my Uncles left me burnt out. It was not the job. I loved the job but I had nothing left to give myself after months of trying to be the strong person at home and at work.

After ignoring the signs of stress, anxiety and depression, my body started to tell me something was wrong. I visited my doctor and he asked if I thought I might be stressed. What is stress? Living life attached to a machine….. having a fluid restriction of 700mls a day…. having a 30cm tube sticking out of my gut with the daily risk of infection….not knowing if I would ever get a transplant……not knowing if I would die waiting……? If I handled all of that, why the hell wasn’t I handling my job or my life? So here I am today. After months of feeling sad and confused, I took the plunge and have been granted three months off work. I am not going anywhere. I am simply going to spend time with myself and figure out who I am now I have a future.

This is the second week of my three months off. Last week it kind of felt good. The weather was good so I got in some beach time, our BNB was busy, I started an online program to get me to focus on using my kidney story for the greater good and my little recycle clothes venture which I’ve kept on the side line for four years was finally picking up where I could see potential in the possibly replacing income that I’ve lost with dropping my real job. But today I feel sad and I feel stressed. I feel that I’m not doing enough. I sit here and write feeling guilty for not being there for others. Who am I if I don’t have a purpose…..a job….an illness….giving love to an animal in need….grieving with my family…looking after a child?

The time has come where I need to stop and be with me. I need to acknowledge my past, my achievements thus far and understand it’s ok to feel confused about the future. The real issue for me is that I know there is more. For what I went through has shown me a higher state of being, feeling and living. I need to find that love again and use it in my daily life. If my calling is truly to make a difference for others, as I honestly believe I can, then I need to make a difference for myself, right now. How can I get through today that will help me get through tomorrow? It’s hard for me to stop because it brings back so many memories when I was forced to. If freedom is what we all desire, how can we find peace amongst so much suffering?

I was one of those people once. I once suffered tremendously. I was saved by a stranger who reached out her hand and I humbly took it. The journey has been a long one and now I face the challenges of someone that has a future, just like you. This is all new to me and scary as hell. I just want to reach out my hand too but maybe for now I need to place it on my heart and have a rest. I have the time now. I don’t need to rush. I am here and I am finally safe.

03

 

Advertisements

Validation

It’s been 10 months since my last confession.

I can’t even remember what happened this past year as it’s zoomed by. I know it felt like the longest winter ever and I know I suffered upmost heart break for losing a dog close to me in the cruellest way. I also know I got a squamous cell carcinoma cut off my lip by a plastic surgeon that woke me up to the consequences and reality of being a beach bum most my life. I had two precious holidays with my loves at my fave, and celebrated my blessings as much as I could in anyway possible, mostly by dancing in the dark for an hour every week. I know I’ve worked like a dog but luckily doing what I love and I know I have tried to learn daily on how to make life better for my mind, body and soul in the hope to always lead by example and share my joy through my personal experience of once being chained to a life support machine then being given a second chance at life by a stranger. Humbling and life changing indeed, I carry this every step I take but instead of feeling like I was unlucky, I know it was just an initiation for much, much bigger things yet to come for me.

I want to take the time out to thank all of you. My family, my closest friends, my neighbours, the strangers I meet at work, my yoga teachers, my fellow dancing in the dark allies, my amazing work colleagues, my ‘Cowgirl’ flower fairies, the cows and sheep I drive past everyday, the children that surround me, the rescue dogs I see online and the ones I hold close and of course my one and only. All of you teach me and give me daily lessons on strength, love and continually challenge me to stay true to myself and reaffirm the path I’m on truly is the right one. My focus has always been stronger than my physical self which gave me an understanding early on that we are so much more than the skin we’re in. This is what I search for everyday as it has survived more than a small body like mine ever could through medicine alone.

So what is it? I honestly don’t know. Yeah it’s my search for meaning, my pursuit of happiness because at the end of it all, I just want to die happy. I do know it is love at its purest and my search to understand it will never end as I feel my calling is to share it. I wouldn’t be here if at some point I hadn’t found it but I’ve blocked out most of that time as it’s hard to face it again. I was at deaths door and my only chance to survive was to put trust in the unknown and hold hope higher than I ever thought possible. Nothing short of a miracle happened to me and I can tell you, it was beautiful.

What would it take to be your own hero, to stand proud and know you’ve done everything possible to make peace with yourself? Pretty sure you wont find it by trying to please others or get their validation, nor by worrying sick about the things you cannot change or even by being cynical and seeing life half glass empty. This only shows your fear of the unknown and your distrust within. Why not commit to loving yourself a bit more instead. Start by standing in front of the mirror completely nude. Guess who’s the only one judging now? Be kind to number one. You deserve the life you’ve always wanted, the dreams that inspired you when you were young. It’s never ever too late and remember its always a choice. Question why the material things that thought would make you happy, don’t and never take your health for granted. It is the greatest gift of all so listen to your body. It’s about time you got what you wanted so this Xmas, make it count. Let go of all your ideals and be present to the beautiful you we can all see.

Merry Xmas.

Love Maria AKA Kidneyqueen

20161209-220627.jpg

Do you see what I see.

Summer daze. Sun so warm on your skin, you know you’re getting burnt but you cant move. You’re paralysed. It feels too good. Light sea breeze kicks in, just enough to cool you down a little. The sea is calling you. You get to your hands and knees. Even that seems like an effort. You can almost feel you’re skin crack as you move from the salty spray that has landed on your skin. You throw your sunnies off and blinded by the light, you head in the direction of the water. You know there is no other way than just to jump straight in. As I open my eyes under the water to see another world, just for a moment, I forget that any other exists.

2015 has been the best year of my life. I didn’t have one hospital admission, my hubby and I turned 40 and we celebrated with the biggest party created from a pure vision of love and joy. I went on 7 holidays, two on my own and I submitted a proposal to win a publishing deal with the Hay House group. I also became the manager of a shoe store I have been employed with for almost 5 years. In that time, they have seen me nearly die and end up on a dialysis machine, go through hell and back getting my old kidney removed and have a miraculous recovery receiving the gift of a new one. Never once allowing me to quit my job through those hard times, assuring me it would be there once I got back on my feet.

The way I got that job was a credit to the power of throwing caution to the wind. When we were moving to a new area, I sent my résumé out to the one place where I wanted to work in that little town. There was never a job going but I simply wrote a cover letter selling myself, my credentials and expressing my availability. As they say, the rest is history. It has been an absolutely rewarding and challenging experience going from being a team member to a team leader.  Five months into this gig, I am off to the shoe fairs to view next summers collections. For two days I get to walk around in the most current styles of shoes from all around the world. For most women, this comes pretty close to the idea of a happy place. I continue to be blessed and live the life I have always wanted. Grateful as always.

So 2016 has started pretty well for me. I rang it in with a group of girls with whom some I have known since age 11, dancing and laughing. I am loved, happy and healthy. I find out in 10 days if I have won any of the writing contracts of offer, given to participants of the writers workshop I attended in August last year. To have a chance to write my life story, just for living through two kidney transplants is overwhelming. My motto has always been ‘As long as there is life, there is hope’. I finally have the opportunity to explain to people how I have come out smiling and why Erin chose me to express her gratitude for her life. Clearly I have already won. What the proposal did was made me outline my story in depth. I now have clear chapters to work with and regardless of the outcome of the submission, 2016 will see me complete my memoir. How bloody exciting!!

Dan, Karri pup and I have big plans. We have so much to keep us grounded and content for the next 12 months or so but beyond that is great visions of seeing how far mine, and Erin’s story can take us. I hope one day I find the meaning of why there is so much bad. It goes without saying, by changing our own lives and living from a place of peace and love, that we certainly can influence our immediate worlds. It’s the ‘ripple effect’. This is what I hope my book will create. It’s the gift that Erin gave to me and no, it wasn’t her kidney. It was her love.

The real you is only visible when you are at your most vulnerable. Smile at a stranger, give some spare change to a cause you care about, sit down with a friend and allow yourself to open up then listen. Turn your favourite music up really loud and dance in the dark, (try it, It’s unbelievable), or just stop and take 5 minutes to be completely on your own doing something you love. Take a chance. Whatever it is, the outcome is all the same. In that moment, that space in time you let yourself go, you will feel the warmth and comfort of inner peace. It’s the essence of who we are. Its love. You will need to sacrifice two things to really feel it though. Ego and Fear. Try and avoid these two things when making decisions and see what happens. Go on, I dare you. xo

20160217-000055.jpg

Me celebrating my kidneys 2nd bday. Feb 5th 2016.

http://www.mariawyer.com.au

The Balance

I was recently asked to do a talk on how I managed to stay balanced while I was going through my darkest times.

Its this simple. Just stop. Lift your head up and look around at the beauty that surrounds you.

We are just a mere speck in the ocean but that ocean binds us all. If we don’t simplify our lives and find meaning in the now, the future will only seem even daunting. Remember we are all in this together.

Leading up to this festive season that has already begun, I wish for you all to find joy in the little things, gratitude in every step you take, safety in your sanity and nothing but peace in your soul.

Much love and blessings,

Maria ‘kidneyqueen’ Wyer

image

Reaching Out.

Please disregard the last post that I accidentally let out to cyber space then quickly deleted. For those of you following my blog, you would of received about 5 versions of my story last night! You see, I have been busy convincing myself that my destiny truly is to be an author.

To make this happen, I now have a website which is a collaboration of all my social media platforms and my blog. It is still a work in progress but happy to announce it’s now live!

www.mariawyer.com.au

This has all been a lead up in the preparation of getting a proposal together for a chance to win a publishing contract and finally write my memoir.

I would be so grateful if you could share this far and wide, ‘like’ my pages and especially ‘follow’ my blog, (thank you to those that are already).

https://kidneyqueen.wordpress.com/

You will need to copy and paste the worpress URL into your browser. The ‘follow’ tab is in the right hand corner of the blog. If you pop in your email address, you will automatically get my posts.

I need to show Hay House Australia that I am worthy to be their next big thing! If they see people already know of my story, it looks desirable to them, so read ABOUT ME on my website and I’ll keep you posted.

At the end of the day, it was through all your love and support that have made me believe I can do this.

Forever grateful.

Maria xo

Pecha Kucha

This was a presentation I did back in May for Pecha Kucha, (Google it) Dunsborough. It’s a cool platform where people from the community where it is held, get to share their story. It is ran internationally and I was privileged enough to be asked to be part of it. It is ran in a certain format where you get 6 minutes and 20 images to tell your story. Quite an effort! How would you tell your story, in this format, given the opportunity? Enjoy………Maria
 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 bfbh
Daughter of Italian migrants, grew up on 50 acres in the hills of Perth with one brother and one sister. I really had an amazing childhood with of loads of space to run and immersed in the culture. It seemed I had the perfect start in life.

I was a healthy bub until gastro like systems crippled me and in the space of a week, I was rushed to hospital where the instant decision was made to operate as they discovered I had a huge infection in my gut. Something I ate or drank gave me a rare kidney disease. It had destroyed 75% of my total kidney function. I was 9months old.

At age 5 I was shown the kids dialysis unit and was told one day I would end up on one of those. All I remember is these kids smiling hope back at me, sitting on strange machines attached to their bodies. At that point, I knew there was something different about me.

I was pretty much a normal kid until I went into chronic renal failure in year 12. I managed to attend 40% of the school year and while everyone else was studying hard or planning to work, I was trying to ignore the reality of what total kidney failure meant. 

8 months after graduating, my small amount of kidney function I had left, failed leaving me no option but to start dialysis. I was 18 and my life now consisted of going into hospital 3 times a week for 4 hours each time and watching my blood being cleaned through two huge needles attached to tubes. In my eyes, my life was over. Somehow I coped and 6 years later I received the gift of life from my mum. 

I was just shy of 25 and after waiting unsuccessfully on the transplant list with none of my other family members being a suitable donor, my mum basically begged to be retested after being discounted initially for health reasons. I had my second chance. 

After one year of recovery with lots of hiccups along the way I was given the all clear. This was when I met my husband Dan. He was living in Gracetown and 3 months after we met, I moved in. I fell in love hard for him and the South West. A year later we were married. We found solace surrounded by nature and travelled extensively. Although we could never have children, we were happy and lucky enough that the unconditional love of man’s best friend completed our family. I finally felt free.

My transplant started showing signs of rejection in 2008 after getting Ecoli. Unfortunately my kidney finally failed after 13 years to the day of receiving it.  A mystery bug that left me unable to digest food for two years and getting down to 35kgs nailed my kidney and almost me. To say it was cruel is an understatement. Not so much for what I went through losing it but for my poor mum that gave it to me. I was scared facing dialysis again and everything else that went along with it. 

I was showered with love and support by the whole world it seemed, but feeling overwhelmed, I reverted back to one of my passions and therapies, writing. I started a blog called Kidneyqueen so people could track my progress. Through this blog I was contacted by a girl who I went to school with but hadn’t seen in 20 yrs. She remembered my story and obviously never forgot it. She offered me her kidney and I needed to graciously accept it. I couldn’t wait 6 years again.

I started a different form of dialysis this time, at home and able to travel. I had my husband Dan and Erin as candidates. Neither were compatible but a new kidney exchange program created a miracle. They were both put on a list whereby people around Australia in my situation have a second chance by swapping donors. My girlfriend’s number came up and her kidney went to Victoria, the Victorian donor kidney went to Qld and I received a kidney, in an escky, with my name on it, all the way from Qld. I only waited 18 months for my life to begin once again.

I turned 40 in February this year, two days after I celebrated the one year anniversary of my second kidney transplant. We had a huge party. It was a celebration of life. I wanted it to be about Erin and what she gave up for me but to this day she said I helped her as much as she did me. Her reason for doing this was simply to give back. She had found her inner peace through her four healthy children and loving husband and reached a point where she wanted to share that joy and gratitude. The most selfless act from a stranger I have ever known and I was privileged enough to be part of it. It has humbled me to the core. 

I can now live my life the way I have always wanted. We run a bnb from home, where I also have a little recycle clothes shop called cowgirl in the sand. I live in a community where I’m surrounded by people who support me and never let me gave up. Even when I knew my kidney function was coming to an end, Dan and I travelled, laughed and loved. I didn’t feel sorry for myself because being exposed to hospitals most my life, I knew I was one of the lucky ones.Through mediation and yoga I found my inner strength and my saviour was the ocean. It’s always calm under the waves. I was forced to face my fears because for me, it was a case of life or death but so glad I did because it has set me free. If you can do the same, the real you will blow you away.

I learnt the harsh lesson of sacrifice from very early on but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have experienced life in a way I can only describe a caged animal must feel unfairly taken from their right to freedom but I have also felt utter exhilaration getting it back, twice!  Having been exposed to that extreme sadness then having a stranger offer me their hand to help pick me up again, has made me realise that’s the key to it all. Find your happy, then share it. Inside I was struggling but with everything I had been through already, I knew I had to stay focused on the bigger picture. The vision of a happy, healthy me, never ever left my mind.

So now I celebrate my new life by dancing in the dark with a room full of strangers each week and try and do something each day for someone ElseI do what I can to rehome rescue dogs and bring awareness to the cruelty of puppy farms. It helps me be a better person. Our family holidays were going up north and are still the happiest memories of my childhood and became the foundation of who I am today, not my kidney stuff. To be honest that never defined me. No I don’t think about how long this kidney will last, I think about how bloody amazing I feel. Be proud of who you are and if your not, find your inner peace and help yourself, it’s the only way you can really help others.

 Thanks for listening.

The Will to Live

The joy, far outweighs the pain.

Why is it for some, that sorrow turns them bitter or cynical? Life closes them in, unable to communicate, instead believing their own truth. It changes them. We all see it but they don’t. Why do some of us question, there is more? There has to be. I can tell you this for sure. Why do I have the will to live, when others don’t? They believe their own smile, but deep down you know they’re suffering. Why can I see past my suffering when others can’t? I have known the most physically beautiful, seemingly happy, limitless and free, succumb to depression, and even worse………………… Yet I’ve also met people that have suffered the deepest of scars, that they bear deep each day but take each step of their lives looking forward, not looking back. Smiling with dignity.

If I could tell you that all you needed to do to find change in your life was to step in someone else’s shoes, would you do it? Im telling you now, life is hard. Please believe me, but its hard for everyone. This world if full of injustices. Things we don’t need to see. I was stopped by a beautiful Ethiopian man in the streets of downtown Margaret River. He was at a stand, representing an organisation raising money and awareness for refugees in the enormous camps sprawled across Africa and South Asia. Like most locals, we politely acknowledge him but for me personally, I have my animal welfare groups that I donate to monthly and I genuinely couldn’t commit to anymore regular donations. I had passed him a few times, in a few days, always with bags and boxes of rubbish on my way to the bins at work. He finally got the courage to say to me, he didn’t want my money, just two minutes of my time.

He quickly showed me a map of the large scale camps and where they were located. It was so depressing. But what he really wanted to show me was where the money they collected was going. They supplied sterilisation packs for women who had just given birth. Matts with sterile scissors and other things to cut the umbilical cord and keep the baby and mother safe from infection. He explained that in these camps where rape is rampant and babies are being born under tarps on the ground, umbilical cords were being cut with whatever they could find, namely rocks and broken glass. He mentioned that he had spent 7 years of his teenage life inside one of these camps. He continued to tell me that we live like kings compared to these people. In fact, there is no comparison. After saying all this, he then asked me if I could sign up and commit to a monthly donation. I simply said, I wish I could save the world, then walked away. I left feeling gutted. Thinking about the young girls in those camps and what they must witness and endure. The ones with the will to live, will survive. They will see the beauty through the sadness. The hope that lies everywhere. They just have to try harder to find it. Like this man talking to me clearly did.

So where did this man find his will to live. I can tell you now, it wasn’t through sarcasm. It wasn’t by being narcissistic, nor was it by feeling sorry for himself. It probably wasn’t by drinking himself to oblivion, or not stepping outside of his comfort zone, in his case, probably a tent with 10 other forsaken people. It was by asking for help, asking questions and getting involved. It was about being pro active and realising that there was more to life than behind those fences. You create your own luck. It’s still luck, don’t forget but no one found the pot of gold without it. I say I am one of the lucky ones when others only look at my scars and can’t comprehend why I feel that way. I asked questions because I knew there was more out there. I wasn’t going to accept dying on dialysis and all the complications that came along with it. Not yet anyway. I knew it just wasn’t my time, but how did I know and why did I question my limitations when some of my closest friends and family don’t? Quite simply, I wanted to feel freedom in every way, on every level. I know that I’ve come along way but I also know how much more there is to process before I can totally accept all of what life has to offer and immerse myself in its absolute infinite beauty. What I have learnt is I can only take the good with the bad and as much as I’m afraid of facing some of the things that most scare me, I also know, that’s the key to it all.

So this is what lies before me, right now. I’m sitting on a plane, Brisbane bound to smother myself in Dan’s family love. Even if he’s not here, I hope I can give them a piece of him through me and ill in turn take it back to him. I am enrolled in a one day writers workshop through Hay House Publishing. Louise Hay starting it all with her book, ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. This company is HUGE and millions of people world wide read these authors published through this group as they are the leaders in life writing. I am hesitant to say, they write ‘self help’ books because it scares the sceptics, away. I believe that everyone has a story to tell, some more exciting than others and for those that choose to tell it and do it well, have the power to resonate, inspire and empower. You think that fiction can take you away, wait until you read what some people go through in real life!

I became friends with a Childhood Support Group Network on Facebook. A couple of weeks back a young mother from Scotland posted a photo of her beautiful 10month boy named Daniel. She was new to the group and so introduced him and his story and thanked the organiser of the page for adding them to the group. He was on dialysis and went on to explain that he was doing really well and they were looking forward to him reaching 15kgs as then he would be eligible for a transplant. I looked at this boy with the rosie cheeks and sparkling eyes and just stopped and stared. I was once like him. I was on dialysis at 9 months old. I had forgotten that once my mum had to deal with such despair and an uncertain future for her child. So now, people like little Daniels mum can reach out on such groups and find people in similar situations to get support. I posted straight away that I was once like Daniel but after two transplants and now a ripe old age of 40, I’ve never been healthier, and that there is hope and always will be.

She thanked me and all these other mothers continued to post pictures of their babies along with their kidney stories, some as young as two weeks old. I cried for all these babies because I knew what they were in for. For most of them, they will have to endure two transplants in their lifetime. If 15kgs is approximately 2 years of age, at most a kidney transplant will get them 40 years. But it’s ok, with advances in medicine, they will get through it. I did. As long as they have the will to live. Was I taught it? I don’t know. Was it the unconditional love of my parents? I don’t know. Was it because I was brought up with faith in a god that I couldn’t see? All I was told that this mythical man was going to look after me so I should put all my hopes in a religion because a group of people that only resonated love when I was around them told me so? Maybe. I do know for sure all those things gave me confidence to believe everything was going to be ok. Do you understand now why I fell so damn lucky? I was given the will to live and I want to know for myself, where the hell it came from.

After four days here in Brissy, I’m off to Melbourne to be with my blood sister who herself is going through a challenging time in her life. Who isn’t though? Its life baby. But it’s so much easier when you have family by your side to deal with it. I’ve enrolled in a two day seminar with a science based life writer who talks about ‘self actualisation’ and other cool stuff. Dr.Wayne Dyer is his name and for two days I get to listen to this international best seller speak. I am going on this self discovery tour to challenge my writing skills, to learn new things but mostly to be with me. When I get back home I start managing a shoe store that I have worked at for over 4 years, just 18 months after my kidney transplant. I want to be the most prepared I can and that is by letting go of all doubt because I was asked to do this job for a reason. They believe in me because I believe in myself. The last words Dan said to me before I left was, lets work really hard for a while then do what we do best, take off and be free. What more motivation to succeed do I need. A few days ago I found out where the word Hobo came from. Its short for homeward bound. I can wait to be one.

Maria

20150815-225752.jpg

The man that help get me here. My awesome kidney specialist.

20150815-225931.jpg

Is this it?

I love music. It’s my life. It takes me away from my thoughts and helps me be in the present. I lose myself in the rhythms and the rhymes. I also love to be in the silence of nature, but even then I hear the rhythm in the waves, sweet melodies of birds and rhymes of the breeze through the trees. My head is a jungle, at times, it never sleeps. When I go to bed at night, I still hear music, my thoughts, something. Something plays over and over in my head. It’s beautiful and frustrating all at once. At first I put it down to being so excited about feeling this well again but now It feels more like I have forgotten how to fall asleep. If there is such a thing as a musical insomniac, I am it. I know when we go to sleep, we are meant to process our day through our dreams. I guess I struggle to process what I’ve been through in my life, let alone one day. It overwhelms me, life, that is. Happiness can be a struggle, so I’ve discovered. How can what I’ve been through, bring such joy? I just don’t want to switch this feeling off, even to sleep.

I’ve been labeled such extremes as inspirational, super human to loudmouth and confronting. So I call it like I see it. It may not seem right to some, but its who I am. I can only relay why I say what I do because I survived two kidney transplants and it wasn’t by being a bloody mute. I had to stand up for myself, ask questions, be heard anyway I could, and so I still do. Simple human nature, survival of the fittest. But now its not about my health anymore, its about my sanity. How the hell do I make sense of my life without needing to worry about my health on a daily basis? It’s all I knew for most of my 40 yrs of life, apart from a healthy 10 years of it, where nothing else mattered except being in love, thankfully, I still am to the same man. I have come to understand that for some people, even the ones closest to me, hate confrontation. Even if I think I’m saying it from the most loving place, it makes them feel vulnerable and vulnerability is the scariest feeling because its when you have to face your fears. Silence, anger, sarcasm, denial, sadness, any defence mechanism to protect their soul. I wish I had a choice not to face my fears, it would of been so much easier but unfortunately for me, it was a matter of living or dying.

So to all my nearest and dearest, the only way I know how to live life is to understand it, talk about it, laugh about but most importantly, face it. Thank god my folks brought me up to believe it was O.K to say it loud because for me life was never ever going to be about ‘yes sir’, ‘ no sir’, I would of been dead if i never asked why or said no. So you ask me for advice or you say something that clearly you don’t believe but it seems like the easy way out, well, I’m going to be blunt, and you know why, because I love you. Maybe my downfall is, I care too much. I didn’t get here by being weak and taking the easy road. If I offend anyone, ill be the first one to apologise, if you bloody tell me I did! I’m learning to be more humble in my older age, but I just can’t be less honest. Someone asked me this morning if I was happy? Most of the time, YES, I am. I faced my fears and now I get to experience freedom. It’s a beautiful thing. Its called the game of life, and I won. I’m so goddam proud of how far I’ve come but I am also aware that life will continue to throw daily challenges at me and there are life lessons everywhere I look, and I want to learn them all. I want to continue to be a better person firstly for myself, then to support the people closest to me and finally to make a real difference for things I really believe deserve better.

Everyday is a challenge of the mind, body and soul. I have daily ups and downs but what insomnia has taught me is a strong perception of what being present means. Sometimes I’m so mentally tired and I become so wired, I emotionally cannot move forward unless I face whatever is on my mind, in that extreme state of tired confusion, like now, it heightens that feeling so much so, that I really try to work through those challenges, as they happen. I can’t let them build up because its going to destroy everything I have worked so bloody hard for, i.e, health and happiness. I know that my experience has hardened me in many ways so I cant pity on you, because i know it never helped me. If your struggling in any way, then that’s a sign something needs to change. If you can’t do it alone, I don’t need to tell you there are people around you who love you dearly that will listen. If you don’t want to burden them, seek professional help. There are really no excuses as to living in denial, unhappiness or ill health. Guess what… This IS it.

Everyone who has followed my blog or that knows me, understands how sensitive I am to animal welfare issues. I continue to struggle with this on a daily basis. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have the mindset or money to devote my entire being to saving dogs from being euthanised on a daily basis, nor can I not cry myself to sleep at the thought of thousands of greyhounds, horses discarded like trash, because they don’t make money for their owners anymore, chickens, pigs, ducks, enslaved in cages just to fill our bellies, the torturous practice of live export and dairy cattle that stop producing milk get no food or water for sometimes days on their way to abattoirs, in utter agony with infected udders only to be turned into minced meat sent to burger chains in the U.S.A. See, I’m already feeling utter despair but how I deal with this is I make a minimal monthly contribution to Animals Australia because they can put everything I believe in, into practice and with small steps, they are making a difference. I have faith that one day, all these cruel practices will end in developing countries. In may not be in my lifetime, but my nieces and nephews will grow with a different perspective on how we treat animals. There is too much campaigning for animal rights in the spotlight for people to turn a blind eye anymore. See, I’m already feeling better! Maybe the secret to happiness lies beyond who we see in the mirror. I like doing good.

So, my secret is: I never forget how far I’ve come, what I’ve got and how magical my life is RIGHT NOW. I plan holidays so I know my hard work is for something more rewarding than just paying off my mortgage, its for creating memories and experiences that will outlive the roof over my head. I put myself out there and try new things to challenge my personal barriers and to understand my limits. I surround myself with friends and family to know that I’m truly loved but cherish my alone time so I can do the things I love. I believe there is a solution for everything so I try not complain, but figure out what I can do to turn that complaint into a positive vision and make it happen. Cherish those moments where you feel utter peace within. It’s where we all must strive for.

Last few words ill leave you with are the day I woke up on my kidney transplants first birthday 6th Feb 2015. It’s probably similar to the above, but I love to talk/write/dance just to get if off my chest somehow. I would hope that it rubs off in someway to make a change for the better but just knowing it gets read, it’s so bloody magical. Sleep well for me. Xxxxxx

I woke up this morning ,sat down at my desk to prepare for the day and first thing I saw in my diary for Feb 6th was ‘1st anniversary of kidney transplant’.

I had forgotten. I sat back and cried with joy because it may have taken 12 months, but I now wake up with a healthy mind, body and soul. Its no longer about my kidney, its about ME.

Below is a picture of Erin and I at my husband and mine combined 40th bday party on Jan 10th this year. I wanted the party to be all about Erin and for everyone to be inspired about what she did for me. Erin did this because she wanted to give back for all the blessings she has in her life now as she admitted her life was never easy, nor was she always this grateful. Erin continues to make a difference which she does on a daily basis as a nurse, but dreams of working overseas in third world countries to help underprivileged women.

I thought that only people like me that have experienced ill health, near death or tragedy could only really experience the gift that is ‘LIFE’. I thought maybe only WE could feel the exhilaration of what it was like to have a complete transformation that makes you see things from a perspective of true appreciation to make the most of each step we take on this earth. It’s not true. Our experiences have only just made it easier to learn this life lesson, and for that I am truly blessed and wouldn’t of changed a thing. Erin found the inner strength to face her fears and now she says I saved her life as much as she saved mine. Now I understand this feeling of upmost gratitude is out there for everyone to feel because no ones life has been easy.

If I could bottle what I feel right here right now, and share it with you all, it would look like a bottle of glitter dust. A little bit sprinkled over you everyday would help you feel freedom, inner peace but mostly a strength that makes you feel like you can achieve anything you ever wanted but also wants you to find ways to give back to underprivileged people or causes just to say THANK YOU for this beautiful life.

What my experience with Erin has shown me is to firstly, LOOK WITHIN. Let go of all that’s hurt you and holding you back. If your life experiences have made you bitter, depressed, egotistical, lazy, angry and you want to keep blaming everyone else for your problems, the time is NOW to STOP COMPLAINING. There is no shame in admitting to these emotional defeats. If you don’t want to be that person anymore but don’t know how to get out of the rut, REACH OUT.

Look at yourself in the mirror, deep into your eyes and allow yourself to see what it is you really want. Once you find that, go search for it. If you need professional help, that’s ok, I’ve had to and it saved my life. Sometimes our scars are too deep to erase. Surround yourself with people that lift you, embrace you and support you. Once you find that inner peace, life will reward you. I promise.
Now I need to take my beautiful dog for a walk, because that’s what makes me happy. Love and blessings to you all. Maria x

Erin Coyne: What an amazing year it has been x thank you for your strength and courage x thank you for letting me make a real difference in someone’s lifex thank you for embracing us as your own and unconditionally xx we are forever bondedx love ya x

20150325-010508.jpg

The time is now.

‘So I’ve got a living, breathing, new kidney working beautifully inside of me. I underwent major surgery yesterday and today I’m already up walking, eating, weeing and drinking. Two doors down, my friend who gave up one of her kidneys for me is recovering and suffering in her own way. We have crossed paths once. I visited her, holding my wound, my brave face on. We smiled at each other, through our pain, knowing only we understand what this pain means.’

This was 7 months ago, coincidentally the last time I blogged. In that time my new kidney has taken me to Qld, went camping for 5 weeks in the middle of nowhere, went back to work, started another little job, taken the first steps to starting our own business, started to turn half our house into a B & B, made new friends and joined a group where we dance in the dark for an hour each week plus a number of other things! I look at my life now like Its an endless road. So limitless and free. I’ve learnt so much about myself with this new kidney. My second chance, or third I should say. It has made me realise that although my kidney failure never defined me, I got used to ‘struggling’. Everyday I got up, I knew what I had to do to get through the day, that was dialysis and all the physical and mental crap that went along with it. I had a mission and it kept me focused. I was good at that. Now, all I have to do is take medication three times a day. That’s it. Apart from the normal responsibilities that everyone has to deal with like finances, I don’t have a daily struggle anymore. I’m figuring out who I am all over again.

It may be because of what I went through that I see the extreme beauty in the world in all its infinite glory but I also see and feel the extreme sadness with all its unfathomable tragedies. I guess I have experienced both extremities. I have always been sensitive and empathic to animal welfare. To me it’s unimaginable that people think animals don’t have feelings. I am not a vegetarian but I try to choose my meat and eggs that have been ethically raised and at least lived a happy, if not shortened, life. It does make me feel better buying this way but at the end of the day, free range chickens are still cramped and free range pigs are still gassed inhumanly when they die. I am not an activist either. I just have a passion for animal rights. I am opposed to the Live Export industry and honestly I am not that well enough informed to go preaching about it but to have animals cramped in a boat for weeks on end only to send them to a fate worse than we can imagine is just not right, nor is factory farming. There are alternatives and its pathetic to think that these industries can continue for eternity just because its been done this way for hundreds of years. We have evolved and so should our practices on how we farm animals for human consumption. Puppy farms are a form of torture and it ‘s still legal in Australia to keep dogs in a cage their WHOLE lives purely for breeding and when they are riddled with mammary cancer and can’t produce any more litters, it is legal to knock them over the head and kill them. This is where puppies online, pet shops and some ‘so called’ registered breeders come from. It’s all about money. If you buy a puppy, view its parents and where they live. It breaks my heart on a daily basis to read about these dogs, pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, cats and horses and I cry for them. I refuse to turn a blind eye to them. Its my choice to expose myself to thier suffering. Why? Because its life and suffering is part of it. It motivates me to be a better person. If we’re not put on this earth firstly to help ourselves then others, what the hell are we here for then?

So that’s been my major struggle since getting my new kidney. Not the effects of the drugs I take, not the huge new scar, not my monthly bloods and not how long this kidney going to live for. Now that my awareness has shifted, I am absolutely shocked by how we can turn a blind eye to the atrocities in life, starting with self neglect. I just wonder if we all had something we were passionate about that wasn’t to do with some sort of superficial gain or recognition, we would live in a much more harmonious place and our children would lead by our example. We could create a generation of people that gave a shit about something else but themselves. We, as the human race, have created this world we live in so its only fair that we try to make things right, firstly for ourselves then for others. One person at a time. I hope that my posts about animal welfare don’t get mistaken for placing judgement on others. My motivation to do this is based on love and compassion. I hope people see the difference because I want to see change and this is they only way I can help, for now. I also have come to understand that we can’t help anyone else unless we truly help ourselves. So I ask you, what gets you up in the morning? And I don’t mean your kids, your job, the medication that keeps you alive (like I have to), because before all of that, there was only YOU. Your soul, your light, your spirit. What fulfils those things that were there from birth and will be there until the day we die? To be truly selfless, you need to be whole enough to give part of yourself away. That means being vulnerable and open to what you truly want out of life. Never be afraid of the freedom your dreams will bring you.

For me, I just strive for inner peace. If I can find peace, I can only hope I pass it on for all those close to me, for you all and to to all the causes I try and help. Everyone has a right to be free in some point in their lives, including animals. I once was caged, tied to a machine to live. Now I am FREEEEEEEEE. Yes, it was my will to live that got me here, but I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have help, or more to the point, put it out there that I needed help. It’s my turn to give back. If someone needs help, I will try as much as I can to help them. If someone is brave enough to put it out there that they are suffering, they deserve help. That’s why I get up in the morning because where there is life, there is hope. I guess I just want everyone to feel the gift that is LIFE, through my eyes. Life is beautiful, even when its hard because there’s always lessons to be learnt that will get you through the next chapter. There is meaning in everything. A practical stranger gave up a physical and emotional part of themselves for me. Not for any recognition but that it allowed her light to shine and to this day, she tells me I did HER a favour. So what motivates me each day is based on self love. If I deserved this gift of a new life and graciously accepted it, then I will do my damnedest to honour this incredible life I have been given. I will work hard but not to be the richest man in the cemetery, its to create the life I want NOW. Money will aways come and go so as long as we have enough to pay our utilities including our beautiful home, then the rest will be for enjoying, exploring, meeting new people and experiencing the huge world out there. The time is now.

I try to make my life easy because I learnt from a very young age that I had a cross to bare. My life is simple but beautiful. I wake up and thank my body for being so incredibly strong. I then fit some sort of body awareness in the day in the form of exercise like yoga, walking or dancing. I then enthusiastically play with some food and plan a new and nourishing meal. I LOVE FOOD! Now I’m ready to plan a fun day for Karri pup, make sure Dan has everything he needs to get through his day as pleasantly as possible, then touch base with my family to make sure they are all ok even though I hate talking on the phone, it could just be a quick ‘I love you’ message. I think they are just happy to know I am doing so well but I still need them desperately and worry about them endlessly. I then help a few animals in need by sharing some photos of homeless dogs and articles on raising awareness to eating ethically. I try and limit this worry time as it breaks my soul to see these animals suffer but at least I can help, even in a small way. At the start of each week I also make time to catch up with my beautiful friends that have given me endless love and support so I can give it back to them. I try to find joy in each of my little jobs from selling shoes, to babysitting to merchandising in Bunnings! Honestly, I can’t complain there. I have huge diversity in my employment. Lastly, we work out where to fit ‘family time’. Time we spend in nature and breathe in some beautiful fresh air. Could be from a walk in the bush to a day at the beach, hand in hand, time to just be. I guess I’m just lucky that the simple things in life fulfil me but as long as I can achieve a work life love balance, I am satisfied. Life is a choice and I choose to have an easy, fun one.

You all know through my past posts that I am forever grateful for the life I have been given. The times I was at my most vulnerable were when I lost my native kidney function, received then lost my mums donated one, and going through this final transplant. But if I hadn’t been put in those situations, I would never have seen the true nature of people. These were without a doubt the hardest times in my life but what I saw will remain in my heart forever. The toughest, hardest of people left their issues at the door and crumbled. It was beautiful and humbling. Their smiles of hope and tears of sadness I will never forget. So I’ve seen first hand the soft and grateful nature that is truly within us all. For some, it takes someone else’s struggle to let their true light shine. Your spirit can be crushed through life experiences but it will forever burn bright and is waiting for you to set it free. Happiness will set you free. I got to experience these rare and beautiful moments in people. Moments of pure vulnerability. Their true self, living in the moment. If I was able to give those people the opportunity to see themselves for who they really are, even if it was just for one moment, then I’ve given something back to this incredible life i have been given. I just want to be thankful for everyday. I don’t know who to thank first so I normally just thank everyone. My body, the universe, my faith, my family, my upbringing, my husband, the ocean for cleansing me, my animal for showing me unconditional love every second of the day, the list goes on. The simple truth is, treat others as you would like to be treated. I’ve had it easy for being given my struggles because it forced me to see my shining light, my strength. Now I’ve seen it, it’s never going to fade. If you want to take a glimpse at it, look into your own eyes in the mirror. They don’t hide anything.

So ill leave you with these words written by someone that left this world too soon. ‘How to take the trail to where we want to be, I try to imagine this enormity takes belief and guts, takes someone who knows who they are. I believe your determination will be a satisfaction as you have sacrificed yourself and got straight back up and made life closer to your bones. Sadness is the beautiful condition caused by pain suffered by sensitive thoughtful people. To feel pain, first you must care.’

20140905-003526.jpg

Me and my Kidney

My life 5 days ago is now a dream. I honestly can’t believe what I have been through the last 18 months. Leading up to the transplant, I kept saying, I can’t wait to wake up from this dream and be living with my new kidney. Now, I’m here, and it is just so beautiful. Only 5 days ago, I was plugging myself into bags, machines, only being able to drink a litre a day and living with a 30 cm tube sticking out of my belly. I was quietly suffering, but coping. I would go out with my friends and hold my head up high while I sipped on ice cubes while I watched them enjoying some social drinks. I would look at them and honestly wonder if I would ever be able to do the same one day. I also didn’t produce ANY urine. That’s right. I didn’t wee. I had the urge, but nothing ever came out. It was frustrating and I felt sad, but somehow I got used to it. I just passed my very first lot of urine, out of my own bladder which was produced from my very own kidney! I can only describe this feeling as amazing. Ive had a catheter in since the op to give my urether time to heal and get my bladder slowing getting used to being full again. Never complain about drinking too much water and weeing too much. This is what our bodies need to be healthy.

This second transplant has spun me out. Every second of the last 5 days, I have been lying here feeling like a white light of love is beaming right out of me. This kidney is working better than my mum’s ever did. I thought, being older and already going through once before, it would be tougher as i knew how hard it was going to be. But it’s not and that’s one of the reasons I feel so blessed. Firstly I have Dan. My love that I was lucky enough to have crossed paths with and married, who, to say is my soul mate, is an understatement. We are one. When I look at him, I see me. I have my family. I need to give them credit for bringing me up to believe that regardless of my illness, that I can achieve anything I want and it doesn’t have to define me. I am Maria who loves life, the beach, animals, laughing, dancing, not, I am Maria, living with kidney failure. I have my friends. They believe in me. They fill me with such high hope that I am strong enough to get through this, I only have one choice but to believe them. They convince me that I deserve this because I give to them a friendship that they respect and love so much. You go through life hoping your a good person. If I respect yourself and others, smile, be polite, friendly, humble and kind, in theory, you should attract the same type of people in your life and be happy. What’s overwhelming is that for being the person I am, because of what my folks taught me and my life experiences, someone gave up one of their kidneys for me.

Which brings me to Erin. Erin was two doors down from me and left after 3 days. She is happy at home recovering now. I have already said the reasons she wanted to do this but since the op, the impact we realise we have made to the universe is unbelievable. We have created a miracle that has inspired hundreds of people. The messages of love and astonishment that because we pulled this off, has changed people’s lives. Erin is being hailed as a hero, and I have been put on this pedestal of having unwavering courage, but the truth is, this is life. Life is beautiful, but in its extreme beauty it also has its sadness and extreme suffering. I have said this before, but by living with an illness, I have been lucky enough to understand that I choose not to waste my life on things that don’t matter. I try not to sweat the small stuff. I put things into perspective and its easy for me because I really only have the energy to worry about myself and the people that love me. We are born into this world alone and the only person that can get you out of your shit, is you. I’m not going to tone down what Erin and I have been through this last year, let alone the last few days. But we did it because firstly, we know the secret to life and secondly because we are bloody tough Wonder Women!

So you want to know the secret to life?…………smile on, pass it on…….Be present. Find your PASSION. Respect yourself and your body. Appreciate that you only live once. If you stress, make it productive for bettering yourself. Believe in miracles. Have courage to change the things you don’t like about your life. Be kind to everyone and especially yourself. Mediate. Dance. Do some form of exercise. Eat good, nourishing food. Spend time amongst nature and with animals….watch how children live so innocently without worry. Listen and learn. Trust that you are meant to be right here, right now. Listen to music. Spend time laughing with your friends. Kiss your partner. Hold hands. Have faith. Dream BIG. Trust health professionals if you need them. Swim. I honestly could go on and on but my best advice would be, don’t let the sad things in your life define who you are. Hold your head up high knowing that you are living your life to the happiest you can so you can be confident that your future will be bright.

I can say all that while my body is covered in bruises from all the needles I’ve endured the last few days. A new 30 cm wound on my right hand side to match my old one, which now creates a huge smile on my belly. A lifetime of anti rejection medication that have long term side affects, which I choose to ignore and believe won’t affect me. I’ve had to be the bravest I ever had, the moment I was wheeled into the operating theatre, trusting that everyone around me knew what they were doing. Waking up from the op, in excruciating pain so, so scared, waiting to hear those words, that the op went went well and my kidney was working. Erin and I have just been through an experience that only a handful of people will ever get to understand. We feel like a miracle has happened, and frankly, it has. I have a new, living, breathing organ, from someone I don’t know, working perfectly inside of me. This would not of been been possible without the precision of the surgeon and his team, the renal specialists and the beautiful nurses looking after me. This organ is going to take me around the world and make me a very happy lady. I get to go home today so as you can imagine, the minute I step out of this hospital, I have a new life ahead of me which looks pretty bloody special. Go and create your own miracle. They are all around you. Thanks Erin. Xxx

20140211-084431.jpg