I recently had a chat to a client which was so remarkable I think it's well worth blogging about.
She's a good client, I see her at least twice a year for her sons's birthdays. She's my age but her kids are young (6 and 8). This past week when I saw her she apologised to me for being tired and looking crappy - to which I laughed and said the beauty of ordering cake is that nobody cares what you look like! It's not the kind of place where how you look has anything to do with how you're treated. She then commented that since the last time I'd seen her (about 10 weeks ago), she'd been kinda tired and struggling to stay on top of things.
Ten weeks ago I made her son's birthday cake.
The day after that party, she had a mastectomy and some lymph nodes removed.
Ten days before I saw her this time, she'd had a breast reconstruction.
This woman planned these surgeries so that both would not get in the way of her kids' celebrations. The first one she planned to be immediately after her first son's birthday, and the second one she planned far enough ahead of the second son's birthday so that she could recover in time.
It turns out that she has been battling breast cancer for the last two years. I've seen her at least twice a year in those two years and there is no way on earth I would have told you that she was someone going through that ordeal.
She started to tell me about the experience - from finding the lump to being diagnosed and then going through treatment and getting the all clear. I told her I had no idea she'd gone through this, and I asked her if she was deliberately keeping it a secret. Apparently - her words - she dealt with the whole thing by remaining in total ignorance about it.
Early on in her diagnosis she was told that they had caught it early enough, and that she would survive, and that she'd have chemo and that should resolve it. She took everything her doctors said at face value - didn't go Googling things, didn't ask a whole lot of questions, just went along with the treatment plan. After her courses of chemo, her doctor felt the lump and said, "That's great, the mass is smaller, the chemo is working!" to which my client said, "What do you mean? Doesn't chemo work for everyone?"
She literally had NO IDEA that chemo had a chance of not working.
Ignorance is bliss, indeed. She did admit to having some bad days when she thought about the worst...but she'd always come back to what the doctor said about her surviving and so she was reassured that it would all be fine.
It reminds me a little of those "what would you do if you did not know you cold fail?" questions...this woman survived cancer in part because her attitude was about survival being the ONLY possible outcome.
I was humbled - and awed - by her story and I'm sharing it here because it served to remind me (again) that sometimes attitude really is everything. Like the cliche says, it's not so much about what happens to you but about how you deal with it.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I recently had a chat to a client which was so remarkable I think it's well worth blogging about.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I've been overweight for my whole life. I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb a chubby baby and just never really got much smaller. For obvious reasons this was an issue of concern for my parents, and I endured plenty of discussion and attempts to remedy it. Hell, they even sent me to fat camp...twice! (...which by the way was more fun than you would think.) Both my parents were overweight themselves, so they knew first hand what it was like to live in a body bigger than you needed or wanted. My Mom in particular tried to talk to me about the situation - and talking to her was always sort of amusing because English is not her first language. While her English is pretty near perfect, she has some very funny (to me) expressions which she uses - in this case, she used to call my being fat "The Overweight" - although I think she meant "being overweight" she always put the "The" there. I put the caps there because, as a kid (and young adult), it was as though she was talking about some sort of creature which kinda just hung around. The Overweight developed it's own personality and in my head I used to think of it as some sort of entity all it's own.
So her conversations would sound like this: "You know, it's because of The Overweight that you don't enjoy clothes shopping...," or "if only you got rid of The Overweight, you might have more friends," or "The Overweight makes me so worried about you," and so on. She definitely meant well, but I grew up thinking of The Overweight as a this creature outside of myself. People who battle with depression often call it "the black dog" which follows you around, lurks in corners, and makes a nuisance of himself...and I'd venture to say The Overweight is much the same sort of beast.
In recent years, I've gotten rid of a fairly large portion of the excess weight I was carrying around. Amazingly (to me), even with all that effort, The Overweight is still hanging around! (bastard!) The Overweight is why I eat if I'm bored or grumpy, The Overweight is why I'm not comfortable walking into "normal" clothing stores even though I easily fit into their clothes, The Overweight is what makes me socially awkward. The fact is, it's probably TRUE that being overweight is a symptom of all those things - but in reality it's the mental part of being overweight, not the ACTUAL weight, which makes those things happen in the first place. In other words it's not the weight you've got hanging on you, it's The Overweight you've got which is the problem.
One of my employees is actively in weight-loss mode at the moment, and so it's her ongoing topic of conversation. No pun intended, but the weight loss efforts totally consume her. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the topic of conversation is not the exercise and food (although that's definitely there), but the emotional experience of dealing with The Overweight. How awful she feels when she misses a day of exercise, how hard it is to resist the treats which are around when she is out with friends, how much she'd rather be a hermit during this stage just so she doesn't have to deal with the commentary she inevitably gets. Like a lot of people dealing with some sort of monkey on their back, she believes that once she loses the weight the rest of her life will magically fall into place. She'll find a partner, be a happier person, be better able to handle social situations, won't be embarrassed to learn to surf, etc.
Having been there and done that - I just want so much to tell her that while the excess weight does in fact curtail your life, it doesn't DEFINE your life by any means. You can be thinner and still feel shitty about missing a day of exercise. You can be thinner and still be unhappy sometimes. You can be thinner and still be socially awkward. Just like there is no magic pill for weight loss, there is no magic pill for life satisfaction.
Ultimately, I don't have the heart to tell her that even when you lose the weight, you're still stuck with The Overweight.
Monday, August 19, 2013
A couple of months ago I was driving down the road with the kids in the car when DD2 said, "Hey! Mum! Check that out! I just saw something which is going to make me happy for a week!" It turns out that what she had seen was one of those giant fit balls - a bright blue one - stuck in the top of a 2 story tree. There was a small apartment building with a tree in it's front yard, and wedged within it's branches was a bright blue enormous fit ball. It was just sort of ...there. It even looked as though it had been there for a while.
You know, she was right about that sight making her (and me) happy for a week. It was so ridiculous, so unexpected, so...smile-worthy, that even now when I think about that ball I smile to myself. How did that ball get there? Why wasn't anyone trying to get it down? Would it just blow out during the next storm? Who knows? All I know is that a giant ball stuck in a tree is going to make me smile for a week. Since then, the concept of seeing something which makes you "smile for a week" has become a bit of a family thing.
DH came home a few weeks ago and said he saw something which would make him smile for a week - it was a little patch of rainbow in the sky. Not a double rainbow or a full arc or even a half arc - just a little patch, to the eye maybe only 3 inches long, hanging out there in the sky in all it's rainbow glory.
Last week, I was driving home in a torrential downpour. I stopped at a traffic light and a man crossed in front of my car. He was a really, really tall man - I'd venture easily 6'3" or more - and the umbrella he was using was a teeny tiny bright yellow kids' umbrella, which pretty much just covered his head (and not his shoulders). He crossed the street in the pouring rain holding up this little ray of sunshine...and looking as though he didn't much care that he was getting soaked through.
A few days ago, we were in the car and DD2 looked out her window, and saw a 10 person van filled with elderly people who were all dressed to the nines. I have no idea where they were going, perhaps the theatre or maybe just out to the shops - but all of them were sitting up nice and tall and all of them were dressed beautifully. A van full of beautiful oldies can make you smile for a week, they really can.
I love that my kids notice these things, and that they recognise the great feeling which comes from seeing them. The ridiculous, the absurd, or just the every day things which occur around us that we often are too busy or to preoccupied to notice - those are the things which make us smile for a week.
When I say my children teach me things all the time, I'm talking about these sorts of things. They remind me to notice, to acknowledge...and then to actually smile for a week about those kinds of things. When's the last time you saw something absurd and let it just...sink in?
Last week, I went out of my way to check on the fit ball in the tree.
It's still there...hopefully making someone else smile, too.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
As I type this, it's one o'clock in the afternoon on a Thursday and I'm still in my pyjamas. I'm sitting up in the squishiest of beds, under 2 down comforters, with my back leaning against three fluffy pillows. Outside, the Victorian winter blows one hell of a gale, with the trees managing not to romantically, softly blow in the wind but rather make a heck of a lot of defiant noise. I'm not sick or unwell or bored or stuck in the middle of nowhere against my will. I'm exactly where I need to be, in this exact moment, in perfect health and of sound mind (although some might debate that last bit.)
Thanks to the generosity of a friend, and the Universe lining all the cosmos up, I find myself on a 4 day long "Mummy Holiday" devoid of friends, family, obligation or guilt. The kids got packed off to camp, DH has work commitments, and I'm blessed with employees who understand that even the Boss Lady deserves a moment or two to herself. I packed up some clothes, more books than I could possibly get through, some videos and some food and headed off to a beautiful beach house only metres from the Southern Victorian coastline. For the past two and a half days, I've done a whole lot of nothing. Actually, that's not entirely true. I've slept. Read. Eaten. Gone for a lot of very long cliff top walks. Watched surfers paddle out and ride in. Looked up at a very tall lighthouse. Took a long drive yesterday and wandered in and out of a few picturesque seaside towns. Watched a movie. Played a lot of Words with Friends. Thought a bit about some stuff (like work and friends and life) but only enough to smile about those things rather than be stressed by those things. Looking at that list, I've been a very busy girl.
Here's what I didn't do: I didn't look at my watch. Didn't worry about the calories I was eating. Didn't think too hard about anything in particular. I didn't feel guilty about doing what I wanted, when I wanted it. Didn't feel like I should, could, need, have to do anything AT ALL other than just...be.
For someone like me, who operates at what my friends call "very high revs" - embarking on this experience in the first place was a little scary. I've never been on holiday by myself, and certainly never had the days stretching out before me with no obligations. I mean, what if I got BORED or something? (For me, boredome often means self desctruction of the calorific kind.) So in my usual high achiever self, I made a list of what I would do while I was away. Brainstorm work ideas, work on my vision journal, blog on my various blogs (I have 3), email old friends, review some work documents I've been avoiding, take a walk of at least an hour every day, read an entire book a day, make my way through no less than 6 magazines, etc. Sounds a whole lot like WORK, doesn't it? And the point of all this time was just to NOT work for a while...! Believe me when I say I was rather nervous and worked up about this holiday of mine. The very idea of it thrilled me and freaked me out in equal measure. 4 days - with nobody but ME for company? And no specific plans? That's just...so far out of my comfort zone.
In truth, it took a good day and a bit for me to actually relax fully into the experience. It took a bit of time for my breathing to slow down, for the endless chatter in my head to tone down to a dull roar, for the euphoric realisation that I REALLY HAD NO OBLIGATIONS (to me, to anyone else, to my business) to sink in. I found myself thinking, "Ok, I'll go for a walk, then I'll shower, then dress, then make lunch, then do this then do that then do the other..." ad infinitum. Then I realised I in fact could choose to DO or NOT DO entirely on a whim. It took a bit for me to realise that, but once I did then the bliss set in.
So that's why it's taken until the middle of Day Three for me to be sitting up, in bed, blogging in my pyjamas while the trees outside threaten to blow right down. This is exactly where I want to be, exactly right now. It's been a very long time since I've felt as calm, relaxed, and totally free as I do right now. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night last night with a huge grin on my face...and for the life of me, I can't tell you why. I've smiled more in the past two and a half days than I probably have in the last six months and there wasn't even anyone here to see it!
All that worrying about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it and what happens if I get bored...really? I should have remembered my own advice to others, which is this:
Just. Show. Up.
In recent months, I've learned the showing up part is way more important than anything which might happen once you get there. Showing up is no guarantee of success, of peace, of not being bored - it's not guarantee of anything other than knowing that at the very least, you showed up. Things have a way of working themselves out as long as you make the effort to show up in the first place.
Now, if you'll excuse me - I showed up to blog because I wanted to share this experience - but just at the moment, I think it might be time for lunch. Or not. Who knows? I'll show up in the kitchen and see what happens.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
And this is their official portrait taken on the day they started Grade Six:
And this is the official "We got our first bank account" portrait:
Like I said, those photos are way funnier - and much more true to life - than the, "Seriously?! Would it KILL you to smile decently for once?" type of photos.
This past year has been such fun with the kids - I'm still waiting on that sullen, irritable and annoying teenage hormones bomb to hit, I guess. These three kids have managed to make my life one hilariously funny adventure and if I had to sum up this past year in one word that would be it: funny.
It's funny how they claim to drive each other mad, annoy one another, get in each other's way, and Claire often half-seriously says she wishes she was an only child...and yet when you ask them to take a group photo, the love they have for one another is very evident:
It's funny how, when you're meant to be the mature one, they do their best to remind you that maturity can be so boring sometimes. And it's funny how when you think, "I was nothing like that when I was a kid!" you realise that their presence in your life actually gives you the freedom to BE a kid once in a while:
Funnier still is when you look at their official "nice" 12th birthday morning portrait and you think, "You know, I like it better when his hair is messy," even though the five minutes before this photo you spent begging him to squish it down and make it look, "at least halfway decent." (And this realisation will not stop you from obsessively squishing his hair down at every given opportunity.)
Funny too when you look at them and think, "WHEN THE HELL DID I GRANT YOU PERMISSION TO GROW UP?!" and you realise that all those cliches are not cliches at all. You really will find that time passes a lot faster than you want it to, that their childhood will disappear in the blink of an eye, that time goes faster the older they (and you) get, and that children have a funny habit of growing up when you're not paying attention.
Perhaps the funniest thing of all about raising pre-teen triplets is, in fact, just how FUNNY it really is. These kids are just hilarious sometimes. They make me laugh with their insane stories about the other kids at school, they can make me laugh with the great expressions on their faces, funny turns of phrase, funny habits and funny quirks which make them uniquely individuals and yet uniquely attached to one another. This year my kids came into their own and it's so easy to see the traits which are so clearly "Claire-ish" or "Julz-like" or "Alexis-y." Traits which, when I think about it, they had as tiny babies but expressed in different ways.
My gorgeous super- mature Claire - from the time she was tiny she was an early riser. Now, at age 12, she's exactly the same -early to bed and early to rise and totally obsessed with being on time, organised, and having everything in it's rightful place (including the rest of us. If it weren't for Claire, sometimes I think we'd never get our act together as a family.) She has always been the most 'grown up' of the three ...but also the most adoring of of all things cuddly and squishy and cute. She keeps me on my toes, this one - because as soon as you accept that she is demanding, independent, wise, and extremely self sufficient, you realise that beneath all those things lies a little girl who really just needs a good hug more often than she admits. (And if you're wondering, no way did I buy her those insane heels! But she had a hell of a good time trying them all on.) Claire is most like me in personality, which is going to make her teenage years interesting to say the least - but then I suspect she will still manage to teach me a thing or two. For a long time Claire struggled with being bossy to the point of alienation from other kids. Her confidence and academic skill seemed to give her permission to not only be Queen Bee but also loudly announce it to anyone who would listen. This past year I've really worked with her on the concept of kindness, gratitude and humility, and understanding that not everyone can be as awesome as you might be. Much to my surprise she has taken all of that on board and is growing into a helpful, sweet kid who listens when people talk (mostly. Although she can still talk the paint off the walls.) Claire, if you're reading this (and I'm pretty sure you are, there are no secrets when you are around) - I want you to keep remembering that being smart will get you VERY far in life, but that being smart AND kind will get you further still. I adore you - you clever, cuddly, hair-obsessed beautiful girl.
If ever there was a person who wrote the book on love and affection, I'm pretty sure my son Julian would be it. A gentle giant, Julian is the child who teaches me how to love unconditionally, how to love others without judgement, and how to love even when you are not feeling in a loving mood at all. This is my sensitive soul - the one who cries at the drop of a hat (literally), who reads a book with a sad ending and will feel real, true desolation about it. His emotional side does not always serve him well - because frankly there are times I think he needs to stop the crying and just take action on things - but it always reminds me (when I see those big tears about to fall) that it's ME who needs to take action, give him a hug and help him to move forward. He might be the height of an adult, but a bit like his sister, underneath it all likes a boy who just needs a hug. At his recent parent teacher interview, his teachers all told me the same two things - 1) that he catches onto concepts very quickly, and 2) that his perfectionist streak and dedication to a specific process drives them all a little crazy. I had to laugh at both of those only because they could have been talking about his Dad! Like father, like son - they both love without limit, get stuck on the details, and are the smartest people I know. Julian, I know you're reading this (because you can't stand to be left out), I want you to know that sometimes there is more than one way to do things. Rule following is important - but the fun comes when you stop following the rules so much! Thank you, boychick, for all the love you give me and your hilarious wit. I'm pretty sure the Universe could not have gifted me a better son than you if for nothing than those gifts alone.
Oh...Alexis! These two photos represent you SO well. Those many moments of your life when you are full of laughter and joy and those moments when you are loving us all with such fierce loyalty. I look at you and your eyes always seem to have a little twinkle of mischief to them, as though you know some great cosmic joke that the rest of us don't. You are the MOST determined person I've ever met - determined not only to achieve the things you set out to, but also determined to live your life with a sense of fun. You just BOUNCE your way through life, sometimes literally. This year you were so worried about the demands of Year Six, and yet a few weeks ago when I commented on how well you're coping, you said, "Well, it's really not as hard as I thought it would be!" Your determination is quite simply amazing. You have always had to fight harder to achieve things - my little "away with the fairies" child needs to work twice as hard as the others do - but you've never once let that stop you. Your teachers ALL comment that they've never met a child with such a strong work ethic and such a belief in her ability to improve and learn and grow. Your Dad especially has learned how to get you through the rough moments when you forget just how capable you really are - and his love and determination has paid off in dividends this year. You've become so independent this year, too - a Patrol Leader at Girl Guides, travelling interstate to go camping, learning to be a girl who stands up for what she believes in and being someone who always puts her own special spin on things. Your endless notes and funny drawings always seem to appear when I need them most. Alexis, since I'm sure you're reading this too - thank you. For being exactly who you are, which is my funny, sunny, determined Lola girl. You make the sun shine just that little bit brighter with the light you have glowing from within.
It's been a wonderful year for the kids, it really has. I tried desperately to think of something throughout this year- anything - which would somehow not be quite as sappy and lovey-dovey but I couldn't come up with anything. Sure, we have our moments when it's not all unicorns and rainbows...but on balance, it's been a pretty damn good year parenting these kids. After all that thinking, I realised why I found no glaring instance of them being challenging. The past year of my children's lives has been a very difficult one for ME - business was difficult, family matters were difficult, finances were difficult - I've just spent this past year being in a bit of a mess, honestly. You know what WASN'T a mess through all of that? My amazing kids. They have been the one constant thing which has saved my sanity these past 12 months. They made me laugh, they wiped my tears away (quite literally), they offered hugs and encouragement and JOY. Ridiculous moments of sheer, unbridled joy at a time when I needed it so very, very much.
I had a really fabulous Mother's Day with the kids and David about 10 days ago. At the end of the day, I turned to David and I said, "You know what? We might not be perfect parents. I'm sure we stuff things up. But you know, on the whole, I think we're doing a damn fine job of raising them. We really are."
In true David fashion, he smiled, looked as though he was going to cry, gave me an enormous hug and said, "Yup. We sure are."
You know what? It's funny just how wrong we are about that.
The three of you are doing a damn fine job of raising US.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
My whole life I've been told I have a big mouth. Big girl, big voice, big opinions, big mouth. I can assure you that nobody who ever told me that was giving me a compliment. I've blogged about how having a big mouth gets me in trouble more often that not, that I lack a filter, and that there are even times when I wish I talked less and listened more.
It's fair to say that I'm not terribly proud of having said big mouth -again, mostly because those who have pointed it out to me have done so in a less than positive way. I don't think it's one of those traits we think are positive. I mean you never hear someone say, "She has beautiful skin, is gentle and kind, unfailingly polite, has mesmerising eyes and ....the biggest mouth you ever heard." I've got a close friend who feels the need to tell me (every time I see her) that I share too much on facebook, that I "put it all out there," far too often and that I'm an "over communicator." Which of course I find funny because I do my best in that forum to keep my opinions to myself, to not share much about what I'm doing, and to just be a little less of a big mouth than I am in real life. Either it's not working, OR she's just someone who herself is uncomfortable as a communicator and hence she finds my level of chatter a little confronting. (In the name of research, I checked with some others. Apparently it's her, not me. Not that it matters.)
Over the last several months I finally realised the positive side to being a big mouth. It makes you approachable, it makes you authentic, it makes you the person people go to when they need someone to hold their hand, look into their eyes, and tell it like it is. I've been amazed at the calls and texts I've gotten from friends and some just acquaintances asking to make use of my big mouth skills. People asking if I can make the time to talk to them about business, about my experiences with IVF, about how to find jobs in the hospitality industry, about losing a parent, about changing careers, and so on. All things which I have lived through and have experience in, but more importantly all things I've been vocal about. Things which I may not have flaunted (especially the IVF bit) but certainly things which I've been open and honest about from the get-go. Things I have never been afraid to talk about. Things which lots of people go through every single day, but also things which make people feel alone, and scared, and hopeless, and...curious. When they go through their mental catalogue of people they know who have been through those things, they remember me. Why? Because I'm a loud mouth. And being a loud mouth is less about what you say and more about being memorable. It's just my good fortune that people remember this about me when they need a friend. I'm pretty sure the shy and retiring among us (while lovely people) are probably not getting these phone calls.
So maybe I am an over-communicating big mouth, and maybe I really should learn to talk less and listen more, and maybe not everyone wants to hear my opinion on things ... but if all of those negative things about me translate into one big positive of helping people, I'm all for it.
Truth be told, I'm actually honoured and almost a little embarrassed that these wonderful people want MY time. There is nothing special about me other than the fact that I'm willing to open my mouth and say what I'm thinking, or share what I'm living. On second thought, maybe it's my willingness which is the special bit.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The only sentence any new mother wants to hear is, "You're not crazy."
It's the sentence she wants to hear when she tells a friend she isn't coping very well.
The sentence she wants to hear when she takes her kid to the doctor.
The sentence she wants to hear when she tells her Mom that her baby isn't sleeping and is unsettled all the time.
The sentence she wants to hear ANY time she doubts her ability to handle this whole parenthood thing.
It's not that we spend all our time thinking we're crazy. It's that - for as many billions of mothers came before us and billions of mothers who will follow us - we all want validation that we are doing okay.
Being a mother is a lonely business - everyone around you seems to be coping just fine, the women in those ads all look so remarkably well put together, your in-laws are expecting a clean house AND a warm meal for their son every night, you think strangers are judging you when your baby cries in aisle five, and the women in your mother's group all seem to have remembered to wear matching outfits not only for themselves but for their children as well.
Being a parent of multiples - you can just amp that loneliness up a notch (or three). Suddenly you have no mother's group because your nurse never assigned you one - she decided it would all be too hard for you to get there. Strangers not only judge you, but they want a piece of you and think it's okay to ask highly personal, somewhat offensive questions all the time - or worse still, that it's okay to touch or pick up your babies without asking. People assume you need lots of help (which you might, or you might not) and so either they show up in droves or they stay away because it's all too much for them to confront. Women in playgrounds ignore you because of how inadequate you make them feel - you made it to the park with two or three kids while they barely managed one.. Everyone labels you "the twin Mum" or "the triplet Mum" and suddenly you cease to be anything but that person everyone is in awe of...and not always in a nice way.
Luckily enough for me, early on I found out about my local multiple birth association. They had a library full of books. A newsletter with "been there, done that" articles and classified ads which meant I could outfit a triplet nursery for less than the GNP of a small country. Outings for kids of all ages. Speakers I could listen to. Recipes which can feed a crowd. Online forums. Names of local doctors, dentists, and professionals who had experience with multiples. My local MBA had just about everything a mother of multiples could want but the ONE thing they had which was invaluable to me was this: they had OTHER multiple birth parents.
You have no idea just how life saving and faith affirming it is to hear someone say, "You're not crazy," when you've been up all night rocking one child while the other one screams and a third one sleeps through it, oblivious to the chaos. No idea how good it feels to have someone say, "You're not crazy," when you think going back to full time work would somehow seem easier than raising these kids. No idea how good it feels to have someone say, "You're not crazy," when you complain that the last time you saw your husband was...oh..wait. When did I see him last? I'm not sure. Possibly he was the guy carrying in the 100-count box of diapers, but I can't really be sure because I'm JUST. SO. TIRED.
From the time I saw those three flickering lights on the ultrasound to the time my kids were becoming independent enough that it made me cry (what do you mean, "I do it myself Mummy!!"...?) my local multiple birth association was the single best resource I had when it came to raising those kids. It's true what they say, that it takes a village to raise a child. In my case, it took a village where the children outnumber the mothers on a two-to-one ratio (at the very least.)
Happy Multiple Birth Awareness Week - and no, I'm not crazy for being very, very, very glad I had my kids all at once instead of one at a time.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
A little while ago I decided I needed to "see someone" about the fact that I've had an emotional few months (where emotional = falling to bits). My GP had a few recommendations which didn't suit me, so I turned to my facebook buddies to ask if anyone could recommend anyone.
I was left mouth agape at the outpouring of love and referrals...which can only mean one thing. I'm not the only crazy one around here. Maybe we can get a group discount?
Saturday, February 16, 2013
One of the questions I get most often about the kids is, "Do they get along?" I'm pretty sure it's one of those unique triplet questions - because I can't remember anyone ever asking my Mom is my siblings and I got along. The answer I usually give is, "Depends which moment of the day it is," because like most siblings, my kids adore one another and drive one another crazy, often in equal measure but with changing tides.
Side story -when I was pregnant, my Mom and I went to an outdoor market. The grumpy looking bookseller noticed I was pregnant and asked me how far along I was. My Mom interrupted my answer to say, "She's having triplets!" to which the grumpy bookseller replied, "Well, that's unlucky." Knowing there had to be a back story, I asked the grumpy bookseller what about having multiples would be considered unlucky. "I'm a twin and I can't stand my sister. We barely speak to one another, I pretty much hate her."
Yeah. Way to make me feel really good. Thanks for that, grumpy bookseller. The point she was making is that just because they have shared nearly every moment of their lives - this does not mean they will necessarily like each other. Hell, I know parents who love -but don't like- their own kids. I know siblings who also love -but don't like - one another. I also know plenty of people who are entirely indifferent to their relatives. Being born to the same family doesn't immediately mean you'll all get along. Most of the time, it doesn't bother me too much that the kids might fight or pick on one another or frankly be downright mean to each other. They're siblings, shit happens. Every once in a while, their picking at one another will get under my skin - and that happened just a couple of nights ago. We'd sent them upstairs to get ready for bed, and while I'm sure there was a bit of that going on, there was also rather a lot of "leave me alone!" and "give it back!" and "get off my bed!" and so on.
So I did what any self respecting mother would do, and I yelled at DH to go upstairs and sort it out. I was very, very busy on facebook and did not have the patience to play referee. Of course, I then did what any self respecting wife would do, and I got up off the couch (insert dramatic sigh) and went to sort it out better than he would.
I bounded (yeah, like a freakin' gazelle) up the stairs and used my "your ass is in trouble" voice to gather the trio together. I then proceeded to lecture them, peppered with a few curse words (I know, I know...I'm working on it...) about how they needed to practice kindness (oh the irony!)and eventually this is how low I stooped:
"Listen you three. I know you don't always like being triplets. I know you didn't ask for it to be that way. I know you spend a heck of a lot of time together, and I know you occassionally irritate the shit out of one another. I even know that sometimes you wish you were an only child. Here's a newsflash for you - I can't do A DAMN THING about it. You're stuck. So either learn to live with one another, or learn to suck it up."
Okay, maybe it wasn't the most elegant telling off, but it sure as hell worked. Been nothing but wine and roses around here between them ever since. I expect that to last....oh, about another ten minutes. Or until someone touches someone, some takes something which is not theirs, sits on someone else's bed....
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Some years ago I learned about geocaching - which is basically a nerdy "sport" which means,"finding stuff via GPS," and I thought it would make a great family activity. At the time I did a bit of research into it and what was involved, but the website itself was so confusing that I dismissed the idea as too nerdy for us (which, given our nerd factor is pretty high, is saying something.) Some new friends recently came into our lives, and mentioned in passing that they are into geocaching...and so, the emzee family got sucked right into that world along with them.
Yes, geocaching. *sigh* It all seemed like so much fun! And healthy! And something smart people would do! Like a real life treasure hunt! Yippee! Let's all run into the woods with GPS in hand!
Beware of Muggles! (Yep. Non-cachers who are around the places where you are looking are referred to as Muggles. It's just that cool of a sport. Sorry, "sport.")
We've now done it 3-4 times and the good news is, it actually can be a lot of fun. It certainly meets my aims of having some family time spent together outdoors, giving us something all ages can have an interest in, and helping us discover bits of Melbourne we've never seen before. From an exercise point of view it's also good as it gets all of us moving around and being active rather than being weekend couch sloths (although we still manage a bit of that...come on now, people. I'm fabulous but not entirely virtuous.)
Of course there is one small part of our new found nerd activity which I can't stand. You see, in all my enthusiam for a new activity which combined fun, fitness and nerdiness...I'd forgotten just how competetive and goal-oriented I am. This of course means that if we go looking for a cache and can't find it...well, I'm none too impressed. In fact it irritates the HELL out of me if we can't find what we're looking for, and especially if the logs say someone has found it the day before, or if several previous logs say it's an, "easy find." Sure, yeah, easy for YOU, you clever geo-nerd shmucks.
Even more irritating about not finding something is the parental need to be all up-beat and pretend like I don't care that we haven't found it and that it's about winning. What utter bullshit that is. It's TOTALLY about the finding of stuff, for cripes' sake it's not called "geolooking!" I find myself saying all the cliches of, "It's all about getting there, not about the reward," and "We can come back and give it another go another time," and, "Let's just keeping looking a little longer, maybe we missed it," and "Come on, kiddos,this is meant to be FUN!" You get the idea. I hate the idea of finishing an afternoon of searching having not found something (oh, the crushing disappointment!) and so I have been known to gee everyone up into finding "just one more before it gets dark," in the vain hope that the next one will practically have a sign on it which says, "I'M RIGHT HERE!!!"
Geocaching. It's meant to be a fun, family, nerdy, recreational activity - not a competetive, irritating, testing my parenting skills sort of thing. Shit. I think I missed the memo on that one.
Monday, January 28, 2013
The last 9 months or so have been pretty crappy for me. Various dramas with family, health, business and life have conspired to give me some very challenging months. Throughout all of it, I've managed to maintain my weight by maintaining my fitness -which means I've been eating pretty terribly, but exercising plenty - so the end result is that I've maintained the status quo on the scales. While I'm none too proud of the almost daily Slurpee-and-meat-pie habit, I am immensely proud that I've kept things in balance enough that I'm not sitting here all these months later crying into my giant jar of Nutella.
The last few weeks, I've not been exercising as much as I'd like to be - still gym going as usual but not getting in any of my usual additional activities. I haven't beat myself up about it too much because frankly, I'm not in such a happy place and on some mornings, I've just needed the sleep more than I needed the 30 minutes of cardio. On quite a few occassions I've made the choice to just be kind to myself and have that lie in. In part it's because it has been such a rough few months, and in part because I am by far harsher on myself than anyone else is and (along with my word of the year) I'm working on celebrating my wins rather than berating myself for my losses. I've chosen kindness, and I'd venture to say that I'm at least a little bit better off for it.
Here's the question though - at what point (if any) does being kind to oneself actually morph into letting oneself become complacent? Suppose I let myself have that lie in a couple of times a week. I'm tired, I'm stressed, life is hard, I deserve it, yadda yadda. But then - that's a couple of times a week when I'm not getting any exercise and I'm not doing myself any favours on the health front. Instead of being kind to myself, I'm letting that kindness be an excuse for not getting enough exercise. Or not eating better (I'm so stressed, I will totally feel better if I eat that chocolate...). You get the idea. You can use "being kind to yourself" as a justification for almost any behaviour, can't you? Buying a new pair of shoes more often than you can afford, drinking a few extra bottles, delaying the "boring but important" paperwork on your desk. Whatever. It's just so easy to say, "I deserve this," isn't it?
Hmmm. I'm pretty certain I've not reached that stage (and that I'm thinking about it implies I probably never will...) but it's an interesting idea. Modern life being what it is, we're often told we should pamper ourselves, not work so hard, let the house be messy, whatever... but I'm not entirely convinced that we are not in fact, on some level anyway, killing ourselves with all that kindness.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I was going to write a really long whingy post about our experiences on our recent vacation, but I decided that there was no point in dredging it all up again. Besides, I had a mighty good time doing that on Trip Advisor, so at the very least I got it all out of my system. Plus, DH and I are immensely loved and blessed to have even been able to go on that vacation in the first place, and I am nothing if not grateful for the experience. First, because it meant that DH and I did in fact get the opportunity to do nothing for several days - which as you will recall was the whole point of the exercise. We really did spend days and days doing very little. The suitcase we packed with just our books and reading materials was something like 8 kilos in weight and we managed to get through all of it with no trouble (I finished 3 novels in a single day.) The second reason I'm grateful is because it's given me some wonderful stories to share with friends, a trip I'm not likely to forget anytime soon, and yet another experience which I can look back on and laugh about. Life is about experiences - both good and bad - and this trip was absolutely an experience. It wasn't all bad, it really wasn't...and I've come away with two vital life lessons. One, never travel without anti-bacterial wipes. Two, just because you have run away from home, it does not mean that where you go it will be all rainbows and running water.
Above all, I love that my life is one colourful, entertaining story. Okay, yeah, so the pontoon sank, DH got sick, the taps fell off the sinks, the humidity was horrid, and the food was pretty average...but imagine what a boring blog entry it might have been if it was in fact all rainbows and running water?!
I might have to run away from home more often just because it makes for a good story.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
I love to travel.
I love everything about it. Getting new clothes, buying lollies at the last minute, picking up $35 worth of trashy magazines at the airport, not sleeping well the night before, filling in the little green departure cards (why are they always green?)...I just love everything about travel. Even airplane food with it's cute compartments and itty bitty sachets of salt.
What I love most about travel - is coming home to my own bed and especially my own shower.
Never was this more true than after a week of being stuck on a tropical island which has no running water for 3 days.
Oh, yes. There is a reason why I now lovingly refer to it as "our week in Helluatu."
Not the vacation I dreamed about...but definitely the vacation worth blogging about.
Friday, December 14, 2012
My company recently hosted a cake decorator from another country. I invited him to come and teach some courses for us and this involved an enormous amount of logistical planning, effort and money over about 18 months. It's a very, very, vvveeerrryyyy long story but suffice it to say that he managed to take those 18 months worth of work, effort, love and good will and destroy it in about 20 minutes of verbally abusing me. In the aftermath of his destructive, unprofessional and entirely uncalled for 20 minutes, I found myself talking to DH and on the phone and asking him, "What on earth did I do to deserve this?" The answer: "Not a damn thing. Some people are just jerks." (I suspect his answer was based on more than the 20 minutes. It had been a very long three weeks...)
From my point of view, I'd done everything I could to make his experience here - with me, with my business, within the city - as good as it could possibly be. No matter how many times I went over it in my head, I could not work out what I could have done which might have made his trip here any better for him. In fact, he and his wife told me repeatedly what an amazing job I did, how they were amazed at my organisation of it all, and how if he decided to teach again the only country he would consider coming back to is Australia...and yet a mere few days later, I'm listening to this man tell me I'm selfish, judgemental, made him feel bad for two days, care only about myself and my feelings... and don't give a shit about anyone else. Funny, that. Because there I was thinking all I gave a shit about for the past three weeks was him and his wife.
Makes you shake your head, doesn't it?
So here's the backstory. I invited them to a BBQ at my home. First, to spend some non-work time with them, and also to give them the chance to say goodbye to me, my family, and my employees. Because of a number of different things (including them telling me it was 'not BBQ weather'), I asked if we could change the event to the following evening, and they flat out refused. Why? Because he and his wife wanted 'couple time.' Never mind that they were leaving here and heading off on a 3 day 'couple time' vacation, or that I was just asking for a few hours of their time (when I hadn't asked for any until then), or that they wanted the chance to say goodbye to everyone as well, or that (according to them) this was a work trip and they had had no time alone (really? I counted 10 working days out of 21 spent here in Melbourne.) For whatever reason, the decision had been made and they would not attend the event - an event held especially for them. Okay. I don't understand it, but *shrug*, their loss. There were 15 of us keen to have dinner, and 2 of them - so we decided just to have the BBQ anyway. They then spent the better part a good day texting and emailing me and asking me if I was angry with them.
Oh, dear reader, I'm guessing you know the answer to this, don't you? You who may not even know me in real life know that I generally can't be bothered with an emotion as pointless as anger, and that if someone needs to ask a question like that in the first place...well, chances are they already know me well enough to work out the answer anyway.
Here's a cheat sheet to help just in case:
Your first clue - that someone needed to repeatedly ASK me if I'm angry means they already know the answer, doesn't it? Keep asking and eventually you're going to hear a truth which you'd rather not hear. Second clue - I actually finally broke down and admitted that yes, I was disappointed that they didn't show up to dinner but that by then I was well past caring about it. Their response was to blame me for cancelling the event. Third clue - I've worked my ass off for them, I PAID for them to be here, and my biggest crime was asking them to move dinner to another night. Fourth clue - they felt bad about not coming. I didn't magically put that emotion onto them. They felt bad because they TOTALLY KNEW they did the wrong thing and that they should have come to the BBQ.
So - my changing the night of dinner was the reason for the rant in the car. 18 MONTHS of hard work and he made it all disappear in 20 minutes. Sure, intellectually I know I did not deserve the verbal abuse. I even know that the rant was because, in his heart of hearts, he knew he should have been at that dinner. My admitting I was disappointed in their lack of attendance probably only added fuel to the fire.
What I can't fathom is how this man thought his actions were justifiable - that he thinks it's okay in a professional relationship to spout abuse like that is just totally beyond me. Needless to say, it's taken me several days to exhale from all of this. It's really, really unpleasant to have a grown man shouting at you. A little scary, too - considering I was in peak hour traffic on the freeway and all I could think about was finding a place to pull over and kick his ass to the curb. (I didn't do it in the end. *I* was going to walk away with my integrity intact even if it meant I had a heart attack in the damn car.)
So where does this leave me now? You remember I said that I lived through this experience and learned a heap of lessons? Without doubt, the single best lesson this thin-skinned, emotional woman learned is this: some people are just jerks.