Tuesday, May 31, 2011

shut up

ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife...

Somewhat ironic to be using a blog - the home of opinion and freedom to express - to pontificate on the benefits of shutting up, but there it is...

I often joke, semi-seriously, that my maxim for life is that it is easier to seek forgiveness than to ask permission.  I have to say, that mostly, that works for me.  Mainly because I have this annoying habit - oops, I mean underdeveloped skill - of saying or doing what comes to me, rather than spending a whole lot of time planning and thinking before acting.  On the other hand, I truly excel at looking back in retrospect and agonising with great embarrassment over why I did or said something!  (this is usually followed by afore mentioned seeking of forgiveness, or even more rash act as vain attempt to assuage guilt for first rash act!).

And I talk for a living, pretty much, so I've well and truly got in the habit of sharing what's in my head and heart. (Although don't be decieved..I might be noisy but I am still a pretty private person).

So, what's to be done about it.  I think the realisation I've come to is that rather than jumping in boots and all - and consequently coming across as scary redhead girl, I probably just need to learn to shut up more.

Which brings me to the second irony...people tell me stuff.  I delight in sharing peoples trials and tribulations.  And I know things that I wish I didn't.  There are husbands of friends that I can't look in the eye.  Damn, there are FRIENDS I sometimes can't look in the eye!!! That said,  I love that people feel safe to tell me things. And know that they won't go any further than me.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  So, I figure that at least some of the time I must be good at listening - ergo, good at shutting up.

So how come, when zipping it is most crucial, I can't help but share?  Yep, I can wear my heart on my sleeve - it will probably be to my eternal detriment that I'm not a game player...I'm told that this is the way of the world and most people like a little challenge, especially in the male/female relationship arena.  I also have a loathing of broken relationship - I truly cannot bear being on the wrong side of a friend, or having unresolved conflict - hence my tendency to over analyse and often be the first to seek restitution (sometimes before the dust is even settled).  

What's the right course of action here?  Should we be honest...transparent...and forthright...or is it sometimes better to be reticent and even taciturn at times?

Should I just learn to shut up?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

boys and girls come out to play

The conversation turned, as oft it does in the company of single men and women, to the ins and outs (or more specifically highs and lows...) of relationships.
It meandered through the usual semi-serious desparaging remarks about our qualities and attractiveness, post 40.  We laughed at some insights, compared war stories, made broad generalisations on the state of male/female relationships.
The question arose: could men have women for friends without benefits...or without the complications of growing/continued emotional attachment? Could women in vice versa?
Opinions were sharply divided.  Interestly, one woman said, absolutely not - either the ones you wanted to grow potential never did, or the ones you weren't interested in made unwelcome moves.

Another said, yes it's possible.  The man in the group said, yes, of course, many of my friends are women.

I've had this conversation with so many people.  It occurred to me that in my immediate circle of friends (not counting those of new acquaintance), I am the only single.  in the wider 'single friends' group, there is pretty much men only (in fact just one other female friend).  Which says to me, yes, men and women CAN be friends.  The spark that's needed to grow and enjoy friendship doesn't necessarily have to translate into anything more...even though sometimes that is nice, and desirable.

I am glad my kids see me having friendship with both men and women.  They love my male friends - possibly more than the 'mummy' friends actually (so much more fun, less growling, more play).

I really enjoy male company - it's a different dynamic to time with the girls...

What do you think?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

a feast for the senses

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; 

for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, 
the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
William Blake

Cool rain on warm ground
Coffee just-made
Hot buttered toast
These things I love to smell

Strong shoulders
expensive cotton sheets
warm dough ready for kneading
These things I love to touch

Kids playing
The faint sound of music growing louder as I draw close to a party
spontaneous singing, just for the joy of it
These things I love hearing

Glossy magazines
Photographs of those I love
These things I love to look at

Dark dark chocolate, melting on my tongue
First kisses
Raspberries straight from the garden
These things I love tasting

The smell of my children, fresh from a bath
The taste of home baking, still warm from the oven
The sight of a sunrise, viewed from my bed
The feel of a hug, encompassing me
The sound of laughter, unabandoned

These things nourish my soul

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a freakin' nightmare

All my life i have been plagued by bad dreams.

Those horrible, wake up gasping for breath, feeling sweaty ones. Often scary. Sometimes I remember the 'story' but often I don't, it's just an overhang of emotions.

I'm a really bad sleeper anyway, so to be woken by a bad dream is salt in the wound for me.

I've tried everything...pills and potions, staying awake longer, going to bed earlier, dark room, light room, quiet, noise, different pillows and blankets, even counselling etc etc etc etc etc. Alllargely to no avail. Doesn't help me sleep any better and none seem to stop bad dreams for long.

I absolutely hate waking from a bad dream and being on my own. really hate it.

I hate waking every 20 minutes or so (I know, I've timed it....).

What I have realised though, is that the dreams seem to happen when i have an unidentified stress in my head. I can feel it tugging at the back of my mind now, but can't figure out what it is I'm actually stressed about. Sheesh, it's enough to make you lose sleep over it!

Tips anyone?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a letter to my 18 year old self

Dear Susan,
(I promise you will never ever ever be called Sue)

There's a fad doing the rounds on the internet at the moment. It's where women write letters to their 15 year old selves, giving sage advice and reminding themselves how wonderful life could be for them, if only they would listen to their own words.

I figure you didn't really need much advice at 15, in fact not sure that at 18 you are going to even want to listen, but I'm going to take the chance to remind you of some of the things you're going to learn in the next 10 years....

1. The next time you are made to feel stupid, walk away! There's lots of people who think you are not very bright and that's their loss. Just because you chose to work rather than go to university, doesn't mean you weren't capable of it. You might never do any full time study, but that's ok. Just make the most of all the courses and workshops you're going to be sent on over the next few years. Follow your passions...write when you want to write. Don't when you don't. Keep it all - you'll wish you had!

2. A few more think you are way too bossy and opinionated - well they are right actually, but hang on to that. Having such a strong sense of self is going to keep you out of trouble. It probably wouldn't hurt for you to be a bit less forthright when sharing those 'big beliefs' - not everyone is as ardent as you about what they believe in.

3. grab every opportunity that comes your way. some things will only happen once in your lifetime. Soon, the Berlin wall is going to come down and you are going to wish for the rest of your life that you went over to be there when it happened. You're going to get a chance to live in another country, in another culture, and you should embrace that and saturate yourself in the experience for as long as you are able.

4. Just because their aren't any 'lady bank managers' now, doesn't mean you can't do it. Right now, a career is the last thing on your mind. Which is great - work hard, earn money and go and see the world. And know that one day, you can come back and make a real impact on the lives of the people you work with and for.

5. Be kind to yourself. One day, trust me, you're going to LOVE your red hair.

Yes, you're probably going to starve yourself and overeat and never be happy with how you look. Let it go. Respect your body, and your mind. Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Surround yourself with people who love you and build you up. WALK AWAY from the stupid boys that will feed you all kinds of rubbish to salve their own insecurites.

Above all, Do what you love. Hang on to what you beleive to be right and true.
Take joy in the fact that those who are your closest friends now, still will be in 25 years.
That which saddens, and maddens youknow,still will.
All those things that make your heart sing - still will.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

gathering round the table

It's been quite some time since I blogged about things spiritual.

This morning I went to the 10 year birthday celebration of mainly music running at a church in town. I used to go to this church as a 'young person'...went there for 10 years give or take. I have visited on occasion since, but not been to a service there since 1990.

In the ten years I attended, I got pretty involved - youth group member, then leader. in the band. leading bible study. discipling and being discipled. part of model Christian couple (what a joke but not a topic for this blog!). And yet I never really felt 'part of things'. Can't say why, maybe because I wasn't a 2nd or 3rd generation attendee...maybe because in all that time I personally felt a bit of a phony? I certainly walked the walk and talked the talk. But in the generation above me I often felt I was a bit invisible, and even in my peer group, I felt a bit on the outer - a bit different, certainly way uncooler than them.

So, going back, it was not without a little trepidation. I walked in and felt at home. So far so good. Lots of people greeted me warmly. There were many familiar faces, and lots of new ones.

I watched the children stand on the stage and sing. I sang along with the worship band. I listened to the sermon - even could agree with most of what was said.


Yes, there had to be a but...a big butt:)
It was time for communion/Lords Supper/Breaking of bread/eucharist.

An announcement was made: This ceremony is for Christians. It's for people who love Jesus. It's for people who go to this church. If you don't, or aren't, that's fine, just pass it to the next person. Similarly, when the offering basket comes around, if you are not from this church, then pass it on, you don't have to put any money in.

Excuse me???? Show me where in the Bible it says that 'Christians' are the only ones to take bread and wine. Show me where it says you can only do this if you regularly attend the church you happen to be sitting in. Tell me where it says, that if you regularly attend church, you should be giving them money.

I remember now why I left.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

care to dance?

21 reasons I love to go dancing...

I get to wear great shoes

Once a week, for two hours, I get to think about nothing but me

The music simply makes me feel terrific

It's a great way to exercise

I get treated like a girl...or is that a lady:)

It's like Prom night, once a month, every month

I get to wear gorgeous shoes

Dancers have lots of energy - I love that

I forget I used to be the shortsighted fat redhead

It's just damn good clean fun

I have an excuse to get dressed up

Every song is a great song to dance to

There's always someone who wants to dance with me

I can have a great night out with no hangover

Did I mention the shoes?

It doesn't matter how old, or fat, or young or thin you are, it's still great fun

A great lighting system makes everyone look 10 years younger

It's a great night out for hardly any $$$

There's always someone new to dance with

And there's always some new moves to learn

Oh, and I get to wear really really great shoes! :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

50 and fabulous

It is almost 5 years since my first blog, and this one counts as my fiftieth missive. (The picture of the coffee cup is deceiving - it's not me that's 50:))

I reckon I've had a quite a journey over that time...my original intention was to share my wit and wisdom about small business and small people. It's been a moveable feast that's for sure. (oh and i even have been asked by someone to guest blog on a foodblog, a truly moveable feast!) I've become a bit more focussed and committed to posting of late, yet, (unsurprisingly for me, really!) still seem to find plenty to go on about.

Today, as I work at my computer, in front of the heater, a dull and cold day outside, I am feeling extremely grateful for my work from home job, my cosy house, oh, and my handy location to cafe and school. I need to venture out soon to the office (that's about 5 metres across my back lawn) and even that isn't very appealing, let alone the 200 metre trip to the mail box I need to make as well!

I love the culture of micro business, of philanthropic venture, and of downshifting. They all work for me. I had a wonderful time living in some of the worlds great cities (London, Tokyo, Christchurch:)!), and a sparkling career for a multinational. But given the opportunity to go back to that - not in a million! Sure, the money was great, it was exciting and challenging, but as I spoke of yesterday, I think I am glad to have those great memories as just that - an age and stage, possibly yet to be returned to, but probably not.

I live in a very small town, where everyone, literally, knows each other. Kids are in and out of each others houses. There's almost always time to chat at the school gate, or the little supermarket. Lots of people walk or bike around the place. We know all the dogs that go past, even the rubbish collectors are familiar faces. There's always something happening, something to join in with. There's a strong sense of belonging here.

My wages are, frankly, pretty tragic, but I like working for the organisations I do. The hours are awesome (most of the time), all my jobs are fairly kid friendly - that's the work from home aspect, and each role has an aspect of philanthropy and community wellbeing that really resonates with me.

I stand by my claim that one must do the things that make our heart sing. Maybe that's the job, the business, the career. Maybe having that job allows us to do the things that really make us sing when we're not at work. Either way, a sense of peace and satisfaction goes a long way towards making our days just that little bit brighter - especially on the cold/I've overslept/I've overspent/I've overeaten days!

At almost half way through the year, I looked at my list of resolutions and goals (the one I didn't publish here...). I'm doing ok as it turns out. I like having things to aim for, and I do believe that writing things down makes us much more likely to focus and ultimately achieve the things we want to.

Yep, at the risk of sounding smug, I'd have to say, that despite the HUGE highs and lows of the past 5 years and the total change of direction (more than once) I'm pretty satisfied with life.

Are you? What makes your heart sing?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

letting go

I watched 'drop dead diva' last night.

Actually I watch it most weeks. The theme is irritatingly repetitive - once thin model girl dies and turns into fat career girl. will her otherlife boyfriend fall in love with her again or won't he? can she be happy being a fat career girl?

But last night, one line really did resonate with me. As Jane is thinking of her previous life (it's birthday time) she realises she has to move on from who she no longer is. The line? 'perhaps in order to move on I have to let go'.

Not terribly deep perhaps - or even an original idea, but I liked it. It is SO easy to hang on to the past, even a crappy past, because it's what we know and love (or want to love). It's so easy to spend time thinking of how things might have been, should have been or could have been.

But how liberating to literally loosen our grip on that stuff that can't be changed, and instead point those same fingers in a new direction. I think letting things 'be', however they were is hard...I don't pretend to know even how to begin...and it certainly doesn't mean that what is in the past, or even the now, is not important or valuable or impactful.

But, I figure to hang on tight to the past means it's impossible to even turn and look at the future let alone embrace it.

I choose to let go.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

blogging on blogging

I've been blogging, on and off for nearly 5 years. Things have changed - my life has changed, beyond anything I could have imagined really.
I've started reading other blogs, I'm even on a blogroll (www.kiwimummyblogs.co.nz)

I love being able to surf through blogs of others, getting insights into peoples lives (yes some might consider it slightly stalkerish, or voyeuristic I suppose, but people who blog know they are sharing details of their lives in a public forum).

What fascinates me most is how we can read these public personas and so often feel a kinship with a complete stranger. Perhaps their take on life is similar to ours, or they are going through some kind of experience that we have shared (or we'd like to have for ourselves). As I mentioned in a previous blog, there is an uncanny sense of intimacy in reading anothers thoughts and sharing back ones own.

Some writers are deliberately provocative in their topics and opinions. Some just share the minutae of their daily lives. Others pick the big issues to dissect and ruminate over.

For all that I share myself, in fact I am quite a private person. Not shy, not even reserved really, but it is I think, a small and exclusive membership to the club of people who really know me.

I wonder, how transparent should we be when blogging? How much information is too much information? Are there things that you would really like to know about your favourite bloggers? Or maybe things you really wish you didn't? Does it matter?

Monday, May 16, 2011

extreme weather conditions

Well this is a first for me...feeling I don't really know what to talk about here. Not because I have nothing to say (yeah right!!!) but because there's so much to think about.
It's been a week of real highs and lows for my little family.
As I mentioned in my last post, I had a mentally and physically exhausting week last week. 4 meetings, about 30 hours of work, 800 km of driving, and the usual day to day stuff. whew! But also it was tinged with some sadness. Last Wednesday a good friend moved away - a long way away and I will miss her. There was a funeral - a good mate of FDH who died unexpectedly and tragically, leaving children, a partner, a business. Yesterday, it was time to say goodbye to another wonderful friend and her family who are moving, also quite far away, to explore new opportunities.
the Dancing Queen was in tears, the laughing engineer took it all in his stride. She had an argument with the friend only minutes before our goodbyes, and when you're 8, that's pretty huge. She 'didn't want to talk about it' and just wanted to 'get over it'...through the tears and self recriminations.
And the highs...well they were highs all right. Dance party on Friday night, so so much fun and more so with every week as I slowly improve and get more confident with being flung around a dance floor. Saturday I was on my feet, as door person at the Ceroc Champs, from midday to midnight - and the time just flew. Absolutely astounding dancers, a wonderful friendly atmosphere and the night ended on a high when several of my dancing friends received trophies.
The club owners are amazing and worked like mad to make the weekend the success it was.

I think I've had about 8 hours sleep since Thursday....not helped by the galeforce winds, and accompanying rain that pounded the windows last night (remind me again why I live under a mountain on the west side of NZ...). But coffee is beautiful, and my intray is empty.

I'm goin' shopping:)

Friday, May 13, 2011

feeling thingy

Tonight was one of those proud moments in a mother's life that remind us why we do it all.

I've had, frankly, a stoopid week. I've clocked up over 500 km in the car since Monday and it's only Thursday. I've juggled work for two jobs, attended 3 meetings, and spend a heap of time on running-around-for-kids stuff. My head has pounded mercilessly (no matter how much coffee I drink it just won't stop....) and my normal insomnia (I wake about every 40 minutes) has increased to lying away counting coffee cups (I mean, sheep, obviously). My floor hasn't been vacuumed since Saturday - aaargh this is me we're talking about remember. Son commented today as he got in the bath having unsuccessfully tried to stuff his clothes in the washbasket, 'gee Mum, it's about time you did some washing!'. I've had lunch with two friends this week (lovely), a brief coffee with another (also lovely although way too short!), and had fleeting conversations with my parents. I need, I think, around 4.25 hours extra each day and then I'd be about right...

I'm still ever so slightly, just a tiny bit, marginally and nominally a bit sore about the stuff I blogged on last week. I have heard several people, when I mention this is my 'childfree' weekend approach, sign enviously and say 'oh I wish I could have some of those'. (A topic for another blog perhaps, but I often think, yeah well, I wish I could have a real family one like you have...)

But tonight, as I watched my beautiful daughter on stage, singing her heart out with 500 odd other primary aged kids, I was fit to burst. As was her Nana, and her best friend, who I brought along to the concert.

There is nothing as uplifting as kids singing. In the words of a friend, it made me feel all 'thingy' - know what I mean?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

feeling Pollyanna

Yesterday we all slept in. everyone had a bad nights sleep and so I was reluctant to get out of bed myself, let alone wake the children. It was almost luxurious, lying in bed on a weekday until 8.30 am.
Until, the reality of having to be out of the house and at school by 9 am hit.
On the upside, with only 25 minutes to do everything, I only had to shout once...

Last night there was a storm. Well, heavy rain, but when you're eight it feels like a storm...I was up. and down. and up. and down. we lost special doll at 4 am. cold feet at 5 am. finally back to sleep at 5.30.
On the upside, the kids were happy to mooch in bed until 8.30 again, so I got a cup of coffee at a reasonable temperature.

I got back the school photos this week - you know those ones we pay way way too much for and are invariably disappointed with, the bland blue background and slightly turned head of each child nicely contrasting their cheesy smiles and highlighting the grease stain on their shirt that you never notice in normal light? $70 for a pile of photos that really aren't a whole lot nicer than something I could take myself.
On the upside, that's Mother's Day, Fathers Day and birthdays for whanau taken care of for 2011.

This week I have worked my ass off (well not literally, as nice as that might be). It's !@#!! hard work juggling 2 jobs and 2 kids. And more work from my erstwhile job arrived last night too. My diary has appointment over appointment and I'm anticipating a $150 petrol bill coming up for next week.
On the upside, at least I can justify all the money I spent on those shoes last week...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

i'm over it

i'd like to think that i can take some (humble, obviously) pride in the fact that i go with the positive over the negative in my blogs.
well, today, not feelin' so positive.
Actually, that's not quite true. Today, I am over the being less-than-positive and on the up of the bell curve again (or what ever graph would apply in this case), but i'm still slightly, just ever so slightly miffed and in the mood for a moan.

As some of my regular readers may know, I'm a sole parent. Actually that's a stupid term.. (I'm over it topic No.1!!)....I parent on my own in my own house for most of the time. But the children have an interested and committed Dad that I co-parent with. True he lives elsewhere, so the day to day grind is my pleasure alone, but on the big stuff, we share responsibility. So I'm on the look out for a new term...single parent? well, I'm single and I parent, but eeeww, sounds like a tragic '70's term. Solo-mum is even worse, sheesh at the risk of generalising (and I NEVER do that...), I'd sound like the woman who sits around in her trackies, drinking coffee an screeching 'don't you effing swear at me you little brat'! Co-parent? Nope, still not quite right...

Anyway, I'm over it. Perhaps I shall invent a new word, post it on Urban Dictionary, and save myself the trouble of writing a whole novel?

On to to Over it No 2. Slightly connected. Had a great night out with a bunch of friends last week. All pretty much fit those revolting labels: sole parent, part-time parent, single, formerly married, mid life (starting to feel nauseous....) We're all at similar life stages and yet in some ways in vastly different places. ANYWAY, great friends, great time, great conversation. I spend much of the evening in private self congratulation at my excellent choice of friends and, further, my ability to straddle the male/female friendship abyss.

Until....I reflect that in my excellence at maintaining a fairly sound bridge over said abyss I have also inadvertently collected a number of 'hot' friends. More than just the aforementioned group, and I'm beginning to think that outside of coupledom (could i say coup-hell or would that just make me sound cynical...) I'm batting a bit out of my league. You know exactly what I mean. The women who still look terrific after having had 2 kids. The guys who are in good shape and still have the gift of the gab. The ones who are really nice people but have the gift of exuding confidence, nay SEX APPEAL without being scary or slutty. All good right? Absolutely - most delighted to hang out with boys my friends think are cute and girls my friends think are hot. )And this is not a poor me post, just an observation on the 'liciousness' of my friends...)

But dang, nothing makes you feel old and unsexy like hanging out with the beautiful people!
I could fill a blog just on some of those moments...more than once i have been on a date and seen MY date spending more time checking out my friends/the other girls in the cafe than looking at me. It's more common for me to be asked to pass on someone elses phone number than to hand over my own!

Yeah yeah so I'm not 30 anymore - I know that! So when a friend 'helpfully' suggested I might need to just find uglier friends (yeah i can hear that collective sharp intake of breath from my readers even as I write!..and I know he (yes it was a he) as largely just being a smartass, I thought....I'm over it! Now it really is time for a tantrum... I want to be the hot friend! Just occasionally...let someone ask their friend for MY number!!!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

put a band-aid on it!

I love it when I see a child instantly soothed by a sticking plaster. How can it be that the pain and humiliation of a scraped knee can be magically taken away just by putting something over it!

And often, for some mad reason, I delay this process with my children....No! you don't need a plaster, it won't help, there's no mark! look, there's not even any blood!

What am I thinking! If the process of putting a plaster where there is a hurt (real or perceived) actually works, why put it off? Why do I think that discussion, cuddles, distraction, are going to be any more effective?

Made me think...all this stuff about looking at our problems, facing reality, dealing with issues...do we really truly have to do this with every little thing? Is is ALWAYS the case that by ignoring something (ergo 'putting a plaster on it') will result in the problem never really truly going away?

Now I am all for addressing problems. I also agree that sometimes little things, if left unaddressed, can turn into big things. But all this stuff about discussing and dissecting every last little issue in our lives and relationships in order to keep them whole?

I think I have to disagree. Sometimes a plaster/bandaid/sticking plaster (depending on which country you are reading this in!) is just the right thing!

It instantly makes the problem out of sight...and maybe then out of mind. It covers up the yukky stuff, might even stop the bleeding. It protects it from the perils of nature and infection. It keeps it covered and allows us to go about our normal life without fear of disturbance. It allows the damage to heal slowly and quietly on it's own, without extra prodding and poking and investigation.

Maybe not so good for something that requires major medical intervention, but for the little problems, sounds like a GREAT idea to me!