Category Archives: about me

Generally

IMG_9333.JPGI don’t usually like to label myself. I hate being hemmed in by a label. I like to think of myself as “generally” one way with splashes of the opposite thrown in for good measure.  Kind of like the yin and yang symbol you know? I guess it’s the rebel within me that doesn’t like such definitiveness.

I am however, generally some ways as I suspect we all are.  I’m generally an introvert who likes other people and a chat for instance.

And when I read this article on gentle parenting on The Conversation last week I nodded along with it. It’s generally the way I parent and I wish I’d known more about these ways when I first became a parent.  I would have done things differently for sure.

I did though, make the mistake of commenting on the post linking to this article on Facebook thereby opening myself up to criticism and contempt from complete strangers as to my parenting philosophies.  Fun times.

Yesterday I took my boys out for a school holiday treat and we stopped at a local cafe for a treat.  As happens, a nearby toddler had a meltdown. Mr 2 put down his spoon, stood up and said, “I be right back ok?”, index finger akimbo.

Fascinated, Mr 6 and I sat back and watched him.  He walked, with purpose, over to the little girl having her loud, vocal moment and said, “Excuse me, I show you my special dance now, it’s called the ‘chip dance’. You watch!” And he proceeded to do his very special, twirly, stompy dance, singing, “Do the chip dance! Do the chip dance! La la la la.” It’s a dance he usually reserves for his closest family.  It, of course, changed the little girl’s mood instantly.  That he recognised the stress in another child and did something within his power to “fix” the situation made me extremely proud.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing a good job of taking care of my family. I get stuck in the cycle of work, chores, school pick up and drop off.  My head feels explosion worthy more than occasionally.

Empathy, kindness, curiosity and creativity are qualities I want my children to have in abundance.  And in this one little scenario my baby bear showed me that, generally, we are on the right track.

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Work in progress

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Image by Kelli Trontel

I like to think I’m good at change. And in the main I am, so long as I know what that change is going to result in. What I’m not good at as patience and finding my way through the forest so to speak. It’s the uncertainty thing I’m not good at. I never have been and though I have learned to trust that the outcome will be ok I still struggle with the process. The limbo space.

That’s why this year has been hard for me. I haven’t been able to see what the outcome will be. I think, though, that I have a plan for what I will do going forward in taking on some study towards being a primary school teacher. I need some help in finalising the decision, to have the support of my loved ones in moving on this. I will need to continue paid work whilst studying. It’s going to be hard and it will take a long time. And in making this decision I know that it’s something I would love to do for paid work BUT a not-so-niggly part of me knows that what I really want to do is write. And I need a way to create a life that encompasses all of the things that I want it to have as part of it.

I’m ready though to move in to the next phase of my life. My boys are growing but they still need me. They will likely be the central focus of my life for a long time to come. Sometimes the weight of that is a lot to bear.

I can’t do everything all at once. The inner voice telling me I haven’t reached my potential won’t shush. I don’t want to let go of the dream but I need to stop judging myself against an invisible checklist of achievements. I don’t do it to anyone else so why do I do that to myself? I have some years ahead of me that are the probably the best to come and that all the small things will equal a life well lived. An interesting life that I’ve learned so much from in navigating….and maybe that has been the learning for me over the last six months. To accept I am a work in progress.

Why I read

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I’ve read some beautiful posts about why people write. And like many, I write because I feel the words and need to get them out in order to make sense of my inner workings.

For me, it’s the words. The sound of them as they appear, typewriter like, in my mind. And that process is just as powerful for me as a reader.

Words are thoughts. And thoughts help me make sense of things. They help me learn. Grow. Change.

Mum tells me I taught myself to read when I was around 3 so in my living memory I have never been without a book in my journey. I have no frame of reference for life without books by my side. They have been my friend and teacher always.

We were talking at dinner the other night about how every room in our home has books in it. Mr 5, rather seriously said, “We are really very lucky.” And we are.

I read as I see my thoughts reflected back. Thoughts I had no words around before those very words appeared before me.

I just read this quote from one of my favourite books, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami:

The storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in and walk right through it, step by step.

I read to still my mind, enter another world. It’s not always a comfortable place.

I read an article a few weeks ago that said reader of fiction as a group are more empathic. (As an aside, the article makes the distinction that it’s literary fiction that does that and though I tend towards the literary I can’t help that that’s a bit of a snobbish distinction). I have no doubt that seeing the world through the eyes of characters whose lives are far removed from my own experience have made me a better person.

I read because it’s part of me.

“I like your dress”

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He runs in, hair flopping and I can see him backlit from the sun’s rays that are only just peaking above the horizon.

I’ve counted his little steps before. Thump, pat, pat, pat, pat, pat. Twenty little patters as he slides out of bed and runs towards me.

Every time I hear that first thump I smile. Even if I’ve been woken by him so many times overnight that I lost count.

His hair always flops. Silky and golden.

He stops next to me, smiles and hoists himself up next to me on the bed.

“Hey buddy! How you doing?”

“I good!” he says as he flings his arms around my neck. I hug him back of course and kiss the top of his head as I do a hundred times a day and pretend to nibble his totally delicious cheeks. Something that always makes him squeal with delight.

He snuggles in next to me. He slowly smiles and says, “ooh Mama, I like your dress!” He means my flannel pyjamas. Pink with the Eiffel Tower and camellias all over them. I like them too. He thinks of everything I wear as a dress. Because when you’re two you get mixed up by stuff like that. And at that moment I see myself as he does. And I feel beautiful.

“Now, Mama, please may I have my breakfast?”

Stasis induced cake

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Image source

I’m in a holding pattern. I have been for most of the year. I’ve talked to people I know and trust. I have some options but none of them are singing to me as “the one”. I get on and do, I’m busy. Always busy. I am mindful in my busy so I like it in it’s own way.

I’ve begun focusing on health and energy as that feels like the right thing to do.  Making the odd day for myself here to do things I love – visit the Art Gallery, catch a movie and even read a book for half an hour.

And of course I’ve been focusing on my family and food.  The two things that I always come back to.

The question of what to “do” professionally is still bothering me.  I read this great article yesterday and I know it’s part of who I am.  I am a better person now than I was 10 years ago in every way.

I know that “a” decision is what is needed but I’m paralysed by the options ahead of me. Further study is a certainty but so much depends on the type of paid work I am able to find. History tells me that it’ll be ok, I’ll make it work whatever happens but I’m still waiting for the right path to make itself known.  And patience has never been my strong point.

I have a dream I want to pursue but am not ready to name….one that I will kick myself for not attempting if in fact I don’t.  How I can get this to work with the realities of the rest of my life I do not yet know.

In the meantime, loved ones, you can count on a lot of cake!

When you’re unsure of a way forward what do you “do”?

White picket fences

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Image by Amelia O’Connor

When we were looking at houses all those years ago we missed out on many lovely ones….everything seemed just that little bit out of our reach financially.  When we spied our now home we felt a sense of urgency with it.  One we’d never felt before.  We stalked every open inspection and willed the people going through not to see it’s potential.  It needed love, lots of it….and we spent every weekend for months tending to it before we moved in.  It’s still half renovated and we have plans for an extension in some years when the boys are bigger.  I can’t stomach the idea of another project at this point but we will run out of space soon enough as the boys limbs grow more gangly and their minds grow bigger.

Our house is not perfect.  Just like the people who live within it are not perfect.  It’s lived in and battered but it stands (very) tall and strong.  And surrounding our home we have a white picket fence.  A boundary between us and the rest of the world.  The white picket fence of family life.

You never really know what goes on inside the four walls of a home, no more than you ever really know what someone’s internal world is like.  That we come together, form friendships and family, love and like one another in spite of that is a wonderful thing.  The white picket fence of internal life.

When I leave home I feel like I’m weaving a thread from an infinite ball of wool.  As I return home I spy our battered white picket fence and it all just feels right.

 

The news

I wake to the news and I’m saddened. I never thought the government of this country could be so heartless.

I watch the news unfold during the day and I’m angered. The lack of empathy, a distinct lack of kindness. It’s rotten.

When I was younger I thought that living an important life was what I was destined for. And that important life would make a difference in a big way.

I turned 39 last week and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I don’t have a big important life. I have a little, quiet life. And my ability to affect change seems minimal.

What I have come to see though is that a quiet life can still be an important life. That small kindness, an open mind and empathy can make a difference. That as a Mama I can instil these important values in my boys. That I can live by example. And that if everyone for in with living a life with a lens of kindness and empathy the news would be very different.