Category: Life

Yesterday, I woke up with a familiar feeling gnawing at my insides, and it wasn’t the upset stomach that had appeared out of nowhere (and that I attribute to a veggie burger or onion rings from my favourite burger joint in Hanoi). It’s a feeling I’ve not encountered for a while — at least a few months, even with not being able to exit Vietnam when I’d planned, and subsequently sitting out the soft lock down in Hanoi when I really wanted to get back to Australia. I had plans, dammit — but I digress. It was my old friend

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When I left Australia for Hanoi, Vietnam, I was in desperate need of a change. I’d lived in the same country for 53 years, the same city for 30 years, and the same house for almost 20 years. I’d been in the public service for almost 10 years, albeit in different roles. My life was routine: running a few times a week, sometimes socially, sometimes not; the odd Friday night drinks with work colleagues; trying and failing to get my publishing and freelance career off the ground. My relationship with my daughter wasn’t the best.

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It’s no secret that 2019 has been one helluva year. I have lurched and free-wheeled from crisis to crisis, never feeling I was on solid ground. I felt like I was either wading through partially set concrete or scanning for shifting sands or watching out for storm clouds brewing on the horizon. My boat of The Self has been hammered by a relentless ocean of awful situations, pelted with rain and hail of always being on high alert. I haven’t been able to come up for air. And. Just. Breathe. In January, I’d been in hospital with my liver failing.

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My lovely friend Karen Willis from Sharing Bali and Beyond (I met her when I did a writer’s retreat in Bali a couple of years ago) issued her end-of-year newsletter (you should subscribe because it’s gorgeous and full of inspiration about travel and health and wellness) and something she said struck me.

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Regular readers will know that my relationship with my mother was fraught, to say the least. It was characterised by restriction and control and violence. And fear. An overwhelming fear that I was not safe, would never be safe. And that I was not enough. Would never be enough. Of course, this is was from the perspective of a child but some 50 years later, I still bear the scars — scars that still weep with blood and tears in the right situation, which — usually and invariably — involves a man because attachment.

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There’s something really nice about being on the other side of fifty. You’ve seen it all and done it all (well, maybe not everything, but quite a lot) and you know that you don’t have too much tolerance (or time) for crap… your own or anyone else’s. You know what works for you, and conversely, what doesn’t. And if things fall into the “not working for you” camp, you can say without hesitation and without too much delay, I’m done. There’s a certain freedom that comes from knowing when you’re done, and calling it. It means you can walk away,

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On 31 December of each year, I do a review of the past year. I look at what I’ve learned, what went well, and what didn’t. I revisit what I know for sure. This year it’s a little later because of, well, stuff. And by stuff I mean life and all that that entails. It has been a jam-packed year, though. Moving to Vietnam does that to a girl. From nearly dying to reinventing myself as a writer to almost falling in love, there hasn’t been a dull moment. I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

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On 31 December of each year, I do a review of the past year. I look at what I’ve learned, what went well, and what didn’t.  I revisit what I know for sure. This year it’s a little later because of, well, stuff. And by stuff I mean life and all that that entails. It has been a jam-packed year, though. Moving to Vietnam does that to a girl. From nearly dying to reinventing myself as a writer to almost falling in love, there hasn’t been a dull moment. I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

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A couple of weeks ago, on 22 November 2017, my mother died. Her death is something I have been expecting for a year more, and I am glad it happened while I was in Vietnam, because it meant I had a good excuse not to go to her funeral. How could I eulogise kindly about a woman who did so much damage? A woman who was unkind at her best, and nasty and violent at her worst, which was often? A woman who should never have had children? A woman who had carved a powerful message deep into my psyche

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My mother was not a pleasant woman. She was violent and cruel, controlling and uncaring. She probably had Borderline Personality Disorder. She was married (and divorced) three times, and all three husbands ended up with alcohol or mental health issues. They may have been predisposed, but my mother brought out the worst in them. If they couldn’t self-medicate with alcohol, they had breakdowns. Or both. And then they left, leaving my mother as the sole care provider (and I use that term in the loosest possible way) for her three children. From the age of eight to 18 — ten

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Well, it appears that I did send that letter to John after all! I found this letter in my personal effects, hidden between a couple of old photos… Dear Diane, I’ve been thinking a lot about you the last few days. I was going to write you a letter sooner before your letter came today. Thank you for the letter. I’ve had a lot of good times with you too, and would like to say you’re a wonderful person with many interesting facets. The love and support I’ve felt from you over the last ten months has been greater than

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This is the 19th essay in the #26essays2017 challenge that I’ve set for myself this year. I’m doing this because I’m the first to admit I’ve become a lazy writer: allowing guest posts and series and cross-posting to make up the bulk of content on The Diane Lee Project across 2016. The brave, fearless writing that readers admired and respected me for has all but disappeared. This year—2017—will be different. I’m reclaiming my voice—my write like a motherfucker voice! I have been clearing out my belongings in preparation for my indefinite move to Vietnam and I found this letter in a bunch of old papers

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