When Jade Pisani sought the services of a ukulele teacher on Facebook, she never imagined how much the story of her life was about to change.
The ukulele man would become her partner and set her on the road to writing.
Ms Pisani had a chaotic upbringing, dragged around western Sydney with her mother who, when she wasn’t in jail, would add zeroes to the balances of bank books.
It meant Ms Pisani was regularly changing schools, and surnames, with little sense of home or true identity.
She was 10 when her mother died of a drug overdose.
‘‘My grandparents came and picked me up the next day, so I didn’t get to go to the funeral,’’ Ms Pisani, 40, says. ‘‘There really wasn’t any sort of closure. I had no counselling or anything.’’
Instead, she spent time in foster homes, where she was physically and emotionally abused. Storytelling became a way to cope.
‘‘I’d make up stories about a good family life and say, ‘You know, I’ve got a palomino at home’ just to sort of live in a pretend little world when really, at home, it was a different story.’’
Once she reached adulthood, she drifted.
‘‘I’d go from one relationship to the next and I’d move a lot as well,’’ Ms Pisani says.
‘‘I never really had a chance to take my photo albums out of the boxes.’’
Aged 35, Ms Pisani met her partner, Woodend poet Myron Lysenko, who as well as teaching her some tunes on the ukulele, opened her heart and mind to writing.
‘‘It’s only been the last few years that I’ve started writing about my thoughts and feelings,’’ she says. ‘‘It has really helped me to express myself and actually feel normal.’’
Today, Ms Pisani – who has two children, Kody, 19, and Zaidee, 4 – tries to write every day. Almost two years into a memoir project, she’s also had work published in 15 haiku journals this year.
She says the memoir has been tremendously cathartic.
‘‘When I’m finished writing, I do feel really emotional but also relieved that it’s out,” she said. ‘‘ Sometimes as I’m writing I’ll remember something I thought I’d forgotten.’’
Ms Pisani encourages anyone who thinks they’re too old to start writing to simply begin.
‘‘You just don’t know what you’ve got and what you’re capable of until you start.’’
Jade will be the featured reader at the next meeting of Woodend’s Chamber Poets. The group will meet at The Chamber Art and Coffee House from 2pm this Saturday.