What I’ve been up to… (plus cats)

I’ve thought about blogging, a lot, over the last few months. As things have happened, I’ve thought of blog titles or why I “really must post something about that”. However, blogging takes a specific type of thought, and these days, when work and life take up specific energy, I must prioritise what I do with my free time. Writing fanfic isn’t easier than blogging – but it’s more fun. Especially when WordPress has had issues whenever I try – I’m writing this on the desktop app instead of the web browser and that seems to have helped.

So, it’s been almost four months since I last posted. In that time:

  • We came out of lockdown, went back to work for a few weeks, then returned to a stricter lockdown – it’s been exactly six months today since that first Tuesday of lockdown in March.
  • I’ve had a number of professional successes;
  • I’ve continued to be disappointed, enraged and disgusted at the behaviour of JKR;
  • I’ve learnt a lot about my own resilience, privilege because of that, and how to use it, with my professional knowledge and access to supports, to manage my own mental health (a work in progress);
  • Watched countless hours of livestream videos of cats (thanks to Tinykittens) and, now, falcons (thanks to the Melbourne Peregrine Falcons nesting).

I’ll talk about all of these in future blog posts – right now it’s school holidays, and I’m hoping to type and schedule a few posts while I have the time.

The topic I want to highlight today is the cats of Tinykittens. Tinykittens is a not-for-profit cat rescue organisation based out of Fort Langley, BC, Canada. They’ve been broadcasting their rescue stories live for seven years now, and I’ve been following them, on and off, for three. They specialise in Trap-Neuter-Return/Adopt programs for feral cats in their community, and in educating others about how to help similar efforts in our own communities.

I’ve learnt a lot from them, like, how to care for and socialise feral cats. Tinykittens believe all cats, no matter how feral, sick or injured, deserve a chance to be treated with compassion. We can do more than just euthanising ferals. Read more on their website: http://www.tinykittens.com/projects

I first encountered Tinykittens in 2018, with Chloe’s litter, which included the remarkable Auracuda. Aura had a very large cleft palate, which was life-threatening. If she’d been born in the feral colony, she would have died. It was touch-and-go for a long time, with around-the-clock care with tube feedings. At 179 days old, she was big enough for groundbreaking surgery which gave her a donor cleft palate (from a dog!). She’s a medical foster at Shelly’s home still, and loving life – though it’s not without challenges.

This year, the first lockdowns coincided with “kitten season”, the time when the bulk of Tinykittens’ fosters and TNR efforts are focused on pregnant feral cats. They trap the pregnant feral and hope to socialise the mama and babies for adoption. If the mama proves unwilling to “hand in her feral card” as the TK volunteers and chatters call it, she’s spayed when the kittens are old enough and returned to the colony she came from, where volunteers provide food and socialisation every day. (The hope is that eventually, the mama cat will show signs of being happy with humans – she can then be re-trapped, and fostered to adoption.)

The kittens are socialised from birth, and when old enough are adopted in pairs. I’ve seen four litters go through this process so far this year with their mothers. Twenty cats in loving homes instead of running feral and contributing to the cat overpopulation problem.

There are currently another four litters of kittens at Tinykittens HQ. They share time on the two livestreams. Two sets in particular are ready to go home, and I thought I’d profile one of those today: a mother cat, Caramel, and her boy kitten Salty. They are a very social, playful pair. All they need is an adopter. I don’t know if I have any followers in Canada, especially any who are in BC. But if I do – or if you know someone who is – maybe you or they have a cat-shaped hole in their life?

Screenshot from YouTube of a grey and white kitten stands next to his mother, a tabby. They are in a room full of toys, including a red tent next to them. In the top left corner is red writing saying, Adopt Caramel + Salty: TinyKittens.com/adopt
Look at their faces! Aren’t they the cutest?

Staying home and staying connected

A landscape photo of the ocean and sky. The ocean is very blue, with some waves visible and lots of choppy white foam at the front of the picture. The ocean stretches out to the horizon to be met by very blue sky with some white fluffy clouds.

Hi all. Well, it’s been over a month since I last posted. *sigh*. I wanted to post more thoughts, sooner, but got caught up in work stuff and when that happens, I don’t want to think enough for blogging on my days off. Motivation goes away. Then the whole thing with this virus started.

I have many, many thoughts, but these days it’s often easier to share them in short-form conversations, such as Twitter threads. You can follow me there if you like. (I’ve been very into fandom on there lately!)

This post was started two to three weeks ago, but then WordPress had a hissy fit when I tried to post it and refused to save. I’m just hoping this one works. It feels like it’s been three months since then, not three weeks. Supanova feels so far away too…

Supanova Melbourne is going to be my marker in all of this in terms of when things started. I attended with some caution, but on the second weekend of March, cases in Australia were still limited to international arrivals. I’m also privileged in that I’m not immunocompromised or otherwise at risk, so the risk felt minimal. A week later, Supanova Gold Coast only went ahead because our Prime Minister decided to time the first community restrictions to start on the Monday, not the Saturday. If Supanova GC had been first and Melbourne second, I wouldn’t have gone to it, because things changed so much so fast in that first week. It’s surreal.

How are we all going, people? Hope you’re as okay as possible, right now, physically and mentally. In Victoria, it’s week three of shutdown. (Australia, too, but the way this crisis has been managed so far, the states have had to take the lead and done everything slightly differently to each other, so I’m referencing my home state only.) No-one’s allowed out of the house unless it’s for one of four very specific reasons, with specifications in the fine print. We’ve been told to expect changes in some form for at least six months.

Councils have closed libraries and pools/ activity centres, initially until the start of April, but now indefinitely. University choirs, including my local one, LaTUCS, have paused or suspended activities. (Even this year’s national intervarsity choral festival has been postponed and won’t happen this year – a first!) My church has gone virtual, live-streaming pre-recorded services. Schools will be operating with online/ remote learning procedures and end-of-year exams have been postponed.

Despite the inevitability of the Victorian shutdown decision, its suddenness still took me by surprise. While I’m very pleased it happened – it gives me confidence that our premier and his government are on top of things as much as they can be – it’s still disconcerting.

My brain thrives on predictability and certainty. I was anxious during the week prior to the shutdown due to the uncertain circumstances. I had a meltdown after I went home on the last day of onsite school work actually, because it had built too much. It’s still unsettling that this is going to continue indefinitely and I don’t know when I’ll be able to be physically close to my friends, family and colleagues again.

I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling with feelings around this. In these times, we all need to be gentle with ourselves. We need to support those who work in essential services, like health care workers, cleaners & garbage collectors, posties, and supermarket (etc.) workers. Give them a smile, don’t be a dick to them. The current chaos isn’t their fault.

Honour your own feelings at this time. It’s scary, frustrating, tiring, sad. I’ve found acknowledging the feeling and brainstorming what could help is useful. As well as things like seeking out favourite activities, watching calming/ funny/ moving videos, snuggling with warm (and/or weighted) blankets, taking warm showers and listening to music. All the usual advice applies about trying to get enough sleep, food, physical activity, mental stimulation and social contact. Keyword there being “trying to”.

I’ve been creating daily schedules for myself using Google Calendar. They’re loose and flexible but provide my brain with the structure it needs. I schedule needed activities first, so I can reward myself with the wanted ones after. I also make sure to include reminders for breaks for food and movement.

One of the things I’ve organised are scheduled “virtual café” catchups with friends and family. The idea is we each grab a beverage of choice then phone or video call at a pre-determined time. I love having catchups with friends, and moving this online during this time seems like a great way to stay connected when every other way of socialising is restricted.

Another idea is to do something like what’s suggested by the Black Dog Institute in this article: a self-care plan. They have a template you can follow, it’s quite easy. Give it a go; we all need to think about taking care of ourselves in this time, especially if we’re supporting others.

Everyone needs to figure out how to do stay connected during these times. What works for you? (Please comment! I’d love to get some virtual conversations going!)

I’m going to aim for blogging once a week – I want to get into the habit again. Until next time, remember you can find me on Twitter, like I said at the start of this post.


An interesting link can be found here: Beginner’s Guide to Self-Compassion.

I liked it and have saved it to remind myself when necessary. I also saw the following, shared by a friend on Facebook yesterday:

No automatic alt text available.

Image description: drawing of Pooh and Piglet of Hundred Acre Wood. They are sitting on a log, with green grass nearby and blue sky behind them. 

Léx Lacchın

“Piglet?” said Pooh.

“Yes Pooh?” said Piglet.

“Do you ever have days when everything feels… Not Very Okay At All? And sometimes you don’t even know why you feel Not Very Okay At All, you just know that you do.”

Piglet nodded his head sagely. “Oh yes,” said Piglet. “I definitely have those days.”

“Really?” said Pooh in surprise. “I would never have thought that. You always seem so happy and like you have got everything in life all sorted out.”

“Ah,” said Piglet. “Well here’s the thing. There are two things that you need to know, Pooh. The first thing is that even those pigs, and bears, and people, who seem to have got everything in life all sorted out… they probably haven’t. Actually, everyone has days when they feel Not Very Okay At All. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.

“And the second thing you need to know… is that it’s okay to feel Not Very Okay At All. It can be quite normal, in fact. And all you need to do, on those days when you feel Not Very Okay At All, is come and find me, and tell me. Don’t ever feel like you have to hide the fact you’re feeling Not Very Okay At All. Always come and tell me. Because I will always be there.”






A good reminder of friendship.

Hope you’re having a good week, full of friendship and supportive people even if you have to be busy and/or do hard things.


Reflections from the past two weeks…

It’s been a good week for me. The second week of placement.

A good week in the sense that I’ve learnt and am learning lots, and I feel I’m growing too.

My placement is in mental health services and it’s really interesting. I’ve been placed across two parts of the service: community and long-term inpatient. (Those are layperson’s terms for the areas; they have more formal names.)

The work I’m doing is challenging and rewarding. We do what we can do to help the clients engage in treatment, under a model of “least-restrictive practice”, using practice models like the recovery model and others. I’m supporting seriously unwell people, advocating for them and above all, doing my best to keep them safe. They’re really vulnerable because they’re unwell. At higher risk of being a victim of violence and other trauma than they are of being a perpetrator.

It’s challenging; figuring out how to engage with and build rapport with clients, trying to prevent them from coming to harm, supporting their over-stretched families and support networks, as well as dealing with the bureaucracy of funding and resources.

Some days and moments are really hard. This role teaches you about boundaries and self-care, because you can only do good work if you’re taking care of yourself.

You have to become really good at reading someone’s mental state and analysing their risks, which is a skill that develops and is honed over time. But you can only do what you can, as best you can. After a certain point, it’s not up to us but to the clients. We’re working with real people, after all.

That’s what makes it so rewarding. Real people, real personalities. Real stories. It’s things like making the time to start a conversation, finding out what interests them, inviting them to activities you think they’ll enjoy. Taking pleasure in observing positive changes, even small ones, and creating space when people need to talk about things that matter. Advocating for them, while helping them (re)develop skills including the tools for self-advocacy. And more besides.

The next six weeks, like these past two, will be challenging and rewarding. I know I will keep learning and I hope I give something back, too.

In my current mood, this comic panel about life, by Awkward Yeti, speaks to me. Especially the last panel.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Hi there!

Thinking lots of thoughts atm.

One of which is that I ought to schedule some posts for the next few weeks… I don’t like not posting anything but that’s what happens when you’re busy.

I have just finished my first week of placement for my final year of Masters of occupational therapy. It’s in mental health in two different settings and I’m finding it really interesting.

It’s tiring, but I’ll learn lots over the next eight weeks and it’ll be really rewarding.

Let’s see where things go!

[Reblogged] Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

Interesting stuff in the Captain Awkward archives. Reminds me a bit of some of the things (like stress buckets and activity scheduling) we looked at in my mental health subject earlier this year. So I am sharing it and bookmarking it. Check it out.

Also: five days in a row of blogging last week, yay! That is down to scheduling and while I know I can’t always do it, it’s nice when it happens.

via Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

Reblogged – Your Fault, Dutton, Not Advocates


[Meme by lynettag of a still from Q&A with captions & speech-bubbles added. It reads: you know a government is morally bankrupt when its NSW mental health minister says she doesn’t have an opinion about the crisis happening in our detention centres…
Tony Jones speech-bubble – ‘What is your opinion on asylum seekers?’; NSW Mental Health Minister speech-bubbles – ‘I don’t have an opinion’ ‘I don’t know the facts’ ‘It’s not an issue I follow closely’]


Neglect by government.

How the hell do Dutton and the rest of the government (not to mention the Opposition) sleep at night? I honestly can’t fathom the kind of dissonance they possess. In Dutton’s case (and Morrison’s), it seems to me that they’re able to sleep by being heartless b–tards. I really hope they are turfed out in the coming election. I don’t like hating people.

I have one message for politicians who don’t support this abhorrence. Cross the floor!
By voting with them on these issues, even as you speak out against them, you become become complicit – and I (& others!) can’t vote for you.

Placard seen at the recent protests in Melbourne:
(Reads: “I would vote ALP if ALP would #BringThemHere”)

You know how I was talking about knowing your ‘voting issues’ and ‘deal-breakers’ on Monday? As many of you would probably know by now, the humane treatment of asylum seekers is one of mine. Indeed, it’s my main one.

The current situation sickens me. Many on both sides of politics are complicit in it and I will NOT be voting for them.

Last Thursday I spent some time outside the Melbourne Immigration Office (opposite Parliament station on Lonsdale St) supporting the protest/vigil the Refugee Action Collective were holding there, in support of asylum seekers and in memory of Omid.


Omid is the third man (I believe) to die from injuries directly caused by government neglect.

Hasn’t it gone on long enough?

The below article from Guardian Australia says more about the despair of people imprisoned on Manus and Nauru. Go here for the full article. As I warned at the top of this post, be aware that there are discussions of self-harm and suicide, mental health issues and sheer desperation in it.

Refugees don’t self-harm because of me, Peter Dutton, they self-harm because of you

Refugee advocates work day and night trying to prevent asylum seekers harming themselves – it is our greatest fear. To be blamed for it is devastating

Immigration minister Peter Dutton
‘We cannot sleep, Peter Dutton. We can close our eyes, but the horrors we are witnessing don’t go away.’ Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

Peter Dutton, what do you do between the hours of midnight and 5am? Do you sleep? If so, I really must ask – how can you?

Dozens of Australians sit up all night, every single night, comforting asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. You don’t have to, therefore the task falls to the advocates.

Let me tell you what this entails, since your statement blaming advocates for suicide attempts – of actually encouraging self-harm – suggests you are clearly unaware.

It is mind-blowingly hot on Manus and Nauru during the day, so our friends there try to sleep. We, safely onshore, sit tensely in the evenings, watching for the little green light that signals people have come online. When someone doesn’t show up, there is a flurry of frantic calls between advocates; when did you last hear from them? What did they say? Are they in danger of self-harm? Who do you know in the same compound? The result of these calls can be anything from relief upon locating our friend, safe and sound, or that which is becoming more common – they’ve harmed themselves and are in International Health and Medical Services, or have been beaten by guards and thrown into solitary confinement.

We cannot sleep, Mr Dutton. We can close our eyes, but the horrors we are witnessing don’t go away. And on the rare occasions we actually do get to sleep, we know there are no guarantees that our loved ones will be unharmed when we wake.

I will never forget the last night I actually slept for eight hours – it was in September last year, and I woke to discover one of my dearest friends on Manus had stabbed



Trigger warning for discussion of suicide.

About a year and a half ago, I stumbled onto a blog – edenland. It’s run by a deep-hearted woman called Eden. She is real, people. An Australian mother and sister and daughter, poetry slammer, World Vision ambassador, etc.

A week and a half ago (as she says below) it was two years since her brother, Cameron, committed suicide. Since then, she’s grieved. She’s stumbled. She’s put herself back together piece by piece many times. She also has continued to keep it real and speak the truth as she sees it.

Now, another family has lost a relative. Rhys McNaughton died by suicide a few weeks ago. His story is below; Eden tells it better than I could. Anyway, his friends are using Movember (you know, that charity thing where men grow moustaches or “mo’s” and raise funds for Men’s Health?) to raise funds in support of mental health for men: Hotter Than Zac Ephron Movember Fundraising Page. 

The statistics around suicide overall are scary. (Look at the AIHW’s stats for leading causes of death in Australia 😦 ) But scarier is how skewed those stats are towards men (Lifeline gives more info here). We owe it to our brothers, our fathers, our cousins, uncles, nephews and friends to start talking about it and make some damn noise.

Remember, for 24/7 help, if you need someone to talk to (Australia):
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Mensline – 1300 78 99 78

No Good Bye.

Posted: 05 Nov 2015 06:30 PM PST

Today marks two years and twenty-two days since my brother Cameron took his own life. Where he took his life I have no idea. He’s gone somewhere I couldn’t follow, couldn’t drag his hand and heart back from the void.

I was talking to my mother on the phone last night .. we often go through the what-ifs and should-have-dones. Which is entirely fruitless because what’s done is done, we can’t change what happened. Hindsight is the perfect science. But the people left behind after a loved one suicides .. well we’re just scrambling and aching and charred, trying to make sense of the insensible. Understand the inexplicable.

My brother was such a thoughtful, sharp, deliciously quick-witted, capable, beautiful man. Oh he was beautiful! He was alone when he died which breaks my heart into a trillion million tiny pieces. Pieces that keep getting broken again and again until the shards turn to crumbling dust but the dust keeps breaking too because everything broke when he died. I broke. His death broke me .. as it should have. I’d expect nothing less from a love like that.

Death can shake us all up like a snow globe. Cracks and crevices become caverns, too wide to jump over. Too big to ignore. There are layers we’re left to unwrap and unravel as we navigate grief in relentless stormy weather on a creaky old boat. With no map – christ not even a rudder. There’s no set guide or rulebook. We let the days happen to us. It’s shit. It’s the absolute shittest of shit of shit. SHIT. #shit

C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Nobody ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” Oh it’s true. I witnessed the birth, life and death of a person I love with my whole soul. How can that be? It’s all so wrong. And frightening.

Thirteen days ago 24-year old Rhys McNaughton took his own life. His death has shocked and shattered his family and loved ones to the core. It was unexpected, nobody saw it coming. A bolt from beyond the blue. Right now this second there’s a whole other family and set of friends and loved ones hurting, keening, in complete shock at the death of their beautiful guy. Rhys was smart, strong, incredibly good-looking. A magnetic personality … he shone. People clamoured to be near him. He went to uni, was a talented footy player. I never met him – I never will. A close family friend of his reached out to me. We talked on the phone, laughed and cried together. And swore a lot. I listened to the immense pain in her words and heart. How could this happen? What? Why? Where are the answers? Where’s the rulebook? WHAT?

It’s difficult to talk about suicide, especially navigating the minefield of it on a public forum like this. But our boys are leaving us. Our girls too – but the statistics of young men taking their own lives are huge. What’s going on? Why were there no warning signs? How could this happen to a beautiful Soul like Rhys? Did he not have everything society and the world has to offer? What’s going on in people’s minds and hearts that they see suicide as their only option?

I borrowed a book from North Sydney library when I was in my early twenties. It was called “Suicide: The Forever Decision.” I never returned it, and often wonder if the librarians wonder what happened to the person that borrowed that book. I’m still here – scrambling, surviving, fighting. Cam is not here. Rhys is not here.

This is an epidemic. Tragedies are being playing out again and again, every day. Different stories but the same narrative.

Rhys has an incredibly large network of friends who are shocked and bereft and grieving hard, real hard. Often people want to to something meaningful after one of our own has died, to try make some sense of it. I became a spoken-word artist after my brother left, to honour him. I even bought a new set of brown and aqua cowboy boots to perform in – to help keep me going. It worked. We need to keep going.

Every single one of us goes through hard things. Life pulverises us all .. at times I have felt such pain. Surely nobody on the whole planet could ever have felt such pain? But they have. I am not alone in my humanness.Feelings subside, things change, time moves on. We’re not stuck in a moment forever. Everything ebbs and flows with the moon. It’s going to be ok sweet ones. I promise you! Hold tight, bunker down. Let the waves crash over you. Storms eventually stop and I know this for a FACT. I have lived it. I’ve felt the darkest black feelings anybody could possibly feel and I’m still here, completely battered but tapping away at my keyboard regardless, shining a bit of light on Rhys.

This is Rhys.

Photo: John Bortolin

His heartbroken friends have rallied and banded together to raise awareness of suicide and depression. To REALLY raise true awareness. Conversations, dialogue, The loss of Rhys has shaken and devastated so many people, right to the core. Young people are looking at each other in bewilderment and shock .. how could this happen? If it happened to Rhys .. it can happen to ANY of us.

His mates, his people, his tribe, they’re hurting. And crying and questioning. They’ve banded together, using all of their social media platforms and voices to speak up, to say: “Look what happened to our friend. How could it be true? What can we do?”

Barely two weeks on they’ve started a wave of change, conversation, bravery among their pain. We can learn from them. They’ve taken up the baton and doing things their way, fuelled by the intense pure love they have for Rhys. They want to get the word out. They NEED to. Rhys had such striking features so similar to young celebrity Zac Ephron that his mates affectionately nicknamed him “Zeffa.” A letter has been written to Zac. It’s beautiful. “.. I’m pretty sure Rhys could make friends with a tree.” 

They’ve set up a fundraising page on the Movember Foundation website.  The Movember campaign happens every year in November, drawing critical attention to the mental health of young men. Rhys’s friends “Hotter Than Zac Ephron” page is now the highest fundraising group for Movember in Australia. I’m so proud and in awe of these young people. Please spare some thoughts and possibly a few coins for the family and friends of Rhys. Please share what his mates are doing to honour him, they are so numb and heartbroken from shock and immense loss.

Hotter Than Zac Ephron Movember Fundraising Page. 

We never “get over” the death of people we love .. but we get through. Together. We have to live our lives together.