Archive for the ‘Family Fridays’ Category

This week marks the 12th anniversary of the most important phone call I ever made. Here’s how it unfolded…

It was Friday morning. My fear of the police was now bordering on dangerous. I was beginning to act irrationally, and my desperation to avoid police officers and patrol cars was going to end in disaster. Victim Support had done all they could for me, but they said I needed more help than they could offer. Through their contacts, they had come up with a list of five Clinical Psychologist. There was one on the list that had dealt with ‘police phobia’ before, but they weren’t allowed to recommend one over the other. In desperation, I asked how I was supposed to know which one that was? The helpful woman offered to fax me the list and put that name at the top of the list.

It took me two hours to place that call, and the answer was not what I expected. It was a paging service! ‘Dr Lee’s phone,’ the voice said. ‘What message would you like to leave?’

‘Um, I… um…’ I stammered, not sure what to say. ‘Um, Victim Support think I need to see someone.’

‘Your name and contact number…?’ I gave my details, and the phone operator continued. ‘Thank you, we’ll pass the message on.’

Great, I thought. Now what? Two minutes later, my phone rang and it was Dr Lee, who asked if I was Doris.’

‘Yes,’ I said, and repeated what I’d told the phone operator. ‘Victim Support think I need to see someone.’ There was a moment of silence and I waited to see if he would ask me what the problem was. He didn’t, so I didn’t offer any more information.

‘Okay,’ he replied, a bit hesitantly. ‘My next available appoint is August 22nd.’


‘If there’s a cancelation, would you be interested?’

‘You bet!’

He took my address, saying that he would post me an appointment card and instructions on how to get to his place, then he was gone.

I put the phone down and shook my head. You bet…? I actually said, you bet…? Oh, man. What must he think of me?!

Two hours later he called back, saying he had a cancelation for Monday at 10am.

And that’s how the rest of my life started. During my very first session, Dr Lee explained that what I was about to learn would set me up for the rest of my life. I worked hard. Really, really hard – and at times I think he had to work hard too! But he was right. What I learned has changed the way I think, feel and act. I am a much stronger person than I ever thought I could be.

There is nothing wrong with getting help if you think you need it. And sometimes the first help you seek may not be the help you need. Follow you instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, look somewhere else. Dr Lee was my second attempt. The first councillor was way off the mark, and I knew it. I tried three sessions and then I was out of there! It takes courage to try again.


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Ecclesiastes 3 : 5    … a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,  a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
Carrying on from last week, there is a strict code of conduct that must be adhered to between participants on the course. One rule is that there is to be no physical contact between prisoner and visitor, other than a handshake. No hugging! For very good reasons, I’m sure you will agree.

During one of the sessions, the woman telling her story (I will call her Patti for this illustration), became quite upset. The emotional telling of her story affected every person in the room. There was hardly a dry eye by the time she finished. The facilitator asked if anyone had any questions for Patti, and there was a heavy silence in the room. Eventually one big burly prisoner said, “I’d really like to give you a hug, but that’s not permitted. You are the bravest woman I’ve ever met.” There were murmurs of agreement around the room.

Moments later as the room descended into thoughtful silence, the facilitator announced that we would break for morning tea. “And just this once,” he added, “with permission from the Chaplin and Patti, and within the confines of this room, anyone who would like to give Pattie a hug, may do so.”

I’ve seen this go the other way too. One of the prisoners became quite distraught while telling his life story, and afterwards, one of the female participants asked the facilitator if she could give him a hug. He later said it was being hugged by his grandmother who had passed away while he was ‘inside’.

Patti later told me that those hugs that morning helped to heal something inside her. Who would have expected that a victim of crime would find healing inside a prison, amongst prisoners?

… a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…




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Ecclesiastes 3:4 ‘…  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

For the last three years I have been involved in a Restorative Justice program. I have been part of the program at two different prisons and have seen first hand how restorative justice can work. Being a victim of crime, I share my experience of the long road to recovery, the financial and emotional burden on myself and the family, and the personal victory that came about through sheer hard work on my part.

The course runs once a week for 7 or 8 weeks, and involves a select group of 10 -15 prisoners and a group of around 7 victims of crime. Each week stories are shared and for all of the prisoners, this is the first time they have heard from the perspective of a victim.

As you can imagine, there are some heartbreaking stories on both sides, and tears have flowed from the most unexpected people. After I told my story one morning, one of the prisoners left the room in a bit of a hurry. Minutes later one of the other prisoners came to get the Chaplin who went and spoke with him. When they both came back, the prisoner asked to speak to the group. He said he was aware that many of the participants knew he was a bit upset outside, and he wanted it to be known that after hearing my story, it was the first time he’d ever wondered what his victim had gone through and thanked me for telling my story.

…a time to weep and a time to laugh… The emotional roller-coaster of this course is often peppered with laughter too. That’s what makes our stories so special.


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Ecclesiastes 3:3. (there is) a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.
Monsieur Charles de CatA few years ago, our 16 year-old cat, Charles, developed kidney problems and his body could no longer process the protein from food. He grew thin and was in pain. I took him to the vet and held him as they injected him with a lethal dose of aesthetic. I shed a bucket load of tears. He’d been part of our life since he was 5 weeks old. I vowed that I couldn’t go through that again. No more pets. I thought I was going to miss him forever. Rev

Over the coming year my grief did heal, and about 18 months later I decided that I wanted another cat. So off to the Animal shelter I went, and come home that day with Revv. He’s been an absolute delight and I have no regrets about bringing another fury friend into our lives.

Time really does heal if you let it. Healing can also be a matter of opportunity. If that opportunity presents itself, grasp it with both hands (or head and heart) and move on.


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photo of Donna RoseFollowing on from last week, verse 2 of Ecclesiastes 3 reads: (there is) a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and aMum time to uproot.

Births and Deaths. These two pictures are of my mother. The first was taken when she was about 8 years old, I think. The other was the last formal picture taken before she died at the age of 52. Next week she would have been celebrating her 78th birthday. She didn’t change much in those 44 years, did she?

Even though she’s been gone for 26 years, I still miss her very much. I often catch myself thinking ‘Mum would have loved this.’ She died when our youngest of 4 children was just 1-year-old.  That child now has two children and we are looking forward to the birth of our 8th grandchild. It saddens me to think of all that she has missed out on.

gardenPlanting and uprooting. The seasons are changing so fast, that if we don’t hurry up, we’ll not get our next season of vegetables planted. We had to ‘uproot’ the last of the celery and capsicums in order to fill the raised garden beds with wonderful rich compost. I’m excited when I look at this and imagine what it will look like in 3 or 4 months time. Before we know it we will be enjoying the produce.

Planting and uprooting can also be looked at in another context – that of moving to a different house, or town – or even country. If this is you, try to put down roots and grow where you are.

A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.

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Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Here in Australia we have just remembered our fallen and serving military personnel. Now is the ‘season’ of remembering those who fought for our freedom. An emotional time for many.


The word ‘season’ is usually used in the context of weather. Tornado season, Summer, Fire season and so on…

But life has seasons too. For a while, I was a daughter and sister. Then I became a wife and mother – while still being a daughter and sister. My parents both died and I was back to being a sister, wife and mother. Now I’m a grandmother, Aunt and Great Aunt.

For a ‘season’ I was a correspondence teacher to my children, I’ve been a secretary using my typing skills, and the list goes on…

This is called LIFE. And what ever is going on in your life at this time is simply a ‘season’. So look out a window or up at the sky. What happened when you did that? Your chin lifted :) So, chin up and enjoy your season.

Love to you all,



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Through the eyes of a child.

My daughter called, saying she had just picked up her four-year-old from kindergarten, and this was the conversation in the car as they waited at the next pickup place on the school run.

‘Did you know, Mummy…’ Tia paused thoughtfully. ‘If we all work together and help each other, the world would be a better place.’

‘That’s right,’ Mum agreed.

‘Like… Granddad is good at fixing things, and Grandma can cook.’ Tia leaned forward from the back seat and tapped her mother on the shoulder. ‘And you’re good at making muffins. And Daddy is good at killing kangaroos!’

dump truckAfter we had a good laugh on the phone, I thought about it. Tia’s daddy is the only one willing to drive the grader at a ridiculous angle on the edge of a cliff. He drives huge mining dump trucks that have wheels taller than my house. He’s been asked to mentor men almost twice his age. Tia has no idea what he really can do. To her, he’s a hero for what she does know.

It made me think back to my dad. My earliest memory of him is walking (me almost jogging) through the city streets of Perth, holding onto his little finger. As long as I held on, I was not going to get lost or left behind. The fondest memory I have is waiting at the top of the hill and watching for his motorbike to come around the corner way down at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes he would stop and let one of us hop on the back for a ride home (3 houses away) while the rest of us – and the neighbours – would race them home. To me, back then, he was good at fixing things, and chopping wood. Yet now I know he was good at so much more…

Would any of you like to share what your dad was good at?


(c) DJ Stutley 2015


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My glass of water lesson.

cold waterJPGI was hot, tired and frustrated the other day, so I picked the largest glass I could find and fixed a cool glass of cordial. I had just taken a refreshing sip, when my granddaughter turned up, looking with envy at the condensed water droplets running down the side of the glass.

‘Is that cold?’ she asked.

‘Yes, it’s VERY cold.’

‘What is it?’

I hesitated, knowing she wasn’t allowed cordial or juice unless it was a special occasion. ‘It’s cordial.’

‘Is it good for you?’ she asked.

‘No,’ I said bluntly, hoping to discourage further conversation.

‘Then why do you drink it?’

I looked down into her brown eyes. She waited patiently for an answer and I was momentarily lost for words. ‘Because,’ I said sadly, ‘sometimes I don’t do what I know is good for me.’ I smiled. ‘I’ll have water next time.’

She smiled, nodded, and skipped away, leaving me looking at my refreshing glass of sweet, chemical laced liquid. It sure didn’t have the attraction it did only moments before!


(c) DJ Stutley 2015

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The letter that won’t be read.

IMG_0870I put the phone down and was immediately enveloped in a cloud of sadness and regret. My heart was breaking for my son-in-law, who had just been told that the woman he thought of as his mother had died.

The tears my daughter was struggling to hold back were evident over the phone. I knew they were in for a heartbreaking time. Hours later we were at the airport to pick up our son-in-law. He’d stepped from the heavy machinery he’d been driving at the mine site, onto a plane with only his phone and wallet. Once we had him at our home, we found clean clothes and toiletries so that he could shower and go to bed. The next morning he jumped in his car and headed south to where the family was gathering.

My feelings of regret came from the fact that this elderly woman had been ill for a long, long time and my daughter and I had often discussed what the outcome would be when she passed on. As it became obvious that she was probably not going to  leave hospital again, I thought about writing to her and complementing her on the way she had raised her grandson to be an exceptional young man, and the father of my grandchildren. I thought she would like to know that my husband and I were proud of him and loved him as if he was one of our own children.

I never wrote that letter. I wish I had. Maybe I will….


(c) DJ Stutley

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RevHello everyone. My name is Rev, and I am the newest member of the Stutley family. I am about eight years old – I say about, because a cat has to have some secrets. I’ve been told that I am part Abyssinian. My new female servant came to the animal refuge place where I had been imprisoned for the last 4 months, and simply fell in love with me! In fact, she was so smitten with me that she came back that afternoon and took me home with her. 

The transition was relatively smooth. The first night I slept on their bed and simply purred all night. That’s when they gave me my new name. They say it’s because my engine is always revving. I’m pretty easy to get along with and will do anything – and I mean ANYTHING for food. Even learn to go through cat flaps!

I’ve been here for 4 weeks now, and I am still testing my boundaries. The female servant seems to have a cleaner kitchen now that I am in charge. If she leaves anything on the bench or table, I jump up and see if it is edible. If it is, I eat it. But as the days go by, the kitchen is quickly cleared. So I’m guessing that they know this, because I’ve been too crafty for them to catch me in the act. I was more than a little indignant when I was made to wear a bell for a while. But I soon took it off, only to have it put back on again. So next time I took it off, I made sure it was safely hidden. They are still looking for it :) 

I am about to write a letter to the refuge people to let them know that I have settled in well. Perhaps I will allow my servant to reproduce it here for you next week. I’ll think about it…


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