Thursday, March 29, 2012

Living Deliberately

When I was in my final two years of high school, I had the most amazing English teacher. She inspired me at every single lesson, she helped make English my favourite subject. I’m not sure I can even describe WHY exactly she inspired us – all I know is that I strived to produce better work each and every week, in order to gain her approval and praise.

I looked forward to those English classes more than any other – I connected with it in a way that I didn’t with any other class. I was fired with imagination, I loved the language, the literature, the concepts. I remember that we studied books like “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and “Twelve Angry Men”. I don’t remember things I studied in any other class, but I remember some of my English lessons quite well. I know that a lot of us in that class felt the same way. 

Our teacher never played favourites, as long as we put in the work, we were all treated with the same level of respect.

Sometimes she would laugh and talk about how at home she would put on some classical music, turn the volume right up, and set about vacuuming her whole house to the strains of Vivaldi, or Beethoven at full volume. I could picture myself doing something like that (although at the time I would have been listening to The Cure, not classical music). She imparted valuable knowledge onto me, I learned so much. I respected her, and I could also relate to her – I guess that’s the mark of a great teacher.

One thing that has really stuck out in my memory from that final year, was when we studied the movie “Dead Poets Society”, I have always remembered this quote:

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Henry David Thoreau

I love the notion of “living deliberately”. Living with purpose. Lately I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot – this is how I want to live. Not simply putting one foot in front of the other. Not simply existing; paying the bills, doing housework, hanging out washing, marking time.

Of course I want to be the best mum that I can be. At the moment though, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in the Sea of my ‘To-Do’ list. Having two little ones at home has its challenges of course, and its all to easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and to feel like nothing is getting done. When the reality of course is that nothing is more important than nurturing and shaping my littlies so that they feel safe, secure and loved beyond measure.

I want to strive to make the most of each day. I want to give these kids the best damn childhood that anyone could wish for. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to spoil them with material things, but we are going to spoil them with LOVE. We’re going to spoil them with experiences, family camping trips, day trips to the beach, picnics in the backyard, cubby houses under the dining table. Dancing around together like mad things, just because its fun. Running around and being silly in the rain, not caring about getting mud on our clothes – just because. Wearing our “good” clothes around the house because it makes us feel nice - and not saving them for special occasions (and then growing out of them before we get to wear them).  Doing things because it makes us feel happy.

Also - saying “I love you” regularly… my own family were never very good at this (and still aren’t, sadly – even though I KNOW that we all love each other, we have never verbalized it) so I’m making up for that with my own children. They will never have to wonder if they are loved, or feel starved for cuddles or public displays of affection, they are hearing it, and experiencing it all the time - right now, every day.

When I look back on the memories of my childhood, the things that I remember most, the things that give me the warmest, fuzziest feelings, are the simple things. Things like helping dad wash the caravan when I was 5, the family camping holiday that always got rained out, so that we were all wet and cold but oh so happy.  The four of us travelling around in the caravan on our holidays, seeing the sights.  Or learning to play Canasta with my dad, and ending up always beating him.  Riding a spare mattress like a sled down the stairs, ending in a great laughing heap at the bottom.  Or the great Lego cities that my brother and I always built, using our imagination to create elaborate epic stories to go with them.

I dont care (or even remember) if we had the fanciest TV or not, or the best or worst house, or the nicest or daggiest car.  I remember the fun, happy times.

So what I’m trying to say is that I want to stop and smell the roses, to stop and consider how the simple, small things are what makes us happy – not more money, not the big, flashy, expensive, material things. Things like the first coffee of the morning. Having a great hair day or getting a good nights sleep. Little things like appreciating your husband for filling the petrol tank up for you (one of those jobs I HATE!), or giving your children random cuddles, just because they were standing there.  I am going to deliberately make an effort every day to make happy memories for me and my family.

I am all too familiar with stressing about the small stuff – I’ve spent the vast majority of my life doing it, and often it can sap you of energy and leave you feeling like a deflated balloon. So this is going to take a conscious effort on my part. But with practice, it will become as easy as breathing.

Take a look around now – there are SO many things to be grateful for!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

So last week I received a lovely surprise from Francesca that she had nominated me for the Leibster Blog Award!  Thank you so much Francesca!

A little about The Leibster Award:

It is given to blogs with less than 200 followers and passed from Blogger to Blogger, each hand picked by the previous recipient.  (Liebster apparently means “favourite” or “dearest” in German.)

When one accepts the award they agree to:

Thank the person who gave them the award and link back to that person’s blog

Copy and paste the award to their blog

Reveal the next 5 blogs they have chosen to receive the award, commenting on their blog to break the happy news!

And lastly, hope the artists nominated will do the above and keep the award going by accepting and awarding “The Liebster Blog Award” to 5 special bloggers that they too would like to honor.

So here are my 5 blog picks:

At home with Kristy: I have been following Kristy for quite a few years now, and I love reading about her growing her own vegetables (something I've tried and failed at numerous times!), raising her chooks and ducks, and transforming her backyard into something she had dreamed about for a long time... nothing like going achieving what you set out to!

Life as I see it: Magda is a fellow fitness blogger that I've also been following for a few years. What I really love about Magda's blog is that she tells it how it is, the good and the bad, and I really appreciate her honesty, some days I can SOOO relate to those bad days!

• Kristin's blog:  I have worked with Kristin at IBO for the last couple of years, and naturally follow her blog too. Kristin always inspires me to try new things, both fitness and nutrition related, and its always good to catch up on what she’s been doing.

Pips Adventures: Pip’s is another blog I enjoy reading – I have met Pip a couple of times now and reading her blog is like catching up with a friend to hear all the latest happenings.

Lia Halsall's "I'm finally figuring it out" blog - Lia – a fitness blogger who has just been on a fabulous trip to New York, I love reading about travel (and fitness!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The postman, toenails and a good book

This week I'm loving:

Anticipating the postman

Oh god I love the postman. Not the regular one who delivers the mundane letters, those dreaded bills in window-faced envelopes, no – I’m talking about the one that brings all the parcels and goodies from near and far. I love the anticipation that comes after buying something online, knowing that today could be the day. Is that sad?

It doesn't even have to be anything particularly exciting, I get all happy knowing that I've got some pre-loved baby clothes, or some doggy name tags coming.

I am an eBay addict. Enough said.

Painting her toenails

There comes a time in every little girls life when she wants to be just like mummy and do what mummy does. Personally, I never go without nail polish – fingers OR toes, so its no big thing to me, and its such a simple little gesture. Nothing makes Skye feel more like a “big girl” than painting her toenails. We do them in a very pale pink, and she’s very careful to sit still while I’m doing them, and afterwards too – because she doesn’t want to smudge them.  And then there is the delight in showing those cute little toenails to daddy when he gets home… all evening he gets “Look daddy! Look! Look at my toenails daddy!”.

Love making my baby girl feel all girly.

A Good book

Oh I rarely get much time to read these days, but I just love kicking back with a good book! These days I try to find at least 15 minutes each day to sit down and relax with a novel, to take myself away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and give my batteries a brief recharge.

Reading a good story is like a balm for the soul, and when I don’t get to read for a few days I start to feel somewhat unfulfilled. I have a huge bookcase full of books, and I’ve read almost all of them. Most of them have been read over and over. My mum doesn’t understand this – to her, once you know the story, why would you want to read it again? You know what happens!

To me though, the whole point of reading and immersing yourself in a story is not to find out how the tale ends, but to lose yourself between the pages. When it’s a beautiful story and told well, I don’t actually read ‘words’ – my mind starts playing out the story as if I’m watching a movie. My imagination takes over and I know what each character looks like, I can visualise every minute detail. I can lose myself for hours in a book this way. I’ve spent whole days languishing in a book.

Reading a beloved book is like slipping between the sheets of a comfortable bed – relaxing, joyous, you can stretch out and look around and see things that you hadn’t noticed before, and lose yourself in other worlds.

I’ve just finished re-reading “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory – absolutely delicious. The movie was good, the book is a thousand times better. I then spent 10 minutes standing in front of my bookcase, trying to decide which world I'm going to venture into next.  Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sunday night thoughts - feeling lucky

Every day, I try to make sure that I remind myself just how lucky I am. I have a lovely home, a car, clothes to wear and food to eat, and I’m lucky enough to be able to stay home with my babies while my husband works.

The reason I try to remind myself of this, is because I’m a born-worrier, a natural pessimist, and I’m always fearful of something terrible happening that will burst my bubble.

Lately I’m especially grateful for the fact that I have two, happy, healthy, beautiful kids.

When I was pregnant with Koby, I lived in fear that something would go wrong, despite all the assurances that I was a very low-risk pregnancy, despite all the reassurances from various medical staff, nothing could take away my fear.

Although I REALLY disliked being pregnant, I’m super conscious of the fact that I’m lucky to be able to fall pregnant, especially with my PCOS. I know quite a few friends who have struggled, or are still struggling to fall pregnant, rounds of failed IVF etc, only to suffer multiple miscarriages and heartache.

One day I accidentally stumbled upon an online forum for parents dealing with the grief of stillbirth, and my heart absolutely broke reading those stories. I cannot imagine carrying a child all that time – some carrying full-term, only to lose them when they are born. The happiest day of your life turning into a nightmare. Spending the hours and days after the birth cuddling your baby who had passed away. I cant imagine having to go through that. The loss and grief, returning to a house that was expecting a baby, only to be confronted with an empty bassinette, empty car seat, empty pram…

I sat there reading, tears falling down my face, fearing something that like that might happen to us, my heart going out to these families dealing with the loss of their little angels.

It turned into a bit of a habit with me – reading those forums, and it consequently fed my fear of what might happen when Koby arrived. I went through all those worries that I’m sure all mums feel when pregnant, those days when bub doesn’t move as much as previously, and you wonder if everything is ok – to the point where you deliberately eat something sugary to see if that will spur some movement from the little munchkin inside the belly.

I just cant quite beat down the voice of the eternal pessimist that lives inside me.

Of course my fears were unfounded, and Koby was born healthy and perfect. But I’m very aware that I’m lucky, and I still count my lucky stars.

Its staggering to think that the rate of stillbirth is so high. 1 in 135 births in Australia. That’s 6 babies a day. That is massive. Sometimes the cause seems to be the umbilical cord wrapped around the babys neck, this gives me shivers because Koby’s cord was looped loosely around his neck. I’m sure that’s common, but it still makes you count your blessings.

And it really makes me realise that all life, no matter what obstacles are in our way, no matter what life throws at us, is absolutely the most precious thing imaginable. The love you feel for your children, your significant other, pets, your family, is the most important thing in the world – and I really feel that I must stop and smell the roses every single day. I must be thankful and grateful for every moment - not only just the smiles, the milestones and the cuddles, but also the temper tantrums, the nappy explosions, the sleepless nights... because some people just arent so lucky. 

My two precious little monkeys!