In this episode, you will learn 10 FACTS about Elly and her family. We talk about how their family life has changed first after an accident with her husband, and then after her oldest child Jem’s transition to become a woman. We also discuss the main causes of body image issues, how they come up and how Elly overcomes them. And we discuss what aging means to her and to her body.
You can READ the interview transcript HERE
10 Facts About Elly
(at the time of the project)
1. 52 years old.
2. Elly has been married for almost 34 years. Elly’s husband Shane broke his neck in 2010 and got paralysed, which was a big change for her and her family world.
3. Elly has three kids and has a great relationship with all three of them. They're all very different.
4. Elly is an artist. She paints with acrylics and watercolours. Elly is also a carer for her husband.
5. Also, she loves gardening. Elly just started experimenting with different things in the garden and has developed a love for Bromeliads. She paints those as well.
6. Elly grew up on the South Coast and now lives in Coaldale, which is in the Northern Beaches area of Wollongong.
7. When Elly was 10, her family started living on a farm and she got a pony which was her lifelong dream, but she was violently allergic to him.
8. Elly has three Devon Rex cats that she can actually cuddle.
9. Elly’s household supports LGBTQ people a lot. Elly’s oldest child Jem has transitioned to become a woman. Jem tried to embrace her masculine side for a long time, but in the end, it was just too hard for her. Jem has embraced her female self, and she's a lot happier in herself now. Elly’s husband Shane and Jem have even done The Change Podcasts of her journey (see the link below).
10. Having a sense of humour is really important to Elly. At the end of the day, what is done is done. Adding up a bit of fun is not going to make it worse.
Link to The Change Podcast:
Hi, you're listening to the My Body, My Story podcast.
My mum died a couple of years ago at 74. And I thought, gee, that's too young, she could have lived another 20 years. And so now I sort of see ageing as a bit of a gift, really, so many people don't get to do that. So
This is the 45 over 45 chapter where we celebrate Rule Breakers and role models, the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show their sensuality beauty, soul, and true essence. Here we talk about what it's like to be 45 Plus, adjusting to the changes that come with time, and we listened to the stories about participants. If you have an interesting story, we'd love for you to participate. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org That's Aleksandra spelled with a K S. Or visit our website aleksandrawalker.com
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the my body My Story project. And today with us Elly in the studio. And while she's sitting in the makeup chair, Citra is doing makeup for her. I'll be asking her a few questions. Morning, Elly
Welcome to the studio. And let's start and tell us 10 facts about yourself.
I'm 52 years old. I have been married for almost 34 years. I have three kids. I'm an artist Morphix I grew up on the south coast and had a pony which was my lifelong dream but I was violently allergic to him. So that was disappointing but great fun at the same time.
But you could watch it on distance.
I could only ride for about an hour before I was a mess. I have three Devon Rex cats that I can actually cuddle. Because here we are animals normally set me off. But these cats are great for me.
They'd like short…
Yeah, they've got more of a wool in here. So yeah, they give me much joy. My husband is actually a quadriplegic, so I'm a carer for him too. He broke his neck in 2010 which was a big change for our world.
Yeah, that's a challenging situation if not to say more,
just makes everything a lot more effort to, you know, if you want to travel or anything, we have to hire equipment and that just makes everything a lot harder because he can't get out of his wheelchair himself. He has to be hoisted. And so on that, yeah, it makes life very challenging. I love gardening as well. Anything else that?
So what are you gardening? It's a very wide term. Like, what exactly do you like,
when the kids were young, I had three, three boys under the age of five and used to drive me a little bit stir crazy. So going out into the garden was the place that I could get a whole sentence together in my mind at once without feeling like I was going nuts. And so yeah, I just started experimenting with different things in the garden. But I've developed a love for Bromeliads. And I paint those as well because they're so colourful and fun. The flowers. Yeah, there are plants that flowers and they're all different shapes and colours and sizes. bromeliad. Really, yeah, they're very hardy. They thrive on neglect. So that's a great sort of plant to have. And I also love painting the little animals and things that I find amongst them I find little dwarf green tree frogs and different things so I usually include those in my paintings as well.
So if do you do it full time? the painting
No look, it gets a bit put to the back with caring and so on but I'm in the process of setting up a better art room and I do really want to focus a lot more on my art then
Do you use oil paint or chalk?
acrylic predominantly but I have been exploring watercolours.
Oh, that's hard to paint with.
Yeah, it is, it's such a different approach to acrylics and watercolours it's Yeah.
Do you sell your art?
Yeah, I do in local exhibitions and things. So yeah, I just need to market myself a bit better.
So if someone wants to see what you paint and maybe meet you, so where they can find you?
Well, I live in Coaldale, which is in the Northern Beaches area of Wollongong and I'm, I have a Instagram page called @artbyelly, all one word. So they can look me up on there.
I'll give a link in the description. So if you use you said about Pony, what about horses? Have you ever tried horse riding?
Yeah, well, I mean that that was my great love. When I was really little mom said I used to gallop everywhere. I was just madly into horses. So, I mean, my pony was. I mean, he wasn't as big as a horse. But we used to go on great adventures, we had a five acre farm between Barry and Nowra in an area called just was brush and it was back in the 80s, where I could disappear for most of the day with my girlfriend and my pony and go skinny dipping in the creeks and mum would only see us when it was dinner time. So it was very free sort of fun. Adventure. feel part of my life.
So were you the only child?
No, I had a younger brother, too. Yeah.
So you're grew up on the farm?
Well, from when I was nine or 10. That's when we got the farm before that we're in town. Yeah, but that's when I got my pony.
Okay, perfect. Okay, so what else? What else do we get? About you? Let's think. What about travelling? I know that now when you carer probably it's not that easy. But have you travelled a lot?
yeah, just last year, I went to Europe with my, my oldest child has transitioned to become a woman. So her and I went to quite a few places in Europe together for five weeks. And then we went back to Thailand. And she had gender reassignment surgery in Thailand on the way home. So that was a pretty intense time. But we had a lovely time together travelling. So she's 28 now.
Great. So what about, as I asked yesterday, our participant, I want to ask the same question like you have three kids? And how do you do you spend time with each of them? Or you used to when they were smaller? separately with each of them? Or you know, like some kids, they grew up and not then they're not the only kid. Sometimes they can get jealous or not enough attention from? So do you have this the odd you have this time for each kid? separately? Or it's it was always all together?
Are? Predominantly it was all together. But you'd always have little special times where, you know, you might all go out on a picnic, but one of them might feel a bit cuddly that day. And they just snuggle with you and so on. I did take them out a bit sometimes on their own. Yeah, I mean, I feel like I have a great relationship with all three of them. They're all very different. The youngest one who's 23 is still living at home, we have sort of like a, a lower part of our house that's a bit separate. And he's still involved in helping cook sometimes. And he has a great deal of fun to have around. They get to you know, they later teams, they become really fun to have around and then they always leave to start to really liked them and
then suddenly, you're just on your own. Yeah, what about the middle child,
the middle one has moved to Melbourne. He did his honours in medical marijuana. So he's working down there. He just finished his honours last year. And I really miss him. It's too far away. He was my most challenging growing up, but he was always a lot of fun as well. He's just was one of these kids that if he'd learned to shut his mouth, he would have been in a lot less trouble. That's interesting. Okay, we're very close. You know, there's a lot about him that's quite similar to me. So that's probably why we clashed at times, but he was always So good at coming back and saying, oh, sorry, Mum was a bit over the top there wasn't
at least he understands it now. Yeah. Because some kids grow up and never understand what they did to us. Yeah. Okay, perfect. So I don't know if we got all the all the 10 facts about you, but I'm sure that we'll get it by the end of the conversation. Yeah. So my next question is about ageing. And what does it mean to you?
Look, my mum died a couple of years ago at 74. And I thought, gee, that's too young, she could have lived another 20 years. And so now I sort of see ageing as a bit of a gift, really, so many people don't get to do that. So I mean, at the same time, you know, you look in the mirror and go, Okay, thanks, sagging a lot more than I used to. But it's, it is a gift to still be here. One of our carers that Shane had had, would come in the morning and get him up for the day, just suddenly died the other day, and she wasn't even 50 Yet she had an asthma attack and died. And we're a bit heartbroken for a family. And just yeah, it just makes you aware of just how fragile life can be really.
So but if you could go back in time, to any age, what it would be, and what advice would you give yourself? At that age?
I think I would be I think I loved 24 was sort of my age that I really enjoyed, where you just felt that little bit older, you passed the teens and your feet starting to feel comfortable with being an adult. And the freedom that comes with that. I mean, there's a lot of responsibility to, but I think I would tell myself, not to be worried so much about what other people think and just be confident to be yourself. I think, you know, that's always been something that I've been worried about what other people think of me. Very, I lack a lot of confidence.
So what would you tell to yourself
just to be kinder to myself, I guess and just to be happy in the in the skin that you're in?
So if your body could talk, what do you think it would ask you what tell you right now?
I don't know. I think it would be happy that I'm looking after a bit better. It will probably like to do a bit more leisurely sort of exercise and just get outdoors a bit more. Yeah, just soak in some sun. And a bit of nature, I think.
So what do you think are the main causes for body image issues?
Look, I think the the thing that the biggest thing for me was I was sexually abused as a kid from the age of four to 10. And that is really the time that you're developing your sense of self and who you are. And so I think I've got a very mixed up sense of self. And so my self confidence was is what still is pretty low, actually. So I think that's something that's really affected my life. What was the rest of the question?
What do you think are the main causes for this body image issues?
So that's, that's definitely a main cause for me. The other thing that really affected me growing up to my mom had been a chubby teenager and she really hated that. So if I ever put on weight when I was a teenager, she put me on these weird diets and and it was just a really unhealthy example to me, really. So you're always made me paranoid about putting on weight and I'd be really down on myself. Yeah, I, I really, in latter years, those sorts of things just didn't matter to mum anymore. She just loved me for who I was, but it was hard being a teen with that sort of constant criticism, I guess.
You think it's affected your body image.
Yeah. Yeah. as well.
So How did you overcome that, that those days? And has it change? Now, if you have anybody insecurities from time to time, so how do you manage that? So my question is, I guess, what do you go to methods to manage your body insecurities when they come up? And has it changed with age? As a change? Since you were younger?
I think now, that I've lost some weight, and so on, and I feel a lot more confident in myself, and I enjoy going out more and things because I'm not so hard on myself, feeling like I don't look good, or that sort of thing. So in that regard, I mean, I'm not I think anyone can be happy in their own skin, it doesn't matter what your way or, or, but for myself, that made a big difference in my confidence and, and just feeling healthier and stuff. I guess. It's just given me more of a willingness to not just lock myself away, but to go out and enjoy life a bit more again.
what did you do when you were younger?
Did lots of funny diets. Now, it's more of a mental support to yourself. And before it was more physical. I had a postnatal depression with the second baby, and that sort of, I don't think I've ever really lost that, the depression from that. But I manage it well with medication. So I would lose a whole lot of weight, and then I put it all back on again. So it was just a matter of how well I was coping with the busyness of the kids and all of that, too.
A lot of people that have been abused as a kid do end up suffering with depression, which I didn't know at the time, it was all a rude shock to me. But yeah, like I say, I've, I've managed it well, with counselling and, and medication and so on
How did you heal that trauma? Did you go to counselling? And when did you realise that you need to actually do something about that? Was it affecting your relationship? Do you think that negative body image can affect relationship?
I definitely think it can. When I wasn't feeling like I looked good. I certainly want to try and hide away a bit more. But my husband was very gentle and kind with me and would never make me do anything I didn't want to do. So he was perfect for someone with my past. But when all of that sort of got destroyed, really with the with him breaking his neck, none of that works anymore. So that's been a great loss to us.
So how did you realise that you need help?
Oh, just, I guess when you start to have kids yourself, and you start thinking, Gosh, I need to protect them. And then you think, start having flashbacks or that sort of thing. You just think to yourself, I really need to talk this through with someone. So yeah, I've seen quite a few people over the years.
So do you do any kind of meditations or, like, because I know that people sometimes they go either, like professional psychologists or they go other way more kind of spiritual, religious, religious way doing the meditation or they get into religion or something.
Yeah, well, I was brought up in the church. And I still do love God and I still pray that sort of, I guess I use that as a sort of meditation. I don't actually attend a church and the longer because I just haven't, it's hard to find one that's accepting of trans people and gay people and so on. So and we are very much that you know, household. So, yeah, I mean, I still have lots of lovely friends from the church times and, and so on, but it's just not as a bigger part of my life anymore. But it was certainly helpful to me to be able to turn to God for help in those times.
So how do you find the support? Like you said that your household supports trans people? And as I understand, does it belong to LGBT community? Yeah. Yeah. So how do you find support? Like, do you have any groups you attend? Or like, how does it work?
Well, Jem, that's my daughter. She lives in Maroubra. So she's not at home. She actually works for trends supporting company. Well, they do the whole, the whole LGBTQ I think they'd support everyone within that group. But yeah, I mean, Shane, my husband and Jem have done podcasts of her journey (editor - Link to The Change Podcast: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLU6J0_BuMd6l3o5NhlQdpBA22drFK_Jq5 ) . Yeah, so a lot of our friends and family and so on, have been able to sort of understand better where Jem coming from and the process that she's had to work through with trying to for a long time, she tried to embrace her masculine side, but in the end, it was just too hard for her. So now she's embraced her female self, and she's a lot happier in itself. So and that's what you want for your kids for them to be happy.
this podcast, what's the name of it if someone wants to listen to that?
I think it's called Changes, but I'll definitely find a link for you for the
perfect Yeah. Okay. That's great. Interesting. So my last question, I think I asked all the question, I wanted to both moody mentioned ageing. What are your favourite quotes about being a woman? What maybe thoughts are saying, what is it?
Like? A couple of ones that Eleanor Roosevelt said about how “Well behaved women rarely make history”. It's not that I'm bad. But I do like to be a little bit naughty sometimes.
Just to be a rule breaker. Yeah.
Just you know, I wouldn't, definitely wouldn't get myself in trouble with the law. But I do like, you know, if there's a chalkboard out the front with words that are easy to change to something funny, I'll do it. sneak away. giggling like a little kid.
Yeah. Which sometimes we need fun. That's right. And we're the creators of our own fun. Yeah.
I like you know, having a sense of humour is really important to me, too. So that's the way we've sort of worked our way through Shane's accident, life now. The kids do give him quite a stir with their, with their jokes at times. I could remember Jake, the middle one went out with his girlfriend. We all went into the city for something and they went off to do their own thing, and we were going off to something else. And as they were leaving Shane said, “Don't do anything I wouldn't do”. And Jake said – “Like walking?”, and his girlfriend was mortified. Absolutely. She was like, you can't speak to your father. So yes, we do have a lot of fun with that.
I heard that humour is the best healer of a stress situation.
Yeah. And at the end of the day, like Okay, it's done. What can you do to add up a bit of fun, you know, humour. Not gonna make it worse. Yeah.
Excellent. Thank you. Thank you very much for sharing your story and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the day and the photoshoot.
Yes, thanks Alexandra for having me.
If you have an interesting story, we'd love for you to participate. You can email us at email@example.com That's Aleksandra spelled with a K S. Or visit our website aleksandrawalker.com
This is the 45 over 45 chapter of MY BODY MY STORY podcast, where we celebrate rule breakers and role models - the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show their SENSUALITY, BEAUTY, SOUL, and TRUE ESSENCE.
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