Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Mums from two worlds

So, my daughter and I went on a little adventure on the bus the other week - just to the local shops to get a few groceries - and while we were out, I ran into a mother from a mothers' group I used to go to.  There was something in her face and body language that told me she really didn't want to talk to me, but was 'caught' when I said "Hello" and politely chatted anyway.  After a few minutes, I gave her a quick out: "Well, we should go and catch our bus home, and I don't want to keep you."  She gladly took it and shot off into the supermarket.

My own insecurities kicked in.  My daughter was dressed for a day of mucking around at home, in her slightly mismatched hand-me-downs, a little bit of stubborn breakfast on her face; I was pushing a hand-me-down stroller, and looking 'casual chic' in my own ensemble.  Her daughter looked gorgeous in a sweet, clean little dress, and while the mum was having a 'home' day too, her summer dress was gorgeous, flattering, and matched her shoes perfectly.  My daughter and I looked like the riffraff neighbours, and she and her daughter looked like the well-to-do from a few suburbs over!

"Perhaps," I thought, "she doesn't want to talk to me because we look 'poor' with our clothes choices today.  And maybe she thinks we're weird because we caught the bus here."   And as we walked back to the bus stop, I made myself come at it from another perspective.

Perhaps she didn't want to talk to us because she knew in about 5 minutes her daughter would be beyond tired and would crack a nana?  Perhaps she had a tradesman coming to her house and she really needed to get home?  Perhaps SHE felt like a dork in her lovely summer dress (which would be crazy because she looked great!) and was embarrassed to be caught out by someone who knew her?  We always jump straight to ourselves to explain someone else's behaviour, when you often have no idea what the other person is experiencing.

But one thing that I held on to and made me feel really good, was the job I've been doing with my daughter.  While I'm so far from being a perfect mum it's funny, that day I was taking my girl for her first ride on a bus because she loves seeing them when we're driving in the car - she's always the first to spot one, even when it's blocks away!  We were having an adventure!

And while I was chatting to this other mother, my daughter was wandering around between us, going a few metres away to touch a shop window, then coming back to me, then toddling over to the plant display outside the supermarket to touch the leaves, then back to me.  All the while I could see her, and she could see me and was staying close while still checking out her surroundings.

"So what?" I hear you say.  Well, this other mother ran to grab her daughter just for touching a shop's display window.  She wasn't banging on it, or screaming - just touching, and looking back at her mummy.  And she was touching the glass window because there was a delicious, creamy-looking cake on the other side!  Who wouldn't want to touch that!  And after fetching the girl and firming placing her on her hip, and watching my daughter just potter around us, she said:  "Oh, I could never let Mary down in a place like this.  She'd touch the plants!"

"So what?" I thought to myself.  So what if she touches the plants?  If you're there and she's not pulling the leaves off or tipping the plants over, so what?  I realised on the walk back to the bus, that while my daughter and I might not always be beautifully dressed when we go out, I'm giving her a chance to experience the world around her, when some children aren't.  We went for a ride on a bus - and she had fun!  I let her down to investigate the shops, but always kept an eye on her and would naturally have corrected her or picked her up if she was doing something wrong or getting in someone's way.  And in some small way, I hope that's helping her development and view of the world.

And today we're off to the shop again, and I wonder who my daughter is going to make friends with today - who she is going to smile at, and who will smile back at her.  You never know who's day your child's smile will brighten if they're not given a chance to flash that gummy grin at others!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Two of my favourite recipes

Here are two of my family's dinner favourites.  They're cheap and easy to make, and my 20-month-old thinks they're delicious!

Vegetarian lasagna

4-5 cups diced vegetables (I use onion, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow button squash.  But mix it up with whatever you have and like)
500g tub ricotta cheese
4 cloves garlic
2-3 stock cubes (I use vegetable stock but beef also works really well)
1 egg
instant lasagna sheets
1 big bottle of tomato puree (passata)
2 cups grated cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion until translucent (*you could add hamburger here if you like).  Turn the heat up and add all your diced veggies and a tablespoon of oregano.  Stir to coat all the veggies in oil and herbs and cook until they start to soften.  Add the passata, stock cubes, garlic and other herbs to your liking.  Add about 1/2 cup water and simmer until it starts to thicken (about 15-20 minutes).  (I know it's a bit more work, but it really does make the taste SO much better pre-cooking the veggies at this stage.)

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 the grated cheese, all the parmesan cheese, egg and 1/2 teaspoon of oregano (*I've also added a few shakes of nutmeg here, which is good!)

To cook
Spray the slowcooker bowl with non-stick/oil spray.
Spread a bit of the tomato veggie sauce on the base of the crockpot (to stop sticking) and place a layer of lasagne sheets down; top with tomato veggie sauce and blob over a little of the ricotta mixture; cover with another layer of lasagna sheets.  Repeat this two or three more times, finishing with a layer of ricotta and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

I cook it on "low" for up to six hours.  You could also cook on "high" for three or four hours.  In a pinch, I've also cooked this in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour, as you do with a normal lasagna.  Serve with garlic or herb bread, and because there's so many vegetables in it, you don't have to serve it with salad!

Tuna cauliflower cheese

A 500g tin of tuna (I use the one in spring water)
Half small cauliflower, broken or cut up into small florets
1/2 small head of broccoli, broken or cut up into small florets
Big handful of green beans
Medium can of corn kernels
1/2 cup rissoni pasta (or any small pasta shapes you've got on hand)
1-2 tablespoons of butter
about 1/3 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups milk (I use skim but it doesn't matter really)
1 cup of grated cheese

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.  Boil, steam or microwave cauliflower, broccoli and beans until tender.  Cook the pasta until al'dente.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, make your white sauce - melt about 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat; add enough plain flour to soak up the butter (about 1/3 cup'ish).  Stir around for about a minute to cook off the flour some.  Gradually add the milk and keep stirring until thickened - add a little more milk if it's too thick.  Add a small handful of the cheese, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Spread the vegetables, corn and pasta over the base of an oven-proof baking dish.  Drain the tuna and break up over the vegetables.  Pour the cheesey white sauce over the top and stir a little to combine.  Top with the rest of the grated cheese and bake in the oven until the top is golden brown.  Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Dear 20-year-old me...

If you could go back and talk to yourself at a particular point in time, how old would your younger self be, and what would you say?

There are a few points in my past that I really could have done with some grown-up-me advice.  Like when I was 16 and suffering depression because I didn't know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and didn't think I was smart enough to do anything other than menial labour.  Like when I had my heart broken for the first time by the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with - I was 18 and extremely naive, as all 18-year-olds are!  Or like when I could have confronted my dad about his affair but I didn't have the courage.

But the point in my life where I really needed the grown-up me to step in for a chat, was in my very early 20s.  And it's all about love, self worth and knowing God and His love for me.  And it would go something like this:

"That guy doesn't love you - he's just trying to get into your pants.  And he doesn't even think your pants are that special - to him you're just another chick.  If you say no and stick to your guns, he'll break your heart in order to find another girl who will believe his lines and jump into bed with him.  Trust me, the temporarily broken heart is the better option!

"The love you are searching for so badly, and that you think is in the arms of any guy who smiles at you and holds your hand, is already with you.  GOD loves you madly and passionately just as you are!  He can fill the void you're trying to fill.  He has great plans for your life, that include love, trust, faith, honesty, loyalty, children, a house, laughter, a good job and friends.  You're breaking God's heart by selling yourself short to these men who in 15 years, won't even remember your name.  Hec, they're likely to forget you after 15 months!  They're damaging your soul and your heart.  Your heart is precious, it's unique and wonderful and special and worth guarding with all your might!  Be strong.  Find your faith.  Hang on.  Your "one" is coming.

"And even though you won't be rich when you're older, grab whatever cash you can and invest in something called Apple.  And DO NOT dye your hair blonde - you'll look ridiculous for a good year trying to undo that damage!  And sorry, your freckles don't fade away and you'll still get pimples into your 30s."

I was talking to my husband and my mum in the last few weeks (not in the same conversation) about why I dated so many 'wrong' men, and went out drinking and partying in my early 20s.  And I think it's because of three reasons:  1) Everyone else was doing it, and I finally had some money and freedom.  2) I was so desperate to find love that I did what I thought you did to find it.  And 3) I had no other role models in my life to show me any other way of being a woman in her early 20s, and I had all the wrong information.

I didn't know a single active Christian woman back then.  I didn't have anyone to tell me, "Hey Jen, that's not what you're supposed to do.  It doesn't make you feel very good, does it?  That's because that's not what God wants you to do.  There's a much better way to live your life right now!" And I probably would have ignored that one person, but if they were part of a group, and one of many voices, they might have stood a much better chance of getting through my thick 20-year-old head!

I could, and have spent a lot of time wondering "what if".  What if I hadn't gotten into that relationship?  What if I didn't get on that plane?  What if I didn't go out clubbing?  I mean, how much more money would I have now!  Cha-ching!  But wishing I had made different choices in my youth is pointless, because I can't go back and change a single thing.  And yes, it's true that all those experiences helped shape who I am today, but I know the who-I-am-today, while wiser and pretty darn fantastic, has hurt and pain woven into my fabric that was never part of God's pattern for my life.

So, let this blog post stand for one voice against the millions of others, telling you, young woman or teenage girl (if any of you happen to be reading this) - there IS a better way to live your life than throwing yourself at a man, trying to find love.  Sex does not equal love.  If a boy doesn't like you, sleeping with him isn't going to change that.  But know the truth that GOD loves you, and has wonderful things in store for your life.  Guard your heart!  Don't give your love or body away.  You are worth protecting.  Don't believe the lies those boys are telling you.  You are special, beautiful and unique.  Be strong.  Find your faith.  Hang on.  Your "one" is coming.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bye-bye pre-baby body

A baby changes your figure.  There's no way around it.  Even if you lose the weight (and I'm about 5kg off), there's all that extra skin that was stretched to buggery when your stomach was out to wharzoo.  And your boobs, whether you breastfeed or not, will never be the same size again.  Things move.  Things expand and shrink.  Therefore, so does your wardrobe.

Today I'm putting my winter clothes away and bringing out my summer clothes, and I reckon I'm about to donate $2000 worth of clothes that don't fit and will never fit me again.  When I did this this time last year, I was still hopeful that I'd lose more weight and things would move back where they belonged, so I held on to a lot of it.  Not this year.  I understand now that this is what my body is going to be like from here on in - wider hips, bigger boobs and a softer, pudgier tummy.   Tops have to be long enough to cover my tummy now.  Shorts have to be long enough to cover most of my thighs.  And muffin tops are only good for eating!

I'm going to be a little sad today, mourning the loss of my pre-baby body.  Hec, I looked great a few years ago, but as with most women, I didn't appreciate it then - I do now though!  And in about 10 years time, I'll probably appreciate my 33-year-old figure more than I do now!  However, I'd much rather cull all my tight and ill-fitting clothes now, leaving only comfortable clothes that fit me well, rather than prolong the pain throughout summer, getting upset every time I pull out a pair of shorts that I can't get past my knees, or a top whose buttons refuse to stay shut across my chest.  In short, I'm taking steps now to ensure a happy summer season ahead!

In other news, I ran my first 5km fun run on September 2 and it was WONDERFUL!  I went for my first run last night since the race two-and-a-half weeks ago and it felt great!  It hurt, and I was thankful that I had to wait at two rail crossings so I could stretch and catch my breath, but I'm back on the bandwagon!  I just need to find another fun run to keep me moving on these forthcoming hot Australian evenings!  Ahh, summer in Australia.  Bleck!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Cranky pre-holiday mummy!

When I was a kid, I could never understand why my mum got so stressed before we went away on holidays.  On hearing mum’s ominous stamping feet going up or down the hallway, or slamming cupboard doors, I’d bravely pipe up: “Chill out, mum.  We’ll be leaving for holidays the day after tomorrow!” Which was almost always received with “Uh?  Grumble, mumble, grrr, grumble, argh!”  But as with most things recently, I appreciate now exactly how mum was feeling!

You see, we’re going camping next week.  I’m not really a camper.  I’ve never been a camper.  I have very little idea of how to be a camper.  But I love simple things, peace, quiet and cheap holidays, so I’m embracing the idea wholeheartedly.  But there’s a lot more packing and planning when it comes to camping, and when you’re a novice (with a toddler and a work schedule, but more on that later), you’ve really got no idea what you’re doing – “Saucepans. Saucepans?  One or two?  One?  Um.  Meh, in they go!”

My wonderful in-laws are joining us on our holiday, and my mother-in-law rattled off about 30 things to pack last time we went to visit them, (most of which will be in use until the last moments before we leave), which I madly scribbled down.  This list is now my camping survival guide and I’m clutching on to that piece of paper for all I’m worth!  It could be the only thing keeping me together right now!

I finished work today, so you’d think I’d have the next five days to plan and pack everything up with a neat little bow by Sunday night, with plenty of time and mental ability left to cook everyone a hearty breakfast (and wash it all up) before we back ourselves out of the driveway on Monday morning.  “Heaps of time, you big girl’s blouse!  What’s your issue and so worth writing about?”  Yep.  Good point. 

This week has got to be the most event-jam-packed week I’ve had since our wedding!
But firstly, there’s our daughter who enthusiastically “unpacks” at a rate faster than I can pack, and with more enthusiasm and speed than I can match for repacking!  Then, my father and his new wife are coming to visit, have lunch and take us out for dinner… twice.  (Normally a welcome event… except this week when all I want to do is pack and cross things off my list!).  Then there’s Father’s Day and making a fuss of my amazing husband. And the long-trained-for, long-talked-about 5km fun run!  Add to that washing, cleaning, a trip to visit my mum, the library, grocery shopping and still making breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and remembering to feed my daughter and give her “mulk” at 10am and 3pm and get her to sleep at 12.30pm and 6pm and I’m about ready to crumble in a heap!  I can’t guarantee I’m going to brush my hair or my teeth every morning this week, so be prepared if we’ve scheduled a catch-up I’ve probably forgotten about!

I so understand now why my mum used to get so stressed and cranky.  I’m acting the same way she used to, and probably feeling pretty similar.  I should have given her a big (but quick) hug to say thank you for remembering the sun-cream, bug spray, fruit cake, shampoo, conditioner and our toothbrushes, beach towels, books, puzzles, blankets, beach umbrellas, beach bags and snacks for the car, the butter, Vegemite, tea, coffee, milo and wine (for the adults), tomato sauce, tea towels and those biscuits we all liked…

Thursday, 9 August 2012

I'm such an old lady

I'm sorry to say, I had a grown-up hissy fit this week.  In the throes of hormonal upheaval (never a good time to take new information on board), I tried to learn something new and my brain, emotions and temper just couldn't take it.  I wanted to throw something across the room.  Instead, I went and had a long shower and cried to my husband afterwards about how dumb it all made me feel.  Then I sent myself to my room and took myself off to bed!

Let's back up a bit and start at the beginning.

I'm a simple gal, and I don't like change much, and, to be honest, my natural reaction to tough situations is to run away.  In recent years and in my line of work, this has shown itself most often in learning new computer programs.  With age and practice, I make myself sit still and keep plugging at it until it clicks (and it always does and quickly becomes second nature), but let me tell you, lots of cells in my body are screaming "Run away!  Run away now!" during the learning process!

Now, being a simple gal, I have very low tech needs.  I have a "dumb" phone just for calls and texts because I don't want or need a phone that does anything else.  I couldn't care if I was the last person on the planet with an old phone.  I don't buy into the brew-ha-ha about having to have the latest "this", "that" or "the other" (or with modern consumer behaviour, it's more like "this", "that" AND "the other" in white AND black, please).  But this Stone Age behaviour of mine means I am low-tech in gadget knowledge, too.

So, on Tuesday night, after graduating from my Couch to 5km running program, I wanted to go for a run on my own, with music to listen to.  For the past nine weeks, I have been running to the sound of traffic and my own gasping breath.   Now, the last time I needed mobile music, Walkmans were still the rage.  I had a yellow one, and I rewound it or fast-forwarded through the tracks using a biro from my pencil case.  But the 2012 process of learning to run required an iPod and the Couch to 5km App.  My husband (very tech and gadget savvy) borrowed an iPod touch from a friend, and knowing I was clueless and with a "please help" from me, he bought and downloaded the App for me, set it up and showed me how to turn it on and start the App.  Piece of cake.

Now, on Tuesday, nine weeks on, I thought it high time I learned how to use this gadget I'd been running with for two months, and I asked my husband to teach me how to put music on it.  Ah, that was the beginning of the end!  Having to register it, and put my credit card details in, and name folders and find music... ARGH!   Why so hard!?!?  The way I moaned and "how come?"d my husband made me sound like I was 80, lamenting about the good old days, and how the world today has gone mad!  The urge to hurl the thing against the wall and storm off in a 3(3)-year-old huff was immense!  At least I was mature enough to give myself a time-out and send myself to my room!

But the simple truth is that I AM a simple gal. I don't like gadgets and they baffle the bajeepers out of me.  I have an old TV that weighs a tonne and I'm fine with that.  I don't want any Apple products and would happily do without them if it wasn't for a desire to see the progress I'm making with running, without the need of maps and the car's odometer to measure the distance.  I work on computers all day and the last thing I want to do when I get home is pull out a smaller version of the same screen that I've been staring at all day.  I'd much rather talk to my husband, read my daughter stories and cuddle her to sleep, and watch TV, and have a long shower and read a book.  Am I so odd in my lack of tech-gadget savvy?  Does this cheese stand alone?

But I know if I just keep forcing myself to use it, I'll get it eventually.  I always do, and I'll be laughing at myself... eventually.  I might just need a few more time-outs along the way!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Argh, trusting in God can be so hard!

So, another friend has announced her pregnancy.  This adds to a seemingly ever-increasing number of women I know who are pregnant.  Before I keep going, I should state that no, my husband and I aren't infertile and aren't currently trying to have another baby, but the women who are expecting just brings home a little issue I have within myself and with God.

I always wanted a big family.  Four children.  A boy first, then a girl, and two random draws.  In my childhood, I thought I would get married young (early 20s) and have my children while I was young, so I could enjoy them and keep up with them as they grew.  I was going to be the cool, young, hip mum at the school gate, and the mum who participated on sports day and won a race or two.  But, the thing is, I didn't find my beloved husband until my late 20s and we got married two weeks before I turned 30.  We thought it best to "figure out how to be married" before adding kids into the mix.  My oldest sister said once (or read once) "Having a baby is like throwing a grenade into a marriage."  While I wouldn't go that far, it sure does test the two of you, so we wanted to strengthen our relationship a bit more before we "threw a grenade" into it!  So our darling daughter wasn't born until two weeks before I turned 32.  We actually left hospital with her on our second wedding anniversary.

Now!  More children.  Where was I?  I know I'm not old, but in the fertility stakes, I think I'm bordering on middle age.  I have a few more years up my sleeve, all things being equal, but my dream of having a big family has had to be surrendered.  That hurts.  I'm not going to be the mother-of-four I'd dreamed about, unless I'm slammed with natural triplets next time around!  Eee gad!  But I've had this picture in my head of our "big family" for a long time now.  Perhaps that will entail taking in our children's friends and hangers-on.  Perhaps.  But in my heart of hearts, I want at least two or three more children of our own.

I know I'm blessed to have been able to fall pregnant naturally and relatively easily with our beautiful girl.  That, in and of itself, is my life's greatest gift and blessing and accomplishment.  I'm SO blessed.  SO blessed.  So, so many beautiful women, who would make AMAZING mothers, aren't able to have children of their own.  Adoption and IVF are SO expensive and a red-tape, government-burocracy-gone-mad nightmare that many of these wonderful couples aren't even able to try that!  It's not fair!  I don't understand it.  I get cranky at God for the injustice of it!  I'm not the most patient Christian.

Which brings me to the crux of this blog post.  Trusting God's plan and how freakin' hard that is!  Oh, I've had many a long conversation with God - mostly one sided with me doing all the talking - about what I want my life to be like.  I even picture our conversations in my head, and I can almost see God smiling and shaking his head at me and my demands and plans.  "Poor foolish child.  But how I love you" with a God-like chuckle (whatever your imagination makes that sound like).

I want more children.  I want a big family.  I've pestered God long and loud about it, but I also have to trust God knows best and has a plan for my life.  For whatever reason, maybe I'm only meant to have one or two children?  Perhaps having a smaller family will enable me to do something wonderful that might not be possible with a big family?  Foster children?  Adopt children?  Take in my children's friends who otherwise don't have a loving and stable home to go to.  And if that's God's plan for me - not meeting my husband until late and thereby capping our family size to "family sedan" - then so be it!

But wouldn't it be nice if God gave you a head's up?  Ah, but then it wouldn't be faith, now would it?

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Parents are human, too

When I was a little girl, my parents were gods.  They could do everything, they knew everything, they made everything better, they could fix just about everything, and they also had the ability to upset me more than anyone else in the world - being sent to my room, being smacked (because it was the 80s and it was okay to smack back then.  Hec, it was even okay for other parents to smack other people's kids if they were being rotten!), being told no, being made to eat all my veggies.  

Then when I was a teenager, there was nobody more dorky than my parents.  My dad didn't help himself through this period because he wore safari suits to work every day.  I kid you not!  I squirmed when I was trapped in the car with my mum because she'd take the opportunity of my inability to escape to talk to me about the birds and the bees, and periods and boobs, boys and bras and all things that this 12-year-old hated talking to her mother about!  That was what Dolly magazine and best friends were for!  Many-a-time I hoped the car seat would open up and swallow me to make the awkwardness end!  My parents didn't understand me, they had no idea what I was going through and I just wanted them to stop talking to me!

Then, in my early 20s, I started to appreciate my parents - my mum, especially.  I started to realise just how hard my mum worked raising me, my two sisters and brother.  I remembered with new appreciation of the times mum stayed up late baking patty cakes for some random school event the next day.  Or how hard it must have been for her to get out of bed every morning, probably exhausted and wishing for two hours more sleep, to come and wake us up, always smiling and happy to see us.  The regular phone calls, endless love and hugs.  And she did it just about single-handedly while my dad worked every second he could.  In my 20s, and coming into my later 20s, I realised how blessed I was to have my mum as my mum.

Now, as a mum of my own, I'm seeing my mum in another new light.  She's human.  She made mistakes because she was making motherhood up as she went along, as we all do!  As I am now.  She lost her temper; she put her foot in it and said things she probably instantly regretted; she got upset; she got frustrated; she didn't have all the answers.  But she absolutely did the best she could.  She's amazing!  I love spending time with my mum, unlike my teenage self.  I love talking to her and just "hanging out" together.  I know my time is precious with her.

And I also realise that my daughter probably won't realise these things about me until she's a mum herself.  She'll think I'm wonderful and amazing while she's little.  As a teenager she'll probably go through a phase of not wanting me to meet her at the school gate and wait for her at a respectable distance.  I'll be dorky and totally unfashionable in her eyes.  Then she'll probably mellow out and like me again in her early 20s and get to know me a bit better.  But when she's a mum, I hope she will realise, as I did about my mum, that I'm human, I love her more than my own life, and that I'm doing the very best I can, every day - even when I get frustrated, am over-tired, put my foot in it, get angry or frustrated.  Because I'm only human.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Dumb people have it better

Dumb people have it better than smart people.  Let me explain.  I was pretty average in high school grades wise, and I had to work hard for the average grades I got.  But I sure as hec didn't want to fail - I wanted to be the best student I could be - so I worked hard for my Bs and Cs.  I stayed up late studying, I got up early, I used to bug the smart kids to explain things to me for the 100th time if I didn't get it in class.  But there were friends at school who didn't study, didn't seem to try in class, goofed off but aced their tests every single time.  I used to get so annoyed at the unfair brain balance going on!  My 14 and 15-year-old self felt totally ripped off!

But I realised tonight that being "dumb" has actually served me pretty well in life.  I learned to have a fighting, goal-oriented drive right from the beginning - and I'm blessed that I've always had goals and a strong work ethic, which I thank my wonderful parents for.

If I wanted to achieve something, I had to set a goal and haul butt to get there.  I always have.  I rarely give up - like a dog with a bone.  But someone who has never had to try very hard to achieve something often struggles when things in life don't happen easily.  "What's going on?  Why isn't this just falling in my lap? This has never happened before!". It could be setting a goal in the first place;  it could be knowing how to break the journey down into smaller steps; it could be knowing how to get back up after being knocked down.  But for a "dumb" person, that happens plenty!  I fall over plenty!  And I know to just get back up, put my head down and keep pushing - like a battering ram!  But that's come with time and experience.

When I was in grade 10, I used to pray all the time for God to make me smarter.  "Please God, make me smarter.  I could do so much more in the world if I was smarter.  I promise to do so much good in the world if you only make me smarter."  And then one morning I woke up from a dream I couldn't remember, with such a clear message - "Be happy with what you've got."  "Right God," I said.  "I got it.  Thanks."  And off I went, being mostly happy with the brains I was given, even if that meant a C+ on a test I'd studied days for!  (But then there were a few little tears and tantrums when I didn't ace the subjects I was good at because I knew I should have done better and kicked myself for it.  I'm an over-achiever.  Have I said that yet?  Though I still suck at and get baffled by paperwork.  Gah - too hard!)

But then I went to university, found my niche and rocked!  "Oh my goodness!  I'm not dumb after all?  I'm actually smart and good at something?  Well, I'll be darned!"  And that's the thing - I found my goal, I found my niche, I worked hard and I aced it!  I'm still in the industry I studied for at university and while I may still lose my job, it's not because I suck at it.

Albert Einstein (allegedly) said (because we all know how reliable Google is):  "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post, except to say thank God I wasn't a genius at school.  I'm tougher and stronger for it, and it's made me stubborn in that regard.  I never would have learned to work as hard as I do if I'd been one of the "smart" kids at school - if everything came easily.  So thank you God for not making me "smarter".  I am one hell of a fighter though!  Amen!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Think before you think

I went for a run tonight, in the cold and rain.  That is so unlike me.  I can't begin to point out the differences with the girl who went running tonight, and the girl who would have been snugged up in her winter woolies, baking comfort food on a night like this.  Mind you, that girl is still around, and after a quick shower after tonight's run, I'm back in my winter woolies and looking through the pantry to see what I have to bake with!  We're one in the same, and this "running all weather" girl must have always been in there... just silenced with laziness and comfort.

Now, back in my young and stupid days, when I saw someone like myself tonight - out running, in the rain, at night - I would have thought something along the lines of, "Oh, pa-lease!  Go home you idiot!"  Now, older and slightly wiser, when I see someone out running (or any exercise for that matter), I say something like, "You go girl/dude!"  And give them a silent high-five as I drive past.  I admire their effort.  They're out there doing something about their weight/fitness/health issue.  The redder their face and less 'exercise-like' they look, the more awesome I think they are!

But I got thinking tonight - how many people are out there because of a personal demon of some sort?  Perhaps, though it's cold and raining and dark, they're out running to stop themselves drinking alcohol?  Or gambling?  Or hitting their child?  Or to redirect some anger at someone in their household, so they don't explode and can handle the situation better?  Or maybe they're just like me - a busy working mum with only a small window at night, a few nights a week, when husband comes home, to shoof off out the door and to hell with the weather!  Perhaps they just want to lose weight, get fit and meet their personal deadline, too?

And it applies to so many other things too - the cranky person at work (you never know what's happening for them at home, or what they have to go home to); the way someone is dressed at the shops (perhaps those are the only clothes they own, or they're dressed in really short shorts because they woke up that morning feeling fantastic about their legs and butt!  How many other girls feel that way when they get dressed in the morning?!  Most of us (me included) spend a great deal of time trying to cover it all up and play tricks to redirect the eye with chunky accessories!).

We're all out there, doing our own thing, with our baggage and issues.  We can never run away from them - we just all pack them differently to suit our location, destination and how many transfers we've made, and we usually get much better at carrying them, too.  Even at night, in the rain and cold.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

I am what I eat

So this week at work was a bit rough.  Not the work part, or the looming job cuts.  It was rough because this cold week, I discovered that none of my bottom-halfs fit me - slacks, skirts or my 'good' jeans.  If I can get the zip up, they're not comfortable and it's probably not a treat for those around me to see me wearing them, either.  Throw a pair of stockings into the mix and you have one very unattractive and uncomfortable wardrobe disaster!  And so it was this week, I discovered my 'double tummy' - that thing that happens to fatter tummies when you wear clothes too tight, that kind of cut you in the middle, so you have a noticeable 'crease' in your mid-section - a top tummy, and a bottom tummy.  It is VERY unattractive!  And this is the first time in my life that I've had it!  I've always been slim and trim, and even when I thought I was fatter, I can't remember this happening!

It's no great mystery as to why this new physical change has occurred.  I eat too much.  I love food, and I love to eat and I love to cook.  I also graze off my daughter's plate when she's done with it, instead of putting it in the bin.  I know just about all mothers do this.  It's good, heathy food and would just go to waste.  But add that little bit of food, a couple of times a day, on top of your own food (plus cravings) and there's hundreds more calories for my body to cope with.

My running progress is actually going pretty well (following Couch to 5km -, after a big break a few weeks ago when I was sick.  I'm venturing into "tough land" now in Week 5 - jogging for eight minutes straight!  Mind you, I might not be going very fast, and someone power-walking to the train would probably overtake me, but I'm keeping it up - I keep jogging until my little App lady tells me to switch to a walk.  My goal is to be jogging 5km non-stop by August 2.  Why August 2?  Well, I'm participating in the Bridge to Brisbane 5km event ( on my road to Boston Marathon stardom in six years time (before I'm 40), and as my incentive to keep going, my husband has promised to buy me a new pair of sneakers one month before the event so I can break them in - provided I'm running 5km one month beforehand!  I'm wearing the same beat-up sneakers I've had since 2003.  I bought them in Canada.  I have a sentimental attachment to them.  I get attached to strange things sometimes, like my old washing machine, but that's another story for another day.  While these old sneakers are holding together pretty well, I am longing for those new sneakers!  I will make it, if only to have a decent light pair of sneakers that are actually designed for running!  My legs won't know such joy!

But I don't exercise enough at the moment to burn off the "calories in".  I'm not loving my body right now, but as God so lovingly and kindly reminds me - it's all there and it all works!  And of course He's right!  I have two legs that work, two arms, internal organs all present and accounted for, and in the right spots.  And they all work!  So stop the fatty pitty party!  I might not be as small as I used to be (and anyone just has to see a picture of my full-term baby belly to understand why that balloon was never going to shrink back into place!).  But I'm not fat.   I'm "fatter" - not fat.

And I also got to thinking what my daughter will learn by watching my petty body issues play out.  I don't want to teach her by demonstration that what you look like is never good enough - just a few more kilos; just a wax job here and a dye job there; oh, I can't eat that...  So many mums (and dads, but more so mums) pass on their body/self image issues to their children.  I want my girl to love who she is.  I want her to see her mumma go out running because it's good for me - physically and mentally; making a goal and working towards it.  I want her to see me eat lots of healthy food, and a few treats occasionally. I want her to see me love and respect myself and the body I have. Monkey see, monkey do after all, yes?

So, the running will continue; the body issues will hopefully fade with continual reality checks; and one day (namely September 2), my girl will see her mummy cross the finishing line of her first fun run of many more to come!  Then we'll all go out for lunch to celebrate - good, delicious and treaty food - and spoil my husband to thank him for giving up his special morning so I can run!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

And now, we wait

So, the big boss made his announcement and the news is.... no news yet!  Basically, people will be made redundant and they are taking to the factory with a sword, but it's still going to be a long time before we find out whether our jobs are safe or not.  And somehow, through all this, we're supposed to still be happy, diligent, cost-effective employees!  Now, obviously the big boss has never been a little worker monkey like me with an axe hanging over his head.  Because I can bet if he had, he'd hurry it up and put the relevant people out of their misery.  And he's sitting pretty and sleeping well at night because I'm sure he's not worried about losing his house because he lost his job and can't pay the mortgage.

Okay, now I've had a vent.  Time to calm down.  But it's so hard - my brain is turning this over, and over, and over again!  It's the not knowing.  Not knowing if I'm going to keep my job or lose it.  Not knowing if my friends and co-workers will be okay, too.  Not knowing what to do next because, ladies and gentlemen, I don't WANT to lose my job, so I don't want to start planning for the "what now".  Not knowing WHEN we'll find all this out.  And there are people with more children than me, with bigger mortgages than me.  And as nice as the bank is when they give you the loan, they're not going to be so nice if we need to go in to "have a chat".

Through all this I'm trying to trust God.  So many people have told me that.  And I know God is with me always, but just because you're Christian doesn't mean life all of sudden becomes really smooth and easy, and you never have any problems again.  Quite the opposite, actually.  And a twisted part of me thinks, because I'm so worried about keeping our house, God will take it away to teach me not to put value on 'stuff'.  But if I look at all the things that had to line up perfectly in order for us to get this house, and the neighbours we have, and the neighbourhood we live in... it's got God written all over it! In a graffiti kinda way, it's that obvious!  So I try to keep reminding myself - why would God put us somewhere only to take us out again?

And I'm also trying to remember that I was in a slightly similar position a few years ago, and not only did I keep my job, but I got a better job AND a pay rise!  So perhaps it will work out that way again?  I will keep my job, be put in a new and better position and get a pay rise - though given all the cost-cutting going on, I very much doubt they're going to be giving people pay rises and firing dozens of others!

Or perhaps a whole new door will open.  Perhaps a new job will come my way that will pay enough to not lose any financial ground.  Perhaps I'll buy a lottery ticket (never bought one before in my life, however), it'll win big, and it will be enough to pay the mortgage while I go back to university and start my nursing degree!  Stranger (and cooler) things have happened!

In the meantime, there is chocolate, hugs from my husband and beautiful daughter, our health, friends and family.  And I reminded myself today - I have a job TODAY.  I don't know about tomorrow, but TODAY I have a job.  For that - for this day - I will be thankful!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Who's teaching who, here?

As a mum, my heart often feels like it's going to explode for all the love I have inside it.  Tears of joy and wonder usually aren't too far behind but I try to keep those in check for the comfort of those around me ("Oh, here she goes again!") but I let that love bubble forth because that's what it's meant to do - we feel love so we can show love.  And no better time than from parent to child.

One of those 'I'm-so-in-love-with-my-daughter-I-think-I'm-going-to-explode' moments last week was when I was walking with my daughter as she navigated the rocky and tree-root-riddled footpath outside our house.  Every few steps she would stumble and fall, say quietly "Oh dear", before pushing herself back up to standing to keep going, over and over and over again.  It broke my heart because she never got annoyed or grizzled or cried to stayed sitting on her bottom.  She just kept getting back up.  And her SMILE!  Through all the stumbles and "Oh dears" she was smiling like she was the smartest, most clever, most talented little girl in the world.  And I hope she saw the affirmation on my face.

"Oh please!  It's just a baby learning to walk!" I hear you say.  Okay - bare with me.  I am getting somewhere with this.  Just had to gush first.

Watching my girl this occasion got me thinking.  How often do I keep getting back up when I fall?  I'm sure I would try a few times, but I would give up pretty quickly.  I'd be annoyed at myself for not perfecting whatever I was trying to do immediately.  And I'd be embarrassed that someone was WATCHING me fall repeatedly.  And I'd eventually make myself comfortable on the ground, then try to appreciate the view from where I was - come up with some 'spin' on why I was on my butt and how great it was to be down there.  I certainly wouldn't celebrate the few steps I took between falls!

My daughter kept getting up because she knew she could do it, and she knows she's meant to do it - it's hardwired into her DNA.  How many things would we keep trying to do, despite repeated failures, because we knew we could and were meant to do something?  There wouldn't be cures for diseases and vaccines for illnesses if scientists didn't have that attitude wired into their DNA, too, now would we?

Time to get back up!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Made with love

My husband and I have never had much spare cash - we've been saving hard to buy our first home, and now trying to pay it off as quickly as we can - so birthday and Christmas gifts are almost always on a budget, but come with much love and thought.  It's amazing how creative you can be with $20!

My husband's birthday falls in winter in Australia.  For the first birthday my husband had after I came on the scene, I knitted him a very 'homemade' looking scarf as part of his birthday gift.  There were more holes in it than a sieve, but it was made with love from a person with zero pervious knitting experience.  While knitting this first scarf, I had an idea - how about I knit my husband a scarf for his birthday every year, then after about 20 or so years, I can stitch them together (or get someone else to), to make a blanket.  A very special blanket, made with love - a history and a story.

If you have a loved one with a birthday in winter, and not much spare cash either, it might be a tradition you'd like to start, too.  Especially if you suck at knitting and craft - it just goes to show your loved one how much you love them :)

Happy knitting!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cough, cough, sniff, sniff

This week has been a sick week in our household.  First the baby got it, then I got it, then my husband finally succumbed to some lurgie he'd been fighting for a few weeks.  We've made more than a few trips to the chemist (drug store) and supermarket for supplies - namely tissues.  I didn't know how we went through so many tissues when I'd only bought two boxes the week before!  But I blame me and my stupid nose, which is still running as badly today as it was when all this started a week ago!  Grrr!

And everyone around us is sick, too.  It's the cold and flu season in Australia and just about everyone we know is battling something.  Want sympathy?  You can't have it because there's no free healthy person around to give it!  And when both mum and dad get sick, you both have to keep going!  That's a lesson that's taking some learning for us.

I remember the first time I was sick on my own.  In my mid-20s, I was living blissfully by myself after a string of crazy housemates.  It was heaven!  Then I got sick and there was no one around me to care - or help.  If I wanted an aspirin, I had to get up and get it myself.  No aspirin left?  I had to get in the car and go and get it.  I was surprised by the number of things I decided I could do without because I couldn't be bothered getting out of bed.  Ah, those were the days when I COULD stay in bed all day if I needed to!

As any mum or dad will tell you, there's no such thing as days off, sick leave or holidays - let alone pay or shift loading for working nights, weekends or public holidays!  You have to keep going because you, well, just have to.  The washing still has to get done because everyone will still need clean underwear.  The grocery shopping still needs to be done because you will still need supplies.  And food will still need to be cooked because crappy though you feel, you'll still get hungry - or someone else will.

But isn't it amazing that a baby with a cold will still zoom around the house, with snot streaming down their face, smiling and happy?  Where DO they get that energy from?  But we have been having more quiet snuggles on the couch lately, which I've loved.  Even with the snot.  I tell you, I think I've got Hairy Maclary memorised!

I had to take a day off earlier this week because I just couldn't manage a day in the office - coughing, struggling to breathe, and the sounds I made when blowing my nose were best not shared with others.  But I've also had to miss out on just over a week of running.

I had only just made it to Week 3 of the Couch 2 5km (and badly thanks to technical difficulties with a new-to-me iPod touch, a fully loaded pram and some genius who wouldn't give way on the path!) so I'm not sure what stage I'll need to start at when I do get back out there.  I'm going to try Week 3 Day 1 again and hope I can do it.

My 5km fun run event is coming up on Father's Day (September 2) and I want to be well and truly ready for it - and my 'carrot' of new sneakers if I get to the 5km mark by August is a big motivator for me because I'm running in 9-year-old runners that are heavy and leak badly!  My money's on getting back out there on Sunday... maybe next Tuesday.  Do they make running shorts with a tissue pocket???

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Working mumma blues

I know a lot of working mums have it a WHOLE lot harder than me, so please don't think from this post that I believe I'm hard done by.  This is just a space for me to vent - my online therapy, if you will.

Today was a bad day.  My amazing sister-in-law looks after my daughter on the two days I work day shift, but today one of her own little ones wasn't well, and while still offering to look after mine, I thought it best to A) keep the sickness quarantined as much as possible, and B) give her a break by having one less child to muster into a doctor's office (PS:  my girl HATES the doctor and freaks out any time she sees the little ear thermometer, or light they use to look at your throat.  My sister-in-law didn't need to add 'freaking-out niece' on to her list of things to juggle today!).

So after some early morning phone juggling, the final plan was to take her to her grandmother's house until 1pm, when darling husband would collect her, take her to a friend's house for the afternoon, until he could come and pick her up again at 4.30pm.  She had a pretty good time at both grandma's house, and at my friend's house (who has two children under two already - superwoman!), but I was sad the whole day.  Why?

The fact that my daughter was a problem to be solved.  That my job took precedence over caring for her.  That I felt like she was being shuffled from pillar to post just to get through her parent's work day.  That any normalcy was thrown out the window.  That she might have felt abandoned by us.  That kills me!  If I wasn't so worried about losing my job, I would have taken a carer's day to look after her, but I'm so worried about losing my job that I don't even want to take my own sick days!

There are no words my tired, mushy brain is capable of stringing together in a coherent form that would even come CLOSE to describing how much and how deeply and unceasingly I love my daughter.  I hate leaving her at the best of times, but to have to "solve" her today made me feel like a bloody horrible mother.  I can only say thank God we have my mum living 20 minutes away, and a friend willing to take a last-minute babysitting job on top of her own two little ones.  Not many people are that fortunate, and we certainly are.

But tomorrow and Thursday are my days off, and I am so glad I get to be with her again for the whole of those two days!  I'm even staying up late tonight putting loads of washing on so tomorrow I can spend more time with her doing fun things, like crawling around the loop in our house, or drawing, or playing outside.  The sleep deprivation will be totally worth it.  Might even go for a run and blow the cobwebs off this funky mood.

Friday, 25 May 2012

So long, friends

So far this year, I've lost two friends.  Not in the funeral sense (thank God!) but in the 'defriending' way.  I deleted one friend, and another friend deleted me.  The reasons for both were very different, and the level of friendship I had with both was different too, but they both affected me quite a lot.  I thought on it and mulled it over for days before I finally accepted that we fell out of each other's circles for a reason.

Not all friends are meant to stay in our lives forever.  I think people come into your life at a point when one or both of you need each other, then often, when that need has been fulfilled, you drift apart again.  And often into a friendship with someone else to serve another purpose - either you for them, or them for you.

Now, the first friend.  We were old friends, former boyfriend/girlfriend (should tell you enough, right there) and I'd helped him through quite a few (mostly relationship) challenges over the years.  We hadn't seen each other for quite a long time, but we occasionally messaged and chatted online.  We could go a year without talking, but when he needed me, I was there, on email or chat, helping him through the latest heart break.  I was his friend and happy to be there for him.  But as we've grown up from our university days, we've both changed considerably - me more than him.   I'm now a Christian.  He's atheist.  When he made fun of my faith and basically said I had no common sense because I believed, I knew that the friendship had come to an end.  I'd served my purpose in his life, and it was time to take my exit.  You can pick on me, but not my faith!  Deal-breaker, right there!

The second friend was a former co-worker, who was having a tough time in the office, and I was her friend, sounding board and light comic relief.  But now that she's moved on to another job with another company, I'm not required any more.  She 'unfriended' me after a silly minor misunderstanding (damn text messages!).  It hurt because I really liked her, and I tried to make amends but she'd already written me off.  She probably saw the minor misunderstanding as a relief.  So I learnt the lesson that picking up the phone and CALLING people should always take precedence over text and email.

And recently, another old friend has moved on.  Well, they moved on quite a while ago but I'm only really seeing it and feeling it now.  I actually shed quite a few tears over this one.  But as I was vacuuming this morning and working myself into a ball of tears over it, I was reminded that everything in life moves in seasons - seasons change.  I am exactly where I am meant to be.  The role I played in the lives of these people has been fulfilled.  I'll probably cry a few more times because I'm a big ol' softie and don't always take change very well - especially change I don't instigate.

But I will keep reminding myself of the "good times" (which will probably make me cry even more because that's the way I roll!) but I'll also try to remind myself to be honoured that I was a part of their lives in the first place.  I mean, not everyone in the world is friends with everyone else, so to be accepted and welcomed as anyone's friend is actually a pretty big honour and privilege.  They thought I was cool enough to hang out with.  Awesome!

I will also thank God for the amazing friends who are currently in my life, and I pray they will be the long-lasting kind, who will do life with me (and me with them) over the decades to come.  Because we all need all-seasons friends like that, too.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Random acts of kindness for the workplace bully

So anyone who read my first blog post knows that my job, along with hundreds of others in my building, isn't the most secure.  There's a giant axe hanging over everyone's heads.  It's a really positive and thriving place to work right now - not!  Don't get me wrong - nobody is lording this threat over us; it's just there and we know it's coming, just not the "who" or the "when".   It is so easy to get caught up in the gossip and speculation, but all that does is make me more scared than I already am.  And that's hardly conducive to peak work performance!

On Tuesday night I went to a seminar my church holds for women every few months, called Thriving in the Workplace.  There's always several electives to choose from - cooking, craft, marriage, general words of wisdom etc - but this one jumped off the list.  Perfect timing!

In a nutshell, think of people you've worked with who have impacted you for the better, then think of those who have impacted you negatively.  What traits made the positive-impactors so good for you?  Mine were diligent, honest, have an open-door policy and give good feedback on what I'm doing.  The negative bullied by exclusion, were aggressive, yelled, abused their power and micro-managed everyone.

Now, it's so easy to write off the negative people as horrible, mean and nasty.  I actually nicknamed my first minor boss "big, fat, evil, mean, nasty man!"  I kid you not!  I even did a voice!  But the lady taking the seminar on Tuesday night reminded me that those people are often the saddest people around, who have a whole lot more going on than just being mean.  I'm an easy target - I'm small, quiet, polite and often sit dumb-founded when attacked and don't fight back.  I'll come up with a thousand responses in the car on the way home, though!  And the next day, when they apologise, I smile and laugh it off when I'm still dumb-founded on the inside.  But rather than feel angry and want to be mean back, this woman suggested doing an anonymous random act of kindness for them.  Like leaving a chocolate bar on their desk, or a bag of chips or a pot plant or something.  Now that's a good challenge to take on!

And the other thing the host suggested was listing three traits you want to live your work life by (which often spill into your personal life too).  This woman lived her high-powered and highly influential work life by - fairness, kindness and integrity.  Think about it in the car on the drive to work.  Think about it walking to the train or bus.  Pray about it.  Then try to live by it every day.  We'll fail because we're human, but keep trying.

I'm choosing honesty, diligence and kindness.  The diligence part is going to be hard for me because sometimes I just don't have the oomph to keep going when I'm tired, and checking and writing emails to friends is much more appealing.  I do work hard, but some days are just a struggle, and instead of struggling on through and keeping my workload/pace up, I hit the lazy button for a while.  But my husband reminded me last night in prayer that my job, my position and my income are all blessings from God.  It's true!  And how do I want to show my thanks for that - by being a slacker?  Or by working my hardest, helping others when my workload is light, right up until my shift is finished and not a minute before?  Not a hard choice, really!

So I don't know if I'm going to lose my job or not, or if one of my friends will (and some amazing people I work with have the world's biggest mortgages!), but I have resolved to keep working my hardest - I love my job and what I do, so I'm going to relish and make the most of every second I'm there, because it might be over pretty quickly.  I don't want to make it easy for my bosses to fire me - be the easy choice for them.  If they fire me, I want them to have a crappy time doing it!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

I'm not a quitter

So, I've started running.  More accurately, I decided I liked the idea of "going for a run", with a mental picture of a super-fit me, running comfortably for kilometres, in practical and effortlessly stylish running gear, arriving home feeling energised, de-stressed and ready to tackle anything.  Somehow in this vision I'm also taller and have perfect skin.  Romanticised much?!?!  However, the block between me 'now' and me 'there' is unfitness (but the height and skin isn't going to change, sadly).  I don't know how to run and had never run further than it took to catch the train.

Enter Couch to 5k (, which basically takes couch potatoes (zero fitness) through a 9-week training program to get them running 5km (non-stop) by the end.  Hey presto!  Here I go!

Week 1 was a bit of a struggle, but mostly due to running on wet grass and the gross sensation of cold, squelchy feet.  Eeew!  And also reminding my body that is was actually made to move!  Fancy that!  Now, mind you, I have been a gym junkie at a few points in my life, but I haven't been super-fit since before I met my husband.  Then along comes wedded bliss (don't they say everyone gains weight during the first years of marriage?  I sure did!), then pregnancy (I had planned to exercise and be active all through my pregnancy but with blood pressure issues, I felt like fainting most of the time and came to the realisation while laying on the couch watching my pregnancy yoga DVD, that perhaps my baby and body had other plans for me during her occupation!), then new baby, then work, then no time, then too hard.

I think most people are inherently lazy - well, our bodies are.  I know my body is much more comfortable on the couch, under a blanket, watching TV, than pounding the footpath at 6am in the 5 degree pre-dawn!  I'm now in Week 2 of the Couch to 5k - Day 2 coming tomorrow morning.  I've shocked my body back into activity and, like an old machine, it's grinding, groaning and squealing its way back up to speed.  What's the human equivalent of WD40, I wonder?  Anyone?

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm great at setting goals (see my bucket list blog), but not the best at seeing them through.  So I asked some friends to help me out here, and keep me accountable on my running goal.  Now enter, the Bridge to Brisbane ( - a fun run event with a 5km section, and a 10km section.  The aforementioned friends are enlisting with me, and are meeting me at the starting line to run the whole 5km section.  (The always-ambitious side of me wants to do the 10km run, but my body and common sense says 'easy does it, sister!')  I can't back out if I know there are people expecting me!  I hate letting people down - I refuse and will not.  I will RUN the whole way!  And the friendly little counter on the Bridge to Brisbane homepage reminds me I've got 101 days to get my ageing act together!  YES.  I.  CAN!

This is the beginning of my journey to the Boston Marathon (again, see bucket list blog).  I have a vision I'm holding onto to spur me on, of my husband and daughter at the finishing line, watching me coming down the home stretch, cheering me on.  The smiles I see on their faces is either going to make me burst into tears (entirely likely), or give me that last surge to get over the line when my lead-like legs want to pack it up and go home.  Who'm I kidding!  Of course I'll burst into tears AND get the extra surge to cross the line!  Hec, if I've run 40km, I'm not about to stop in the last 2km!

We all need something to spur us on - a reason to meet our goal, to keep us focused when it gets hard - whether it's a mental picture of your awesome self achieving your goal (promotion, getting the corner office, being made partner, buying a business, running a marathon...), a mantra, a weight target, an event or a person.

I've read so many 'positive poster' messages lately, I can't credit this to the right person or website, so forgive me, but chew on this one today if you're like me, in trying to reach a goal that seems laughable - "Pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever."  Say it with me - I. Won't.  Quit.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

One cup of mother's guilt, please.

Every mother does the best job they can by making what they think are the best choices for them and their child/children.  But how many mothers come away from "mummy mornings" or a visit with a mummy friend feeling supremely inadequate?  Me!

"Oh, crap, I'm doing it all wrong and my child will never learn to [fill in the blank]."  Or "Little Johnny is the same age as my child and my child can't do XYZ yet.  I must be a bad mother.  I'm doing it all wrong and my child will fail at school and hate me when he grows up!"

Silly?  Yes.  Relatively truthful internal dialog of a new mum?  Yes again.

Every day I try my best and do the best I can that day.  Some days are more successful than others.  But in the back of my head is a little voice that tells me I should be doing MORE.  I should be TRYING HARDER to make all my daughter's food from scratch; reading to her even more; watching less television; getting outside to get dirty more; trying harder to teach her to feed herself and put herself to sleep on cue; and shouldn't she be walking by now; and she needs to know sign language because every kid around her is getting it hammered into them and I'm doing a bad job that she doesn't know any!  AND she uses a dummy to go to sleep.  And I use disposable nappies!  And, and, and...!  Argh!  Enough!

When I tell that voice to shut up, I look at my daughter playing on the floor.  She's happy.  She's healthy and smiling and laughing at tickles, calling the cat, chasing the cat, crawling at the speed of light and generally having a whale of a time... most of the time.  She grizzles when she's tired and throws her food on the floor and thinks it's very entertaining which drives my clean-freak self bananas!

There are as many parenting choices out there as there are colours in the world!  But as soon as you start looking at what you're doing and hold it up against someone else, you'll always come away feeling like you're doing something wrong - even if you thought you were doing a pretty good job before you walked into that "mummy friend's" house!  You could be doing 98% "right" but you'll kick yourself mercilessly for the 2% you could improve.  Why is that?

I think it's a mixture of not thinking I'm good enough to be as blessed as I am; but also from the immense strength of love I have for my daughter that I want her to be the best little girl she can be... and in order for that to happen, I need to be the best mummy I can be.  And am I going to be the best mummy I can be if I keep moving the goal posts on myself?  Am I going to be the best mummy I can be by teaching my daughter that you gauge your self-worth or success by comparing yourself to other people?  That you should always second guess yourself because of what other people do?  Can I get a HELL NO!

So next time you're hanging with your mummy friends (or talking dad talk over the barbecue with your mates) just stop and remind yourself of all the things you're doing right - about how happy / smart / funny your child is - and smile.

Be the best mum / dad / friend / aunt / uncle YOU can be - whatever that may look like.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Warning - Christian content

So, if your life was in danger and someone died to save you, wouldn't you want to thank them for it by living your life in an extraordinary way - doing something with your life to honour their sacrifice for you? Surely you live for a reason?

Jesus died to save me - to save me from my sins, to stop me going to hell and get me into heaven to hang out with  Him and God.

He did that for you, too.

On this Good Friday, we remember the sacrifice Jesus made on that cross for all the sins on mankind.  Live your life for Him.  He saved your life.  Just say thanks.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Life's short - make a list

I've got my bucket list up on the fridge at home.  There's currently 32 items on the list and I have a feeling it will probably grow.

They are, in no particular order of desire:

1.       Hike to Machu Picchu
2.       Watch the sunrise at Uluru
3.       Go on a bike-riding holiday in Italy
4.       Go to a public pool and jump off the highest diving platform (that pool access allows)
5.       Buy a house
6.       Pay off the house!
7.       Qualify as a yoga teacher
8.       Write a kids book and send it to publishers
9.       Be in a play
10.   Have a beer on the beach in Darwin
11.   Run the Boston marathon
12.   Learn the piano
13.   Plant a veggie patch… and keep it alive to eat from!
14.   Go and see:  Westside Story, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Wicked, Death of a Salesman, The Importance of Being Earnest, Noises Off
15.   Watch:  The Godfather movies, Rocky movies, all the Star Wars movies from beginning to end, all the Harry Potter movies from beginning to end, From Here to Eternity, Casablanca, Blazing Saddles, The Graduate, It’s a Wonderful Life, Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffanies, This Is Spinal Tap
16.   Learn to ride a scooter
17.   Own a red scooter
18.   Swim with a dolphin
19.   Go for a walk along the beach in the pouring rain
20.   Hike the Milford Track, NZ
21.   Go to the Sistine Chapel
22.   Smell roses outdoors
23.   Take a learn-to-surf class
24.   Meet Rupert Murdoch
25.   Ice-skate in Central Park, NY
26.   Stay one night in the Waldorf Astoria, NY
27.   Go up the Empire State building, NY
28.   Visit at least one of our Compassion children
29.   Take a second honeymoon
30.   Climb the Storey Bridge
31.   Volunteer abroad for a month
32.   Drive across America

Now, unlike Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman of the Bucket List movie, I'm not old and as best as I can tell, I'm not about to die.  But I'm feeling very 'mortal' at the moment.  I'm realising how short and precious life is, and I don't want to waste mine.  I don't want to be a little old lady sitting in my nursing home rocking chair, surrounded by cushions and crochet doilies, wondering "What if..." ...I had been braver?  I had taken a chance?  Tried harder?  I want to grab my life by the proverbials and squeeze it for all its worth!

There have already been a few things I've missed thanks to that good ol' scapegoat - common sense.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have some uncommon sense.

Why this frame of mind at my age?  It's too early to be having a mid-life crisis.  I imagine having a mid-life crisis might feel a bit like this, only you have the money and connections to accomplish the items on your list!  (Anyone know Rupert Murdoch and want to set me up a meeting? HA!).

I'm also spending far too much time reminissing about various points in my life - some warm and fuzzy, some painful and sad, some just downright embarrassing!  Past relationships mostly, which combine both the embarrassing, the sad and painful.  But then I look at my gorgeous husband and beautiful daughter, and I know this was where it was all leading.  And I smile.  Broadly.  You don't become a wise person by being safe.  You don't learn what you want without experiencing what you DON'T want.  I thank God for my mistakes because this is where they've lead me.

In the last few years, I've 'felt' time passing.  I'm getting older and I'm feeling it.  Don't get me wrong - I know I'm still young and have many more decades up my sleeve (God willing) but I think we all get to a point where we feel it shift - we feel the turn from young to not-as-young.  And is there another shift from not-as-young to elderly?  Is this going to be a continuous state of reflection, or does this only happen at life 'turning points'?

I watched poet Sarah Kay online last week who said something like:  "These words on the wall of a museum, the only sign that I ever existed."  I don't want to die and there be nothing tangible left of me.  That poet will have her poems - her videos and books.  I will have my children and their stories of me, but when they're old and those stories get fuzzy, then forgotten, what then?  I will just be a branch on a family tree... if any of my descendants decide to research their family.

I want to make a difference in the world.  I want to make it a little better for having been in it.  Thank the Lord and the world for having me.  I think that's why nursing holds so much appeal.  It has really settled in my heart.  No, by being a nurse I won't leave anything tangible behind (unless I write a book!  That's another topic for another day) but I can make the world a slightly better place - make a difference in the lives of those I come across.  A smile for someone who hasn't seen one all day.  Hold the hand of the person whose temperature or blood pressure I'm taking.  Sit down for whatever time I can manage and have a chat or tell a joke (because we all know nurses are crazily over-worked!).  Pray with the one who is scared, if they'll let me.

There is more to my life than grocery shopping, washing, dishes, cleaning and paying the bills.  Where's the bumper sticker that says that?  I'll buy 10 please!