Thursday, 28 November 2013

No more Mrs Nice Jen. Well, not really...

It’s hard to pin-point when exactly this happened, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been a people-pleaser my whole life.  I will take the blame for just about anything and am always quick to apologise, even when I am not to blame, because part of me secretly thinks it could be my fault – "It probably is my fault," I think to myself – but also so things can get back to happy.  “Please still like me!”

I stand there and take whatever negativity is thrown at me most of the time because I don’t want to fight.  I HATE to fight.  (That, and I’m usually stunned into silence and don’t think of my awesome comebacks until hours later!)  I roll over faster than an obedient trick dog!  Hec, I’m the human equivalent of a golden retriever!  “Forgive me, forgive me, rub my tummy, food?”

This self revelation (well, long-known but long-avoided) came about recently in the most has-to-be-God way.  (As an aside, I have no idea why this life lesson #173 has popped up right now, but I have to believe there is a reason for learning it now because only He knows what’s around the corner that I need the armour for.  It could be God's answer to my last blog post about tip-toeing around issues, though this isn't what I had in mind... Ah, God's timing).  Anywho.  Where was I?

I had a falling out with a friend right at the time I was subbing an article about how dangerous it can be to be a “nice” girl.  The author wrote: “You see, nice girls don't talk back. Nice girls don't want to upset people because nice girls are, evidently, responsible for other people's moods.” 

Hello!  I’m that nice girl, dang it!  At 34, I hate that about myself!  I love lots of things about me, but the fact that I take everyone else’s crap on board and roll over so bloody easily to try and keep the peace is not cool.  I hate it even more than I hate to fight.  So this revelation heralds a new start for me.

I wish I could be as dramatic as saying “no more Mrs Nice Jen”, but I will always be soft-hearted and kind.  That is one of the things I like about myself.  I will always forgive because that is how God wants us to be, and though I am a spectacularly flawed human, I will always strive to forgive.

But I will not carry other people’s issues anymore, or their choices, or their baggage, or the crap they throw back at me because of something going on in their lives.  That’s their stuff to get counselling for/sort out/process/or carry.  I will always be there to listen, or cheer them on if they ask for that, hug it out if that’s what they need, or leave them the hec alone if they tell me to.  And that’s fine.  I will be sad but I will not take the hit when it's not due.

I know me.  I like me.  If anyone doesn't like me, I’m cool with that too.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tip-toe around the issues

So, don't you just hate it when you're the meat in the sandwich, and you could go a big old rant on Facebook or, say, a blog you happen to write, but the slices of bread and other sandwich filling would explode if you actually told the full truth and shared your true feelings and you're just trying to keep your shite together and keep the peace and everything's sunshine and rainbows?  Yep.  Me either. 

See, like the blog I wrote about being a different version of yourself when you're with different groups of people, it's the same with information and/or feelings.  There are times when you just have to keep your big mouth and heart shut!  And I struggle with that because I have both a big mouth (not in the blabbing-I-can't-keep-a-secret way, but in the I love to talk and share about my life way) and a big heart - and the bigger that is, the more easily it's trod on and hurt, and by age 34 that's happened a lot and surprisingly doesn't lessen with time... so far.  Yep, I'm a big old talking softie and there are lots of things I'd love to share with the world but in order to keep peace and unity, I have to keep it all inside.  And that's hard!  And it hurts!

I'm going to pray about this one, and try and be guided in the best way to handle it because I can feel myself changing into a cranky, snappy and cynical person.  And I don't like her.  Sometimes you just have to let it all out and let the cards fall where they may, because even though they might be a mess and will be damaged by the time they find their way back into the pack, at least you're not wondering and bottling any more.  The only thing worth bottling is a good beer.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Potty training blues

My darling daughter is determined not to potty train.  She's 2 and 7 months and doesn't want a bar of going to the potty.  It's not like she's never used it, or had nappy-off time and made messes on the floor, or been put in knickers to 'let herself feel uncomfortable' as a motivator.  We've also had the sticker chart that had been up on our wall for so long the BluTac lost its tac!  And lollies she chose as her 'poo reward' sitting in the pantry so long they're kind of gross-looking now.  And stickers for the aforementioned chart at the ready that are getting so old they're losing their stick too!  She knows what they're all for, how to get them; she wants them but not enough to use the potty for anything other than storage.  That connection between 'I need to go' and 'I'll go to the potty' is totally absent - either by design or by determination.  I even got my very first parenting book - the only book in the library about potty training, produced by a toy company!  But surprisingly, a lot of it made sense and showed me that the essential ingredients for potty training just aren't there with her yet.  And that's okay, because they will be.

In my mummy-mind, the fact that my more than 2 1/2 year old isn't potty trained makes me a failure because everyone knows girls should be toilet trained by age 2!  I didn't start early enough.  I've been too distracted.  I didn't try hard enough at the right time.  I'm doing it wrong.  I'm doing it wrong for her learning style.  The fact that I work and don't have the full-time availability to focus on potty training makes me a bad mum.  And on my days at home I'm running around trying to keep all the balls in the air, and because I'm not letting the washing overflow and the kitchen turn rancid to focus on potty training makes me a bad mum.  My child will not be allowed to go to kindy because she'll still be in pull-ups!  Bad mummy!

It might seem ridiculous when you read that back again, but that's the circular thinking I have going on most of the time these days.  I know she'll get there when she's ready and willing, like all the other milestones to date.  And if I try and force it beforehand, it turns into a battle of wills and not about learning to use the potty!  And with her heritage, she'll be wearing nappies into her teens just to spite me!

My husband and I have been on holidays this past week, and we had such great plans - one of which was trying out some of the new potty-training techniques in the book.  Perfect!  We're both home, nowhere to go, all the time in the world.  But then we all got gastro and have spent the week holed up in the house, feeling tired and 'delicate', riding out this virus!  Our next holiday is in January where we're going on a massive road trip!  Hardly conducive to potty training either!  Faaaa crying out loud! 

BUT!  She will get there.  When she's ready.  Like rolling over, crawling, walking, eating solids and using utensils.  She is a clever kid and I believe in her.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

What makes a full life?

My beautiful mum turned 70 this month.  My sisters, brother and I are throwing her a big birthday bash on Saturday because she deserves it, she’s worth it, we love her to bits and want to make a big fuss of her, and making it to 70 is a pretty big deal!   It’s such a big deal that her sister, my aunt, flew into town earlier this week to help us get ready for the party (read: chill mum out and help her get ready for the party!).  After the initial excitement and fuss of seeing each other again, my mum answered my aunt’s exclamations of making it to 70 with “I’ve WASTED my life!” 

I was gob-smacked!  I was shocked at the time, but her words have been sitting in my mind since then like a stubborn bird on a branch in a storm.  “What do you mean you’ve wasted your life?”  Wind gust, lightening flash, rain dripping off beak.  She pretty much single-handedly raised four children who have grown into pretty awesome grown-ups.  She volunteered all through her life – from the school tuckshop and cake stalls and fetes, to fundraising drives and campaigns, to telephone counselling, which lead to her starting a university degree in her 50s and getting her Masters in counselling not long after.  “What do you mean you’ve wasted your life?”  Tree branch blown about, ruffled, soaked feathers, crash of thunder.  True my dad was a schmuck to her and left her for another woman, but she is now surrounded only by love - of family and friends and her seven beautiful grandchildren.  “What do you mean you’ve wasted your life?”

This got me thinking in the shower last night, where all good thoughts come and world problems are solved, what constitutes a fulfilled life?  Do you have to ride a bicycle around the world with nothing but a pump, spare tubes and a toothbrush?  Do you have to live on a remote Pacific island and build a school and teach poor children to read and write?  Do you have to go from rags to riches?   Do you have to foster 100 children and take in people in need? 

I’d never really thought about it before.  I like having adventures, though I’m getting more “settled” the older I get.  I’ve accumulated a few regrets in the first 34 years of my life, but I am content with where I am now – my beautiful husband, my beautiful daughter, our ramshackle house that needs work, my career (though I may still lose my job, I love what I do) and I have a small handful of awesome friends.   My life is small.  Meaningful and full of love, but small.   But since hearing my mum’s declaration, I’m starting to think…  Is that not enough?  Will I get to 70 (God willing) and be kicking myself for being so boring?

Maybe we should sell up and move to Tasmania to build that hay bail house my hubby and I talk about when we’re feeling crummy?  Maybe we should pack up and go live in a remote place of the globe and try and make a difference there?  Maybe we should throw caution to the wind and spend a year travelling around our own country?  Money, money, money!  Paper, plastic and coins run the world and we don't have much of it.  Dangnabit!

So what do you think constitutes a full and fulfilled life?  Is raising a family, paying off a house, working on your marriage, making friends, laughing and making memories and doing your part to make the world a better place (like having sponsor children, volunteering, raising your children well etc) not enough?  Or do you not figure it out until you’re 70?   I’ve only got 35.5 years to go!  Better get a wriggle on!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Facebook ditch?

Relatives of mine ditched their Facebook accounts last week, and it got me thinking – should I do the same?  If I’m honest, which is pretty much always, I’m a bit addicted to Facebook but particularly when I’m at work and there’s a few minutes lull in the workflow.  “I’ll just check Facebook,” I think… about 20 times a day.  And in this current climate with yet another round of redundancies around the corner at work, should I REALLY be checking Facebook at work 20 times a day?  Yeah, me either.

But it’s more than showing my bosses I’m not a slacker. 

I have 166 “friends”, some I haven’t “spoken to” since we friended each other several years ago.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like them or they don’t like me – we just don’t talk.  When I “friend” someone on Facebook or accept a friend request, it is because I genuinely like that person and would like to hear from them and keep in touch.  We all learned that lesson when Facebook was new and we friended anyone and everyone we’d ever met and ended up with 400 friends we could barely remember meeting in person!  There is one such old “friend” that I would love to hear from and reform a friendship with, but they seem content just to be number 150-something of 166 friends.  Weird.  But not unusual.  I’m not taking it personally.  Moving on!

But on throwing the question out there “What impression of me do you have from my Facebook life?” I was pleasantly surprised by the people who responded and what they had to say.  So then I think, “Hmm, perhaps I shouldn’t leave this little (massive) community just yet?  While I don’t hear from many people, there are actually people who take an interest in what I’m making for dinner or what epiphany I’ve had while hanging up the washing.  (Well, perhaps not interest so much as entertained by!)  And what if someone from 1987 wants to find me?”

And that is the dilemma – while I don’t always make contact with the 166 people on Facebook, I like knowing that I can.  If they need me for whatever reason, I know they can find me.  And if I ever need them, I know where to find them.  It’s the old fashioned equivalent of having everyone’s phone number in your old address book, though without the constantly changing numbers when people move cities!  And in those days, you didn’t rip out a page just because that person/those people hadn’t called you in two years.

But it’s more than the “friends” who aren’t actually friends.  Here is another reason to keep it. 

My life from 2007 onwards is on my Facebook account.  The milestones – meeting and falling in love with my now husband; rediscovering my faith and passion for Jesus; new jobs; moving cities; finding out I was pregnant and that whole journey; and now all the photos and stories of our beautiful girl – the ups and downs; the good, the bad, the ugly and the hilarious.  That’s all on Facebook, and if I take it down forever, I’ll lose that “family album”.  It would take me weeks to go through all my photos and save them.  But Facebook won’t be around forever so it’s probably not a bad job to start.

But it’s more than my family album.  And here’s the big reason to delete my account.

I want to focus on and add some new things into my life that are healthier and more productive – like starting to run again (but oh Lordy, that is going to hurt!), starting yoga, spending more time with friends, and no-technology-time with my husband.  And no, that’s not “code” for anything!  I mean spending time with my husband that doesn’t involve sitting in front of the TV, or sitting beside each other on the couch but each playing a game on our phones or checking Facebook for the 100th time that day.

I don’t think I’ll go anywhere just yet – I need to get organised and save all those photos and videos first – and besides, how can I let anyone whose interested know that I’ve written another blog post??

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Fight the frumps

My body and I have been around the block a few times.  We’ve run down dark roads on cold nights at 2am in high heels, hiding from passing cars in sugar cane fields (you know, just in case there was a mass murderer passing through town!).  We’ve jumped off roofs, out of planes, tripped down gutters, grown a baby, been in a car accident or two, run a race, skinned our knees and hands, broken a bone, crashed while skiing and slid downhill on my face, and all the rest. 
So, standing in the shower this week, it occurred to me just how little I actually look after my body.  I rarely do anything with my hair other than what one or two bobby pins can tackle.  I can’t remember the last time I went to a beautician for any reason.  My mum shouts me a haircut or two a year and I haven’t dyed the (ahhm!) greys for more than six months so I’m looking a little more salt and pepper than the 90s rapper girls.  And more often than not, my toenail or fingernail polish will wear off before I have a chance to get it with remover.  And that’s pretty sad people!  And I resolved to do something about it!
Now, money is tight so as much as I’d love to book in for a weekly massage like I used to in my single days, there are a few things I can do to look after my “vehicle” a little better.
1.        I can moisturise.  I’m usually beyond ready for bed by the time I get out of the shower at night, so I’m not going to kid myself into thinking I can do this every night, but I will try and do it more often than my current twice-a-winter.

2.       I can keep my polish in a reasonable state, especially when summer comes and my toes will be out in the breeze more often.

3.       I can dye my own hair.  Hair colour is regularly on special, so $15 for a box of colour every once in a while isn’t going to cause a mortgage default!

4.       I can make an effort to blowdry my hair before bed more often.  Sure it’s not perfect when I get up the next morning, but it sure is better than the scarecrow straw look I have going on most mornings after I’ve washed my hair!  Hence the bobbypins.

5.       I can give myself manicures, pedicures and facials at home sometimes.  Granted it’s never as nice as when you have it done professionally, but it’s better than nothing!

6.       Make-up and I get along about as well as me and hair product.  I love how I look with make-up on (especially when professionally done), but the next time I look in the mirror after applying it, you can’t even tell I’m wearing anything and my freckles and dark circles look just the same as always, so what’s the point?  It's like it just soaks in and disappears!  But a little compact “pat” every now and again through the day and a top-up of lippy (or pawpaw cream) helps.  Not every day, but at least on my office days.
7.       An occasional splurge isn’t going to break us, so perhaps every three or four months I will go and have a massage, or a facial, or have my eyebrows shaped *insert dreamy sigh here*

8.       Get moving!  I am still learning to walk properly after breaking my foot, so running is off the agenda for a while, but I’ve found a local yoga class at the end of my street.  I went on Monday night for my first class and really enjoyed myself – perhaps a little too much given I fell asleep in meditation!  The teacher is easily in her 50s and isn’t a small woman by any means, but my is she flexible!  I think going to her classes as often as I am able will also help my physical and mental health.  And it's so close I will be able to walk... when I can walk again!

9.       Me time.  I have a few really great friends who I love spending time with, and I’m always excited to make new friends, but I am one of those people who needs alone time to really recharge.  I’ve been so busy lately (and having lots of fun with friends) that I haven’t had much quiet time.  Again yoga and getting back out running will help when I’m able to do that again, but I will also try and find some time to myself – hec, even having an early shower and going to bed on my own to read for a while is enough to make me happy!

10.   Put in a bit more effort generally.  Yes I am at home doing the washing and cleaning and haven’t looked in the mirror that day, but instead of the tracksuit pants I will try and reach for a pair of jeans instead.  And instead of a super-sloppy jumper, perhaps a nice warm pullover instead.  And swap the Ugg boots for sneakers.  Frumpy is comfortable, but it does nothing to make you feel like a non-frump.

And a little aside here for my husband, who loves me even when I really am looking like a troll!  The man sure has his rosy glasses on when it comes to how beautiful he thinks his wife is, and I am so blessed by that!  I love that he loves my heart, even when the rest of me looks like something that fell out of a donation clothes bin backwards.  Thank you!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Lessons I've learned from breaking my foot

Things I’ve learned since breaking my foot:

  • A split second is a really short measure of time, and no matter how young/fit/focused you are, you have no time to react or save yourself.  The first I knew something had happened was when I heard the crack.
  • Moon boots are better suited to space endeavours.
  • It’s amazing what you can do without if it requires bothering someone else to do, or more effort than desire – like cups of tea/coffee and beverages in general, bathroom trips if you’re not really busting (though don’t leave this too long either because it takes longer to get there and get organised!), snacks, and rolling over in bed.
  • I do not cope well not being able to run my household!  Having read a friend’s blog today, I realise this is more about control.  Hello, my name is Jen and I’m a control freak.  I like controlling my household (though never the people in it because who else knows how THAT turns out!?!).  I like the kitchen “Jen” clean every night before bed, and in the morning before I leave the house for work.  I like everything picked up and put away before I leave the house for work.  I like the washing folded a certain way and put away in the right places.  I like the beds pulled up and smooth each morning.   Did the world stop turning while I wasn’t able to do these things?  Nope.  Did it drive me crazy sitting on the couch with my leg up watching dog hair dust bunnies tumble down the hall and around long-abandoned toddler toys?  OH MY YES!
  • I can make it through the night only rolling over once or twice to save having to reorganise myself, the cat, the bedclothes and my husband.
  • I have much better balance than I thought!
  • I do not like to sit back while others work – I feel guilty, regardless of how justified my “stillness” is.  Could also be control, but mostly my work ethic.  I’m not lazy and would prefer to “do” than “receive”.
  •  Simply being able to walk is wonderful!
  •  I get fatter more easily these days, and will never take for granted how beneficial general movement is for burning off a calorie or two.  My pants are a bit tighter and I’m feeling pudgier, though my left leg has slimmed down nicely!  I’m looking forward to being able to run again and have the ap and sneakers all ready to go… once I’ve got this walking thing down pat.  It may be another month or two away, but I just can’t wait to get out there!
  • People I thought would help didn’t.  But help came from people I didn’t expect, and in ways that really warmed my heart.  I’ve since joined the roster of people who cook meals for people in need at my church.
  • My in-laws are incredible and I'm so blessed to have snagged their youngest son!
  • My daughter doesn’t like it when I can’t pick her up and cuddle her nearly as much as me.  She really acted out through this process, with the change in routine and different people looking after her in my place.  On the upside, “moon boot” and “crutches” were added to her vocabulary.
  •  And finally, God has a wicked sense of humour that I don’t always appreciate.  Let me explain.
 I hate asking people for help.  My husband doesn’t like it when I ask him to do things, like most husbands I’m sure.  The thing is, when you’ve broken your foot and you’re in pain and unable to move particularly well or with any speed, and carrying anything while you attempt to move around is out of the question, you tend to need to ask for help all the time.  With everything.  Uncomfortable position for me.  Uncomfortable position for my husband.   Though I did rediscover a childish way of carrying an empty cup by suctioning it onto my face!  Smile, however, and you're stuffed!  

The thing is, when you pray to God for help with something, He rarely fixes it but will put you in a place where you need to figure it out on your own – much like a parent leaving a child who’s cranky over a jigsaw puzzle they can’t do.   “You can throw all the puzzle pieces you like, but how’s that working out for you?” 
when people pray for God to give them patience, they find themselves stuck in traffic or at an airport with a delayed flight and the first thing they do is exclaim, "Oh, for crying out loud!  Are you serious God!"  Yep.  He is.  So I found it irritatingly amusing when I realised both my husband and I were in our uncomfortable states, of me asking for help and him having to do it!  Ah, what a sense of humour.

Are we any better in these issues now, six weeks later?  I’m not sure, but I sure am appreciating being able to run my household the way I like.  And my husband is sure appreciating me being able to run the household the way I like, too!  I actually enjoyed cooking two dinners in one night this week, and spending a good hour cleaning the kitchen while I chatted on the phone with a friend!  Ah, freedom of movement WHILE carrying objects in my hands!

Simple pleasures, really.  Big fan.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Doing what my Father asks me

For those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook, sorry for repeating myself, but I just wanted to share this story in another form, and in the full "director's cut" version.

I broke my left foot last week, tripping down a gutter.  I am now sporting a very sexy moon boot, which limits me to two pairs of jeans for the next five weeks.  They may very well be burnt after the five weeks is up, just because I'll be so sick of wearing them I'll never want to put them on again!  But I digress.  I had some problems with my original moon boot, so I went back to the hospital this morning to get it adjusted.  Still not sexy, but at least a bit more comfortable than before.

On the way to the hospital, my husband and I were talking about wanting more children - okay, I was doing all the talking and my poor husband was listening, at a loss of what to say.  We've been trying for a year without success.  Some months I'm very zen about it and trust God completely with our journey and timing.  Other months I cry and get angry and frustrated and confused about what's wrong/what to try next.  Anyone who has been trying to conceive will know exactly what I'm talking about!  And if one more person tells me to "Relax.  It'll happen when you relax", I'll smack them over the head with all the force I can muster!

Last week I was calm and had total faith about it all, but in the past week, a friend has given birth, a distant relative has given birth, another friend is about to pop, and another dear friend has just found out she's pregnant!  I am so happy for each and every one of these women/families, though my heart aches and I can't help but ask God, "Why isn't it our turn?"

And getting dropped off at the hospital this morning - one of the biggest in the state with a massive maternity ward where our daughter was born - you can imagine how many pregnant women and tiny babies I saw there!  I tried really hard not to let it get me down because these women are all so blessed to be having their gorgeous bubs, and I do remember what it was like to be blissfully expecting, so I decided to change my thinking around - share their joy and praise God for it!

I finished early from the orthotics department (sexy moon boot), so was just sitting down in the foyer, reading my text messages and sending others before I had to catch a taxi to work.  I used that time to pray about wanting more children, and praising God for all the babies and pregnant women around me, knowing God loved and had made each and every one of those babies-to-be-born.

I said, “God, if there’s something You want me to do for You - that You want me to do for You before You bless us - then I’ll do it, on one leg, hopping.”  Then an old man came and sat down beside me and the thought “You could pray for him” popped in my head.  Haaaaa haa haa!

“Yeah right!  I can’t do that!” I thought.

“But didn’t you just say you’d do anything, even hopping on one leg?”

“Yeah, I did.  But I can’t…. Arhg!  Okay then, if he starts talking to me or there’s an opening, I’ll do my best."  One minute later, he started talking to me. 

He told me what was going on – he and his wife had come in to have their pace makers checked – and they were trying to get hold of their daughter to come and pick them up.  And he was telling me that he’d had bowel cancer that the doctors fixed, but now it was in his stomach, and he was off to Toowoomba tomorrow to see a doctor about that.

“Right, this would be the opening then, hey God?”  So I asked “Would I be able to pray for you?”


“Would you mind if I said a prayer for you?”

“Yeah, sure.  That’d be fine.”

So I skooched over, asked him his name, introduced myself, shook his hand, put a hand on his shoulder and prayed for him!  It might have been a bit short and not terribly “powerful” sounding, but I did it!  His wife came back from the payphone after I’d prayed, so we chatted a bit more and I gave her my mobile to use to try and call their daughter again, and then they left to find a different payphone and I left to find a taxi.

Before he left, he said “Thanks for what you did.”

I have to say, I'm a bit proud of myself - I'm a "shy" Christian because I've been burnt before, talking to others about my faith - but I think God is proud of me, too.  I think I'm like a little kid who gets a high-five from their dad for doing something they were asked to do but didn't really want to! 

And just to clarify, I don't think this will lead to me being pregnant next month just because I plucked up the courage to pray for a sick old man!  But hey, God's done some pretty crazy things in my life and others', and anything is possible!  Though I'll probably only believe it when I feel a baby kick!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

In disguise

I pride myself on being honest.  But if I AM honest, there are parts of myself that I hide from some people because I fear their reaction.  I don't feel like I can be 100% myself, 100% of the time.  But don't we all have different hats for different situations?  That's okay, isn't it?

At work for example, you have your "professional self" hat - the one who is cool under pressure; who is friendly and courteous to everyone all of the time; the one who is upbeat and positive all of the time; the one who doesn't cry, even when you want to (though if you slip up you pull it together quicker than you can at home!); the one who doesn't swear out loud, even when you want to; and the one where you don't talk about the details of your family life (who in the office is going to care that after two days of no poos, your toddler exploded this morning and you feel so much happier because of it!  LOL!)

Then you wear your "friends" hat, which changes depending on the group of friends you're with.  The "new friend/I'd like to keep you as a friend" hat, where you usually put effort into your appearance, you keep the conversation moving and light, and you silently kick yourself for saying something stupid.  The "high school girlfriends" hat where you talk about the old days, wonder where certain people ended up, laugh a lot at how old you're all getting, while talking about partners and/or kids and usually drink a few glasses of wine.  There's also your "work friends" hat, where you talk about your jobs and likely moves/mergers, deadlines and budgets and general office chatter - more serious chatter and not usually for long.  Friends may move between categories or border more than one, but the hats stay in place.

And even in your family, where you're supposed to be able to be 100% yourself - the whole, real, uneditted you - don't we all keep something back?   Especially if you live your life a bit differently from the rest of the family.  Sharing or showing that part of you could mean a big fight and no more invitations to dinner!

I got to thinking today about what would happen if I wore just one hat - the "real" me hat that only a very few people get to see - regardless of the situation.  As much as I wish I could, it does make a lot of sense to keep wearing the right hat for the right occasion.  I think it sort of sucks, but I'm pretty sure everyone is doing it - to keep their jobs, and keep the peace.  Just so long as you look good and feel comfortable in each of the hats, I suppose.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

I know where I belong

Sometimes you have to go a long way away to really be able to clearly see, appreciate and find new depths of love for what's always been right under your nose.

I went to Canada last month for a friend's wedding - and I hated it!  Not the wedding or the people or the country, but being away from home - away from my husband and darling daughter, my daggy but wonderful house, my job and my city.  I almost willed time to go faster - and after celebrating another birthday while I was there, that surprised me!

I'm a big girl and have lived and travelled away from home many, many times.  With some finger maths and head-scratching, I realised this latest trip to Canada was my 7th.  I love the country and have been so many times I've emeshed myself into the culture, especially of my adopted home town and a very special family there.  But this time I was so homesick, it almost physically hurt!  I struggled to sleep, even though I was exhausted.  I had an unsettled tummy - part rich Canadian food that my Aussie tummy isn't used to, but mostly due to stress/anxiety of being away from home.  I was plain, old fashioned sad!

I was almost ashamed of myself for not being tougher!  I would have thought I was made of tougher stuff than that!  So many mums told me before I left for my almost-two-week trip, "I'm so jealous of you!  You get two weeks of peace!"  But I wanted nothing more than to be home with my husband and my daughter, with lots of noise and no peace or quiet!  (Though, I did enjoy the first long-haul flight where I got to watch almost five movies back-to-back that I'd been meaning to watch for the past few years!  That was wonderful!)

Without making anyone gag, I fall more and more in love with my husband the longer we're together.  We're not perfect and we confuse and bug the snot out of each other at times, but he truly is my One.  He's my best friend and he makes me so happy, and he doesn't flinch at the ugly or hard parts of relationships - messy family stuff, child birth and all the mess and guts involved in that - but nothing has cemented the fact that he's my One more than being about 16,000km from him for two weeks!

And how much I missed my daughter goes without saying.  I burst into tears almost every time anyone asked about her while I was in Canada, so sincere apologies to the poor uncomfortable people who had a weeping Australian stranger to deal with!  I'm not usually like that, I promise.  I hate to fly, but I couldn't wait to get home so badly that I almost ran onto each plane!  The closer I got to home, the happier and lighter I felt.  I was getting closer to my family.

And my daggy old house that needs more work and love and facelifiting than we can afford right now - I missed it!  I missed schlepping around in my pyjamas, the hall light that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, the daggy old bathroom with an amazing shower head and instant hot water, and mysterious wood pannelling in the kitchen that I can't help but wonder what's behind it...  I missed the whole bit - my neighbourhood, my city, the birds and sounds and the familiar light patterns at night...  I love home.  I love being home, and I had to be on the other side of the world to know that that's where I belong - at home with my family.

I will definitely be back in Canada at some point in the future, but next time, I'm bringing the troops with me!

Stick with me! I'm still here!

Sincere apologies if anyone has come back to this blog checking for updates.  I'm afraid I've just been slack - and overseas (blog coming), and starting my own business (blog coming) and doing the work related to that, and getting back into running (blog coming), and the usual joys of life that are (occasionally) wonderful but hardly blog worthy (cleaning, washing, menu planning, grocery shopping and lots of family time).

So bear with me while I get my act together.  I’m sure there are some pearls of wisdom hidden somewhere inside me.  At the moment, though, I’ve got a whole lot of oysters to shuck to find them!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Is this normal?

Today is my daughter's second birthday.  Last night it became clear that we weren't pregnant again.

Last year on my daughter's first birthday, I was happy and so proud.  Today I am still so very proud because she is the most amazing little girl.  But I'm sad.  Cuddling her to sleep for her morning nap today, I realised she may very well be my only one.  I may not get pregnant again.  I may not get the chance to feel another little baby booting me from the inside, convinced the way out is somewhere between two ribs.  I may not be given the chance to feel totally excited and terrified in equal measure when labour starts.  I may not get the chance to breastfeed another baby, knowing that I am giving them everything they need to grow and thrive - the little noises and tugs, and little hands resting on my boob. When she gives up her morning naps (the only time I cuddle her to sleep), I may never get the chance to cuddle another baby to sleep again.

That makes me really sad.  I'm not ready to not have another baby.

This time last year, I thought we'd maybe have another one by now.  Or at least I'd be hugely pregnant again.  We fell pregnant so easily last time - second month of trying and WHAM!  I thought it would be so easy again.  But after eight months, it's pretty obvious it's not.  We've got another four months until we're classified as infertile and before we can step this up a notch.  I can only pray that something miraculous happens in the next four months, though I'm going to be away during our 'window' this month, which leaves only three months more.

But is this God telling me the answer to my constant prayers is "no"?  And I have to say, I completely disagree with the part of the Bible that says God will give you the desires of your heart!  That's bullshit!  If God gave everyone every desire of their heart, everyone would be a Christian, and every Christian would have a wonderful life where every member of their family lived until 100, had the exact number of children they wanted, those children would be crazily successful and never get into trouble or lose their way, and nobody would get cancer, or they would be cured as soon as they were diagnosed!  But that doesn't happen.  It's not reality.  Because sometimes God says no.

I think God is saying no.  I hope He's saying "Wait.  Keep trying."  Time will tell.

I'll let you know.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Life and death

This is going to be an angry entry.  Angry in a passionate way.

It never ceases to amaze me how, when someone's died in a car crash where speed or other controllable variables were to blame (texting, drinking/drugs, hooning), their family and friends come out and say how amazing they were - how special/clever/funny/kind they were, how they would do anything for anyone in need, what a bright future they had etc.  But none of them ever say, "He/she died because they were being an idiot.  They were being a jerk and that's why they're dead."  Has anyone else ever noticed that?

In my line of work, I have lost count of the number of photos and stories I've read about these young people, and the utter pain and anguish of the loved ones left behind.  I can only begin to imagine what it's like for the emergency service personnel who have to scrape their bloody and mangled bodies off the road, or the hospital staff who work frantically and desperately trying to save them.  Only to lose them.  Because they were driving like a jerk.  Because they thought they were such a great driver they could take that corner at 80km/h.  Because they thought that because they'd been driving for more than two minutes that the laws of physics didn't apply to them.  That their car is so amazingly special that it can do things that the aforementioned laws of physics says will result in an explosion!

You are not special.  Your car is not special.  Your tyres are not special.  Your driving history is not going to save your ass if you drive like a jerk.

If you drive like an idiot, you deserve to hit a pole and write your car off.  And to God I pray that's the only thing you hit, and the only thing that happens.  Machines can be replaced.  People cannot.

Now, let me come at this from another angle.

When I was very newly pregnant, and coming up to the 13-week nuchal translucency scan, we had the option of having an amniocentesis in case they thought our baby might have Downs Syndrome.  I was all for it.  "Let's do the tests to see what's going on so we have all the information and can deal with whatever they find."  My husband was passionately against it.  "But why?" I asked.  "Because there's a chance that just having the test will cause a miscarriage."   "Ooooh.  Then hec no!"

I wanted to protect the little life growing inside me with all my worth.  I didn't want to do anything that may, even in a very small percentage, cause my baby harm.  I didn't care if the chance was 1 in 1000.  That was 1 in 1000 too many for me!

So why would you do anything in your life that would increase the risk of you dieing, or you killing someone else?  I'll bet when you're sitting in the ER watching the life drain from your friend, you would chose to do things differently.  

If the chance of you killing or permanently disabling your friend because you were speeding and showing off was 1 in 1000, would you take it?  Would you feel all tough and macho then?  Would all the boys think you were a "bad ass" then?

If there was a 1 in 1000 chance that your speeding would force your parents to plan your funeral, would you take it?

If there was a 1 in 1000 chance that you would leave your new bride/groom a widow because you took a corner too fast because you were deluded enough to think your "totally awesome, bitchin'" car would handle it, would you take it?  Is your life or their life worth taking a risk?

If anyone says yes, then you totally deserve what is inevitably coming your way.  I just hope someone in your circle of family and friends speaks up at your funeral and tells the world what a deluded idiot you were!

You are not special.  Your car is not special.  Your tyres are not special.  You are not, and will never be a great enough driver to defy the laws of physics.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

My external heart

My grandmother once said to my mum, when she became a mother herself, that having a child is like having your heart walking around on the outside.  From that point on, the most important part of you is outside you.

If I'm honest, which any of the regular readers will know is pretty much all the time, I can work myself into a state of anxious tears worrying about my sweet daughter, who I am convinced is the single most beautiful girl ever to have been born in the whole wide world.  Ever.

I worry about her future - will she be bullied at school?  Will she be good at school?  Will she find direction and purpose in life?  Will she have her heart broken?  Will she find love?  Will she be able to have children of her own?  How will I manage to keep my words and limbs in check if someone dares hurt her?  God knows I'm a fierce mumma bear sometimes, but I am also wise enough to know that I can't and won't fight all her battles.  But Lordy that's going to be hard!

I worry about her health - so many children get cancer these days before they've even had a chance to stuff themselves up with bad food and chemical-ridden products over the decades, will she be one of them?  Will I lose her before she has a chance to lose me to old age?

And when I think about having more children, I look at the state of the world - 7 BILLION people.  So many wars.  So many starving, while so many have bulging fridges and pantries and still throw away daily enough food to feed a second family.  And how can the world possibly keep producing enough food to feed all these people?  Chemicals are everywhere in our food because we can't produce it on a big enough, more reliable scale without them, yet I'm convinced they're what's making us so sick.  Food shouldn't have numbers in it!  Since when could you find a tree and pick MSG (621), and the literally thousands of other numbers in our everyday food?

Then I listen to my heart.  I want more children.  I want a big family.  I want to be pregnant again, to feel those kicks and nudges from the inside.  I want to breastfeed again and to hear those beautiful gurgling noises and have a little baby fall asleep curled in a ball on my chest.  Is that selfish when the world's in such a state and I'm not sure what kind of world they're going to have?  Perhaps one of my children will "save the world", but the cynical side of me (which is often around at this late hour of the night) thinks "Greed will always win".

"Hec, we don't need that rainforest!  What we need is to knock it all down to build more condos so I can buy a yacht and a fat gold watch and get the trophy wife a boob job!"  "Whales?  Who cares about the whales?  I wanna get my hands on all that oil trapped under the ocean so I can fill up my enormous SUV that I never take off-road or use to drive more than just myself... because I'm big, fat, rich and important, don't you know!"

What future are we leaving our children?  How can a little person make a difference when money is tight and your voice is small on a global scale?  Hec, it's even small on a local scale!  Shop local.  Buy from the farmer.  Read labels and don't buy what you don't understand.  Make your own cleaning products.  Use contraception if you don't want or aren't ready for children.  Consider adopting or letting another loving couple raise your child if you can't - God knows there are children in the world who are already here who need love; and every child deserves the best life possible.  And support other little voices, trying to do the best they can.

Rant over.  Thanks for listening.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Little bit of courage

So, I've decided to start my own online business.  It would give me some independent income and possibly be the start of taking back control of my income - exciting, daunting and scary at the same time.  It's scary and daunting because if you don't work, you don't get paid - there is no sick leave, maternity leave, holiday day or carer's leave.  And I'd have to go out there and advertise and market myself.  I know I'm good at what I do, but I feel really uncomfortable telling others about it.  I'd feel like I was being "up myself".  It's very Australian to talk yourself and your talents down.  Shame.  But I'm excited by the thought - and I haven't been excited about my career prospects since I first saw myself in a power suit, then found out I got into the course I wanted at university!  So that's a good sign, right?

Up to this point, I've always been happy being a "worker monkey", and having other people deal with the yuck side of business - hiring, firing, budgets and meetings.  I just show up, do my job, and go home at the end of the day, and miraculously money appears in our bank account every month.  Ta da!  But being a worker monkey also means your future and job security is in someone else's hands.  And at the moment, I'm not coping very well with that!  Stomach ulcer waiting to happen!

It might sound very boring of me, but most of what I crave these days is security and stability.  It could have something to do with the year's worth of uncertainty my family has gone through because of my current job!  And while I'd have control over my own work environment if I started my own business, I'm not sure I'd cope with the uncertainty of the work flow - will I get enough work this month to pay the bills?

But it can't hurt to try, right?  And if you never try, you'll never know!  In five year's time, I could have so much work to do that I'd need to take on a staff member!  Might need to start getting over my fear of paperwork and forms, I think!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Let's be honest

How many times, when you're talking to a friend and they ask "How are you?", you follow up with "Fine."  Or "Not bad."  Or even "Getting there."  When really you want to say something like, "I feel shitty, fat, like I'm struggling to keep my head above water, I'm going through a real rough patch with my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner and I don't know what to do, I'm stuck in a rut and can't see the way out..."  Why, when asked how we're doing, do we give everyone a sanitised reply?

I'm not suggesting you spill your guts to the poor supermarket check-out chick or dude when they follow their script of "How are you today?", but even with our friends we tend to keep our cards close to our chest.  Some dear friends, God bless them, keep pushing until they get the truth because they know us enough to see through the fakery - and how much better do you feel after you've opened up to one of those friends?  So why don't we do that more often?  Be honest?  Are we afraid that others will judge us as weak because we struggle from time to time?  Do we really think our friends and those around us don't have shitty days and struggle too?

The deadline is drawing closer to finding out whether I lose my job or not.  You might struggle to believe me when I tell you that I don't tell many people about it - outside close friends and family... and however many of you are reading.  But casual friends and acquaintances do get the sanitised answer of "Oh, I'm not too sure about my job's future but we're doing okay."  When really I should say, "You know what, there's a high chance I'm losing my job in less than two weeks and I'm kinda worried about making ends meet if that happens.  And somehow I'd like to study nursing but we don't have the money and there don't seem to be many nursing jobs going at the moment anyway, thanks to the State Government.  But I love God and trust Him to see us through this, even though the control freak inside me just wants to go crazy and 'fix' everything.  So, I don't suppose you need someone with my skills or know of someone?"  Ha!

On the weekend my beautiful, patient and ever-supportive husband told a friend of his the truth about where we're at at the moment, and the first thing he said was, "Well, if it comes to February and nothing's happening, give me a call.  I might be able to help or let you know of someone who is looking for an XYZ."  Cool, huh?  Our support network just grew by one more!

Honesty among trusted friends can open doors and lead to comfort, reassurance and support.  And who doesn't need more of that in their lives, even in the good seasons?  Whether it's relational, job related, parenting issues, emotional struggles or something else - we all need honesty to know we're not alone.

Ask a friend an honest question and wait for their honest answer.  Then be honest with them in return.  It might lead to something great - even if that's just a "warm and fuzzy" and a closer, stronger friendship.

(As an aside, have you ever seen the look of stranded horror on the face of the supermarket check-out chick/dude when you do give them an honest answer about how your day's going?  It's hilarious!  Poor kids don't cover that in training!  Best to follow their script!)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Let's talk

How often do you feel absolute relief when you learn that someone is going through, or has gone through, the same thing as you?  Whether it's illness, stress, depression, baby blues, struggling to keep on top of jobs, or you just plain feel like you're losing your mind, don't you feel great when you finally confide in someone and they say "Yeah, me too!"  I can almost laugh for joy sometimes!

I think people are programmed to keep a lot of things to themselves, thinking we're the only one in the world struggling with or experiencing XYZ.  But in a world of 7 billion people, do we really think we're that unique in our battles?  Chances are there's about 3 billion people who know what you're talking about!  So why don't we talk more?  Talk.  Share.  Get it out there.  The enemy /  darkness thrives in silence - shine a light in there by talking!

So here's my share.  There's a 50-50 chance I'll be losing my job in early February.  I was told just before Christmas that my department will be dissolved, with half of the staff going, and half being redistributed (as such) around another department.  Merry Christmas, eh?
Then about two weeks later, I had an early-stage miscarriage.  If it wasn't for the positive pregnancy test, I probably wouldn't have even realised I was pregnant, given how stressed and distracted I was about work.
And in amongst those two things, I was on deadline editing my first book (written by a wonderful woman) and was up until 1am and 2am most mornings trying to get it done, only to be up again at 6am with my beautiful daughter.  But you know what?  That editing work really helped me through that month - the message in the book was great, and it took my mind off work and loss.  And those hours of the night are so magical, powerful, peaceful and beautiful.  If it hadn't been for that book, I wouldn't have had that 'peace' in my day.

So here I go into 2013, again not sure of whether my job is safe or not, and what exactly will happen if it's not, after we went through the same stress just a few months ago (though I made that cut, but I have a gut feeling I won't this time).  With a toddler and a new mortgage on a house I love and plan to be in for the next 50-odd years, it is so bloody scary to think about losing my job and starting again - having to make new friends, learn new systems and programs, new shifts and routines...  My faith in God is being tested yet again (I think God really wants me to learn this lesson because it just keeps coming back around on me!).  I know He will look after us and provide for us.  I just need to let Him.  Ahh, hard for a control freak like me!  (Perhaps that's why I keep getting the 'lesson plan')

I also need to learn to trust in God's timing.  I would be in the throes of morning sickness now, and excited for our baby to be born in August if I'd had any say or control over it.  But it wasn't meant to be.  It will happen when the time is right.  God knows when that will be.  I don't.  That sucks, but I'm learning to let go.  And it wasn't until I started sharing with my closest friends and family about my miscarriage that the pain started to ease - love, hugs and shared stories back.  Goes to show - shine a light into the darkness by talking!  There is comfort in sharing.  And as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.

My beautiful adopted mum summed up the point perfectly:  People and mostly women need to learn to share their experiences. That's one of the ways we become stronger. Ignorance of other's struggles makes us less compassionate as well as leaving us feeling alone. Let's tell the world how much we are alike and finding God in the hearts of those who love Him.

I'm also going to try and get out running again after falling off the bandwagon after the Bridge to Brisband 5km event last September.  I want to get back up to 5km, then download the Couch to 10km app!  Who knows, I might be ready to run a half marathon next year!  HA!  Having that time to myself and goals to strive for will help no end with this year's curveballs.

But above all this, in 2013 I need to learn to let go and have some fun - just roll with the punches, stop trying to fight the rollercoaster (because who knows I'm going to lose that battle?!?!), be still as often as I can, smile, laugh and enjoy all the wonderful things in my life, of which there are millions!

So buckle up 2013!  Here we go!