What I did next

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Oh hey there! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I’ve had this post knocking about in my head for a while but it’s taken a bit of thinking to give it some coherence. It might sound like I’m talking to all the parents out there, particularly the mummas, but if you don’t have kids, DO NOT FEEL EXCLUDED, because it’s not about parenthood, but transition.

When you have a bub, there’s a dramatic change in lifestyle. Plenty’s been written about that, right? Where once you were heading out the door every morning in your schmicky clothes, stopping off to get a latte, having a bit of banter with the work colleagues, maybe drinks on Friday night, and were enjoying clearly defined bedtimes and sleep ins, that’s replaced by the scramble to sneak in a shower between feeds and bub waking up from a nap, half mugs of cold tea and coffee scattered around the house, and days and nights which lack shape and form as sleep is caught when the opportunity presents itself. It can be a tricky transition from being an independent person to the person upon whom another’s life depends. Your own purpose in life, your reason for being, completely shifts. But you adapt. You embrace the new purpose. The years pass as you’re living your new life – and then, as those who have gone before you have knowingly opined, that wistful little look in their eyes – your little chicks have grown their adult feathers more quickly than you ever thought they would, and they’re flying. And when you don’t have those little chicks to raise anymore, what do you do? Where do you find your purpose now?

For those of you who’ve read my little blog before, you’ll know that I’ve been a stay-at-home mum for all of my two kiddies lives. And I have loved it! Have there been times of mind-numbing boredom? Well, yes! Of course! The ‘woof, woof game’ my boy so often requested, which required me to make Wags the Dog say ‘woof, woof’ over…and over… and over…was not the height of intellectual stimulation! But then again, neither was trawling through decades-old copies of the Government Gazette looking for the mention of a specific chemical when I was a young lawyer. Boredom in life is inescapable. But for me, raising my kids was fulfilling – much more so than getting a great leasing deal for a client, or settling a mortgagee’s auction. I loved thinking about the different activities we could do, the places we could visit, what stories they might like to read, and to be by their side as they experienced both fabulous times and really shitty times. But now they have grown up. One has used her wings to fly over the seas and far away to study, and the other will use his to fly interstate for the same reason. And I love that too! I love that they have the courage and confidence to live their lives beyond the confines of our nest. But it also means I’ve slipped into semi-retirement from my twenty-ish year career – do I get a gold watch? – and I need to find something else to do. And that has been what I have been grappling with this year.

Ever the forward planner, I have attempted to prepare for this time! I’m not an ostrich. I knew it would come! I’ve cultivated my crafty side and undertaken volunteer roles over the years to help with the transition from ‘need-you-all-the-time-mumma’ to ‘you’re-quite-nice-to-have-around-for-a-chat-and-how-do-you-cook-that-mumma’. But I don’t think I really anticipated how the days would yawn and stretch before me without the routine of my boy and girl’s school/uni/work life shaping my week. Just as they did in the early days of parenthood, the days have lacked shape and form. But back then, what I was doing was fulfilling. Where do I find that fulfilment now? I can find things to do. That’s not a problem. There’s friends to catch up with, books to read (but gosh I’ve picked some dull ones this year!), wool to shop for, weavings to make, long walks and yoga, but it’s all felt a bit empty. I like to be able to look back on my day and think ‘well, I achieved that’ or ‘I helped…’ . Would having a job give me a sense of purpose? Could I even get a job? Should I go back to study? All in all I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts this year, spending far too much time scrolling through social media, and asking all the existential questions! I know what I’m feeling is not unique. I’ve chatted with my friends. They feel it too. And not just about being a parent, but about work, career, about life’s shifting stages.

But this week there’s a new flicker to my spirit! I’ve started two new volunteer roles! One’s a reigniting of a past role, the other something completely new. I love coming home from those feeling like I’ve DONE something! I love that I have specific things to do on particular days of the week – there’s a purpose to these days. I love that around these commitments I have the time to catch up with friends and to have time to myself. I can see a shape and a purpose returning to my days. It feels good. Less schlepping, less scrolling! And a sense that I can look forward to the new year knowing what I am doing.

Transition is tricky, huh? How have you managed those times in your life? Are you completely adaptable? Do you flail around or sink into despair? What makes you feel good about your days and weeks?

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Taking Stock: September ‘18

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Well, it has been quite the month! Father’s Day, family birthdays, an overseas trip, and my girl farewelled to live in London for a few months! Certainly a month of cheers and tears! So a good time to take stock, don’t you think?

Watching: season two of Ozark. Gosh, I like Jason Bateman!

Reading: A Man Called Ove. I think I’m enjoying it. I keep falling asleep after a few pages of reading. Maybe it’s lingering jet lag.

Cooking: salmon for dinner tonight.

Eating: an almond croissant with our morning coffee this morning. Well, we shared it so that’s not too bad is it? And we had been for a long walk.

Looking: at my latest weaving and wondering if I need to add just a touch more colour.

Hearing: birds twittering outside.

Pondering: what’s to come. It’s a time of transition. The girl’s away, the boy is probably not at home for too much longer. I have no concerns about occupying my time but I’d like to do something with some meaning to it.

Enjoying: a STUNNING day in the gardens today celebrating the arrival of a new little person to our world.

Wearing: jeans, jumper, scarf and realising that the day was far too warm for such attire!

Knowing: I really need to get back to doing some baking for the family.

Coveting: this skirt. I think it would be lovely for the warmer months.

Buying: just the necessities at the moment.

Remembering: happy days with my girl in Copenhagen, Stockholm and London. We’ve never done a mumma-daughter trip before so it was a bit special!

Noticing: that there was a lot of hygge in Copenhagen! Yep. You could FEEL it. Pace of life seemed a little slower, people were out chilling with friends no matter the day of the week, the candles that were EVERYWHERE. I liked it!

Grumbling: at the changed position of the emoji key on my iPad. Gah! Whenever I’m intending to hit a numeral or symbol I wind up with emojis flashing onto my screen. So annoying! Change it back please!!!

Liking: being back on my home turf. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit other parts of the world but I am a home girl. You know the old ‘wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’? Nup, not really for me. Not for any great length of time. I have a pretty strong bond to my hometown!

Making: time to catch up with friends. Thank goodness for messenger. Makes it so easy to do social planning!

Waiting: to catch up with my girl on face time tonight. Bloody love modern communications! Makes it so much easier to cope with the absences of our nearest and dearest.

Hope your September has been a happy one!

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Taking Stock: July ‘18 Port Fairy edition

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Hey gang! How are things? My man and I have headed to the coast for a short winter break. I love the beach at winter. The grey skies, the rolling waves, the bracing air. Blows the cobwebs away! We haven’t been to Port Fairy for years – it is a bit of a hike from Melbourne! It’s been nice to reacquaint ourselves with this quiet little town. And it’s been nice to have some time together! An interruption to the normal daily routine is the perfect time to take stock.

Making: nothing at the moment! There’s weavings at home but this week has been a ‘make free’ time for me.

Cooking: very little. Whatever is easy in our little kitchen.

Drinking: tea, coffee, cocktails!

Eating: a delicious dinner at the Merrijig Inn and yummy pizza at Coffin Sally

Reading: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which I am LOVING! Have you read it?

Watching: Shetland season 4. We could almost see ourselves there as we gazed out at our own stormy seas and overcast sky!

Buying: coffees, magazines (an essential part of any holiday, I feel) and A Forger’s Tale

Opening: magazines for weaving inspiration.

Taking: lots of photos.

Hearing: waves, wind

Looking: at clouds, swaying grasses, sea foam

Noticing: birds are so much more interesting when you head out of the city. We’ve acquainted ourselves with the hooded plover and the pie eyed oystercatcher which my man remembered from his childhood stamp collection! Maybe we’ll become twitchers!

Pondering: the meaning of life! Breaks away always provide the space for some introspection! What brings us fulfilment? How to achieve work-life balance? What new routines could bring greater joy to life? How do we venture into a new stage of life? Not sure if we came up with answers but useful to contemplate!

Enjoying: sleep ins in a comfy bed! I find it difficult to come across a comfy bed in holiday accommodation. I often find them too soft and end up with a sore back. This one is a goody!

Wondering: why bathrooms in holiday accommodation are always so poorly lit and exhaust fans do such an ineffective job at steam extraction.

Thinking: it might be time for another cup of tea

Liking: regional holidays. There’s something very comforting about holidaying locally. It’s like pulling on a pair of comfy slippers. Not a lot of research is needed to plan the holiday nor is there the compulsion to see certain sights. There’s no anxiety about how to get from A to B, eating out customs don’t need to be understood. It’s just chill. And a reminder that there are some lovely places to see not far from home.

I hope your July has been a happy one. Maybe you are back from a break away? Or heading to one soon? Perhaps you’d like to head over to Pip’s blog and see what’s been happening to her in July!

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Ditching the car

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I was walking home from my local shops this morning, the winter sun shining, groceries and a birthday present swinging by my side, and I thought about how much I enjoy not having to jump in the car to run all my errands anymore. When the kids were younger and at school, taking the car was a necessity. The days’ activities ran to a tight schedule and it seemed that the extra twenty minutes it would take me to walk to and from the shops was time that I could not spare.

When my girl got her licence last year, there were some rumblings from the younger people in the house that we may need to add another car to our two-car household. That would have been a COMPLETE waste of their money. We’re fortunate where we live that we have two train stations within fifteen minutes walk, and a tram stop five minutes walk away. The kids get the train to and from uni and to their part time jobs, so WHY  would we need another car? I was determined not to give them any ammunition in their car-seeking mission so I decided I would put on my walking shoes or break out the myki whenever any potential conflicting car driving demands could arise.

I remember reading some time ago that our ex-PM, Tony Abbott, wrote in his book Battlelines that we should always invest in roads rather than public transport because people would always prefer to travel in cars because “The humblest person is king in his own car.” Apparently that is because we can choose whichever radio station we want to listen to in our own car. Think earbuds may have blown that argument out of the water, Tony! I can pop those in on my walk, or on the tram or train, and feel quite queenly! On the tram or the train I can read a book which gives me even greater mastery, or mistress-y, of my domain! And I like not having to battle the traffic. Perhaps I am the master of my own car, but this gives me no power to find a path through traffic congestion!

I enjoy not having to always isolate myself in my car. I like getting in and out amongst the people! I like walking along the street, looking at people’s gardens, noticing any changes in my surrounds. There’s a sense of connectedness to the community that comes from walking to do my shopping, or from travelling to and from my activities on the tram or the train. I think about how we’re all heading to our different destinations and going about our daily lives.

I like my car. I wouldn’t give it up. But I like that I can now think ‘Do I need to take the car?’ For that time I’m out walking or sitting reading, watching, listening on the train, life slows down just that little bit.

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In praise of equanimity

 

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Here’s a thing that happened the other day. I had a bit of a bingle in the car. Well, my man’s car. Which is a much more expensive type than my car. Eep! I was turning left at an intersection I have been through HUNDREDS of times, when all of a sudden, THWACK!! ‘What the f*** was that?’ may have been my exclamation. I guess it was my fault – I assume I mustn’t have given way – but I honestly have no idea where she came from.  Anyhoo, we pulled over to do the whole name, contact, insurance details thingy, and I braced myself for a bit of a tirade. How wrong I was!

’I’m so sorry! I don’t know how I didn’t see you,’ I offered up as soon as I was out of the car, hoping to placate her anger.

’Don’t worry! It’s fine. It was an accident.’

Wow! That was it! She was so chill. And she was right. Of course it was an accident. I wouldn’t have intentionally pulled in fromt of her. I must have had a lapse in concentration. Or perhaps she was speeding. Or she turned on a red light. I don’t know. I didn’t see her until it was too late. But in this age of quick to anger reactions, her response was so refreshing. And appreciated. And a fantastic example to her young son who she had with her.

I texted her later in the day with the insurance claim details and apologised once again.

‘It’s ok. It was an accident.’

Wouldn’t it be fab if everyone responded with such kindness and understanding to tense situations?

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Taking Stock: April ‘18

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Hey gang! Do you see those two small magnolia little gems? And the statice in the front? I PLANTED THEM! Yep, I did. With a little bit of help from my dad because he has a shovel. I actually found out the day after we planted them that I have a shovel too but because I garden so infrequently, I had actually forgotten I had one! Anyhoo, since the rediscovery of my shovel I have planted three more little gems and a camellia – for some winter colour. I don’t know what’s come over me but all of a sudden I feel the enthusiasm for giving the house a good sprucing up. The STUFF in the roof is being sorted, donated and pitched, the outside light my man has always disliked is being replaced, and I’m wandering around inspecting flyscreens and cupboards and *nodding* ‘hmm, that needs to be repaired.’ Maybe it’s a reverse nesting thing that happens when the big ‘M’ hits! Aah, hormones! You do keep us entertained! So, in amongst all this reorganising and beautifying of my environment, I felt it appropriate to do a bit of a stocktake of life.

Eating: homemade creamy chicken soup. LOVE!

Making: lots of cups of tea for everyone in the house. Gosh it’s taken a bit to get my head around having the family around during the week this year! My man is working from home LOTS more, the boy is doing his thesis so not many uni hours, and the girl is in and out – but I’m trying to embrace it because I know moving out days may be on the horizon.

Cooking: chicken with basil and tomatoes for dinner

Drinking: peppermint tea

Reading: Call My By Your Name for book club. I haven’t seen the movie. Have you? What did you think? And I’m flicking through Frankie and Look What We Made

Hearing: the dishwasher sloshing, the pool filter whirring

Watching: quite a lot of Harry Styles clips because my girl keeps shoving them before my eyes! Which is fine! He seems talented, and nice, and plays a good tune. She went to the Melbourne concert and touched his suit! I asked her how it felt – ‘expensive!’

Seeing: a beautiful, blue autumn sky

Noticing: the stillness of the day outside

Disliking: the mess the corellas have been making of our streets. They have been carpeted with the pecked over remains of the pods from the plane trees. And the pods themselves! Out on my morning walks, I’ve had to be careful walking under the trees as the birds are sitting up there, pecking away, sending the pods raining onto the footpath.

Cringing: at the very thought that Trump could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize over the whole Korea thing. I was reading in the paper this morning about how his unorthodox approach may have brought the two Koreas together and persuaded the North to demilitarise – although we do have to wait to see if this actually happens.

Wondering: whether to watch season 2 of  The Handmaid’s Tale. I loved the first season and the book but now that it is going beyond the novel’s end, I’m not sure if I risk spoiling my memories by watching season 2. I did read somewhere that Margaret Atwood gave it the thumb’s up, so maybe? Have you watched it?

Pondering: ageing! Maybe it’s because of the ‘M’ thing. Maybe it’s because lots of my friends are hitting the big 5-0, and some the big 6-0. It’s weird. My body still feels the same, and I don’t think I LOOK much different, but apparently the insides are telling a different picture. One of my friends is in the process of having her cataracts attended to. Isn’t that something that happens to old people? I look at pictures of my mum when she was my age – I’d made her a grandmother by then (we were both child brides 😉) and she looked much more mature (though not old) than I THINK I look. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people in the street are looking at me and thinking ‘oh, yep, she’s nearing the seniors club.’

Thinking: I need to sort out my trolley full of wool

Opening: my front door a lot so that I can keep putting things on the nature strip for the hard rubbish collection

Looking: at lots of pictures of the royal family. And I don’t care what anyone thinks! Okay, William and Harry have never had to contend with living in poverty, but they had some crappy family stuff to deal with at a young age and it seems to me they’ve turned out to be pretty well-balanced people. And so I’m happy to see them making their own happy families. There’s nothing wrong for feeling happy that other people are happy, is there?

Wishing: the council would do weekly green bin collections in autumn. I have SO MANY BAGS of leaves that I’ve raked up and cannot fit into my bin. Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn, and I love my colourful fallen leaves but they can get slippery underfoot so I need to have a way to be able to get rid of them regularly.

Liking: that my man is feeling better. Bit of a tummy bug over the weekend so good to have that out of the system.

Feeling: chuffed to have sold a few of my weavings! One has even made it’s way over to New York! Love thinking that some of my work is in one of my favourite cities!

How’s your April been, chicks? Has the spring/autumn cleaning bug hit you too?

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Easter chillin’

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What are you doing this Easter? Are you heading out of town? Are you in your pjs watching Netflix? Are you drinking tea and eating your body weight in hot cross buns and chocolate eggs? I’ll probably do a little bit of all of that.

There’s something very quiet and calming about the Easter break for me. Is it the same for you? I’m not a particularly religious person but I do like to treat Good Friday as a quiet day – a day to potter at home, read, craft, spend time with the fam. Today my boy and I had a chat for a couple of hours. So lovely! Don’t get that opportunity often when they’re grown ups!

For us, unlike Christmas, there’s no fancy meals to prepare, no rush to clean the house for visitors, no preparing to take off on holidays. Easter is a nice few days to mooch around and inhale a big breath before heading forth into the coming cooler months.

Enjoy your Easter, chums, whatever your plans are!

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