For Sarah.

Steadfast we stand, we shine our lights in solidarity to the memory of your soul.

The tragedy that took away your cherished life is beyond unimaginable and I send my heartfelt love and sympathy to your family and loved ones.

It is so hard I have drilled it into my children and so many girls that I have taught about how to try to be safe on the streets. Not because I wanted them to be afraid, but because I didn’t want them to ever come to harm. As a mother for me, that has always been the one thing that was important, for them not to be harmed. What saddens me is that they have both already had to survive sexual harassment that is unwarranted and unwanted.

I have walked in the middle of the road on a dark night to avoid the parked cars, I have changed my route and taken a longer safer one, I have quickened my pace at the heavy sound of footsteps behind me, I have had my keys clenched firmly in my fist poised and my cellphone ready to dial.

I have avoided going out at night, been the sober driver so I didn’t leave myself or any of my friends vulnerable. I have gone to evening events and my mantra is always the same – I can have a glass of wine when I get home. I have worried as a mother, ensured that my girls could phone me at any time of day or night and in any state of drunkeness, My husband and I have rescued them in the middle of the night, provided a taxi service to ensure that no-one was left vulnerable or alone.

I have survived being followed, being stalked, being cat-called, seeing men expose themselves in public, (more than once- I was just 7 years old the first time it was in the Children’s play park.) I have been assaulted and stood my ground and had to protect myself and I am acutely aware that I am not alone and that most of what I have described is laughed off, unreported and unchallenged.

In my thirties I was assaulted and abused for going into my local bar without my husband and no-one in the bar stood up for me.

Yesterday at the age of 54 I went on a 5km walk alone, by myself, along the canal in the daytime, for me it was my attempt to reclaim the day in memory of Sarah Everard. I do go walking on my own but always in places where there are likely to be other people. There are hills I would still like to climb but I still lack the courage-it is a work in progress- I am working on it.

In Whangarei in May 2016 we did reclaim the Hatea Loop with what seemed like the whole town, following a shocking sexual assaultof a runner in the early hours of dawn. We turned out to walk at sunset, men women and children, and when this lockdown is finished maybe we can do this in memory of Sarah too.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Past One O’Clock…

SO I am doing my own version of poetry month and this is a poem that will always have meaning for me and when she was younger this was my Ellen’s favourite….don’t want to break any copyright so here is just a snapshot:

“Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.”

Taken from Vladimir Mayakovsky– Past One O’Clock.

We love the whole poem and everything it represents, it is a very tragic story and the poem was found amongst his papers following his suicide and also formed part of the epilogue of his suicide note.

Mayakovsky was a leading poet during the Russian revolution and was jailed several times and reputedly began to write poetry during a spell in solitary confinement.

Past One O’Clock

Te here tangata

It is fragile this thing called life but we are one.

All part of one tapestry in life. The warp is our connection to the past and the future, and the weft is that which connects us now. The present.

There is a Maori whakatauki, Ka mua Ka muri, walking backwards into the future. It reminds us that we can learn from the past and it will help us deal with what lies ahead.

I guess the difficulty is that we often don’t see the relevance, meaning and importance of moments- until they have gone. This is why, however difficult it might be we have to accept the current moment for what it is- and to value it regardless. And whilst singularly our life might seem insignificant or unimportant, that it is part of something bigger, that we are part of something bigger.

Perhaps we are like firefly’s. Perhaps we light the way for others.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Beyond the horizon…

It had been a long journey, her feet bore the bruised hallmarks of a difficult life, but still she walked on.

She knew that even if she could not reach the rich promises of the future on the horizon she could leave footprints for those who mattered to follow.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

it is enough

If you have food in the cupboard and a roof over your head, it is enough.

If you have worries that wake you but family that make you, it is enough.

If you have known love, shown love and grown love, it is enough.

If you have dreamed a little, worked a lot and been satisfied with your endeavours it is enough.

If the art of giving is more meaningful than getting, it is enough.

In the dark moments of life if you can still see a tiny flicker of light it is enough.

It is enough. It doesn’t have to be as vast as the oceans or as deep as the sea or as high as the mountain,

and you don’t have to be the richest, fastest, bravest, tallest, it isn’t about how much your worth measures but how you measure your worth.

It is enough. This I have learned.

Whatever I am, whoever I am, wherever I am, if I give with gladness of my heart it is enough.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

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When I was about 18 a very close friend of mine observed that I always seemed to be searching for something and that she worried that I might never be happy. I remember because it troubled me too, it was as if there was something missing from my life and I didn’t really know what it was, and I mistakenly labelled it happiness or perhaps even love. I think it took me many years to realise that it wasn’t missing at all that I just hadn’t recognised it even though at times it was staring me in the face.

 

I thought I had it sussed but you don’t know what you don’t know.

Sometimes your life can change in a second. A split second.

FAITH that which anchors us.

There you are swimming along, taking in the scenery, drinking in the wonderful aroma of a rich fulfilling life, clear in the knowledge of who you are, where you are at and where you are heading for and then BOOM.

A split second, no time to weigh things up, stack odds against likelihoods decide on the most suitable path forward and … Just BOOM.

FAITH that which anchors us.

In computer games, it is the moment when the screen says Game Over. You lost your final life, it wasn’t planned, it was some sneaky attack from nowhere, a slight slip of the thumb and the computer registered an 8 instead of a 7 and BOOM- game over. It wasn’t even intentional.

It is likely to be your own fault, a lapse in concentration, a misguided loyalty, a misunderstanding, too much haste in a too pressured job and that is it. Wiped out in a nanosecond. No insanity plea, no curtain call, just fingers gripping the edge hoping that you won’t fall, just silent prayers to an overworked God asking for forgiveness.

If you are lucky and your prayers are answered you will live to fight another day. You will be thankful, and kinder and maybe wiser and certainly more careful. You will always know and understand that everything can and does change in a split second for good or bad, better or worse and you will always know that the split-second can be at any moment in your life-that it is unlikely to have been planned, or heralded by omens and signs. Just BOOM.

FAITH that which anchors us.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

The Ghost of Christmas Past.

The ghost of Christmas past

Came knocking at my door,

He took me to the time

When my little girls were four.

 

We knelt before the Christmas tree

Presents crudely wrapped but there,

A plate by the fireside

With Santa’s festive fayre.

 

We walked into their bedroom

As quietly as you can,

My two small girls were sleeping there

In Ramsey, Isle of Man.

 

In the muted light they seemed peaceful

Asleep and safe and warm

In a home filled with love and family

To keep them safe from harm.

 

The stockings on the bedposts

Were filled with treats and toys

Hung there by their Daddy

To bring them hope and joy.

 

Christmas was extra special

In that one particular year

As Daddy had come home safely

From military conflict fuelled by fear.

 

I thanked the kindly ghost

For reminding me that night

That despite the hours of darkness

Christmas is about recognising the light.

 

May your Christmas time be peaceful

Filled with memories that shine,

To keep your heart warm through the cold

And lonely times.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

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Autumn Leaves.

It was the autumn of our lives

Russet hues and ochre through the views that held our gaze as we forged ahead unfazed by the onset of middle age.

We had a sense of calm and oakened wisdom that only comes with the passage of time.

A patience and forbearance borne of familial love and desperation for our children to rise and thrive on the highest tides and not to sink and flounder in the murky depths of the recession’s doom and gloom.

It was the autumn of our lives and we could survive with less.

It was the autumn of our lives and we could smile at more.

No longer was it critical for the opening of the door to our desires and dreams

We became content to be thankful for the pleasures we had already received,

We were able to give with genuine compassion and cherish the gifts however small of each new day.

A sunrise, the crunch of leaves underfoot, a hand held for a moment too long,

The smell of freshly baked bread, a fragrant rose as the raindrops spilled from heaven above.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

Sounds of silence

Footfalls through the frost

Whispers on the wind,

Stillness in the stars,

Grubby chubby little hands

Seeking out shells on the shoreline.

Moments of magic in motherhood.

Memories fall like raindrops from the skies

Teardrops in my eyes

as I cherish every second of your lives.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Love you always wherever you may be-Mumma.

 

I think I have been silent for quite a while and now it is time to break the silence. I realise that so much of what I am and what I have done with my life and what I have become is linked to becoming a mother.

For me there was never any doubt that it was a fundamental part of what I held as important-not excelling in a sport or becoming a great leader or even the top of my career but giving and nurturing as best I could new members of the human race. I didn’t always do the job well, but I mostly did my best with the time and resources that I had at my disposal at the time.

I was always clear in my own mind that each would become their own person and make their own way in life and that in some respects all that I was doing was giving them some tools for their life basket and a safe place to grow. So it was a sprinkling of knowledge, a touch of high spiritedness, add in resilience backbone and compassion for others. I always wanted them to fly the nest and soar in the winds in their own little worlds build their own castles in the air and thrive and survive and have soul.

They have moved into their own lives now, almost effortlessly without a backwards glance and yet I know that they will always be connected. I don’t think the umbilical cord is ever truly broken and just as I will always carry my own mother in my heart even though she is long since gone I think they too will always carry a part of me in their hearts and so the story goes, the ebb and flow, mother to child.

Summer sunshine

I have had a break from writing. This is largely because I was exhausted and needed to use as much energy as possible focusing on recentring and bringing some sense and order into what had inadvertently become a very complex and draining period of my life.

From this I have learned that shutting down has some favourable benefits so long as you continue to give yourself time to reenergise and re-focus.

There is only so much that one brain and one body can handle without exhibiting signs of stress and wear. Things were going wrong at every turn. It seemed like there was no end in sight nor even a small glimmer of hope on the horizon. I had to cut back to the bare minium, doing the things that needed to be done and prioritising aspects of my life that would enhance my ability to survive and bring solutions to our immediate problems and needs.

After two months of gruelling toil we seem to have at least some solutions in hand. Yesterday I started a new job and hopefully this will provide the stability and purpose that has been needed to fulfil the desire to belong and be of value.

Returning after such an extended period of time away brought with it a huge reverse cultural shock and I discovered the qualities that were of value in NZ were not of the same value here and that times had changed and that my place in society was no longer that of respected citizen of value and worth and that to all intents and purposes I was replaceable, aged and worthless. My survival therefore depended on my ability to adapt and accept the changes and get on with it to the best of my ability- regardless of any hopes, dreams and aspirations that I had thought realistic before we returned home.

There were days that my awareness that this might be as good as it gets was the best I could muster. Days where potential tragedy loomed large around the every corner and the fine line between survival and anihilation was rendered invisible.

The sun shone, life moved on. I lived and breathed and took time to value the world before my eyes, trusting that one day there would be small opportunities for change that would help open new doors and windows to let the sun stream in and liberate the gloom.

Hopefully this is the first page in a new chapter that will bring peace, friendship, connection, love, purposefulness and place.

©Alison Jean Hankinson