Friday 4 January 2019

Not the answers of life or the universe

Recently, I have been asked why I don't write here anymore. The truth is I don't really write anywhere, anymore. Why? Well there are probably lots of reasons, but guess what? I just wrote that, so I guess I am writing. So I guess there's no reason to overthink things.

I'm almost six months into being 42 - being, of course, the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything (according to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Yet, in a lot of ways I feel like I have the answers to almost none of the questions. In fact I have less answers at 42 than I did at 41. Maybe that's the wisdom that comes from age, knowing that you, in fact, know nothing.

Being the fourth day of a new year always brings a look at what you've done over the past year and hoping of what you want to achieve in the coming year. I have a suspicion that this is going to be a challenging year. I don't know why, it's just a feeling. I'm always an optimist, so I believe that challenge will bring its rewards as well. It's just that life will always throw challenges, it's our job to navigate through them as unscathed as possible.

One thing I have noticed recently that has become a seemingly constant in my world (or at least my social media world) is being bombarded with people telling me I need to have/do/be this that or the other to be happy/successful/worthwhile. Mostly, I tick none of the boxes they're suggesting I should tick. Sometimes I think that maybe I should stop being lazy and be like these people living 'their best lives', but before I can drain the dregs of my cold coffee, there's another post announcing the crippling guilt/anxiety/exhaustion these same people are feeling.

We seem to need to be ON all the time and I know there are people out there who thrive on this. I am definitely not one of them. Being busy doesn't make me happy. Especially being busy with simply being busy. I think the biggest lesson I've learnt in recent months is that for me to feel good I need to fill my cup with things that makes my heart sing.

I don't know what these things are for you, but for me it's:

Reading a good book
Getting lost in the pages of book is a wonderful thing. So many people tell me they aren't readers, or they read things they feel they 'should' read. Personally, I think all self-help, life manuals and the like should be left on the shelves. You can learn far more about yourself and your life in the pages of a cracking yarn. Reading to your child is just as important and lovely. Picking up the tale from where you left off the night before is fun for all of us. For me, it's far better for my kids' minds than any homework or tutoring could ever be. If you don't do any other reading than reading to your kids, well then that's OK.

Eating a good meal
Food is incredibly important to me. I've recently realised food is a big way in how I express my love and gratitude. Cooking a good meal for my family most nights (definitely not every night), having friends over for a meal is how I show that I care. I often hear people saying that going to the trouble of cooking is something they really don't enjoy, but for me food not only one of our base needs, it's also one of life's great pleasures. So feeding myself, my friends and family with something delicious that is going to sustain them and create a memory is a privilege. It doesn't have to be fancy, just real food -  good for you and delicious.

Watching a good film
I have always loved movies. So much so that I spent many years wanting to make movies. I even studied film at uni. Somewhere along the way I stopped watching movies (or at least I was only watching kids' movies), recently I've made the time to watch movies and go to the cinema again. Sure, I could watch hours of The Hills but it doesn't 'feed my soul'. It's like eating Pringles for dinner, tasty at the time but not satisfying in the long term. I recently re-watched Brokeback Mountain and was reminded how beautifully directed and shot it was. Watching movies again has made me extremely happy. Funny how something so seemingly insignificant can mean so much.

Singing loudly
Singing while your work, shower, drive, clean, whatever. Sing loudly. Not mindless humming, singing. It makes me feel alive.

Listening to radio/podcasts, good interviews with people telling their stories makes me happy. There's an intimacy you get with radio that you don't get with any other medium. Listening to something while I drive or walk the dog is the best. My favourites at the moment are Alec Baldwin's Here's the Thing (he talks about and to old Hollywood people a lot which I love) and ABC's Conversations.

I feel weird writing this because I really don't like exercising. The thought of it, the actual doing it, I don't enjoy. Even talking about it is boring. The feeling immediately after and the feeling after doing regular consecutive really is good for me physically and mentally. No doubt.

These are the small weird human things that make me feel life is OK. Sure they're not huge life goals or achievements, but little things that put joy into my day. What are the things that put a glow of good feeling in your chest?

Thursday 3 January 2019

Everything I am, everything I'm not

I've been asked recently why I stopped writing, and to be honest, I'm not really sure. To dip my toe in once again, here is something I wrote almost two years ago and never published. I'm not quite sure why I didn't. 

I remember when Lil-lil was a week old, I held her in my arms as she screamed her little lungs out, her face beet red with anger. I clearly remember thinking "My god, I've broken her. It was going to happen eventually but this must be a world record, one week and I've already stuffed her up!"

Now with hindsight, I know these were the thoughts of a brand-new sleep deprived mum who had dreams of having the perfect child. What I didn't know then, but I do now, is that she was perfect and she still is. She has faults, some she was born with, and no doubt some I've probably given her. But she's perfect. She's so like me in so many ways, and in so many ways she's not.

She's long and she's gangly and she's all arms and legs, which I've never been and will never be. But she lives in her head, just like me. She talks to herself, just like I do. She's quiet and shuts down and thinks that her thoughts some times controls the world, just like me. All she wants is the romantic ideal of life, just like me.

Then there's Goosey. She's fiery and angry, not like me. She's more determined than anyone, not like me. She's full of self-belief, not like me. But she's compassionate, she's empathetic, and she knows her feelings affect those around her. She worries and feels and takes things on. She'll act to change if she can.

Then there's Darbs. Calm and controlled and funny and full of charm, not like me. Affectionate and kind and insightful beyond his years. Oh so secure. I told him tonight: "I love you more than anything!" and his reply: "Even more than your great-great- grandfather?" He's the most trusting soul I've ever come across and that in some ways reminds me of me. Maybe it's a third child thing. You just know there's some kind of safety net waiting to catch you.

I remember hearing my whole life "Try your best, that's all you can ask for." Until today, I think that's always been a bit of a cliche or a platitude. Try your best. That's for losers. I saw my girls run the cross country and they tried, their absolute best. I saw how much they were hurting and they didn't give up. I saw how much they wanted to give up and they didn't. I'm not afraid to say I welled up. I've never been prouder. Sure they didn't win, but as far as I'm concerned they did.
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