I have nothing to say.
I am only posting this to maximise my egoic response to the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert read 2 sentences I wrote and liked them on INSTAgram. Also as a general reminder that people on the interweb are PEOPLE so let's not vomit judgmental crap all over each other, even in this virtual space.
Let's try to find compassion for each other's humanity like my *good friend* Liz Gilbert suggests.
On a separate note, I recent reread EAT PRAY LOVE. I spent most of the year doing so in small manageable bites between non-fiction, raising children, working and not writing my masters thesis. It totally holds up for me, 15 years later and after a bit of life experience. I love that the love story that it ended with was by no means the last love story of Liz's amazing, impressive, brave and courageous life. That adds to the story for me, doesn't take away from it for me because I, as a lover of literature and movies and stories in general, need a reminder that life does not tie up quite so neatly as plots and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
So, I'm addicted to my phone.
Like a lot of you out there reading this on your phone right now- I use my like 3 by 5 rectangle to enhance my everyday life, mostly by escaping it. My everyday can be mindlessly boring. Dishes, butt-wiping which I've mentioned previously and did you realise that you have to clean the kitchen pretty much every time you use it? And if your kids are anything like mine- the snacking and grazing is continuous which I suppose is my own fault. Feel free to offer some friendly advice (ie./ critique my parenting) in the comment section!
I am not proud of my addiction.
Low level addictions can be quite handy, really. I like planning my next cafe outing and plotting the most direct route. If I am wondering where my next caffeine fix is coming from, I am definitely not asking the bigger scarier questions of my life like, "Am I parenting well enough?" or "Am I a good enough person?" or "Why is our planet so fucked?" or "How can I help reverse the cesspool of humanity when I embody the same human weaknesses?" or "What the hell is my life's purpose?" or "What does it ALL MEAN?"
Yup, "I wonder if the good coffee place is open?" is much safer.
And I might follow that little rousing thought with a light-hearted debate about whether or not I will order a regular or large. Followed by some self-berating for not needing the extra milk after the festive 8 pounds I gained during the yuletide. Because as long as I'm sabotaging how I feel about my own body, I definitely can't be pulling down the patriarchy, looking into local recycling programs or challenging my plastic consumption.
Nope. Low level coffee addiction is looking pretty good right now but it's 4:50pm here and that's too late for coffee so maybe I'll just scroll my phone instead. Less caffeine, same dopamine hit.
The phone as a tool is pretty impressive. Information, human connection, insight and enlightenment at my finger tips. Am I using it impressively?
I like my podcasts. I find having my work email on hand annoying useful. I have a 2 mediation apps. I even use one of them. I have a yoga app that I've never opened. I deleted FB off my phone to make the access slightly less intuitive. I don't allow any notifications. I live for my fitbit dashboard at the moment. I have met 2 actual people from IG-land and they are both great.
When I leave my phone in another room, one of my children brings it to me because its place, as far as they are concerned, is in my hand. A long series of shameful photos with my girls when they were young has me pensively squinting at my phone in the background. I don't even look happy.
I like my phone. I enjoy my phone. I also think that the more I use it- the more it drains the fun out of my real life. But I'm not kicking the habit? And most of us aren't. Why?
My best hours are the hours when I am not looking at the magic mirror. When I leave the leash at home and feel completely free because no one can ask me to grab something from the supermarket on my way home. No amount of likes on my latest picture is as good as when I forget I even have a phone.
So why not trash it altogether? Where do I live, if not in the grid? In the actual room I'm sitting in and in real time? Well, that sounds boring.
Which is kind of the point. If I'm bored, I might play a board game with my kids. If I'm bored, I might have to making different choices about how I'm structuring my day or living my life. If I'm bored, I might have to do something to entertain myself and becoming a less boring person...
Like go make a coffee.
p.s. This was a writing challenge set by my friend and writing buddy Fake Hippy based on the word "phone". I didn't want to do it but as youngin's say, "Challenge accepted".
p.p.s. And phones as an actual call to hear the voice of another human being who is far away but so incredibly important to you that you want to reach through time and space to hear their voice- absolutely the best invention on the planet. Thanks, Alexander Graham Bell and whoever made long distance calls so cheap and free in the past few years!
A year of part time work, a bit of study, a lot of beach walks, drinking water at 5am and trying to meditate in amongst the chaos of parenting, trying to block out the theme song to Teen Titans Go. What have I gathered this year? Can surmise it in 18 easy lessons? 18 little things that made life better for me.
Immediately, I wonder if that's a bit too ambitious. Admittedly, 2018 has been a big year of personal growth and change but even in my delusions of grandeur I'm pretty sure I'm going to run out of valuable lessons at say...11. But Maybe I won't! Maybe this is the first lesson of the year:
1. Be ambitious. Bite off more than you can chew. Even if you're choking, you're learning... and actually we don't make life any easier by choosing the 'easy' or 'sensible' path. Life is still going to be challenging and annoying and unexpected at any level you're choosing to engage at. Playing small doesn't benefit you in the slightest and Think bigger because...
2. You are limiting you more than anyone else is. Get out of your own way.
3. Ask for what you want. Of course this creating the problem of actually knowing what you want and if you're anything like me- there's a million other things you think are more important,. So just start by asking yourself once a day... and at this point I am picturing Ryan Gosling yelling at Rachel McAdams in the Notebook. But if you really don't know what you want in your job or relationship or self or towel collection then...
4. Just stop. You'll find out pretty quickly what makes you uncomfortable and what you tend to do with your discomfort. And if you can ride out the little cravings like "coffee, coffee, where's the next coffee..." and "scrolling scrolling scrolling, switch app, scrolling scrolling" then you might give yourself a moment to ask the bigger "What do I want?" question that can't be sated with caffeine, sugar, alcohol, or a quick trip to Kmart.
5. Just start. Want to start a business? Just start. Want to get fit? Just start going to the gym. Want to get more sleep? Just start napping. Whatever it is. Start today. Start now. Start small.
6. 5am is pretty good. Particularly alone and/or outside. Do you know how few people are able to fuck with your plans? Most of the world is still asleep which means FREEDOM.
7. Forget the follow through... I started strong and then I got interrupted by a kid who want a snack or wanted me to wipe a butt. I can't tell the difference anymore but basically it's all part of the eat/poop cycle so does it even matter?? Just as long as you wash your hands... At any rate, I saved this draft and then the New Year which I was trying seize rocked on by...
2018 or 2019 for that matters- I wanted to do something meaningful and big. And maybe by showing up for snack/poop duty all year is something meaningful in its entirety. Maybe we should be celebrating the small mundane moments of this very ordinary life that I am so lucky and grateful to be able to live. My children are healthy, my water is clean, my house is still standing. I wish the same for you.
So in lieu of 11 more trite life lessons, I'll post 11 photos from 11 different beach walks I did this year. My biggest habit changes in 2018 were walking to the beach more, mediation and drinking water before my cup of tea. Did I find enlightenment?
I found the ability to be grateful for my lot in life and to see I had far more power over how I was living my life than I had been previously exercising- so yes. Yes, I did find an enlightened way to live..
And what did I do with that enlightenment? I enjoyed it and then ate too much cheese during the month of December and escalated my caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake about 10 fold. Useful use of my new enlightened head-space?
No- but a pretty stock standard human one.
Sobriety is an interesting topic at the moment. A lot of my favourite writers/podcasters are sober and sobriety warriors. I'd argue that I've never been a huge drinker but the holiday season (and a 2 years living in Kuwait which is a 'dry' country drinking Death Juice) might suggest otherwise.
Alongside mindfulness, it's the next big life overhaul the modern world. Or should I say the Western World. Or is it just on the interweb? I'm so curious about how other people are living.
My least sucessful NYE resoltion was in 2010 when I announced, drink in hand, to a room full of people (okay- we were like 6 all up) that I was going to run the local half marathon that September. I had trained myself up from non-runner/hostile-runner to 15k so I knew I was physically capable. 3 days later I found out I was pregnant. So I def did end up doing a marathon of some kind. I would argue I'm still completing that marathon 9 years later and have another 10 to go.
My most successful NYE resolution I made in a European airport after trying to be funny with an airport security person who took maple syrup off me. Apparently I wasn't funny. So I resolved to be more kind. Instead of trying to be funny, try to be kind. Instead of being busy, try to be kind. Instead of bartering for a cheaper taxi in the middle east, try to be kind. That being said- I used to barter that taxi guys down and then tip. In hindsight, I was still a real jerk who was using my status as a white, educated woman to exercise the power I had just to see if I had it...
The road to hell is paved with good intentions...or seemingly benign NYE resolutions.
2019's Intention: Be more brave.
In the first 5 days this has manifested in swimming in the sea (which I still argue is a little bit too close to Antarctica for my liking) and buying towels. Pink and Teal. The colours are silly, ridiculous fun that reminded me of the 90s but the bravery was not the colour choice- it was in the buying. We have living in this house for 9 years and we have been using inherited, hand-me-down towels. Affordable, convenient, usable. So why buy?
Major commitment to towels. You'd think marriage, mortgage and 4 kids was enough commitment to exercise the muscle of making a decision and following it through.
I had to choose towels that I liked, make the financial investment in something I wanted but didn't needs. I had to face the fear that I might change my mind, I might be wasting valuable money otherwise spent on the mortgage or buying towels for someone in need of towels...
Good lord- just writing about the new towels and the imaginary refugees who might need towels is making my anxious. What is wrong with me?
Coffee. Two cups of coffee on an empty stomach.
Holidays excess is what's wrong with me. So excuse me while I return to my middle class life and first world problems...and before I go into the guilt spiral, I'm going to the gym to do a step class with my neighbour. Because nothing stop the pre-frontal cortex from ruminating over towels, debt and privilege like being oxygen deprived and lactic acid rich.
Peace out, 2018. And Thank you to anyone who has continued to read this to its bitter end. As a Canadian, my gut instinct is to apologise to you for dragging you down this rabbit hole but fuck that. You made a choice. You're still here. Thanks for joining me in my frantic "I better write something" moments.
p.s. The towels weren't a metaphor. I mean they were and are but also the towels are actual towels. Which made made children want to bath/shower. Extra bonus parent points.
Been a while since I've been around here in my blog space. I seem to have stepped off my soapbox while I was sorting a few things out.
What a Year.
I, for the first time in my adult life (save maternity leaves), worked part time. I finished a Diploma in Positive Psychology and Wellbeing . Instead of rushing back to classroom and adrenaline full-time as planned, I took a sharp left turn. As I was sitting in the woods Alone (well, actually I has 3 small girl with me but all you parents out there know that's not the same as connecting with grown ups) and I thought- maybe I won't go back to the adult world as I know it. Forget the suit jackets and 8am meetings and being to exhausting to think at the end of the day. Forget about the importance of sick days and regular income for regular hours. Forget routine. Forget a lifestyle that requires caffeine and sugar to sustain itself. (though I'm ready to not forgot about those 2 old friends altogether just yet).
So I took a leap- I've had some minor success sharing my teaching knowledge and psych background with other educators in the country. I am a firm believer that something needs to change in how we are support our youth, especially as society is changing so rapidly. I decided to start my own business (you can read a bit about that here: Adapting Brains) and what a roller coaster so far. I am very lucky to have almost immediately connected with some amazing women in the field who whether they like it or not have become some pretty impressed role models and mentors. After years of working my ass off for The Man or 'a man', literally, I'm see what it's like to work as hard for myself as I do for someone else's vision.
Is it exciting? Yes!
Financially rewarding? Kinda. (let me pos. psych this: Not as I'd like YET. Shout out to Dweck!)
Am I'm glad I'm trying? Yes!
Life's many pathways overwhelm me sometimes: How do I do this thing called Life right? I'm a stickler for 'the rules' and for years friends have ridiculed my obsession with dental hygiene and called me the 'moral compass'. Do I be sensible, reliable, and return to a permanent safe job with sick leave, cool colleagues and enough money to sustain my large family? Or do I take a risk and see what happens? Can I do both?
Just before I got married, my dad, in his earnest wisdom said, "Life too short to marry someone you don't like."
To which I replied, "But if life is really long should I marry a dick?" I mean you have to live with the consequences so much longer.
The questions I use to ask myself what I should do in big life decisions goes like this:
If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, will I regret how I spent my day?
If I have to live until I'm 99, will I regret how I spent today?
What is the real cost- emotionally, physically, socially?
(although to be honest, I usually start with financially).
And sometimes I don't ask myself any questions and I just live by default until one day, out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon I just say, "F**k this, let's see what happens over there." So some of my "worst" decisions have been my best.
Maybe it doesn't matter if I make the "right" call? Just as long as I'm willing to make a new call later.
So far this call involved a lot of beach walks, reading and time with my kids. That can't be a bad thing, right??
Dear New Zealand,
You are about welcome another exceptional child into the fold of our beautiful landscape. Our country’s first lady, Gemma McCaw, the people’s (very fit) princess (or as close as we're gonna get, NZ), is pregnant to The Great Himself, Richie McCaw. On this glorious occasion, I have only one request of you:
Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for his/her/their parents, the bub is undeniably going to be gestated and raised in the public eye. And we are supposed to be the village that will help raise this child.
The week of their announcement- among the shouts of celebrations, there were hisses of jealousy and resentment. Comments about Adidas sponsoring this gift of human creation and jokes about infinitely high expectations the parents might have for this person who isn’t even breathing yet. (Yes- I’m looking and you, Jono and Ben, who my 12 year old worships.)
The problem is not those new expectant parents. The problem is our village. A broken community with a youth suicide rate that shames us. What should we expect from our two top athletes who have chosen to procreate together and chosen to privilege us with the knowledge?
Perfection? Absolutely not. If we expect perfection from our best, what hope do the rest of us have? A student of mine asked me that in the wake of a first fifteen members committing suicide at our school a few years ago, "If he wasn't happy...what chance do I have?"
Do we build up our heroes so exquisitely that we don't think we can touch them or that they can't be touched by us? Do we elevate our best, beyond realistic expectations just so we can tear them down?
Gemma and Rich are going to become first time parents with all the fear, vulnerability, risk, love, mistakes and triumphs that come with being human. And we are going to witness this. We are going to witness every step, every choice and any breast, bottle or dummy that dares enter the public arena.
Is this fair? No.
At fashion week, Gemma and Rich graced the carpet, giving us our first real glimpse of the bump that is a baby. And, New Zealand, I read the comment section: I was appalled.
You should be ashamed.
If we are privileged enough to be allowed to be part of this child’s life then the least we can do is witness this living being with kindness.
Witnessing with kindness does not involve body shaming a pregnant mother. Witnessing with kindness does not involve speculations about what she is wearing and whether or not she should be allowed to show her milk makers at fashion week. No one had a problem with her body before she was pregnant!
Witnessing does not involve judging the parents’ choices or the child’s journey.
When I gave birth to my first child in this country, I was privy to the best New Zealand had to offer. Support, home cooking, help with laundry folding, reassuring smiles in the supermarket, well wishes and reminders for me to trust my own gut. My boss told me he was glad that I, of all people, was contributing another member to society and I’m nothing special on the national stage. My introduction to motherhood was not met with any unrealistic expectations other than my own. Perhaps we could offer our favourite couple the same grace.
I wish Gemma and Rich the best of luck on their journey, the support that they will undoubtably need (as we all do) and the sense to only listen to the messages of love. (And yes- I put her name first because Gemma’s doing the heavy lifting in this situation and alphabetically it just makes bloody sense.)
Kia kaha, New Zealand.
In the face of your fear and your insecurity when you see a beautiful thing: Kia kaha.
Make this country a place we want to raise our children, as tall as those poppies want to grow. Be the village I know you can be. Where our children want to live longer.
Much Love & Arohanui,
An adoptive daughter of this fine country
(on behalf of Gemma and Rich- totally unauthorized)
Stats: Number of sick children: 1; Number of oozing lesions on sick child: dozens; Coffees: 1 (v. good); Cups of tea: 3; Humans in the world that emerged from my vagina: 3;
IWD is definitely bumming me out a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of women and all. I am one, I’m raising 3 and I am considered by most of my acquaintances to be a loudmouth feminist.
Today should be my day: Look at me, I have a vagjayjay under these trackpants- YAY ME!
I’m just not feeling it.
I bet Sheryl Sandberg and Beyoncé are having a good day, though. And so they should. Leaning their goddess shoulders into the patriarchy, inspiring millions and donating cash to worthy chiquitas.
In the real world, I am scrolling through social media seeing guys I almost dated in university wishing their wives and children and mothers a happy IWD.
I live in the land of Kate Sheppard, who is single headedly responsible for getting the women the vote after 13 years of campaigning. NZ was the first country in the world which obviously opened a floodgate. Woohoo, go Kate! Of course, her marriage was destroyed and her only son was moved back to Scotland out of her control. 1895. Those were the good old days!
124 years later: I can wear shorts, ride a bike and vote without (too much) judgement. My prime minister is a year older than me, knocked up and unmarried to her partner who will be a stay-at-home dad. Maybe we are making some good progress?
Contents of my Friday night mercy run to the grocery store: Broccoli, an avocado, a fillet of Atlantic salmon, hayfever tablets and lemon yoghurt.
Do I know how to party or what?? And this is me off the leash! Stag is out watching men in short shorts push each other around. I am feeding the kids cupcakes with edible glitter (FESTIVE POOS) while I gnaw on little green trees. What does it say about my lifestyle or the modern world that the most self indulgent thing I can think to do is eat veggies?
I considered wine AKA mummy juice but thought better of it. I'm sleepy enough during an evening couch session these days. So let me go wild and do something that actually makes me feel better- not just in the moment but in the lingering after bedtime glow. At which point my virtuosity will have worn off and I'll go looking for some ice cream or crack cocaine.
Just checking if anyone is reading this. I guess the most self-indulgent thing I can do on a Friday night is blog about my thoughts and whinge about my feelings and expect someone is interested enough to read about my non-adventures. Which, frankly, says a lot about your Friday night.
Not to be insulting all three of my readers per say but perhaps the whole of modern society.
Yeah, get yourself to the ice cream aisle, change into your kmart sweat pants, pour a class of wine and turn on Netflix, watch a show about an American who has a cleaner house than you and a conveniently placed opportunity to sleep with a person s/he hasn't seen naked yet instead of being updated on the death toll in the Middle East. Or America. Or better watch elite athletes sweating out our tax dollars on the international stage. Is this living, or what??
Wow- that got dark fast.
Or perhaps the elusive nugget of happiness is not a lump of gold at all. Perhaps it is a thousand sparkling specks we mine from the sand and rubble; the smile exchange with the check out chick; wearing comfortable soft clothes that you bought with money you earned yourself; a quiet glass of anything that you didn't want to walk 4 kilometers for; some light entertainment or focus of the the greatest of human potential in hope the next generation is hooked on gold medals and glory and snow sports instead of rage.
Now that doesn't sound so bad.
And with all the freedom in the world, what would carpe diem really mean? Drink all the drinks? Do all the drugs? Nah. Don't think so. I was never that girl. Once I travelled to the other-side of the earth for the sheer lunatic adventure of it. I was surprised to find myself cleaning out my fridge on a Friday night. I was always wondering what life was about. Everywhere you go, there you are. Life is unsurprisingly similar until you change the landscape of your brain.
So maybe a quiet night after a week of a family that loves me so much I no longer pee alone carpe diem means peeing alone. Locking the door even. And feeling a thrill in just that.
Pairs of shoes removed from White Lightening (the people mover) in one go- 14. Pairs of shoes removed from White Lightening in one go- 6 (frustratingly). Shoes missing in action- 2 or millions depending on your philosophical standpoint. Sick days in 2018 so far- 0. (V. Good). Moments I have been relieved I’m not working full time- billions. Frequency I have missed being a full time teacher- daily Moments I missed working full time while spot cleaning fecal matter off the carpet
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This is 2018 and I certainly have the technology to delete what Goo and the Thug added to this piece of writing but some perverse part of me what you to see what life with 2 preschoolers is like. Like you don’t already know. Of course you know; I would be very surprised if any non-breeders were reading this because as breeders we are notoriously boring to non-breeders who have the time and energy for hobbies, thoughts and dreams.
Today a spent 45 minutes picking up 3 kids from 2 locations within 1.5 kilometres of each other. My town is not known for its traffic so in this convoluted maths problem the answer is:
3 kids/2 locations + 1 car + 1.5 kilometres- 45 minutes = I am their bitch
Any philosopher with a theory on power would agree with me on this: Foucault, Marx, Trump. With any lens, I am the bitch. And add the Feminist Lens for fun- I am their bitch because I am a woman. Being that I am their mother, this is totally true. Being that I am currently in part time paid work because my husband earns more so it was logical that I step back so we don’t all die of a cortisol overdose, this is totally true.
My brother- the single, no dependents, feminist that he is reminded me that it’s all good because “It’s about where you get your fulfilment.” But I get my fulfilment from work. So hmmm.
I do have to concede that EVERYONE is happier in the new p/t worker mother scenario except for me during the 45 minutes and perhaps the 17 minutes or so afterwards when I was still ranting about my hourly rate in my head. I have a degree, for god’s sake. 2!!!
So perhaps I need to start rating the unpaid work myself first. I know my husband appreciates it. Maybe I should start valuing it. My kids are happier, everyone is healthier. I could waste 45 minutes and not get fired. I am developing my patience. Which is a virtue. Apparently. Or it was before 21st century instant gratification.
And let’s not forget about the phenomenal things that I can do now that I could not do last year: go to the beach on a sunny Thursday morning, actually have enough mental resources answer the question “What’s for dinner?” after 4pm, not hate my dependants for waking up in the middle of the night.
Just being is easier when I’m not also trying to work. But just being is difficult man. I was trained to be busy. Busy = Productive, right? Right? Right?
Maybe I should try an new equation
3 kids/2 locations + 1 car +1.5 kilometres - 45 minutes
= One lucky bitch who should stop bitching
I miss the adrenaline.
No longer am I rushing from one location to another and always certain that I am failing at either motherhood or any of the professional hats I have worn. I concede that this is a good thing. Busy-ness isn’t purpose. Mind-too-bloody-full is not a mindful life. Speed and overcrowding is a habit. One I think I should learn to live without.
Transitions into part-time work this week has involved sadness, relief, mourning, ego-struggles and pleasant space for spontaneity. A busy life can be monotonous which is boring. Whereas the space for boredom in a less busy life is an opportunity. My P/T guru introduced me to the joys of leaving work during my lunch break to pick up sushi and go shopping. 3 months ago, I’d barely leave my desk, let alone school grounds.
No one at work needs me at the moment. No backlog of emails and phone messages exists. Both peaceful and eerie, like sitting in an abandoned house.
So what kind of creep sits in an abandoned house?
Me. Obviously me.
Weird to have moments in my day where I literally don’t HAVE to do anything. I guess that’s what happens when you reduce your work load by more than half. Some weird side effects?? Not less than half the cash in the family hand due to reduced childcare, enough energy at the end of the day that the idea of “what’s for dinner?” is mildly intriguing, not panic inducing and I’m not nearly as manic which is best for the people around me but kind of a bummer for me. Also, I’m having to separate myself from my ego, now that I’m not feeding it with job titles, public speaking and money. Shame. I know it’s very zen to let go of the Ego but honestly, mine is hilarious!! She’s the best company and make me feel way more self-important than I am.
Part-Time Bonuses: My kids have definitely brushed their teeth more consistently this week than any week before in their young lives. I quit my job to focus on the dental hygiene of the next generation. I have walked to the kid’s school 6 out of 10 opportunities. More than all of 2017 combined. I’ve been around a lot this week end so there will be no mum-guilt when I leave the house alone this week end. Stress is down. Frantic exhaustion is down. Guilt is down. So everything is on the up.
But I miss the adrenaline.