Stop / Listen

We’ve been away at Mum’s for the long weekend. I stood in the centre of the veggie patch at dusk last night. At first, I thought I could hear a car in the distance, then I realised it was just the wind. As far as my ears could reach, I could only hear the wind moving through the air.

I craned my head in every direction. Towards the great, rolling farm valley in front of me. Towards the pine line along the fence to the right of me. Towards the road and the house to the left of me. Towards the top paddock and the hill behind me.

I never knew the sound of the wind, until it was the only thing I could hear. Stripped of suburban noises, the oceanic waves of the breeze filled my ears; thick, heavy and loud. I could hear the direction the wind was coming from. I could hear it roll over the top of the hill and cascade down, down, down towards the bottom of the valley. I could hear it move through individual trees, the different timbre of each individual leaf.

Then, as I stood and opened my eyes to the wide sky and my ears to the cascading valley, I could hear other things. Frogs, birds (a million birds), twigs crackling, cows, grass moving, insects humming. Tiny, miniature sounds.

In the suburbs I hear the buzzing of the lights, the cars, the buses, the planes, other humans (a trillion humans), footsteps, yelling, talking, showers, electricity, doors closing, doors opening, emails pinging, phones ringing.

Underneath it all is a cacophony of natural noises, drowned out by our oblivious racket.

Tonight I stood on my back deck. Craning my head in every direction. Towards the backyard in front of me and below me. Towards my neighbours to the right of me. Towards my neighbours to the left of me. Towards the road and the house behind me.

I lifted up the sounds of the cars, of my neighbours settling down, of televisions and voices, of that vague humming that seems to be found in congested human places. Underneath it all I started to hear the birds (plenty of birds), the evening insects, creatures exploring my compost in the garden, flowers going to sleep, ducks down by the creek, and the wind softly moving through the leaves.

Stop. Listen.

Here I Am

Spring arrived, picked me up and bundled me along, pushing and nudging me out of my Wintery slumber. Here I am, mid Spring and finally feeling as though I can turn my face to the sky and contemplate a future that involves sunshine and summer and Christmas and good things. It was a long Winter in this neck of the woods, and even today I have my slippers on and the doors closed against grey outside.

A new chapter of life is unfolding for us. A life with small children, and no babies. It saddens me that I am no longer a mother of babies, but it’s also exciting watching our lives change slowly as the girls become more independent. There’s a glimpse of a future that doesn’t involve the hard physical work of babies and toddlers. I haven’t been writing much lately, if I’m being honest, I picked up my pen and journal on Monday night for the first time in almost two months. So here’s a little exercise to get the words flowing again. It feels good to be back in this space.

Here’s what I’m…

Making: a mess in my kitchen (but also, apricot bliss balls and coffee)
Cooking: pumpkin soup
Reading: Mary Oliver everything
Trawling: Yoga websites, continually, planning my final assessment class!
Wanting: a caravan
Looking: at the clouds and longing for the sun to reappear
Deciding: on plans for next year, new beginnings and a fresh start
Wishing: for summer holidays
Enjoying: podcasts, like this one, this one and this one
Waiting: for my Dad to arrive for lunch
Liking: meditation, daily
Wondering: big questions about life, always
Loving: going to bed earlier
Pondering: whether I could ever be a morning person
Listening: to Ziggy Alberts on repeat, it makes me happy
Considering: cancelling all my plans and running away to South Gippsland
Buying: essential oils
Watching: youtube!
Hoping: for some sunshine this week
Marvelling: at my growing girls and their ever-changing ways
Cringing: at my washing pile
Needing: nothing
Smelling: wet soil after the rain overnight
Wearing: leggin’s and slippers, classy
Noticing: how quickly the little banksia seedling we planted is growing
Knowing: that everything will be ok
Trouble-shooting: my over-thinking brain
Thinking: all the thoughts, always and forever
Admiring: spring blooms
Bookmarking: articles like We Can’t Survive In a State of Constant Agitation
Opening: a bottle of wine… later…
Closing: the door on an anxious and draining couple of months
Feeling: like I’m nearly there
Dreaming: of a fresh start in 2018
Hearing: my King Parrot friend complaining that we have run out of sunflower seeds
Celebrating: the Pixie’s 5th birthday, all month!
Embracing: life, trust, compassion…

Thanks for the reminder Jodi, and for such a timeless list, Pip.

Checking In…

I’m feeling the need to check in briefly. I’ve got over thirty tabs open on my computer, a scatty brain, three draft blog posts that I have been working on over the past few weeks and a fast beating heart. Nothing is coming easily at the moment. I’m constantly perplexed at how busy life is… and I’m forever fighting a losing battle against it.

It’s times like these that I absolutely ache to run away, to pack our bags and throw things in the car and head off into the sunset. The urge to run away from this uncomfortable, anxious, overwhelming feeling is strong.

I’ve just put the smallest to bed for a nap. The other two are at school and kinder and I’ve got 45 minutes to spare to have lunch and a moment to myself before kinder pick-up. I spent the morning playing blocks, making bliss balls, folding the washing, putting the washing away, and I’ve also put on four loads of washing (and the dirty basket is still overflowing). I’ve changed the sheets on our bed, picked up what seemed like hundreds of pairs of shoes from the floor (so many shoes), and drank half a coffee… cold. Some yarn arrived via post this morning and I’ve got a list of birdie said orders to finish. I have a meeting tomorrow about a new project I’ve been asked to work on by a community health organisation I worked with last year.  I have an assignment due on Sunday as well as two teaching blocks to practise so I don’t humiliate myself in front of my peers at yoga on the weekend.

Yoga Teacher Training is at the intense end, with the final three months focussing on practicing teaching, assessments, an exam and I’m also (drum roll) completing my pre-natal yoga teacher training in a few weeks as a little extra (because I didn’t have enough to do). Although it feels intense, I’m thrilled to think I will be a qualified 350 hour Level 1 Yoga Teacher come December this year. And trained in pre-natal to top it off. Exciting times!

In saying that, I can feel myself yearning for simpler things. For time at home that doesn’t have my head spinning with all the things I have to do. With juggling priorities. It will be nice to have a little break from studying and for a new chapter of our lives to begin.

I’m looking forward to warmer weather, cool drinks on my back deck, trips to the beach, time to cook and walk around with bare feet, time to practise yoga without it feeling like homework.

Spring is certainly a busy time, although I heard someone say that the other day and it made me realise I kind of skipped that part of Winter where you’re meant to move inwards and enjoy some reflection. So now I’m off to do something really naughty – lay horizontal on the couch and read my book for 15 minutes. Or maybe even 20…

What are you busy with at the moment?

Finding Balance

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And just like that, it is February. I find it so strange that the months can sail by, unnoticed. Soon the leaves will start to show the signs of Autumn and the wind will offer us a subtle shift; a coolness that we may miss if we aren’t paying attention. Our minds, too, without assistance from us, will turn towards the quieter things, the warm and nourishing things, the things that find us inside in the afternoons, staring out our windows to watch the wind whip up the trees. We will dim the lights and light the candles which will lead us gently into muted evenings and then: Winter.

And on and on it goes.

The only thing we can possibly do in amongst it all is to slow ourselves down, calm and hush our own thoughts, remind ourselves of the things that matter.

I broke a bowl yesterday, a Peter Rabbit bowl given to the baby for her first birthday from my Dad and Step Mother. I was putting the coconut oil away and as I went to place it on the shelf, I slipped and dropped it. It landed largely and loudly on the bowl which was waiting to be washed on the kitchen bench. Almost in slow motion I watched as it fell to the ground and smashed, unable to do anything to stop it. Tears came out of no where and filled up my eyes as I swept it up and tipped it, unceremoniously, into the rubbish bin.

I still have my own Peter Rabbit bowl from when I was a baby, and I wanted desperately to give little Peach her own baby bowl when she was an adult, like my mum did for me when I had my first baby. I wondered how my mum kept my bowl unharmed all those years, and use it with trepidation, often for the older children and not the baby which it was intended for (which also makes me wonder if I am missing the point – shouldn’t it be used and used well!?). But Mum also repeatedly tells me something that her mother told her when she broke or lost something special: It’s Just A Thing. I said it to myself over and over yesterday as I cleaned up the mess I had made and used the back of my hand to wipe away my wasted tears.

In time, I’ll forget about the broken bowl, the lost things, the tidying up, the school drop offs, the nagging, the rushing, the overarching messiness of life. So often the things we think are important aren’t the things that stay with us years later, they aren’t the things that comfort us in times of trouble or give us feelings of love and importance and gratitude and value. Am I going to care in ten years time about the morning that it took me fifteen minutes to get Bird to put her shoes on? Um, no. But at the time it certainly feels valid and important.

Over time I’m slowly learning what is important and what isn’t, in that moment, rather than in hindsight, and as our family grows our values change and adjust to accomodate balancing the needs of our little people alongside ourselves. As I rush from here to there with a baby on my hip and a four year old running ahead of me chasing her big sister into the school gates, as I run around the kitchen as though I’m chasing a world record, as I let the clock manage my days, as I fall about in a heap at 5pm when I haven’t planned our multiple vegetarian/dairy free/ketogenic dinners, as I flop onto my back on my bed at night and stare up at the ceiling, exhausted, feet aching, wondering what, exactly, I achieved that day – what I did that was good, that was important, that was real – it has made me think a lot about our culture of busy-ness and rushing and the meaning and value we (for some reason) derive from being busy. It often seems like busy is the new good.

How are you?

Busy! Ha ha la la!

Sound familiar?

It’s slow and gruelling work going against the grain, having thoughts that don’t seem to be the norm, fighting against invisible rules and running from invisible law enforcers. The biggest fight though is one against yourself, pulling and tugging at those fibres in your brain that tell you what to do and how to be, seemingly always dodging around the why and hoping you won’t notice.

Sometimes it feels like it would be easier just to go along with the rest, to be busy and not care, to chock your time full of everything you possibly can and then complain along with the rest of the doers, leaving any conversation about the real things that matter behind. But for me, it doesn’t bring much joy, I like having spare time, I like being at home and, most importantly, I like to think that there is a different way to live. I like to think that as I learn that new way, I can also teach it to my children so they grow up realising they don’t have to be busy to be of value, they don’t have to rush to be important. I want them to learn a different way.

The only issue is I have to learn it myself to be able to teach it and that, my friends, is always a work in progress.

2017

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The last of the tinsel has been swept away and those airy-fairy days between Christmas and New Year, when you don’t know what day or time it is, have come to an end. 2017 is here and, quite frankly, it couldn’t have come soon enough.

Last night, KB and I got the girls to bed and set ourselves up on our front deck, with a candle lit, a glass of prosecco for me and an ale for him, some nibbles and our notebooks. Over the past few weeks I wondered if we should invite some friends over, or get out and about on New Years Eve, but as we sat there together and reflected on the past year, and on what we want to achieve this year, I couldn’t think of a better way to be spending the night, or a better person to be spending it with.

2016 was a big year for us. My grandpa died on my birthday and I was there to witness – my first real experience of death and it knocked my socks off in the saddest of ways, Bird started school, the Pixie started kinder, my Mum broke her leg, the baby turned one, KB started a new job, I worked on a six month community development project, I walked 30km for Fred Hollows, KB began training for the rip swim

To cut a long story short, we were busy and I was emotional for the majority of the year (KB is the stable, sensible one in moments of overwhelm – I am pure chaos).

For us, 2017 is all about toning things down a notch and a fresh perspective. It’s about being authentic to our own truth, in our day to day activities as well as our broader life choices and actions. It’s about maintaining calm.

We do have some exciting things on the horizon. KB is starting a new position at work, dropping down to four days a week so he can be at home with the girls one day a week. Which means, with any luck, that I will be writing on Thursdays! We will see how that goes, and whether or not we can afford it, but we’ve decided to give it a red hot go. We have been working towards it for a long time, and we’re both so excited for him to have the chance to have some more family time, and for me to have some creative time. I have also enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training and start in a month. It’s something I have wanted to do for years, but to be honest, I never thought I would actually commit. I’m hoping it will help me find some clarity in this crazy modern life we lead.

Other than that we plan to move house this year, and we are slowly but determinedly decluttering and preparing. It feels a bit like shedding: old things, old thoughts, and stuff that has come to the end of its time with us. More on stuff in another post.

Last year I wrote out a long list of things I wanted to do in 2016. I got bored of the list fairly quickly, although I did manage to tick most of them off. In the spirit of toning things down, I’m not writing a big huge list this year. We already have plenty to do with all of the above, so I’ll leave it at that for now and go with the flow.

What do you have planned for 2017?

Make a Choice

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Over the years, and from the depths of new motherhood, I’ve been deliberating. I’ve never been someone who finds decision making easy (be it choosing something from a menu, for fear of food envy, or something bigger: where to live, what to do). As I’ve become older, decision making seems to become harder and harder. There are more people depending on me, more needs to meet, more things to take into consideration. So I mull and obsess, I yo-yo, I circle.

Lately, as this year draws to a close and a new one begins, we have needed to make some big decisions. I’ve struggled over a particular decision that I have needed to make for myself. I’ve tossed and turned on it, I’ve decided at midnight, only to have changed my mind again by morning. The longer it went on (a few years), the more I struggled; it became bigger than it needed to be. It exhausted me.

Today, however, I did it. After consulting a few friends who have followed a similar path, after taking action and doing the necessary research: it was time. Now or never.

I made a choice.

And it feels SO good. I am now questioning whether or not it would have mattered which choice I made, in the end. The simple act of finally deciding has lifted the cloud from around my head, from sitting heavy around my shoulders. For the first time in a few years, I can see more than a few feet ahead of me.

Earlier this week when time was running out and I was in turmoil, I was texting a wise friend of mine. She reminded me that Sarah Wilson has written a fair bit about decision making (you can read more here). I came home and devoured a few of her articles and this helped me to take another step forward, to put one foot in front of the other instead of standing on the curb, looking this way and that and never moving, never showing up.

We still have a number of decisions to make to get 2017 sorted. But through the process of making this one decision, and through the various obstacles of motherhood, I have come to realise the perfect choice rarely exists. There is simply the choice that has the least amount of negative outcomes, or perhaps more often than not, just the one that is better in that moment. Trying to predict whether it will be the right choice in a month or a year can become a torment. Believe me, I’ve been there.

So go ahead and make a choice! Whether it is what to have for lunch, or something bigger, I’m sure it will clear the path ahead. It certainly has for me.

Bringing in the Weekend

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We’re taking things slowly this afternoon. There’s a chill in the air and nothing to hurry to or from. Just after school chit chat with the girls and breathing into this moment.

We saw some brightly coloured birds on the way home today. One of their favourite things to do is look up birds we see in my Grandpa’s bird book. We (they) rushed to the bookshelf as soon as we walked in the door and we discovered the birds we saw were

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Open Space

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I’m sitting here in front of the heater. The kids are all in bed (if not asleep!) and KB is not expected home until late tonight. I am rarely alone, so I did get a bit giddy at the thought of an hour by myself at home in the evening. The evenings have a certain calm and quiet about them that is difficult to replicate during the day, don’t you think?

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hello, welcome!

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Hello and welcome to the new and flashy grown-up version of motherwho! I’m so happy you found your way here. Please have a look around and let me know what you think. I’m all nervous and feeling a bit funny about taking this step and leaving my cosy wordpress blog behind, but knowing you’re all along for the ride is making it all ok. You are there… right?

So while I stretch my limbs in this new place and give a little shout, HELLOOOO! (it echoes) please feel free to do the same. Let me know if anything is awry and I’ll do my best to figure it out.

You might notice a few different things, like a bit more information about me (other than the mother bit), a link to my portfolio and also just the fact that this space feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the clunkiness of my previous space.

I’m looking forward to taking the next step. From this point on it will be back to the usual, although I’ve got a few fun things up my sleeve too.

one hour

I’ve been given an hour. One hour. One whole hour.

Half of it has already gone.

I made a cup of tea, checked my email, chopped some potatoes for dinner, and wandered around a bit nervously trying to choose what to do next. Then I sat down here at my very neat and clean #konmaried desk.

While I’m here with everyone around my head often drifts off to far away places, imagining all the things I would do if I just had five minutes.

Now I’ve got an hour and suddenly I’m here alone, overwhelmed with the prospect of what to do first. So there will be no photo accompanying this post. I don’t have time to find one.

I’m a little high on sugar having just got back from a birthday party, so that is not helping with the decision making process.

Sugar, caffeine and exhaustion… what was I saying about evaluating our diet in my last post? Someone, please remind me, quick!

That is all, I have to go and stare at a wall for a few minutes before my next task. Bye for now.

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