Sunday, November 23, 2014

Savouring my Sunday


Unsurprisingly, after such a long hiatus, I have a lot of gratitude to share! These past few weeks, I have also been grateful for...

1. This amazing piece on finding one's purpose (then what to do with it once found!) courtesy of my bff. Inspiration. And affirmation.

2. I know, I know, I'm shallow. But can we just talk about these shoes for a minute? If you know me, it won't surprise you to learn that I put myself down on the mailing list so I wouldn't miss out when they came online. Uh-huh.

3. The "sharing game" my daughter invented. She sits on my bed with her baby brother and they take it in turns to cuddle an owl cushion then pass it to each other. They can do it for ages and it makes my heart melt every time.

4. Courage, in all its forms. But, in this case, my husband and I standing behind our decision to send our daughter to a bilingual school next year, despite her having had an excellent first year at a local school. The first day of orientation was a little overwhelming and we are prepared for a slightly bumpy ride to begin with. But we know we have a good safety net and we're totally committed to being there for, and with, her.

5. Speaking of courage, our beautiful girl was so brave during the orientation program at her new school. We'd organised a play date the weekend before, so that she could make friends with a girl who will be in her class. She was so excited to see her sweet new friend again and was an amazing "big sister" to this same friend when it came time for parents to leave the room. "Don't worry," she was heard to say, "They're just in the room next door and I am here with you!" That girl. Sigh.

6. A kick-ass recipe via Amy aka The Anxious Hippie's instagram feed: half a cup of oats, a whole mashed banana, a couple of teaspoons of peanut butter and chia seeds, all covered with chocolate almond milk. [I substituted two medjool dates and two teaspoons of cacao nibs for the chia seeds.] It's a simple as compiling it all in a Mason jar, sealing and leaving overnight in the fridge. Schmoosh it up et voila! Makes me look forward to breakfast and keeps me going all morning. OUI!

7. This brilliant piece by Tara Sophia Mohr on learning to love criticism. Wow. I'm open. (Also, I can't wait to dive into her new book.)

8. Have you seen that the Brave Girls Club has a $7 shoppe? I love how this team are so committed to making as much goodness as accessible as possible for as many as possible. Yum!

9. The chap from whom I am renting my writing studio. So very genuine and considerate: a real "old school" gentleman. He made the task of securing appropriate partitioning a priority, and checks in regularly to ensure I'm comfortable and have everything I need. I've settled in so smoothly here and hit the ground running. It really feels like it was meant to be.

10. This brilliant piece by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz about the one sentence that completely changed her day. Ohhhh! How that resonated. And I don't think you need to be a mama to feel the same. She's a smart gal, that one. And I think she's right: we really do have the power to change our sentences. Even if it's only one letter, one pen stroke, one pixel at a time.

What have you been grateful for recently? I'd love to know!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday is for savouring



It feels so lovely to be getting back into savouring, my gratitude practice in this space. These past few weeks, I have been grateful for...

1. The incredible map Isabel Faith Abbott made of my hand. This is deserving of at least ten blog posts all on its own. I mean, I literally had to put the reading down and walk away after each page, it was so potent! More soon.

2. This celebration of extraordinary writing spaces. I'm happy with my own -- and I'll be sharing photos soon -- but I certainly would not say no to any one of these! *swoon*

3. My little fella has sleeping through the night for almost a month now. I can't believe I underestimated the difference a full night's sleep would make for all of us. So grateful for the support I received in making this happen (and for having such a smart and amenable little dude!) but also for my own reserves of strength and courage in toughing it out.

4. More wisdom from my marvellous Max. Love that lady.

5. Christmas is coming! I am so excited! I love Christmas. So do my parents and sister. And so does my daughter. And I love how she loves Christmas. Please don't hate me when I share that just ordered our tree and have pretty much finished my Christmas shopping. I kinda shopped throughout the year, knowing that a last-minute buying frenzy would not serve anyone well. If it's any consolation, I'm still looking for an advent calendar -- preferably Hello Kitty, preferably with a tiny chocolate each day -- for my daughter.

6. My amazing daughter received a Caught Being Good award this week at school for “always trying her best and working hard in concert rehearsals to learn the lyrics and dance moves”. Her role in the prep concert is “line leader” and she is so excited to have that responsibility. So proud of that girl.

7. My gorgeous osteopath. Those of you who have been journeying with me for a while will know that I have been suffering from a bodgy back for years. Now, a mere months after my second Caesarian, my back rarely hurts, pelvic floor so much stronger and the persistent tingling under my shoulder blades is gone. I have to say, I also just love seeing Clare and admiring her exceptional taste in accessories, hearing about all the amazing theatre events she attends, and exchanging cocktail recipes.

8. Alain Johannes’ new album Fragments and Wholes Vol. 1 has been released! You might recall I was a massive fan of his first solo album, which honoured the memory of his wife. And this one? Ohhhh! It’s gooood. And it was a privilege to have been a part of bringing it to the world, supporting its production via Pledge Music. Love.

9. Emily McDowell’s fabulous work. Have you seen it? It's brilliant, gorgeous and so very fun (one of my favourite combinations). I've ordered a few pieces for gifts, so can’t tell about them here, but let me just say that I couldn’t resist ordering this and this for my writing studio. Oh, and this one for home! Heh.

10. The photo montage of me, my husband and our two children at around the same age. The similarities and subtle differences blow me away. My mum reckons that my children inherited "the sparkle" in my eye. How I love this!

What were you grateful for, this week?


Friday, November 21, 2014

The best worst day ever



I had a horrid day on Saturday. It started off reasonably, 5am wake-up call from a certain little dude notwithstanding.

But by mid-morning, after I’d made everyone breakfast, tidied up and put on my first load of washing, my husband had said something that really annoyed me, my daughter had gotten in my face one too many times and bambino would not stop grizzling. All I wanted to do was sit for a minute and read the paper, was that too much to ask?

You better believe I totally stewed in that funk. For the next few hours, I pretty much avoided everybody. I grunted in response to questions, unable to make even the simplest decisions.

My husband retreated to the safety of the garden and my daughter happily amused herself with her toys. When bambino went down for his mid-morning nap, I slunk off to bed for a soggy groggy nap.

By early afternoon, I was unsure if I was going to take my daughter to her swimming lesson as usual. The week before had been a lot less enjoyable than usual. It had been a hot day and the pool was full of families seeking respite from the heat. I got interrupted mid-lap by couple of bored tweens who had decided to swim across the lanes. The lifeguard didn’t even notice (I can only assume he was meditating... or catatonic) so it fell to me to shout at them that they were about to cause an accident.

I’ll go this week, I humphed, but I’ll only do ten laps then I’ll sit and eat a huge block of chocolate while I wait for her to finish. Oh, and if those kids swim across me again, I’ll punch them.

Of course, the pool was quiet and I had the lane to myself. And once I was in the water, I did twenty laps then a few more because I had time and was feeling good. And on the way out, when my daughter stopped to buy a packet of vege chips from the vending machine, I chose a small block of dark chocolate, of which I ate two squares then took the rest home to my husband.

By the time the evening rolled around and we had a guest over for dinner, I was pretty much myself again.

I’d had a bad day. And that was it.

And although that doesn’t sound like a big deal, if you know me well then you’ll know that it actually is.

Bad days are usually a cause of agony in my inner world. A bad day is seen as a signifier of so many bigger things but particularly my shortcomings as a wife and mother (because good mums don’t have bad days and they definitely don’t take them out on anyone else, right?). A bad day is a sign that the state of my relationships are poor and worrisome, which exposes my lack of backbone and flakiness. A bad day is evidence that I am bad, things are bad and they’ll never get any better.

Except this time, a bad day was just a bad day. It was bad and it passed.

And that, my friends, is progress.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meet Mabel (and a giveaway!)


Have you met Mabel? I really think you should. She is wise, genuine, full of talent and extremely beautiful.

What more could you want from a magazine?

I feel so honoured that a prose piece I wrote is included in the latest issue (Issue Two), which carries the theme Owning It. (Let me tell you, when I saw my profile nestled in between those of Jonatha Brooke and Laurie Wagner, I just about needed smelling salts!)

I want to share that the process of getting published in Mabel was every bit as marvellous and enriching as the experience of reading this unique publication. I submitted a pitch according to the guidelines, which were very clear, and was ecstatic to have it accepted. I then set about working on my piece so as to meet the deadline, in the midst of preparing for August Moon.

The feedback on my piece was nothing short of incredible. It was detailed and robust but couched in the most nurturing and encouraging terms that it felt like a privilege to receive it. I could see that a lot of thought had been devoted to how to make my submission the best it could be but also how to make suggestions to me in the most collegiate and compassionate way possible.

I don't know who the mystery editor was but I remain grateful to her for her guidance. My final draft was a much tighter and more focused piece of prose for her efforts. Somehow she was able to see through my ramblings to the heart of my intention, and illuminate the way so that I could see it more clearly myself.

It seems to me that Miss Mabel is a very rare thing: a publication that truly reflects the ethos of its founders in every single interaction that contributes to its creation. For that, Stef and Liz deserve rich congratulations... and all of our support.



I am so excited to share that I will be giving away two copies of Issue Two of Mabel magazine during Reverb14. Everything you need to know about signing up can be found HERE.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oh, the irony


So I'm sitting here at my beautiful desk in my lovely little partitioned office next to my bright big window. And you'd think I'd be in heaven.

And I sort of am.

Except it feels like hell.

I haven't been here very often. I think about this space all the time, though. I think the word is yearning.

This space is quiet and light and all set up exactly how I like it. And the way I leave it is exactly the way it will be when I return.

And, most critically, it is a place just for me to write.

But when I get here, it's like I'm sitting on hot coals.

Invariably, I have an hour, maybe two. I have a massive To Do list. I crank up my laptop and suddenly have no idea where to start. Answer emails? Make more lists? Write some letters? Pen a quick blog post? Tee up Reverb posts? Tinker with my website?

And the biggest question screams the loudest: what do I write? What do I write? WHAT DO I WRITE?

I get here and I seem to forget what my priorities are. Then I get all afraid that I have this space all set up for nothing. I worry that I'm deluded about how organised I am (which is actually very organised: I am usually an extremely organised person). I start to worry I'll never get anything done and then the world will know what a fraud I am… even worse, a fraud who has spent a fair bit of money on a space she is not using properly. What if I can't do this? I start to hear my heart beating in my ears and my vision blurs a little. I feel like I am moving in slow motion.

And all this takes up a good deal of time.

I really like the card that you see in the foreground of the [badly framed, hastily taken] picture above. I think that, once again, The Little Sage, is right on the money.

I am not really in control of anything. I have time and I have energy and I am only going to use it in a way that makes me happy (and somewhat productive) if I let go and breathe. And just do what I can.

I know that this is only the beginning of the journey. My baby boy is starting to spent a little time on his own with his respective grandmothers. I am starting to understand what might be required of me as I embark on this next phase of my work as a writer. AND it's a crazy busy time of year.

I know I will have more time… soon.

We all need space to grow into this.

I have five more minutes before I have to race to the grocery store, go home and feed bambino, collect my daughter from school. This will give me just enough time to finish my cup of tea, write a couple of things down before I forget them, meditate on what it might mean to be set free.

And lean in to the understanding that this is enough.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Surfacing


A quiet moment as bambino settles himself for a nap. A mild moment as the chill of the morning dissolves into the sting of the sun. A still moment as I survey all that has been done before facing all that needs doing.

It's a lovely feeling, to return to this space after completing my responses to the August Moon challenge. I have been so grateful for the structure that the prompts provided these past few months, especially on the days I was so sleep-deprived I was barely coherent. I am also intrigued how different my answers were these past few weeks to the ones that were marinating in my mind when I penned the questions all the way back in June.

Now I face the dilemma of so much to write and not knowing where to start. And, as always, such little time.

I have a lot of gratitude to share here. Lots of juicy resources that have come my way. Beautiful people. Exciting opportunities. Fun stuff. Lists and lists, waiting to be compiled.

My family continues to evolve and my bambino is already eight months old (I bought him his first toothbrush this morning!). His joining our family has changed everything... for the better. I want to tell you about this too.

And then there's the sense that the Universe has been leaving me clues. Do you ever get that feeling? Like, you are asking yourself a question about who you and why, and then you notice that things people say or artefacts from your life that come back into your possession remind you of a story you'd long forgotten. Then suddenly you turn the corner and bump into an answer. THE answer. Shimmering gently, just waiting for you to arrive at exactly this time.

This time is exactly that time.

But bambino has woken so my writing time is up.

Until next time...


Friday, November 7, 2014

Stepping into grace



This time next year, I know things will be pretty different.

Bambino will be a year older, which will see him in a very different place to where he is now. He'll be walking and talking and his gorgeous personality will be shining even brighter. My beautiful daughter will also be another year older and wiser, with another year of school under her belt and with even more wisdom and creativity and love to share.

My husband and I will also be another year older, another year further into our forties. We'll have our house renovation plans underway, such that we can move out and start the mayhem the year after. We'll also have had a decent holiday and another one planned (we've learnt how important it is to have a holiday on the horizon, pretty much always). We'll still be lighting the open fire in Winter, enjoying a different cocktail each Friday, missing The Colbert Report, loving each other's company.

And I'll be knee deep in my writing life and loving as much as I can.

But I want to remember something about this time, where I am now. There's something in the air. It feels sweet but slightly elusive.

It reminds me of another time.

Specifically, this time five years ago. I was ploughing through the final edits of my doctoral thesis. I was also negotiating a new role so that I could return from maternity leave to a different day job: in a supportive and welcoming environment, that could comfortably fit into two days.

I felt like I was navigating my way towards a life that was truly me after a year of self-discovery and creative freedom. Soon after -- and without thinking too much about it -- I started this blog. A few days after that, I enrolled in Mondo Beyondo. I toyed with the idea of calling myself and writer and an artist. Everything felt vivid, possible, connected.

There's a sense of that, right now. I'm in the midst of what Mondo Beyondo would call making a clearing so that there's as much space for this feeling to emerge as possible.

Last weekend, I decluttered my closet, putting away Autumn/Winter clothes to make way for Spring/Summer. I bagged up a whole heap of things that I hadn't worn for ages and would likely never wear again. I also went through boxes I'd been storing and filled six 50 litre tubs of clothes to give to charity. Every piece I relinquished had its own story and it felt good to let them all go to become a part of someone else's.

I'm also doing some pretty intense soul work over here. I'm surprised at the number of cobwebs still clouding the view in my psyche. But I can see them clearer than ever. And for the first time ever it feels possible to clear them away. Like with my wardrobe, I feel that there are stories that I no longer need to hold on to. It will be a little harder to let them go with love, but not as hard as I've been assuming.

This time next year, I have the feeling that I'll look back and say that the year I turned 40 was the best year of my life. It was the year that I had the baby I'd longed for and got the publishing deal of a lifetime (there's a few weeks left of 2014, right?!). I stopped taking responsibility for other people's feelings, stopped numbing my own feelings with food and impulse spending. I worked with my totem, got quiet and connected to spirit, submitted to the pull of the moon.

I stepped into my new year and my life with spaciousness and strength.

It felt like grace.

This post is my response to Day Sixteen, the final day of the August Moon reflective writing challenge. You are most welcome to share your own response to the prompt in the comments below. 

Otherwise, the next opportunity to connect is Reverb in December. Join us?