People Pleasing-An Exercise In Futility

When I was a very young girl, of about six or seven, I remember reading this fable. It has stayed with me throughout my life.

Every time someone has expressed their opinion of me or what I do, this little story always pops into my head. I never discount people’s opinions, thank goodness that people have opinions and that they can be different but that is all that they are, THEIR opinions and have nothing whatsoever to do with me. I respect that.

So next time, when you are going about your daily business of being your totally AWESOME self, and someone offers their opinion that you did not ask for (keep in mind, opinion is different to advice; and advice you did not ask for is also different to the advice you did ask for) especially if it has the potential to make you feel bad or shroud you in doubts, think back on this little story. A simple story yet a story which carries wisdom of ages….

 

The Man, The Boy and The Donkey

 

“The old man, the boy and the donkey”

 

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time, they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said:

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders and carried him.

They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

Moral of Aesops Fable:

Please all, and you will please none

So, as you can see, trying to please everyone is a complete waste of time as it is an exercise in futility.

There is only one person in this world whom you need to worry about pleasing. That person is YOU. You always know if you have lived your day well and if you have not. You are the person you have to go to sleep with every night, now and always. You will most likely agree with me when I say that it is much nicer to go to sleep with a person who is pleased than the one who is not. 🙂

Aesop has many more fables, and if you’d like to have a look here is the link for you.

So please, go forth and be as awesome, as you were put on this earth to be, and if someone has a problem with that, just be grateful they are the person having to sleep with them tonight while you get to sleep with awesomeness itself. xxxxx

 

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The Evil Stepmother

Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Brier Rose….

Most of us have grown up with fairy tales. And thanks to the “child friendly” versions, they are mostly stories where we have a villain, a hero and a happy ending. The villain is almost always hated by the reader and we hope that the “good” will prevail and that the villain will get what they “deserve”.

I was thinking about this the other day, one thing that came to mind was that the villains are very often the evil step mothers but more importantly, I had a bit of an a-ha! moment. Why can’t the villains be our role models? Without the evil bit of course. Here are some thoughts I pondered and how they can be related to you and I.

My ponderings lead me to thinking that the fairy tale villains, or at least the idea of them, is something we can all look up to and learn from (minus all the pure evil stuff, of course).

Villains are INSPIRATIONAL!

Why? Let me tell you…

They are confident; clearly they love themselves to the point of vanity but they do not have any self-image issues, they never doubt the way they look (apart from Snow White’s stepmother, but even then she knew she was beautiful but she just wanted to be the MOST beautiful).

Why can’t we then, the non-evil ones, enjoy self-confidence and self-love, and revel in the unshakable knowledge that we are indeed beautiful and flawless? Feeling these things and behaving in this way, does NOT makes us evil. Or is it, that deep down we feel that it might?

 

They know EXACTLY what they want and will not stop at anything until they get it. They never doubt that they WILL get it and they never doubt that they deserve to get it.They see what they want and they TAKE it.

Do you know what it is that you want? Not many people can answer this question. Some spend years trying to figure it out. But it could be as simple as that what you want most of all is to know what you want. Now, having said that, what’s stopping us from having absolute certainty that we will indeed GET the very thing that we want? We are stopping us. You are in your way and I am in my way. Because the only obstacle between you and your dream is YOU. (I have said this before, there’s even a meme, lol)

Are we using excuses and procrastinating and feeling that we are not worth it and we don’t deserve it? Probably.

But the fact remains, we are the only ones who can take what we want. No one else will do it for us, it will not magically land in our laps. It takes hard work and dedication and also permission to yourself from yourself that it is okay for you to have your wishes granted and that yes, you do deserve it. Ask for it, work for it and then take it. And always remember to say “thank you”.

 

They are certainly not concerned with other people’s opinions of them.

As for the being concerned about the opinions of others, well I have written a few blogs now on that subject but to sum it up: just don’t. You are the only you. No one else is or can ever be you. They are who they are. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but it doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. You always have a choice, you were blessed with free will. Use that gift, don’t waste it.

 

They don’t feel like they owe anyone anything and they certainly do not feel like the world owes them a favour. They know they need to work hard for what they want and they do it without hesitation, without question.

Some of us spend a long time always working hard, doing the right thing, caring for others and we wait and we wait for “our time” for that “something” to happen that will change our lives for the better. We dream of that moment. Sometimes it is all that keeps us going. We think that if we are a good person and do all the right things that it only naturally follows we should be rewarded at some stage, if we are just patient enough.

I used to think like that but now I call bullshit.

I now understand that I am the only one who can ever make a difference in my life, I am the only one who can make that “something” happen and it will never be given to me by an outside source. I am the one who gets to make that CHOICE, the choice to change, the choice to make my life into what I want it to be. Choice/Freewill is the one gift we have been given. There is a reason why it’s that gift and why there’s only the one gift and not more. Because it’s the only gift we will ever NEED. It is the key to everything!

 

They are highly motivated and driven

And you can be too, once you figure out what it is that you want and how to get it.

 

They are smart and intelligent

SO are you

 

Failure is not an option and it’s probably not even a word in their vocabulary

If we all thought we were going to fail, we wouldn’t be bothered starting anything and we would still be stuck in the middle ages with no electricity and we would think that the Earth is flat. Every time you have a perceived failure, it is actually one step closer to your goal. Because that is one option you have now eliminated, one lesson you have learned and something you are not likely to repeat. Say “thank you” for the experience and the lesson and move on. Keep going. Never stop.

 

I’m not going to do a psycho analysis into their mental or emotional states but yes, they do hurt others without any detectable remorse and that’s a bad bad thing. But everything else? How awesome are all the other traits? And the best part is that you don’t have to hurt others, or be pure evil to have all the other traits

IMG_1805

I have a SAD

Sad smiley face

Since moving to our little piece of paradise, I have been experiencing emotions which were quite new to me. And not in a good way.

At the beginning, I didn’t take much notice; I put it down to being exhausted from looking after the children without much support and doing “everything” myself.

But the last couple of times “it” happened, was so full on, in my face, that I could ignore it no longer.

I call it “the dark cloud inside me”. What happens is that this overwhelming darkness takes over and I become numb. It feels like everything happens around me, like I am not connected to anything. I feel nothing. A whole day goes past and I realise that my face hasn’t moved. Not a smile for my beautiful babies, not a frown, not a squint, nothing. I don’t care about anything, I don’t react, I am numb. In the morning when I get out of bed, all I can think about is how I can’t wait for the day to be over so that I can get back into bed and not have to deal with anything.

This would happen every couple of months or so, and last between two days to a week.

To be completely honest, at first I thought it would just pass if I ignore it. The last two times were so full on that I still didn’t want to address it because I thought that I might be heading for depression and I didn’t want to deal with that.

But I am a fixer. I needed to get to the bottom of this. I needed to know what was causing it so that I could fix it.

I bit the bullet and spoke to our family therapist. As soon as I described the symptoms, he said “you have SAD”! I had absolutely no idea what he was on about and he explained it to me.

SAD stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”.  What I understand about it is that it is related to light. Because I have moved further down from the equator, the days are shorter and the light is different. Whilst this condition seems to affect me most during winter, there are people who are affected the most in summer.

It is also thought that people with blue/green/gray eyes are most susceptible.

I felt such a relief that I knew what it was and that it was something I could work with.

So my prescription is: at least 40 minutes per day of sunlight, vitamin D drops and a banana a day (apparently bananas work well to get the magic of vitamin D happening).

My GP also had these words of wisdom: “when it’s happening, just recognise that you are not going to be productive. Let it flow, be kind to yourself, go and get a massage.” (needless to say, the GP is a keeper!)

The main reason I wanted to write about this is basically to raise some kind of awareness. I had never heard of this condition before; there could be so many of us out there who think there is something wrong with them and keep it to themselves (like I did), but in reality it is so important to nip these things “in the bud”; like that funny looking mole or that annoying little lump or anything really that is out of the ordinary.

Avoidance is never the answer. For anything. We must gather the courage and take the step to get these things seen to. More often than not we find that we were worried about nothing and then we have peace of mind. And if it does turn out to be “something” then at least we can begin to address the cause and make it all better. 🙂

Choosing Your Children

That old saying “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”; most of us will see that and think of our extended relatives we don’t get along with, or our parents we don’t get along with, or whatever. Most of us will NOT look at that saying and relate it to our children.

Friends are people who “get” us, just as we are. We get along with them, we have similar interests or quirks, we enjoy spending time with them. They love us and we love them back; not because we have to but because we want to, we choose to, no strings attached. And sometimes, friendships can come to an end too. People do sometimes grow apart and have different priorities.

Family is a completely other story though, isn’t it? You are “born” into it, you are “married” into it and you “give birth” to it. These people are in your life and you cannot escape the fact that you are related, and you may not like them, or you may truly love them but if they were random people, would they be your friends? Would you choose them to be your friends?

And so it is with our offspring. We do not get to choose their personality traits in advance to make sure we all get along. We get what we are given and we have to make the best of it. (and some days this can be really hard and you may or may not, find yourself sitting in a car park lot crying and asking, why god, WHYYYYYY?)

It is important to recognise that our children are in fact, NOT little extensions of ourselves but independent people in their own right. And we have to make an effort here. A really BIG one.

For example. Madison and I (I’m using her as an example because we are both female). People look at us and call her my “mini-me”. And yes we look very much alike but we aren’t.

Choosing Your Children Blog

Madison is very athletic and adventurous. I always sucked at sports and was too scared to try new stuff.
Madison is very social and has many friends and is popular at school. I only ever had either a group of close friends or everyone hated me, and I was never ever popular.
Madison is messy, I am an OCD freak.
Madison is intelligent but school work is not high on her priorities list. If I didn’t get an A at something, I cried.
We do both, however, carry the clumsy gene. It’s been passed down through many generations. There are numerous funny stories. Not going there right now.
Would my younger self and Madison be friends? I doubt it.
So anyway, back to my point. As Madison’s parent, my only point of reference is myself when I was around that age. And after many months of banging my head against the wall because I totally suck at this parenting thing and why don’t my kids respect me when I had the upmost respect for my elders etc etc etc; I FINALLY realised that my point of reference is all wrong!!!
I cannot compare her to myself at that age or ever, because she is NOTHING like myself at that age or ever! She is her very own individual person. Because something is important to me does NOT mean that it will automatically be important to her. Things that motivate me may not be the same things which motivate her. I had this parenting thing all wrong!
So, what now?
Well, as I always say, awareness is the key. Once you are aware of something, you cannot make it go away or unthink it. It doesn’t go away until you address it. So that’s really cool, I’m glad I have had this a-ha! moment.
What do I really do now? How do I change things? How do I parent in a different way I have never tried before?
Look, I have no idea. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated and welcome. Thanks xx

Why does a bully bully?

As always, I would like to recognise the beauty of being human. The diversity, the uniqueness, the treasure, the freedom to choose.

As such, this article is MY take on the issue. You may not agree. That is okaaaay.

Sometimes not all choices we make are the best ones. And that’s okay. Sometimes though, it’s not okay. Like when the choices we make adversely affect those around us.

To bully is a choice. How we react and respond to bullies is a choice. How we let bullying affect us is also a choice.

This is an “issue” rife in children’s playgrounds as well as in the world of so called adults.

Actually, it is not an issue. It is a symptom. But more about that later.

First, let’s talk about how it feels to be bullied.

It’s not pleasant to be on the receiving end of a bullying attack. As we probably all know, there have been unfortunate incidents where people have taken their own lives because of the amount of bullying they have been the subject of. Makes me angry and I’m sure it makes you angry too.

And there are other cases which happen on a daily basis, which are less extreme but still painful.

To be bullied makes you feel really bad about yourself, makes you doubt your self-worth, decreases your self-esteem, makes you feel scared and physically sick to go to a place where you might by chance encounter your bully.

Why do bullies makes us feel this way?

Because we let them.

We make a choice to allow them.

To borrow a quote from one of my favourite movies: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

If an individual has a strong sense of self worth, is loving and accepting of others, loves oneself and understands that there is no person who is better than them or worse than them, only different; than that person has absolutely no reason to believe the bully and allow them to make them feel inferior. If anything, that person will feel sorrow and compassion for the bully. The bully’s actions speak only of the bully not the person being bullied.

Let me spice this up with a couple of examples.

End of last year, we moved. The kids changed schools. For the very first time in his life, my six year old was bullied. After his dad finally got him to talk about what was happening, my six year old said, all of his own accord: “It’s okay, I know they are doing it because I am the ‘new kid’”. As a parent, my heart broke, but I know that it is something he had to go through and something he was clearly quite prepared to and able to comprehend.

Start of this year, my daughter started high school. Last week, she got bullied by a girl in a grade above hers. She cried, there was drama and we had a talk where we concluded that her “bully” mustn’t have a very happy home life and has a low self esteem. (Madison was mainly doing the talking, she’s really smart)

Secondly, how do we react when we are bullied?

Well, the way I see it, the bully is doing what they do to cause a reaction and gain attention. If neither are achieved, they may persist for a while but will soon move on to a different target (unfortunately).

When Madison was little, I always said to her: “if someone is rude or nasty to you or anything like that, take a breath. Smile sweetly. Say “thank you”. Walk away.”

As this is not the response most bullies expect, they end up completely confused and pause, giving you enough time to move away from them before they keep carrying on.

Unfortunately, sometimes the bullying involves physical violence and then it is not that “easy”. This is what my son went through and what my daughter was threatened with. This is when the “cause” really needs to be addressed and the bully removed. This brings me to my next (and last) point:

Why does a bully bully?

When a person is derogatory to others, what they are trying to achieve is to make others feel “small” and thus make themselves feel “big”.

Why?

This is where I conclude that bullying is a symptom of a cause that is much larger. This is why no matter how hard we try to eliminate the symptom, i.e. the behaviour (think the orange “no bullying days” etc), it will not work unless we focus on the actual cause.

Bullies generally come from a place of low self-esteem, a place of hurt and pain. They do not love them selves, they do not hold themselves in high regard; how can they then be expected to show these things to others? They are searching for something to make them feel good about themselves, for that instant “high”. Instead of turning to drugs or seeking help, they take their frustration out on people around them. They are energy vampires. They take your good energy by making you feel bad about yourself so that they may feel good instead. If only just for a second. It is all they know.

I feel ultimate sadness for people like this. Sometimes I doubt if they even realise how scarring it can be to the people who are on the receiving end of their behaviour. Probably not. But even if they did, would they stop?

Have you sometimes had a REALLY bad day and you were rude to people because you just could NOT be bothered and everything was going wrong no matter what you did? And then maybe a perfect stranger was unexpectedly kind to you? And it made you stop and pause and take a breath and bask in the knowledge that someone could possibly actually care? And it wasn’t all that bad after all?

Imagine if we could do that. Imagine if we all loved ourselves enough to be strong enough to make a choice to not allow others to make us feel inferior. Imagine if we could react to bullies and their behaviour with kindness and love.

Do you think that might make an iota of a difference? Do you realise that even one drop in the ocean can still create a ripple?

 Kindness

This article was also published in the Elephant Journal on 25/03/2015

Jo Douglas Brown

This is a gratitude blog for my beautiful friend, Jo. If I had to describe her in one word, it would be…. etheral.

Jo Douglas Brown

Without sounding cheesy, Jo is like a ray of sunshine that warms your soul. She is one of the kindest most loving people I have ever ever met.

And she has literally changed my life.

I will tell you how.

After the birth of my twins, I ended up with SPD (Symphysis Pubic Disfunction); a condition where the pelvic bones are not held in place and can easily become misaligned (you can imagine carrying twins might do that to a person).

Sounds harmless enough, but I don’t think I have the words to describe the pain and the agony this condition can bring.

Yes, I went to physio; there is a belt you can wear to “hold your pelvis in place”, however they don’t make a size small enough for me. The other thing I was given was a sheet of all the activities to avoid doing. Basically any asymmetrical activity can pop you out of place; things like vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, carrying a child, going up the stairs, going down the stairs, going up a hill, going down a hill, driving a car, you know, basically everything.

Of course, I could not avoid these things and what would happen is that I would end up in a foetal position on the floor, unable to move for fear of even further pain, bawling my eyes out.

Yes, there were painkillers. But they had to be really strong. This meant that the next day I would have to spend in bed because I would be too groggy from the side effects.

When you have as many children as I do, being “out of action” is not always an option.

Anyway. My Jo Jo does this “thing” called Bioresonance Therapy. One day, I must have been having a whinge about being in pain and Jo said, “why don’t you let me help you?” I was like “um, because you are like four hours drive away and the last thing I need to do right now is drive”. (I have such tact and nice manners)

Jo said, “well, why don’t we do distance therapy?” I was like, “okay”.

We did two sessions. Afterwards, I wanted to make sure this thing really worked. I spent hours killing myself doing every asymmetrical thing I could think of (house was spotless) and all the things that would normally bring the pain on. At first, the familiar pain started and I thought “oh, great, it’s coming” but then. It just went away!

And it has not come back since. And that was about two years ago.

Jo is also a friend who will call me out of the blue just to see if I’m okay. She will listen to me rattle and prattle on about stuff and always have kind words for me.

She does lift me up when I am down and encourages me to be me; she is one of my biggest fans 🙂

Recently, Jo moved to Rubyvale to be close to the gemfields, lol! And she has found a place which is her “happy place” and I could not be happier for her.

She has relocated her clinic, Living Balance Centre, with her and still does distance therapy all over the place (she also helped me with a couple of the kids, there is nothing she cannot do).

I just feel so blessed to have her in my life and to call her a friend and I will stalk her until the end of my days, if required.

I loves you, Jo Jo x

Post Natal Depression Or Am I Just Normal?

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about Post Natal Depression. It seems to be a disease which is taking over the society or perhaps it’s always been there silently but we are just being a bit more open about it now?

I think like many other diseases, Post Natal Depression is a modern disease, created by the modern society in which we live in today. In my previous blog, I mentioned how “back in the day”, the mother of a newborn got to spend six weeks in bed, just focusing on the newborn child and bonding with it. Today, with so many pressures of other children to care for, immediate family not being available to help, cooking, cleaning, generating an income; it is pretty much unheard of that a new mum would be able to take six weeks out of her schedule and solely focus on the brand new baby.

I truly believe this is where the problem lies. Of course, I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist and I don’t have any kind of a professional degree. However, I am a mother. Of a few children. Let me tell you my stories.

The first time I fell pregnant, I was 23 years old. I was barely more than a child myself. I didn’t particularly like children. When everyone would be fussing around a newborn, I would remove myself; this was because everyone would be going “ooooh, she’s sooooo cute” and I just thought they looked like a wet rat. (I still think this) In a supermarket, I would give a wide berth to any isles containing children. I couldn’t relate to non adult people and I didn’t particularly want to.

So I totally hated every bit of being pregnant. I didn’t like my body being “taken over” by something I had no control over. I wasn’t prepared for all the changes. Sure, I read lots of books, but they don’t prepare you for real life as much as real life does. There were things in there which were conflicting, there were things in there which freaked me out and there were things that should have been in there but weren’t.

And of course, there is nothing to ever prepare you for your first child birth. The pain sucks so bad and the thing is that you can’t make it stop, and you don’t have a choice but to keep pushing because the baby ain’t gonna stay in there until it starts college.

And there always have to be some kind of complications no matter how minor. The first time, Madison was overdue so she pooed in the sac during labour. Luckily, she didn’t breathe it in however she did swallow it. The first poo is tar like and therefore sticky. If the baby breathes it in, it can get stuck in their lungs. This time however, it got stuck in her throat and she wasn’t breathing when she came out. They quickly whisked her away to “fix” her.

Being in a daze from twelve hours of constant pain, I didn’t quite react to anything, so I wasn’t worried. When they brought her to me and put her in my arms for the first time, I looked her and thought, “oh, gross, she’s got blood and white gunk all over her head, didn’t they give her a bath?”

See now, the only “newborns” I had seen were on TV and they all looked clean so naturally, I assumed mine would be as well, how was I to know any different?

Also, I knew nothing about skin to skin contact or breastfeeding. A midwife coming up to me and pinching my nipple to get the colostrum started was my first brush with breastfeeding.

Those early days sucked big time. First of all, I felt absolutely nothing for my first child. All the books said that there would be a “magic bond”. I had no magic or any other kind of bond happening, was I failing?

Breastfeeding sucked and was painful and we were both crying and distressed. Did this mean I was failing?

I had random thoughts pop into my head about all the things I read in books and what causes SIDS. All these scenarios would go through my head of the different ways my baby dies and I failed her and I would cry and cry for hours like it actually happened. Did this mean I was a failure?

In the middle of the night, I would hold my three week old baby as we both struggled to feed her and I knew I wasn’t doing a very good job and I would cry and cry and I would put my head in her lap and cry and feel like I was the worst mother she could have possibly ever chosen because she deserves so much more and for some reason I am not able to give it to her?

And then when she was eleven weeks old and I had to go back to full time work, did I feel like a failure? Just when we finally got happy with the formula and had a routine happening and started the bonding thing, I up and deserted her.

Yes, I felt like a failure with all of the above. I didn’t know what to do about it or that I was, in fact, supposed to do anything about it. Sure, I read somewhere about “baby blues” but that only happened in the first week and I was past that. I heard about post natal depression but that had the word “depression” in it, and I didn’t think I was “depressed”.

Of course the “mother guilt” continued for years as I had to send her to daycare twelve hours a day, five days a week until she started school. I felt so guilty from being away from her and she must have felt so many things that she could not express at such a young age, that the time we did get to spend together was not as good as it could have been.

In retrospect through, and even at the time, while I recognised that I was on an emotional rollercoaster and my mind was playing some very strange tricks on me, I still knew that hormones were a big part of it and perhaps because of my ignorance, I just accepted that it was what it was and I just had to deal with it, in an onwards and upwards fashion. As much as I may have imagined myself giving up on numerous occasions, I knew that in real life, that was simply not an option.

My last pregnancy with the twins was a different yet similar story. The main obstacle I had to overcome was the tyranny of the public health system. You see a twin pregnancy is considered a “high risk” pregnancy, so what the hospital is interested in doing is minimising THEIR risk that anything could go wrong by taking the control away from nature and god/universe, and taking that control themselves. They don’t like to let you full term with a twin pregnancy. They like to “take them” early and put them in an incubator. That is a whole other blog and I will not go into it here.

At the hospital, I was inundated with a 24/7 procession of doctors and nurses and midwives (I would also like to say that midwives are my favourite people in the whole wide world, I love them so much), but at least I got to stay in bed.

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When I got home, my lovely mother in law came and stayed for five days and that was a blessing but when she left, I cried and cried because I didn’t know if I could cope with it all on my own. I was so tired that I would fall asleep while breastfeeding; I would wake up and feel so guilty because what if something happened? What if I had smothered them? What if I had dropped them?

And also the whole looking after two babies instead of one was a new thing as well.

I felt like a failure because after sixteen hours of labour and nine centimetre dilation, I still had to have a caesarean section. I felt like a failure because I nearly bled out on the operating table and died and left them without a mother.  I felt like a failure because my nipple got so sore that I would cry when I was feeding them and it wasn’t until after I stopped that I realised I had a blocked milk duct. What if I had realised this sooner and could have continued breast feeding for longer?

I doubted myself because I insisted on always keeping them together and never separating them. Would they be okay in the same cot, I mean what about SIDS? Will I fail them? What if they die and it’s all my fault? And the dying scenarios started again. And everyone was dying. All the kids, my husband, me. I wept for us all.

And should I feel guilty because the twins have now changed my life, and ended my career as I know it? Would I blame them for that later and will that make me a bad mother?

I don’t think it matters how many kids you have had or what you do, this will just happen.

The reason I am sharing all of this is because I want the mothers and the fathers out there to know that:

  1. You are not the only person this happens to
  2. There is NOTHING wrong with you
  3. Trust your instincs
  4. Yes, you CAN get through this
  5. If you can stay in bed for 40 days with your newborn child, PLEASE do so
  6. You are perfectly normal
  7. You are the very BEST mother/father your child could EVER have, that is why they chose YOU

Alice

Today I would like to talk about Alice.

(no, not the song, although I do love the song)

This Alice.

Alice

To me, Alice represents “the village”, the support, the family, the friends; all those things which help a parent raise a child. Because yes, parents DO NEED HELP.

We are probably all familiar with the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. That saying is a saying for a reason.

For generations, child rearing has been something which was done not only by the parents but by the grandparents and the aunts and the uncles and the family friends and by the peers. The mother would be on complete bed rest for 40 days after birth, required to do nothing more than bond with the baby. The family would take care of the rest. And there was absolutely no guilt attached to this whatsoever.

It was quite reasonable for a mother, who stayed home caring for her children, to have “someone” come and help a few times a week. Like you know, clean the bathrooms and the floors and dust and iron and stuff like that. This was not seen as failure, this was seen as normal.

Mrs Brady, of course, was the luckiest of the bunch, to have Alice live with her full time and run the household so that all Mrs Brady needed to concentrate on was charity work, idle chit chat and children’s squabbles. Oh and always looking well groomed, of course.

And “back in those days”, children were well behaved, well mannered, respectful to adults and knew their place. Not all of course, but I’m going to say it must have been the majority because that is how it is represented these days. All I hear about is the good old days and the “young people of today” not having any respect and behaving like the world owes them a favour.

Let’s have a look at parents today as a comparison, shall we?

More often than not the family unit is the parents and the children. The grandparents and the rest of the extended family are all over the country, if not all over the world. More often than not, the mother has to go back to work weeks after the baby’s birth. More often than not, she is out of bed days after childbirth, cleaning the house, doing the washing, cooking and looking after other children. We rely on childcare to look after our children while we work long hours so that we could pay for that childcare. The notion of having an Alice on one income makes the mind boggle!!!!

So we have these children whose parents are stressed out from before they are born. Breastfeeding or formula? Disposable nappies or cloth nappies? Does mum stay at home or does she work? Is it even a question? Does dad stay at home and mum goes to work? If it’s childcare, which childcare? We are made to feel guilty by the society regardless of which decision we make.

And the kids end up in day care for long hours every day because the parents are trying to make ends meet; and they are irritable and they can’t tell us why. And the little time the parents do get to spend home between work and commute to and from, instead of spending it reading their children stories and kissing their fat little fingers and toes and giving them bubble baths; the parents have to spend that time getting ready so they can repeat the whole process the next day. And they miss out on the every day things, the falls and the smiles and the tears and the a-ha moments because someone else is looking after their child, someone who probably cares a lot, but not as much as mum and dad ever would.

And then we wonder why they grow up distant and aloof and thinking that life is unfair?

Or, if a parent chooses to stay at home and rear the children on their own with no help because the family is unavailable, how does that work? When you have to clean and wash and cook and help with homework and be a taxi and a bank and a budget advisor and a savvy shopper and a dietician and a nurse and a confidante and a bargain hunter and the payer of bills and organiser of parties and the cupcake maker and the dog walker and the dog poopy picker uperer and the last minute everything? Not to mention be a wife/husband, a friend, a daughter/son, a sister, a brother? How about personal sanity and a moment for yourself? Like going to the toilet without an audience? You know, the little things.

One could say that as a stay at home parent you could “get organised” and “follow a routine”. Really? Nothing quite disrupts routine like a child taking their nappy off without you noticing (since you are busy being all of the above, you are not able to watch your children like a hawk every second) and then the said child proceeds to poo and pee sporadically not only all over the inside of the house but also the concrete outside as you discover some time later when it’s all dried up and you need to get the chisel out. There is nothing like the time later on the same day when you are in a room and although you have thoroughly cleaned it, you still can’t help but notice a particular smell. Then you go on a hunt on your hands and knees for the source of this particular smell because you cannot rest until it is located. After some time you realise that innocent looking raisin over there is in fact not a raisin at all.

So what I’m saying is routine is all good and well as a concept, but the reality is very VERY different. “Best laid plans of mice and men”; great book, very tragic but it helps put the concept across.

I remember reading in the Celestine Prophecy that we are meant to have one child per adult so that they are given all the attention they need to develop into a really cool adult. “What a great concept!” I thought at the time. L O L

Now I have five children fighting for my attention at the same time. And I mean fighting. And this could possibly be while I am on the toilet, on the phone, in the shower, cooking with hot oil, baking things in the hot oven…they can strike at any given time….it is never safe to relax…

Quite often I find myself at the shop buying milk in the mornings dressed in my pyjamas. Sure, the mornings can start off well organised. And then, you know, one thing leads to another and I realise while paying for the said milk, that my teeth are a bit on the furry side.

Even as I write this, William is climbing on my back waving my laptop case in the air (because he IS Batman!) and Phoenix has got the vacuum AND the broom out in the lounge behind me and is trying to knock down the objects he can’t reach with the broom. (I think he must have tried the vacuum cleaner first, but it must have been too heavy)

So, understandably, there are times when I will say to my husband “dear, I need an Alice”. And he will lovingly reply, “dear, we can’t afford an Alice”.

I don’t know what the answer is, I really don’t.

All I know is that I am doing the best that I can and the best I know how. And if the kids have thrown their bowls of pasta all over the floor and I let the dogs in to clean it up, don’t judge me. I choose not to judge me. My OCD cleanliness standards have gone out the window a long time ago. I want to be able to sit and kiss each and every one of those little fat toes and fingers while they are still little. And I want to snuggle up and watch a gazillion episodes of Batman, because Batman is cool and I do love those snuggles!

Yes, I will make sure I pick up each and every one of those raisins but if the day gets away from me, I will not feel guilty for feeding my children toast and tea.

I know I will never be able to give them all the attention they need all of the time but I will give them all of my love all of the time.

I know they can be naughty and I should discipline them better but sometimes I just don’t have the strength so I just don’t (even though I know it will come to bite me on the arse later).

There are days when I am just so exhausted and I feel like the weight of the whole world, past present and future, rests on my shoulders and I just want to run far far away and hide and pretend I’m a tree.

There are days when I want to paint my nails and let them dry before I have to go and do something.

Every day I wish I could actually finish one cup of coffee before I am interrupted.

Parents everywhere will say, “oh, but the REWARDS are so worth it!!!”. Kiss my arse. The rewards are NOT going to mean jack shit to me if I run myself into the ground and end up sick or depressed because I have failed to take the time to look after ME properly.

So, in a nutshell, Mrs Brady had it right. And I want, no I NEED an Alice. And so do you.

Mrs Brady and Alice

Not being able to have extended family around is sometimes due to geographical reasons but sometimes they can also be people you don’t want to be around with (let alone have them around your child); whatever the reason, you always get to choose who your Alice is.

Now I just have to figure out a way for every parent to be able to afford an Alice…maybe it will work like fashion styles do? They all come back. So maybe the concept of actually having and needing and getting and not feeling guilty about having help with the household chores will come back into fashion too?

Life and Curveballs

I have an urgent need to apologise to my friends, my readers for going completely MIA for the past few months. It has been “full on” to say the very least.

Life does, indeed, throw us many curve balls along the way, I guess this is how we learn and grow and gain strength and perspective.

One of the main reasons I have not written of late, is that I have been experiencing a feeling of “flat”. It is something which does not happen to me very often at all, so it took me by surprise and I was not sure exactly what I should do to make it stop. I felt that if I wrote when I was feeling that way, that it would not be my true self writing and whatever I did write would not be authentic and me.

Some of my friends said that it was just the reason that I should write, to make others aware that it is okay to “be flat”, lol! The thing is, that writing is what I love doing most, and all I could think about was writing and I was getting increasingly frustrated that I just could not make myself sit down and just write.

But I’m here now and that is all that matters. Finally, I made it 🙂

So…what has been happening?

Well, we were living in sunny Queensland, in the middle of nowhere but our lease was about to run out in July and we weren’t sure what our next step was.

The reason for this was that my husband’s employer kept saying that they wanted him to relocate to Newcastle but they couldn’t say when or if for sure.

At the same time, Forrest, our eldest, came back to live with us. And again, we could not enrol him at school because we didn’t know where we would be living and the end of term was drawing near. So, I got to home school him. Yay! Good times 🙂

And, of course, because I am a super organised control freak, I started packing all the things we weren’t using every day, getting slowly ready for the inevitable move.

The situation had us in limbo. I did not like being in that place at all. I function well with dates, goals, lists and generally the full knowledge of what is going on. To say I was out of my comfort zone would be a gross understatement.

Anyway, we had to let the real estate know our plans (which we didn’t have) so that they could make plans and we set the moving date as the end of August. We decided we would move to Brisbane and stay with family until we knew exactly what was going on with Billy’s work. I was adamant that I did NOT want to move to Newcastle. I didn’t know anyone there, all of our families were in Brisbane/ Queensland and I would have absolutely no support with five children if we were to move to Newcastle.

But at least now I had dates and I could get on with what I do best: organising!

So, I organised the movers and the pest control and the cleaners and all that jazz. Finally, I was on a mission!

And then, on the weekend before our move, we got a phone call that Forrest’s mum had an accident and was in a critical condition at the hospital. Of course, Billy and Forrest got in the car straight away and drove the four hours to the hospital in Brisbane. As much as I would have wanted to go as well, I did have to stay behind with the four children and the two dogs.

A couple of days later, she died.

Naturally, there was no way I was going to miss the funeral as well, so I knew I had to get a move on. The movers were scheduled for that Thursday and it was very late on Tuesday afternoon that I found out that the funeral had also been scheduled for that Thursday. Before panic set in, I called the movers, who could indeed make it over…. the next morning!!!!!

Then the panic truly set in. I had less than ten hours to pack up the whole house, the kids, everything!

So I sat down and did something I very rarely do. I cried. Then I cried some more.

Then I went to get wine. But I packed all the glasses and the cups. Never the one to be unclassy and drink out of a bottle, I drank out of the only other vessel available: baby plastic sippa cup.

Wine in a plastic cup

I had friends calling me from all over the place offering to come and help, and I was so very touched by their kindness. It’s funny how in the midst of all that mayhem a kind act or a kind word can just make you stop for a minute and put it all into perspective.

Anyway, here is a photo of the damn trampoline. It is the one with the sides. Billy was meant to disassemble it (one of his three jobs for the move) but then he wasn’t there so I had to. I figured after taking the sides and the legs off, that it could just go into the truck. Then I rolled it up against the garage and realised this was not possible and yes, I really did have to go ahead and take the springs off, one by one. This is why.

Trampoline

And also, thank god for my beautiful neighbours, who came over with their weed cutting things and lawn mowers and ride on lawn mowers and tidied up the lawn and mowed an acre’s worth of grass.

So, that night, I managed to move everything into the garage and only leave the big furniture in the house. I had two trucks coming the next morning.

Moving 3 Moving 2 Moving 1

In the morning, I did a trip to the dump on the way to school, dropped off Madi and Rahn at the school, went home and helped pack up two twenty foot containers. I also packed my car to the brim and after cleaning up, was left with a bag full of rubbish which poor Rahn had to have on his lap while I drove around to find a wheelie bin to put it into after school.

Of course, it all happened so suddenly that they didn’t have the time to say good bye to their friends properly and Madison managed to leave a heap of stuff at the school.

So, we got to Brisbane that night, went to the funeral next day and then back to limbo land.

I had enrolled Madison and Rahn at the school at the Gold Coast they previously attended, to make it all a bit easier since they already had friends there. Forrest, of course, was in no state to go to school at that stage.

Billy and I went to Newcastle to have a look around since we had never been there before, and we found a couple of houses that were suitable, however, I still deep down really did not want to live there.

The bottom line was though, that if Billy was to accept the promotion which has been offered to him and take advantage of the growth that would provide for his career, which he had worked so very hard for, we simply had to move.

I realised that. But I would still wake up in a panic in the middle of the night. Every night.

And then.

Billy went to Newcastle for a business trip and while he was there, he had a look around at some other houses.

He found a house in a place called Fingal Bay. It is actually over an hour away from his office, so we never looked this far out. But this house….it’s like a doll’s house and it is 450 meters away from the beach. When I lie in bed at night, I can hear the waves breaking on the shore.

So we have been here for about six weeks now and the kids are settled at school and there is some kind of a normalcy coming back into our lives and I am finally starting to get over the “flat” feeling.

I think that the amazing thing is that if you have faith and trust (or FaT, thank you Amanda) then you know it will all work out in the end, and that all things indeed have a purpose.

The amount of love and support and kind words I have had from my friends all over the world has been so very overwhelming and sometimes made me feel guilty because I just didn’t have the strength to reply to their messages straight away, but they meant SO much to me. Thank you xxxx

So, in conclusion, I am back and I am sorry and I thank you 🙂 xxxx

Amanda Foy

Oh, Ms Foy.

Let me count the ways….

Manda

First of all, I did NOT meet Amanda first. My husband did. And this is just one of those “things” when a person is meant to come into your life and the universe or the grace of god makes damn sure that they do, in which ever what way possible.

So, my hot husband goes to a day seminar (something about marketing), and he’s met “this chick”. “She’s pretty cool, you’d like her”, he says. “Pfffft”, I say.

One day at work, I had to have a banner printed up most urgently. Because my husband is the one who knows everything, I called him. He says “give that chick a call, the one I met at the marketing seminar”. In desperation, I did.

And the rest of my life began…

At that time, I believe Amanda had her own communication business thing (this was before the Brisbane floods). But, when I read her website (I am like, SO thorough with people, although I do draw the line at stalking), I saw that she did Reiki, although it didn’t seem emphasised all that much on there. But my curiosity peaked, especially since I had always researched and studied natural therapies and I also actually owned a book about Reiki.

So I asked her about it, one thing led to another and she Reiki’d me. Now, whenever I use that term, this song pops into my head.

Anyway, to say I was BLOWN away would be somewhat of an understatement. But then I wondered, if this woman has got THIS talent, WTF was she doing in a corporate environment-type setting? Why is she not sharing this gift with the WORLD?

And although I have been known to be as subtle as a hammer to the head, I held my peace this time. Why? I don’t know.

And then came the famous Goddess Imperative. Elevating the woman without diminishing the man. Amanda and Juli started this group to help women realise their true and given potential and find the “gift in the shit” (thanks again, Llana).

And you know, to some people, it’s a “bunch of women having a whinge” but in reality, I can honestly say, that it has changed people’s lives. For the gooder. A place where you are safe and free from judgement. A place where you can share your problems and get actual, practical help and advice. And support and oh so much LOVE.

I don’t know when, but somewhere along the line, Amanda has realised her true calling and decided to share her gift with the world full time. How lucky are we?

The reason I love Amanda is that she IS love. When you are in her presence, you cannot help but be engulfed and suffocated by love, in it’s purest form. You feel safe and you feel important and you feel loved. She gives it freely and naturally, probably without even realising it. And that is the other thing I love about her. Her innocence. She can appear “grown up” and worldly but then she can also be like a child, who wants to wrong every injustice in the world and save the innocents. And she gets frustrated when she can’t.

Sometimes people hold her in such high regard (and rightly so) that they can forget she is also human, just like the rest of us. And that just like the rest of us, she needs a kick up the arse now and then.

It gives me great pleasure to provide this service 🙂

At the same time, no one pushes my buttons like this woman. She knows where they all are, and just how to push them. Most of the time she does it for her own personal entertainment value. Whatever.

She has dimples when she laughs and she also sometimes snorts. She has body issues just like many other women out there, and I will never understand why. Even when she tries to hide body parts under clothes, her beauty bursts through. So, it’s a waste of time, Amanda, people love every BIT of you; I wish you would learn to love every BIT of you too.

Although Amanda is my dear and trusted friend, someone I can share anything with, and someone who can understand it all; at the same time I feel like I am connected to her on a much more “energetic” level as well. You know, like energy fields or something, I don’t know how to explain it, it’s a feeling.

I can honestly say that without having had this woman in my life, I would not be where I am today. I would not be as evolved or as brave. The Goddess Imperative group gave me the support and encouragement to start blogging in the first place. They helped me through my reservations and fears and encouraged me to believe in myself because THEY believed in me. I can never express my gratitude and love enough.

And as Amanda sometimes reminds me, we are friends forever now, there is no going back. And I am forever grateful for that.

Hey, Manda!

LOVE YOU BIGGEST MUCH XXXXX