Category Archives: Uncategorized

You Are Our Greatest Adventure

When we brought you home from the hospital, you were impossibly small and sweet, you slept and slept and you just loved nursing from your mummy and I loved nursing you dear heart. Every moment of you in my arms, me nourishing you from my body, was a moment bursting with the meaning of life- to love, to be of service, to nurture, to be present. Your little fingers interlaced your hands together while you fed, quietly squeaking for the first few months. Your favourite place to be was in our arms.

You made me wait for your first smile but then my gosh but you shone it so freely once you found it. You were charming with everyone who met you and if they had mummy’s seal of approval you were brave and bold and happy to go for a cuddle. You have always been a curious little love and since you were teeny tiny until now at almost 2 years old people exclaim about what a well-behaved child you are. Well my love, curiosity stills you but you are no angel.

You my sweet girl, are cheeky, strong willed, determined, sensitive and kind. You have a temper but it comes and goes like the wind. Like the wind you can be a soft refreshing breeze or a tempest. Rough winds come and go quickly though before you settle into a cuddle, seeking out help to get back to calm, seeking reassurance that we are still firm in our love for you. We will always stand firm in our love for you dear heart.

Your daddy and I cannot wait to show you the world, the natural world with all of its beauty. We can’t wait to show you more of the great expanse of our night sky and help you see how wonderfully precious life on this planet is. We can’t wait to introduce you to the unique sounds and smells of each season and show you all the ways life can fill your cup. We are excited to learn the things that bring you joy in a society driven by the Monday to Friday 9-5.  We want for you to know there’s more than these four walls and we want to fan the flame of adventure in your heart. You and sharing this journey with you is our greatest adventure.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~Khalil Gibran

Freedom to Love

I was talking with a beautiful friend of mine the other day. He was telling me that for the first time in his life he has met someone that he is completely comfortable holding hands with in public. He said that was weird, not because he doesn’t like holding hands with his love but because he ALWAYS worries what other people nearby will say or do in response to seeing them.

HOLD THE PHONE. I have held hands in public with EVERY romantic interest I have had since I was 12 and not spared a second thought. That there is hetero-privilege, we don’t think about it because our partner just so happens to be “socially well accepted” solely due to the fact that they are of the opposite gender. Maybe we haven’t done more to change this for our friends and loved ones because it doesn’t affect us directly, we haven’t suffered cultural abuses because of our choices in matters of the heart. We haven’t extended ourselves to imagine what it would be like to be unable to marry the love of your life, because we can or already have. How often do we stop and think about the fact that this is outright discrimination with (as in all cases of discrimination) no damn good rationale beyond someone somewhere feels uncomfortable. I was floored that this is the experience of my dear friend. As much as I was over-joyed to hear his good news, I was saddened to hear that unforgiving heterosexual-centric culture had censored his comfortable and free expression of love at any point in time. But of course it has, I’m a naive white married woman and I just didn’t see it.

One of the ways that I think Australia can becomes more culturally accepting of folks who love  people from the same or other genders is through marriage equality. Marriage equality will legitimise LOVE ITSELF. Then we won’t have people in our society worried about the consequences of the mildest forms of PDAs (public displays of affection) and they can get on with the business of being a solid, reliable and loving partner and all around good human being. We will all legitimately have a choice about marriage. Then we can all get on with more important work like deconstructing racism and white privilege.

<Sweary addendum deleted>

Pure and simple this is ALL about EQUALITY.

“It’s a no brainer, if you’re not for gay marriage don’t marry a gay person!” ~ Whoopi Goldberg

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.” ~ John Lennon

 

You do you

Every single day we are bombarded with images on social media, news websites and on television of bigotry, hate and violence. Every single day acts associated with these are carried out because of a perceived point of difference. Perceived differences in religion, in education, in opportunity, in resources, in cultural background, in physical appearance. As I sit here and write this now it seems to me that all of these stem from the insidious, creeping, doubt fertiliser- fear of the unknown. What do we do when we experience fear? We feel threatened. What do we do when we feel threatened? We fight. With everything we have we seek to diminish the perceived threat.

With the advent of the internet came a veritable flood of information. It sweeps us along in the comfort of our lounge rooms. It creeps into our train rides, our lunch breaks, and sometimes even our bathroom breaks. We are exposed to a massive amount of commentary from all around the globe. We have access to an incredible volume of knowledge. We can learn about other cultures, we can see lands we might not ever be able to physically visit, we can learn about topics that our grandparents could not have dreamed of learning unless they went to university. We can even talk to people from all around the world and further expand our horizons, we can truly grow and become a better species, more understanding and compassionate. Except…

Wherever you look there are people criticising, judging, mocking and castigating others for how they look, live, express themselves, for what they believe in. It seems that you can’t express a single thought without the crushing weight of objection and differing opinion being forcefully thrust upon you, publicly halting you in your tracks, minimising, reducing and nullifying your perspective. We have forgotten how to have an intellectual conversation and explore ideas and we are left with, thanks to being relatively anonymous and faceless on the internet, bullying and closed-minded expressions designed to shut down rather than encourage conversation.

I’m super tired of it. If you are reading this I’m sure you are too. We’ve seen the really interesting article and told ourselves not to look at the comments… why am I looking at the comments?! Oh I hate humanity, we’re the worst, a true cesspool of self-important filth, surely a genetic accident. It’s not very helpful. What would be far more helpful I think is interesting dialogue framed in such a way as to encourage conversation. Instead of “you f***ing ignorant bastard, shut your face before I shut it for you” perhaps a “that’s an interesting perspective, why do you think that?” or “I don’t see it that way, I’m more of the opinion that…”. Perhaps then we could do away with labels and even anger and start to hear each other. Call me a dreamer but I think that doing away with fear and self-righteous indignation could soothe many of the worlds ills. Curiosity before fear would go a long way towards helping as well.

Then there’s the big stuff that shouldn’t even be a thing. Racism. WTF is with all of the racism? I saw a legend of a woman talking about racism (on the internet) and she is an educator. Her message was that we aren’t born racist, we learn to be racist and the stupidest thing about racism is that there is only one race, the human race. We are all the same race just with differing levels of pigmentation in our skin. But someone decided that it benefited them to plant into small minds this idea of difference and we ate that rubbish up for breakfast. Can you imagine a world without racism? Jon Lennon tried. We would still have rich and varied cultural differences and how wonderful if we could be curious about one another cultures instead of feeling threatened by them.

There are always, thank goodness, curious folk in this world who do not subscribe to fear and bigotry. There are always those who work to create conversation and effect positive change in our global societies, but they are still the exception, not the rule. Until the day comes when we can be curious, compassionate and loving beings as the norm rather than the exception. Until the day we can identify and appreciate our sameness. Until the day where we can allow one another our differences and not feel threatened. I say, you do you. Be wholly yourself. Shine your light, share your views, be curious about those who come at you from a place of anger or resistance and start the conversation. The movement has been around since the beginning of human time, but just maybe you’ll help someone finally see that there’s more joy and peace in live and let live.

“Hate cages all the good things about you.” ~Terri Guillemets

The Promises We Keep

Today I finally hung up a canvas of a picture from our wedding. On this canvas are our wedding vows. It is beautiful and they are fun, heartfelt and completely free of burden and obligation.

I promise

I promise to dance with you in the kitchen and always appreciate your jokes
I promise to greet you each day with a smile and a hug
I promise to care for you when you’re sick, sad or disheartened

I promise to hold dear your dreams and help you reach them
I promise to hear you when you speak whether I like the message or not
I promise to work with you as a team through all life’s adventures

I promise to celebrate all of your highest moments
I promise to stand with you through life’s difficult ones
I promise to walk with my hand in yours through the rest

I am filled with joy when I read these over and when I see our canvas with our gorgeous selves so happy and glamorous and these words sharing space with that image I am reminded. I am reminded on the difficult days when demands are high, sleep is difficult and stress pushes every interaction in ways you don’t desire.

Work with it’s demands is an arena which can nurture growth, provide challenges and opportunities to effect change in the world. Work is not home. Carrying the effect of high demands into the home doesn’t help connect with your heart and your inner being.  An absence of sleep isn’t helped by the additional tetchiness that seems to exponentially multiply when left unchecked. Stress is not an intelligent driver of responses to anybody. Stress is a good reactor and it is a useful preparation tool, for a deadline or to present well in a public setting. Stress is a terrible reactor at home and it is quick to rebuff hugs and squash smiles in it’s far too serious and oft times grumpy demeanour.

I remember when I see these promises to take a breath and to offer that hug that I promised. I remember to open my ears and listen like I promised. I remember to slip my hand in his like I promised. These promises that were born out of joy and optimism for a full life of shared adventure bring me back to  what matters most to my heart.

I heard somewhere a long while ago that many couples who married didn’t remember their vows. Since on a wedding day we make promises to someone who we anticipate spending the rest of our lives with remembering your promises is likely really important. Maybe there’d be more happy and successful marriages if we all remembered and kept our promises. Scott-The-Lot and I wrote our promises together and we made the same promises to each other on our wedding day. We have chosen to have them be visible so that we remember and incorporate them into our everyday and our inner being. Heck if we are able to have them, even our children will know the promises we made to each other and they will see us keeping them.

I can’t help but wonder about how connected I am with these promises and about promises that I have made myself. I have set goals and I have set “new years resolutions” and I have tried to build new habits (none of these with much success) but I have never made myself a promise, certainly not with such ceremony and celebration. I suspect that I should. Since these vows bring me so much joy and create a space for me to be truly present with my Scott-The-Lot maybe it’s time for me to create some vows for my relationship with myself. It definitely would do me no harm and perhaps a very great deal of good. I’m going to have a go at writing some personal vows. I’d love to know what you would vow to ensure a harmonious, supportive and loving relationship with the person who will have your back every minute of your life, you.

“Loving you is easy, it is as natural as drawing breath and as beautiful as the breaking dawn” ~ Bel McLean Briggs

A Sensitive Subject

Motherhood, or I think I should say parenthood is a journey that is a little longer in coming to some. For a few, it simply doesn’t. For women it is this magical, mystical rite of passage into womanhood, a leveling up to motherhood. We do not talk about the pitfalls, our struggles, our losses. We walk in one end of a hallway and we walk out with a squishy bambino in our arms or we walk out teary and empty handed, either way, never to mention the journey between.

This is the single most disappointing thing I have encountered, this silence, this not talking about our challenges and difficulties. We are so proud of our achievements and we present our best everything to the world, but we nurse our disappointments, our fears and our heartbreak silently. We feel we are alone. I’d like to change all of that, and if I can help  in any, even small way lift someone up or give them courage or hope or even feel less alone then this is worthwhile.

I woke up the day after Christmas, Boxing day morning, feeling a little seedy. I had this pressure in my lower belly and I needed to pee constantly. Hang on a second! My period was due yesterday (I know right, awesome Christmas timing- actually I seem to have the worst timing, lucky me!). I am like clockwork so this is odd, plus I always get a few signs in the days preceding, and come to think of it there’d been no signs aside from terribly painful breasts but that isn’t new, that’s literally every single month… but just maybe something is different…

We had been semi-seriously “trying” since not long after my 35th birthday, with a couple months delay for immunisation boosters and health checks. Now why is it that women have to have the MOST thorough examination of their health and men don’t even get a look in on theirs until you’ve been trying a damn long while? Anyway, back on track… We had a couple late cycles that prompted us to test. In fact the first cycle that we tried I was one of those highly anxious types who was completely absorbed by chat rooms. In every single moment I was scanning my body for early pregnancy signs and I even tested three days before my period was due. That first two week wait was the absolute WORST. I was the worst and I decided I couldn’t handle that level of intensity again. So from memory we took the next month off and ever since I have waited until my period was late before peeing on a stick. The damned beast has been 3 days late, I have tested negative before she decided to grace me with her presence and my husband and I both teared up with the disappointment.

After 5 months of disappointment (I know, I have a low threshold for disappointment) I decided to try acupuncture. I have to say, every session worked a different area of my body and a shitload of emotional “stuff” shifted each time. I had five treatments in a month timed around my cycle. I was a bit fatalistic that month because we had been tired and hadn’t exactly met the gold standard of timing efforts, but it’s a difficult process after a while and I particularly really didn’t have any more energy to throw into baby making. Well knock me down with a feather, acupuncture might just have helped us conceive in the very first month of giving it a try.

So, we found out on Boxing day that we were pregnant. That second little line in the pee test came up before the test line, no waiting required! You would have thought that we had gifted the most incredible blessing on our family. We decided that we would tell only the people we would seek comfort from if we had a loss, it’s early days after all. Tears and kisses and hugs flowed. We started talking baby names and what they would be like. We were imagining them growing up with their cousins and we were being asked if we minded hand-me-downs… um, does anyone mind hand-me-downs? We love them! My sweet husband would look adoringly at my belly and say “I wonder how big you’ll grow” and cuddles suddenly always enveloped my lower abdomen and our growing dancing bean. Such a miraculous time, such a marvelous gift.

We never would have known that we were in trouble except for a bit of spotting. I read everything on the internet and too many women had a serious issue related to their spotting for me to leave it. I called a healthline we have here in Australia. They prompted me to go the my doctor who sent me for an urgent scan and gave me a request form for another blood test Monday, it was Friday. The following two weeks were harrowing for my husband and I. Our pregnancy, the baby we envisioned in the swelling belly we imagined was in trouble.

The scan the doctor wanted done at first involves a massively full bladder, or at least that is what it feels like. I’m only in early pregnancy at this stage so they can’t see much and I have to empty my bladder so I can be “more comfortable” while they invade my nether regions with the scanner… this was seriously the most invasive scan I’ve had in my life. But right there on the screen, in my uterus, is a gestation sac. I’m told it doesn’t have any features like a foetal pole or yolk sac but it’s early days. I leave the scan to go and have dinner with a girlfriend, because life is sweet man.

When I arrived at my friends house I checked my phone messages because I’d missed a call in transit. It was the doctors office. My doctor had gone home for the day when the radiologists called with news. I needed to be seen urgently, by a different doc. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I called my husband to meet me at the docs and I was on my way. I rang my mum enroute. I cried. I had no idea yet what was wrong but it had to be bad right? To need to be seen urgently?

I arrived first. Sitting in the waiting room, fidgeting and needing to pee every 5 minutes, I begged for extra time (please let Scott make it, please don’t make me go in by myself). My pleas went unheard, doctors have other patients and they were squeezing me in. I sat down and the first words out of the doctors mouth were “I can’t say this is a viable pregnancy” because of the no foetal signs thing. Bonus round I also had a cyst by my right ovary that looked very similar to the gestational sac in my uterus and they were worried about an ectopic pregnancy. How lucky am I? There was a baby where one could grow, and there could be one where it couldn’t.

My husband arrived and they sent him on in. He looked kind of gray and very worried. I tried not to cry. Tears escaped my eyes anyway. We were put on high alert with strict signs to act on and head straight to emergency. I was sent for an urgent blood test and it took 4 attempts to draw my stubborn, frightened blood. The phlebotomist was lovely and she added us to her prayers that night. We were 5 weeks, 5 days.

The same GP we saw the night before phoned early Saturday morning, he said my blood hormone level had risen “an okay amount” but to remain on high alert for pain and a change in spotting. I was to have another blood test Monday morning, all being well. It is amazing the sensations you become aware of when you are on alert. Even gas pains need to be examined until relieving them dissipates the discomfort, yes I’m talking about farts. Every niggle was suspicious, we were the meerkats of Bels body, on high alert watching for any and all threats.

We made it to Monday, and it felt like an eternity had passed. We had another blood test. The blood came easier this time. My blood hormone levels had risen, slowly. This was not what we expected, we were more prepared for it to be launching like a rocket faster than was safe, get her to hospital, she’s going to blow! Our GP told us she thought we were going to miscarry. She said nothing about the cyst that was the cause of our angst since Friday. We went home and cried.

Tuesday I woke with pain before sunrise. The kind we had been told to act on. Then there was spotting. We had to go. In the Emergency department they were kind but their instruments were cruel. The massive cannula sticking deep in my hand was painful and the bed was hard. For a long time the doctors deliberated about referring me to Obstetrics and Gynaecology. When they finally did, the world made more sense. It was 4 days since our first scan, the first time we saw our empty little gestation sac. We were 6 weeks and 2 days when we saw it again, unchanged. My heart sank.

Two incredible doctors from the Obstetrics team saw me that day. The first, a junior doctor wearing a bright yellow dress, had such compassion and consideration for my dignity and our emotional well being that even now I am overwhelmed with gratitude. She gave us an honest, cautious hope with the right balance of “we just don’t know” and “I hope I get to deliver your baby”. The second doctor, the registrar informed us in the most kind way that we could have a completely healthy pregnancy, or we could miscarry and that sometimes pregnancies just run out of puff. She said what was great was that we know we are able to get pregnant. In theory, everything works as it should. We clung to her words and started to talk to ourselves about “systems checks” and “test runs”.

Cautious optimism and a heavy heart were my constant companions. We left the hospital with blood tests every two days and a request form for my least favourite scan in a weeks time. I am developing a needle phobia. Friday I became very worried. The wonderful doctor in the yellow dress phoned wanting to cancel my regular scan in preference for a specialist one. My blood hormone was only creeping up. She made the appointment for me for Monday. Another long weekend, but now my dear sweet husband is away and he cannot envelope me in his arms and fortify me against the coming storm.

The spotting became bleeding off and on over the weekend. Fear now, not worry. I knew without a doubt that something wasn’t right. More than a question now, I was sure. But that growing baby in the swelling belly that you imagine from the moment you see that second line on the pregnancy test won’t let you listen to your instincts with clarity. It’s too frightening to contemplate that your changing body, your restricted diet, your nausea and fatigue are for nothing. They are a price you paid, for what? For admission to a collective unable to discuss their pain, their thwarted expectations, their fear of what it means about them, how they let down their lover, what they did wrong, their feelings of unworthiness, the shame?

Staring back at me that Monday afternoon was the empty sac I knew in my heart to expect. Where there should have been a developing brain, little arm buds, a visible heart, there was the same emptiness I had seen in those other terrible scans. I could wait and re-scan in two or three days. With my husband away for work, perhaps it made sense to wait but my broken heart couldn’t bear it. We scheduled a D&C for the next day. Thank God I have my mum. I walked into the hardest day of my life by myself and I had to call her and ask her to come, she was there in a heartbeat as all loving mums are. She wrapped me up in her love and compassion while she also grieved, for a grandchild who would not be and for her own child’s suffering. Having her there stopped the flood of tears and upset and I found a semblance of strength. No one should expect themselves to go through something like that alone.

I paid my price for admission to a collective that has largely been silent but is growing in it’s openness. What I found when the sad decision was made, was that there is a veritable army of women who have suffered losses and still love. Who are brimming with compassion, who care and wish to lift you up. Because when they suffered it left a mark on their soul but hope remained in their hearts and they went on to have healthy pregnancies and to become proud mummas to those squishy little bambinos. But what they see in you, or me and our loss, what they lift up in you is your motherhood. They inspire in you the courage and the confidence to try again.

I am now a week and two days on from facing a decision to allow my body to be helped along and speed up the healing of my broken heart, or to allow my body to wind things up naturally, which could mean another month or more of intermittent bleeding and a prolonged recovery, subsequently further delay in achieving a viable pregnancy. I took the help and it was through that assistance so many women were able to lift me up in my darkest hour. I was not alone. I was far from alone and many were invested in my full recovery of hope, courage and spirit. I have to say, as well as my friends many of them were women I came across during my single day in hospital. Nurses cried with me, doctors and nurses held my hand and shared their stories and helped me see mine wasn’t over.

The men in my life did a wonderful job of being compassionate and optimistic as well. I must say my dear Scott-the-Lot is full of optimism and is very much looking forward to fatherhood, he speaks about it more often now. My brothers shared their concern and did their best to reassure and comfort me and their words were some of the ones that stuck most closely to my heart.  My dad was there for me in a way only dads can, by being stoic but present and good with a hug. Of most value to me though were the men in my life that asked after how Scott was doing. These were men who had also experienced a loss or shared a difficult journey to parenthood. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we share this journey with our partners because it is our bodies but it is also their lives, their hopes, their dreams, our story. My Scott the lot is doing better than I am, he has his face shining forward and he is bundling me along with him, but I still make an effort to keep the conversation open.

So now I want to share with you that yesterday was the first day that I felt like I did before I was pregnant. My fear is that it feels too much like it never happened, that no one will know, that I will forget. I get teary when I think about having been pregnant, then not being pregnant all of a sudden without having the joy and fulfillment of a swelling belly and subsequently a wriggly bub. Suddenly it felt as though there was less that was special about me. Then I recall the women that held me up and I remember that I am one of them. I too will wear the scar on my heart and move forward boldly in the face of fear and we will try again.

I have read (of course I have “Dr Googled” EVERYTHING) that losing a pregnancy at any stage is hard. But at whatever stage you suffer a heart wrenching loss, from the moment you see those two sweet lines on a pregnancy test you go through a transformation. You and your husband or partner have hopes and expectations, you discuss baby names and what kind of child your bub will be, you think about how you’ll manage work and an infant or how you’ll tell your boss, you tell your nearest and dearest and they are so fricken excited for you and for themselves and the role they’ll get to play in your baby’s life… and those hopes cannot be taken back. Your heart will carry a sadness, a weight, a sense of loss, until it doesn’t. Until then, speak with other women and men about your loss, it’s passed the time where we should keep silent on such things. Reach out so that they may lift you up, as I was lifted up and as we should lift each other up.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.”  ~William Shakespeare

Teen Angst

Being a teenager is hard.

I am gratefully no longer a teen, far from it. But I had the joy of sorting through piles of old photo albums and journals at my parents house and couldn’t help but cringe. There is an intensity to adolescence that is only echoed lightly when we arrive at adulthood. The self criticism, comparisons with others, the DRAMA and heartbreak. My god, how did we make it through the pain and turmoil?

I was tasked with the job of clearing out space at ma and pa’s and my sweet husband was helping me with the job (because I am a hoarder and I will keep everything! Even though I haven’t laid eyes on it in more than a decade). Bizarre is a word that almost captures the experience of being in the present moment with someone who loves and accepts me completely and for whom I am supremely comfortable in my love, as we sift through poems full of grief, love lost, darkness. He lifted his head to look at me, eyes full of pain, as he read aloud a poem I had written when I was 15. He wanted to soothe that long gone pain, reach back to the days before now and take it all away.

We can’t go back, as much as we think we might want to try. We cannot give our younger selves a “heads up” that the world doesn’t work the way it appears to. We can’t take back the agonising intensely over that boy, the jealousy of that friend, the worry that every single thing you say, do, don’t say or do directly impacts those around you in strong and important ways. You can’t go back and get yourself to calm down the energy and importance you put on everybody liking you. You can’t take away the sting of rejection and fear of being outcast from the group that provides some shelter from the unknown in the great social pond. But what would life have been like if you could? Who would you be now, if you could?

These seemingly redundant questions have their uses. I garnered an appreciation for how far I have come in my personal growth. I have always felt, and indeed always will feel like I am new. That there is much to learn, and indeed there is, about ourselves, how we operate, what we need, what we aspire to, about the communities in which we live, about the species we belong to and the much more impressive natural world we occupy. But on this small little scale, this focus on the individual, where day in and day out you feel no different from any other day that has gone before, I had the blessing of recognising the ways in which I have grown, those I am consciously working on now and those areas that could still use a little more “work”.

Anxiety. I have significantly calmed the fuck down. I have opted to use the f bomb to emphasise the magnitude of this statement. I have known myself to be quite anxious from time to time and I now use that energy to drive what is important. It is not a constant experience. I am not continuously fretting about what I said or did or what might happen. From time to time, sure about things that matter. But on the whole I am much more relaxed- things will pan out as they do and we will deal with what life presents us.

Responsibility. In my drive to be liked by all I would have gone to the ends of the earth for anyone! It didn’t matter whether they were a dear friend or stranger. More than this I had a tendency to feel personally responsible for any ill fated turn of events that might have negatively impacted my loved ones. As extreme as it sounds it was so bad that I felt like I could have made the difference in the passing of a dear friend I had fallen out of touch with. I no longer feel that I am solely responsible for another persons actions, choices or well being. I have come to realise as I’ve gotten older, that one of the most respectful things you can do for your loved ones is trust that they’ve “got this” when it comes to their own lives. So now, I am much more likely to offer support and reassurance that they’ve “got this” than try to assume responsibility for circumstances beyond my control or influence (thank you Don Miguel Ruis, author of the Mastery of Love and the Four Agreements).

Friendships. I also do not bend over backwards for people that do not reciprocate. I find as I get older I have less energy to invest in relationships that aren’t a two way street. In fact I have grown a little sour when things don’t appear just and fair, and I think that plays out in my adult relationships. As a result though I am fortunate to have reciprocal friendships that bring much joy. Not the kind that wear you down because you are the only one chasing and working to keep in touch, but the comfortable sort where people seek you out and you seek them in turn. Those in which both lives are enriched by shared experience, equal and mutual regard and good will. This might sound a little soft hearted, I’ve been accused of worse, but just remember I’ve been reflecting on my teenage self and her experiences- frankly she was a bit of a door mat.

Judgement. I have always been worse with self judgement than judgement of others, but I have been naive at times and said things I wish I had not said. I can’t say why. Why do any of us do something we wouldn’t normally or wish we hadn’t? Perceived social pressure, poor communications skills, terrible conflict management skills, poor judgement, an over inflated sense of self importance, or over inflated sense of others importance… Two things, I am incredibly grateful for, are now true: I give other people more slack, we should all lay off one another and live and let live- you do not know what it is like to exist in this world for another human being so leave them alone and don’t force your perspective onto them, keep your shoehorn for those shoes you bought but shouldn’t have even though you love them, they just didn’t have your size. The second thing is that I cut myself more slack. I am still very self reflective, I will always want to do better and be better… for myself, so that I can feel good about who I am as a human being in this crack pot overly manufactured world I share. I can also take myself to town over the little shit, but I do it less. It has less of a sting and I am more and more coming from a place of que sera sera because let’s face it, no one is perfect, not the Prime Minister, not the CEO of that fortune 500 company, not my awesome boss or my parents and certainly not little old me. I am acutely aware that I am not the only critter that has influence over anything, in fact I can only take care of my own little part and the rest is up to, well everyone else.

Love. I was the worst with crushes. They would ruin me. I would become weak kneed and fall to pieces around a cute boy I fancied. Except that I only fancied two people in high school and those crushes stayed with me for a looooong time, they also got in my way for a long time. I don’t really know what to say here except that letting go as an “adult” was a long process because of the depth and intensity of those loves. The reality for me was that I was a late bloomer, completely unprepared for love until later than most, and later than it found me. I think that’s okay. There are so many pressures to pair up and be experienced in all manner of intimacies that I question the actual intimacy of those experiences. When you find someone you connect with, for the short or long term you know it. You don’t need to manufacture that it just sweeps you along. So don’t seek it out, relax and enjoy your journey, enjoy your connections but don’t force it.

Heartbreak. I had my heart broken (actually through my doing because I was just too young) at 15. It wasn’t properly broken again for another 15 years. There were certainly heartaches, confusion, breakups and life re-examining in that time, but not a heart shattering mess that leaves you bereft. Heartbreak sucks. It is hard and dirty and you say and do things that you regret only because they become the bridge you burnt to the motherfucking ground. Shit, as kind hearted as I am, when my heart was last broken I didn’t recognise myself, I was hurt and confused and angry and I expressed it in the worst possible way- in text messages to the person who did the breaking… I did however enjoy a “rediscovery of self” adventure when the dust settled 🙂 Heartbreak, after its drawn out suffering is done with, is a reset button. It is a great opportunity to look at yourself in your life and figure out what you want to be doing, where you want to be, and (if you want to) the kind of person you actually want to share this life with. It was post the last apocalyptic heartbreak that I took real stock of what I wanted and the steps I took following that lead me to my now husband, the man that feels like he was custom made to share this adventure called life with me.

What would I tell that 15 year old me if I could, or any 15 year old for that matter? You are amazing. Relax because everything is going to be just fine. Don’t worry about everyone else, they are okay and they will continue to be okay. You are not the cause of everything that is good, or bad, life happens and it is beyond your control. I want you to stop worrying about how you look, you are beautiful and you are you which is more important than I can let you know, the world needs you to be you just as you are, trust me on that. Go camping, you will love it and the world makes more sense when you are immersed in nature. Focus on your studies, they are important, you will use what you learn and the intense social focus that you have right now won’t last as long as the foundation of knowledge and the opportunities you will pursue after high school. Forget about romantic love right now, you don’t need it, just enjoy being a kid and let that come when you’re in university or have your first job, really it’s just annoying and a big distraction from living a full life. There will be trials, mistakes, accidents and pain but you’ll be okay. The world is a very big and amazing place, there is a lot to learn, explore and discover and I just know you’re going to love it. And for that 15 year old Bel- study marine biology, it isn’t all sorting through bird poop like uncle Steve said, it is so much more and you will love it.

Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, “Age and Death,” Afterthoughts, 1931

New Year, New… Nah

It is very tempting to go into the new year with high expectations for a year that looks very different to the one before it. Who doesn’t want to save those thousands that seemed to slip through the cracks last year, go for a 5 km run each morning at the crack of dawn (forget that the two times last year that you tried the first level of couch to 5k’s almost killed you and you chucked it in proclaiming loudly that there were no lions to worry about so there is no need to run…), or how about the 10 kilos you’ve been trying to shift for forever- they are definitely coming off this year right?

This year will not be any different than last year. Except that it just might. Believing blindly that you will achieve your new years resolutions puts you at greater risk of failure- because you don’t take steps to maximise your success but are rather more inclined to “tempt fate”. If you have a healthy skepticism about your ability to make healthy changes you are at an advantage. You don’t tempt yourself with that chocolate, you start more realistic incremental steps with exercise and you are likely to be more mindful about all kinds of actions in general. So my cynicism is my friend in this instance.

My plan is less of a plan and more of an approach. My wish for 2015 is to be less of a stress head and more of a thoughtful calm respond-er to all aspects of my life. I have a couple big ticket items this year that cause me to feel motivated in this: 1. I am finishing my thesis which is due in July; 2, I am getting married in August. I have a third reason to practice my thoughtful calm- I want to be one of those zen mums that you see with the most delightful, relaxed and easy going bubs because mum is so delightful, relaxed and easy going. I am going to need some practice.

I am keeping the “how” to achieve this thoughtful calm really simple and very much back to basics. Sleep- 8 hours-ish daily. Eat nutritious food daily. Move my body daily. Non-prescriptive and flexible but goal-oriented, just how I like it. I think my success will rely on my healthy skepticism, motivation, and the flexibility I’ve given myself. I’m going to be super gentle (thoughtful calm) and just do what I can manage. If I can do that, I’m already up on last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

What’s your plan of attack? Did you do a year in review for yourself and think through what you loved and what you want to leave from last year? Or are you just rolling onto 2015 and taking each day as it comes?  I’d love to hear how you have framed the new year for yourself. However it started, I wish you a happy and healthy 2015!

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits. ~Author Unknown

Right here, this moment

Hallo! How are you going? It has been a wee while and I hope you have been happy pursuing the things that matter to you.

I have a tune in my head that I am trying not to write to because I am not sure how you will interpret it and I can’t name it. In any case, I have gotten rather busy again and the balance I was seeking does not seem to have been shaken by the rapid return to full steam. I am curious about it to be honest. I feel like I could sleep for a week but aside from the shrinking minutes, tiredness is the only price I pay. For the moment…

But I have a theory that rings true and it might do for you! Ahem, stop rhyming… But what I have found that is different is this: I have been consciously staying here. Right now. This eternal moment. The one in which I am expansively infinite and the world is stunningly beautiful. This moment, the one in which the blankets warm my feet and my throat itches, the computer keys give way with a soft click beneath my finger tips and the red line breaks the black and white monotony as I occasionally mistype. The smell of old dog fart wafts in and my nose wrinkles. The smell of coffee sends that less pleasant fragrance away. The smooth porcelain of my cup touches my lips and deliciousness floods over my tongue. There is a chill on my arm and then a cool breeze tickles across my cheeks and nose and my face stretches in response to a smile as I watch my cat sleeping on the old musty blanket at the foot of my bed.

This moment. When I am not panicking about something that has already happened or trying to circumvent some imagined event in the future. The now-ness of it all is soothing. I am doing what I am doing and all else can await it’s allotted moment.

Such a vast difference from the heightened self judgy angst. You might wonder how I got here. I read books, listened to podcasts, changed my task manager system and saw someone to help develop my tool kit. It’s not perfect yet and it’s early days. Don’t get me wrong, stressy moments break through. In reality it is healthy that they do, in moderation (otherwise how will I escape a lion that wants to eat me?). Sometimes I have to work really hard to catch myself before I spiral again to that hard place where anxiety reigns. I don’t always manage it and that is okay. I consciously come back and take a deep breath and work at reclaiming my peace in this moment. I’m going to keep practicing because I have an inkling I’ll be happier for it 🙂

What are some of your tips when you feel a little overwhelmed? Or even a great deal overwhelmed? I would love to know.

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The sick day, do you feel guilty?

It has been a pretty massive couple of weeks, maybe months. And predictably I became ill. It started with exhaustion and ended in a viral infection. My gentle man also became quite ill and our different approaches to our work and our well-being became quite apparent. As I begin this sharing I can’t help but wonder how you view your health in the context of your work and your life. Ponder with me as I mosey through this topic.

I have had the blessing to work with people in a variety of health states and in each of those roles there was an emphasis on not attending work if you are sick- you do not want to compromise the immune system of someone you are providing a service to who may already be compromised. Your little cold could in fact be the cause of their passing from this life. That is an extreme, health service focused approach. There are other good reasons for not attending work when you are sick, such as not making your colleagues sick and crippling or reducing the capacity of the service.

Our work oriented culture, that makes work the center of our existence when it should merely be a means to a more life fulfilling end, celebrates the person who never takes a sick day. We hold up as hard working champions the folk who come in on their death bed because the world will surely cease to turn on it’s axis if this one person should stay home and heal.

Pfft. I do not applaud your heroism. I ask you to go home. Get well. Allow your body to regain it’s strength so that you can be everything you need to be at home, socially and at work once you are well. I do not need you at your desk, sniffly, watery eyed and unproductive trying to force yourself through your day, prolonging your recovery by expending what energy reserves you have to just show up.

You could be nurturing your body, allowing healing through rest, being gentle with yourself, and increasing your recovery time. At which point you return with the ability to perform your role, no dropping the ball, no ramifications for your work, the world continued on without you for a time, and you are back now as if you were never away.

I say this, but truth be told I continue to work when I am sick too, it just looks different because I can work from home. I have to try with all of my might to refrain from responding to emails, working on that article, making that phone call, organising my schedule… And I notice the difference that putting a ban on work makes to my energy and my recovery. This ban for me has to spread to all forms of work- chores included. I need to rest. Do gentle things like watch movies, read a book, nap. Actually rest and reserve my energy for my body to do what it needs to.

I have been watching my gentle man struggle with rest. It took a tantrum from me because he was so sick just to get him to call in sick and get to the doctor. Then he negotiated with the doctor to reduce the amount of time off he would take. After his appointment he came home and has been moving furniture around and organising “stuff” and pottering. It tires me out to see it. He just doesn’t know how to be still. To allow his body to rest. It puzzles me.

Clearly we have been taught very well to push ourselves to our limits for our work. We have been taught that we must be on our death beds to take time off. We feel guilty when we do and we need that all important doctors note to ease said guilt, and to claim more than a single day off.

We have not been taught how to prioritise our health and our well-being so that we can live our lives and contribute in all areas of them in a quality way. How about you take the time to get well so that you are not miserable, sick and tired at work where you have to perform. How about, if you must, you see that you are not able to do your best work while sick and by giving yourself the time to heal you get back to maximum creativity and productivity sooner. How about you take the time for you to get well because you are important, your health matters and no one would want you to suffer longer than is absolutely necessary.

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”  ~Irish Proverb