2010 was not a fabulous year for me.
It started out pretty okay, but then rapidly went downhill with DS losing it too often to count, DH losing his job, endless drama with my business, financially ending up in a huge whole, it was the one year anniversary of losing my Dad, and just a whole bunch of other yucky stuff happened. (Not the most mature expression, but hey, it works.) I won't say it was all miserable (because for a few months at the beginning it was kinda of alright) but it certainly won't go down in history as the best year that ever was. Seems like this is true for a number of friends as well - which leads me to believe that the planets were all off-kilter or some other such nonsense.
This year, though, this year is all about progress (as we've previously read.) And in the last couple of days, I've had two experiences which lead me to believe that progress needs to happen even more than I thought before. The first was a day spent in Mornington with my kids. The kids and I sat on the beach for the afternoon - and we were totally ill-prepared for that beach trip. Between us we only had 3 hats, a skerrick of sunscreen, only one towel, no clothes to change into, no food or drinks and no bathing suits either. As organised beach trips go it was a bit of a mess...but far and away one of the best beach days I've ever had. I sat there in my (entirely inappropriate for the beach) clothes, and saw my (entirely inappropriate for the beach) shoes fill with sand....and I loved every second of it. My kids were just ahead of me a ways, playing in the water (fully dressed. Nope, not kidding about that one). The sun was shining, the beach around me was full of happy holiday-makers, and just for those couple of glorious hours I had no worries, no stress, no guilt, and no...anything. I just lived entirely in that afternoon, hyper aware of how beautiful, fun, and immediately satisfying it all was. At one point I even folded my pants well above my knees and dove into the water to play with my three beautiful water babies. There was nothing to think about other than me, my kids, and that sunny, smiley summer day. The only real formed thought I had was, "THIS is why I need to succeed in 2011. So I can have more of these days of complete freedom." Freedom from the feelings, issues, emotions, and detritus of life which can sap away so much of our soul on a day-to-day basis. Just...free. I need to succeed so I can grant myself more days of freedom.
Tonight - NYE - some friends invited us down to the beach for a picnic of sorts. Literally the text said, "BYO fish and chips, blanket, drinks, word of the year, and whatever else you need to ring in 2011." How simple and yet how...ingenious. So me, my mom and kids (DH was working), and two other fabulous families went down to a local beach and just...lived for a while. This beach trip was (mostly) organised - there were enough hats, towels, food, blankets and so on for all of us (although yet again we forgot the bathers). I sat there in the dying sun, chatting to my friends, nibbling on yummy food, watching my kids get endless joy out of the water, the wet sand, the 'crunchy chips' (crunchy thanks to the sand coating them) and I just lived as fully as I could in those last hours of the year that was 2010. And again, I found myself thinking, "THIS is what life is meant to be about. THIS is why I need to succeed. I NEED this joy in my life, and moreover I WANT this joy and I even deserve this joy."
And so, while neither of these events were particularly earth shattering, both of them reminded me with startling clarity about WHY I'm doing what I'm doing, why 'progress' is the theme for 2011, and why now more than ever I need to learn to live my authentic life and carry on with my plans. Because chances are, tomorrow I'll forget the bathers yet again...but tomorrow I won't care, because I'll have learned to live with my occassionally forgetful nature, and probably even laugh at myself a little bit for it.
Bring on 2011.
Friday, December 31, 2010
2010 was not a fabulous year for me.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
For reasons I can't really work out, I've always had heaps and heaps of really short friends. Among my three current closest female friends, the tallest one is 5'3", which means I am at minimum a full 8 3/4 inches taller than my immediate circle of friends. The smallest, by the way, is just barely 5". I don't know why I always seem to attract tiny people into my life, but I do - I have an entire lifetime filled with small people around me. In part it's probably just because the general population has more short or average people in it than it does giant people. Until now, being the giant in the crowd has not really been much of an issue for me. Of course it does annoy me when friends talk about it, and I really kinda wish they made high heels in my size...but basically, until now it's been no big deal. For the record, if they DID make heels in my size, the chances of me wearing them are slim to none...but I'd still like the option, you know?
In any case I have recently noticed a very curious phenomenon. Since I've lost weight (and the smaller I get), I seem to have grown taller. RIDICULOUSLY taller. I am now really self-conscious of my height where previously I didn't pay much attention to it at all. It's like someone put a spotlight right on the top of my head and it's screamingly obvious just how much higher up I am than the rest of the world.
Here's the worst part of it all: I hate it. Before I would have said (and maybe even sometimes will still say) that I love being tall. I love that I can reach stuff on high shelves, that I can find people in a crowd, that I have stage presence, that I can get away with some fashion items which shorter people can't, that I never need a footstool, that having long limbs is just somehow totally awesome. Heck, when you ask DH why he loves me, chief among his reasons is "Because you're tall!" So it's not like being tall was or is some sort of terrible burden. But now...well... I don't know. I still like being tall, I have just found myself wishing that 'tall' was closer to 5'8" than 6". It's such a strange sensation to find myself feeling as though I need to sit, or stoop, or lean over, or just not stand at my full height in order to feel comfortable in a crowd. I'm sure losing weight has made me feel somehow 'lighter' and therefore less grounded - so not as frumpy and dumpy - so it stands to reason I am probably literally standing taller than I used to, but really, this is a side effect of weight loss which I am not happy about at all.
The realist in me knows I can't do anything about it, and that this is just a phase of my life which I am sure will blow over, and I should do myself a favour and just suck it up...but in the meantime, if you want to talk to me, I'll be sitting down.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Remember a few weeks ago, I told you about my employee and her exploits in online dating/sex/chatting? Since then she's regaled me with tales of all her new adventures, and it has got me thinking about online relationships in general.
DH and I met online - but at a time when it wasn't as prevalent as it is today, and email was not as 24/7 accessible. So while we met online, it was only a day or so before we spoke on the phone and then went on dates. We didn't have the experience of 'dating' first online, it was very much just a way of making an initial connection. However, I've made loads and loads of online female friends (through various IVF/parenting/blogging forums) and so I know all about how intense it can all be. The amazing thing is how well you can get to know someone - or think you know them - without ever setting eyes on them. I'd venture to say that the closeness comes BECAUSE you cannot or have not set eyes on them. Not having to see that person face-to-face, not being part of their mundane daily life tasks, and being able to almost 'hide' behind computers and phones and facebook makes relationships that much more intense. In our own minds we build up a picture of that person (even if we know what they look like) and the relationship becomes pretty full-on before we even realise it has.
I have various online friends who know more about me on a very personal level than my family does, or my real life friends do. It's as though the social rules of 'things you don't share with friends' disappear altogether when it comes to an online relationship, even when that relationship is just a platonic one (as opposed to online relationships which grow into actual love relationships.) The interesting things is that I've been lucky enough to meet several of my online mates...and the relationship does not always work as well in real life. In many cases we met and then the relationship just fizzled out altogether, mostly because the public meeting was just all too awkward. Almost like that old saying, "You can't go back to just holding hands." In some cases we met and then quickly realised it worked better online, so while we might be in the same city there is never an expectation that we will spend any face time together. Then, of course, there are the cases where it works well in real life and online, and then it's all good and happy and we all walk into the proverbial sunset together.
Someone I spoke to recently said that they don't feel they really know someone until they have seen them face-to-face, looked into their eyes, and got a kinaesthetic feel for who that person is. I actually found that really strange, especially given the increasingly non-face-to-face world in which we currently live. Among my online friends, there are none who I would say I don't know well just because I have not actually seen them in real life. I'm just not convinced that the actual meeting part equates to how well you know someone. I don't think you suddenly know someone well just because you've seen them. It's an interesting idea, though - that for some people, touch is knowing a person's true self; where talking, texting, emailing, secret sharing and baring one's soul is not enough without the touch part.
Since most of you who read this, I've never met...tell me this: how well do you think know me? or how well do you know your other online friends? Can we ever really know someone without meeting them?
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Long-time readers of this blog will know that getting my own birthday cake is no easy task. It's the one day of the year that I don't make cake (or think about cake, or have anything at all to do with cake) and so I generally give DH the job of satisfying my birthday sweet tooth.
I have very few requirements for said cake...which is not traditional cake but ice cream cake (because I love ice cream, and actually don't really like traditional cake. Go figure.)
So. Michelle's Birthday Cake (tm) needs to be:
1. Not vanilla
2. Not Dairy Bell.
3. Not organised by me.
4. Have my name on it.
5. Be organised ahead of time so that my name can be put on it AND it will be a flavour I like.
That's it. Seems easy, right? You all know the original story and if you don't you can read it here. Last year was marginally better in so far as it did meet all the requirements - technically speaking - but the entire thing was about an inch high and therefore had a distinct air of pathetic about it. This year, my girlfriends were going to organise the cake (and therefore save DH yet more misery over this issue.)
Here is where the story digresses a bit.
A couple of weeks ago, I said to DH, "Did The Neighbour's Wife call you?" and he said, "No." So I assumed TNW had forgotten about it (which is no big deal, shit happens.) Some days later I said to DH, "Ok, so for my birthday all you need to do is organise the cake, and fix my chair." (A cane chair I love which needs repairing. I wanted the repair as my official birthday present.)
A couple of weeks ago, I said to DH, "Did The Neighbour's Wife call you?" and he said, "No." But apparently by then I had already told him that my friends were organising it. So when I then said, "Ok, so for my birthday all you need to do is organise the cake, and fix my chair," he thought I meant he had to do cake as well as THEM doing cake. (And he never questioned why I would need two of them in the first place.)
...and here's where we are now:
A couple of days before my birthday, DH runs into my work kitchen saying, "Quick, quick, I need a freezer! I need a freezer!" Apparently he had gone to get said cake but forgot his house keys (and it was a very hot day). So he stopped at my workplace to get the cake into a freezer before it died totally. Then he asked if I wouldn't mind bringing it home with me.
Really? You want me to ORGANISE anything about this cake? Yeah. NO.
Fast forward a couple of days, and DH went to pick up the cake from work (serves him right, sheesh.)
So in the end...
He got me:
- A totally generic cake from the cabinet. No personalisation. Not organised ahead of time. On the plus side, it was a flavour I like and it wasn't from Dairy Bell. Still, effort out of 10, maybe 5?
They got me:
- A gelati cake which was not personalised, but was organised in terms of being ordered ahead of time, specific flavours requested and then picked up and delivered so I had nothing at all to do with it. Effort out of 10, I'm going to say 10...because really, it's not their job at all. It's his job!
*sigh* Considering I start to prep DH about this several months in advance, he really has no excuse. And he *is* getting better at it all...so I'm thinking by the time I'm 50, he'll get it right. Baby steps, baby steps...except that of course by the time I'm 50 I'll probably be damn sick of ice cream cakes.
Sigh. He (and I) can't win.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
It's my birthday.
It's also Christmas Day.
What the hell are you doing reading this blog when you should be either sending me presents or unwrapping some of your own? (Although heaven knows why you deserve any, it's not like you gave birth to the man himself or anything.)
Go on. GO! Piss off and go hang out with some humans!
(more blogging coming soon, I promise.)
Friday, December 24, 2010
I'm socially awkward.
To meet me in real life, you wouldn't think so. Fact is, I'm shy. I'm also nervous around new people, mostly because I think I'll say the wrong thing (and then I DO say the wrong thing, and I'm mortally wounded and will replay it over in my head a lot of times over the following days.) Being my height, and with my volume, people made a lot of wrong assumptions about me (see earlier blog about this.) With all that in mind, you can just imagine how worry-inducing it is to have to make friends with the Mums at my kids' new school.
The kids ex-art teacher is also a parent of a child at the kids' new school. (I'll give you a minute to work that relationship out. Okay, we good?) Last week she very nicely offered to invite a bunch of parents to a local park so that my kids could get to know some of their new classmates, and I could get to meet their Mums.
Wednesday was that meeting ... which unfortunately I did not miss (even though I tried, with 2 flat tyres *and* loads of work to do). And you know what? I was socially awkward. I was shy. I said the wrong things (and I nearly choked on my own spit when one mother asked, "So? Do you do any work?"). The good news is, I survived and may have even made a new friend (just one. Which for me is wwwaaayyyy more than I expected to.) Driving home, I was feeling pretty pleased with my self...but still feeling very much that I was way the heck out of my comfort zone, that all this "make new friends" business was going to be harder than it should be, and that I'm not entirely sure how to answer comments like, "Oh, you make cake," without being all sarcastic and rude.
And then it occurred to me.
1. There is no legal obligation for me to be friends with any of these women, and
2. If I'm all the above-mentioned things, they're going to have to like me anyway. Because frankly, I'm not about to start changing now. They'll have to just love me for me, and if not, well... I can deal with that.
I'll just go sit myself down in a dark corner right now, shall I?
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I've recently been reading The E-Myth, which is a well-known book all about the things which go wrong in small businesses, and some suggestions for how to fix them.
One of the concepts in the book is that your business needs to be about a lot more than your product. I won't go into the whole thing here (frankly, it's like a million pages you can read yourself) but basically you need to decide on your core value (or purpose in life) and then build your business around your core value.
It didn't take me long to work out why I do what I do. It's not because I'm good at it (which as we all know is often a cause for internal debate.) It's not even because I want to make money (although let's face it, that would be nice.) It's really just because, at the core of it, I'm a people pleaser. I like making people happy. I like being a part of their family happiness, a part of life milestone events, a part of something which is bigger than me. It's no great surprised that I also equate food with love (as many people do) and so my offering of this cake, this little bit of sugary love imbued with my creative soul... it's a gift. A gift you pay me for, but still very much a gift.
It also explains why I almost self-destruct when a client is not happy with their product. It feels like rejection - not only of the product, but of me personally. That I tore away a small piece of myself to give to someone else - a complete stranger - and that they rejected it...well, you can just imagine how fabulously shitty that feels. We all want to be loved, don't we? And that, too, is a part of my business. I sell a bit of love, but also expect to get a bit of love in return - even if that love is just in the way of a verbal thanks, a nice email, a comment on the biz facebook page, or even just the look in their eyes when they accept my gift. So it's true that those clients who don't bother with any of those gestures (and they are few, but it does happen)...well, I feel a little pang of annoyance (or sadness?) that they did not receive the love in kind and return a bit of it.
I know, I know. It's emotional. But...you know, I think that just makes me a lot better at what I do. Sure, I could use pre-mixes, and sell Designs 1-10 with no variation...but none of that is about the love you get when you get a cake from me. And that love...THAT'S the elusive point of difference which all small businesses hope will edge them over the competition.
Cake. It's not just for Christmas.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
One of the best aspects of my new staff member is her refreshing honesty. A bit like me, she has no real filter over her brain-to-head commentary, and so she tells it like it is. In specific she tells it like it is about the men in her life - and so I get to hear it all; the good, the bad, the ugly. She's been divorced for about a year, and so her exploits with the opposite sex are often amusing, entertaining, and often eye opening. Eye opening not because she is up to no good (might be more interesting if she was....) but because I am amazed at the games women play in order to get and keep the attention of men.
Not only am I amazed at the games women play, I'm amazed at how universal these games seem to be. So she'll come out with something, and my first thought is, "Wait a sec. I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of that one, too!" Although for me most of the games were well before DH, they're still the same games.. So ...telling a guy that he is moving too fast for her, and then being bitterly disappointed when the guy respects her wishes and backs off. Or (and this is a recent one, the example is probably the same back in the day just minus the technology) purposely posting something on facebook which she knows will rouse the attention of the guy. Or admitting that it actually feels really good to get male attention of the kiss-and-cuddle variety even though the last thing she wants is an actual relationship. Or sending a text which is purposely worded to engender a response. Or hearing her phone 'bing' with a message and secretly wishing, "I hope it's him! I hope it's him!" before looking at it, and then being disappointed when it's not him. Or snooping through phone, email, or mail messages. Or...any of a number of things which are designed specifically to call to arms the man she is interested in, but will then surely result in a period of emotional upheaval for her. I love that she shares all of this with me, and I love knowing that all this stuff is basically normal crazy female behaviour.
Listening to her stories, I can't help but think about what funny creatures us women are. It's really no wonder that men don't understand us, because we womenfolk are wasting a shit load of time thinking, planning, thinking more, wondering, attaching meaning where there is none, and in general being emotional messes. While we're doing all of that, I think most men are just busy with the act of being. Not thinking, not planning, not wondering, not playing Where's Wally with the hidden message in texts, just... being. Frankly, after hearing all these stories of hers, I'm feeling kinda sorry for the menfolk. Who knew us women could be so ... conniving?
But then again, offering a woman to play strip poker in an online chat room where there is a) no camera, b) no cards, and c) no actual game play...well, you know. You guys just make it all so easy for us!
Monday, December 20, 2010
I recently came across a concept which really speaks to me on a number of levels. As I've probably already made clear on this blog, the coming year is going to be one of great progress for me. I'm getting my business life under control (and setting it up for world domination), the children will be starting their new school adventures, DH will begin his new job and start to improve his fitness (his goal, not mine, despite 13 years of nagging him about it.) Physically I hope to continue all I've achieved this far and then take it to the next level in terms of fitness and letting go of at least some of that emotional eating crap I seem to carry around so well. It's going to be a great year for me, because I'm going to work pretty damn hard to ensure that it will be.
Part of my personal reflection and discovery in recent months has been about setting intent - which seems to be a pretty big buzz phrase around at the moment. It's found in places like 'The Secret" (which I've also blogged about recently), and other similar 'take control of your life' philosophies. Basically the idea is that unless you make clear what you're going to do with your life, you'll never really reach that goal. You set your intent and then go about making it happen rather than waffle around hoping good stuff will happen to you by chance.
I am not, by nature, particularly spiritual. I prefer to live in the world of tangible - quantifiable results, visible achievements, statistics of success and so on. In all honesty, that I would even be using a word like "intent" on this blog seems a wee bit uncomfortable to me. That being said, things have happened recently which have really tested me, and it's forced me to maybe, possibly, just a little bit, consider that there is more to life than the quantifiable, the tangible, the recordable. This brings me to the Word of the Year concept. The link can probably explain it better than I can - but here's a basic framework. Rather than develop a whole long list of fantasy things you would like to do - lose 10 kilos, run a mile every day, stop smoking, be nicer to your friends, whatever - you 'resolve' a word. (And it's no surprise that I think words are perhaps the most powerful force available to us.) You then live your life to your word of the year - so over the course of the year, you keep that word in the back of your mind and you use it as your motivator for your decisions and actions. Basically, you're setting your intent, and then living to that intent. The word is just the reminder of the intent.
This isn't an entirely new concept. Some people believe in affirmations, some believe in asking the universe to provide, some believe in prayer. We're all motivated by different things - and so I'm putting this out there as just another thing which I think might be useful, and you might think is useful as well. Don't worry, I plan on making my achievable NY resolutions too (eat more ice cream...etc) as blogged about in previous years. It's just that the me who is going to come into her own in 2011 also needs something on a different level than those resolutions. It really is time to grow up...just a little bit.
...and if you decide to try this, I'd love it if you would share your word with me. No requirement to do so, I just think it would be interesting to hear what 2011 has in store for all of you.
And for those who are curious, my 2011 word is PROGRESS.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
As chronicled many times in this blog, I love love love love love the Australian summer. I love that it's an actual season rather than just a slightly warmer mush of all the other ones (although Melbourne weather is famous for being temperamental that way...). I love that daylight savings means we can stay up really late and yet it doesn't feel late at all. I love that I get to sleep with a fan on, blowing cool air across my face and making that lovey zhuzh-zhuzh noise. I love not needing an excuse to eat icy poles for breakfast, not having to wear shoes, and feeling as though everything will be okay as long as the sun is shining. In short, I adore summertime...and summertime in Australia in particular has a certain glow to it. The air has a certain smell, the light has a particular colour. Everything about the Australian summer just radiates good intention.
We live quite close to a public pool, and I even love hearing the noise made by all the happy families, seeing all the cars parked in crazy ways just to try and snatch even a tiniest corner of shade. I even like the kinda gross things about summer - the smell of wet bathing suits, the crunch of that little bit of sand left in the bottom of the beach bag, the way you hair sticks to the sunscreen on your face, the necessary purchase of more sand shovels because we never seem to hang onto them from year to year. I grew up in Los Angeles, where summer was punctuated with long days at camp, and days so hot all you really wanted to do was dash from one air conditioned house to another. I even loved summer in LA...but not nearly as much as summer here in Australia. Summer here is just... remarkable in so many ways.
One of the best parts of this country is how seriously people take holiday and vacation time. Not seriously as in, "We'd best go and visit those 45 museums before they close," but serious as in, "You've gotta spend a few days at the beach, and eat fish and chips, and walk around in thongs even when your feet are already sunburned." There are so many Australian summer rituals which I just adore, and even more I adore that there is no such thing here as summer day camp. Of course, being a parent, there are times when I wish I could kick the kids out the door every morning and send them off to another day being someone else's problems to entertain...but I'm glad there is no American style summer camp because I love being able to grant my kids as many pyjama days as they want, let them eat at odd hours, and on a whim drive down to the water for a kick in the receding waves. I love that I can come home from work, grab a packet of sausages and some bread, and a cold watermelon...and spend the rest of my late afternoon and evening lounging by the pool.
Oh, Aussie summer, I just love you. Please stay for just a wee bit longer this time, won't you?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The funny thing about me is that most people find me intimidating. Let's face it, I'm physically bigger than most females (formerly this was true in width, but it's always been true in height.) Plus I have no internal volume control, so even my normal indoor speaking voice is pretty loud. Add that to someone who never seems to know when to shut up and you're left with a pretty formidable woman - at least on the outside.
The thing these people don't know is, I'm a total wuss and I prefer to run and hide rather than stay and fight. I just prefer a quiet life, and as a result will often roll over and play dead when confronted with any sort of nastiness. For as long as I can remember, people have volunteered me to take on leadership roles, present findings to a group, approach a colleague or boss, and basically be the front woman for whatever needed doing (positive or negative). Thing is, I HATE having to do any of those things, but I end up doing it because my belief in social justice outweighs my extreme discomfort at being the messenger. Nothing irks me more than people not taking action out of fear - and so I swallow my own fear and just front up when really I'd much rather be hiding down the back somewhere. Sadly, at my height, hiding down the back of anywhere is just about an impossibility.
I also tend to be the peacemaker, so I spend a fair amount of time smoothing down ruffled feathers, trying to keep everyone happy and in general trying the "Why can't we all just get along?" approach. People reading this who know me in real life will probably be shaking their heads and thinking, "Seriously? Michelle? You? You're always the one ready to open her mouth, make a fuss, demand answers!" Sorry, guys, but you're all very wrong on those fronts. I do it because I feel a moral obligation to, not because I really *want* to or am comfortable doing it.
At the moment there are several issues in my life which are really putting this part of my personality to the test. A couple of incidents where I truly feel as though I've done my utmost to do the right thing, but the other party does not see it that way. In at least two of these incidents, I've totally rolled over and adopted the feather smoothing stance, even when I felt I had nothing to apologise for. In both cases I even found myself apologising for things I've said which I STILL stand behind (and therefore should never have been apologising for them) but my desire to have a quiet, calm life has led me to just fall on my own sword. Another incident (which I cannot put any detail about here, sorry!) is one which is really frustrating me. I made several efforts to do the right thing and the other party ignored me. So I stepped it up a notch by asking nicely again, and then the other party decided to call in legal advice rather than try and deal with it in a much more gentle manner. So in this case, I have no choice at all but to stand up and fight...and knowing the other party as I do, I suspect it's going to get nasty. My best option is just to continue to behave in a moral, pleasant, and entirely reasonable way and hope that the law is indeed on my side as I believe it to be. I KNOW I'm right and I KNOW I have a (legal and ethical) leg to stand on...but inside? Inside I'm dying because I hate the very idea of confrontation, and I hate not having things resolved. I feel as though the world is tilting under me, and I can't stand it at all. I don't do well without a safety net (probably why I've never taken up tight rope walking.)
Interesting times ahead.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Over the last couple of weeks, DH and I have had to sit through a lot...and I mean A LOT.. of end of year presentations. Every activity the kids do (and 2 of them do 2, and 1 does one, and they all go to school...and wait, did I just create a verbal math equation?) has an end of year gig.
So I've sat through:
1 hour of Scouts
1 hour of Girl Guides
3.5 hours of dancing
3.5 hours of gymnastics
45 minutes of basketball
3 hours of school awards night
That, my friends, is a heck of a lot of time. Like an entire day's worth of ceremonies and awards and some awful orchestral pieces and spending my time watching all the parents around me texting and playing on their iPhones. (Although to be fair I was one of those parents. A girl's gotta do, right?) I am especially proud to brag that at most of those events, one if not more of my kids got honours given to them.
I'm excited and proud of them, but the real parent (TM) in me is really sitting there thinking, "I've got to put up with HOURS of this just for a piece of paper? Really?!" In the case of ballet, it was all those hours (and over 40 pieces of dance, OMG how many cartwheels can a person endure?) only to get a certificate with DD2's name spelled incorrectly. Honestly. And while I get that the idea is to showcase all the hard work the kids put in over the course of a year...I'd be much happier going to two shorter events twice a year than this one bloody long one which makes me want to slowly push a stick into my eye while I'm sitting there...just because focussing on the pain would be far more interesting.
I realise that my pain is exacerbated by having to do this x three kids and x so many activities..it's a 'side effect' of the triplet phenomenon I never planned for. I've now decided that DH and I are going to get our own certificates to honour our patience, commitment, and ability to withstand hours upon hours of physical and auditory pain.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I have the world's most fabulous friend, who on this blog is known as 007.
Among other things, 007 keeps me in stitches with all her stories about dating in the modern day world (although we tend to call it "boy goss."). She's single, forty and fabulous...and rather inclined to pash the odd bloke at the pub or find a willing partner for the night. I'm not saying she does this a lot (oh you slut you!), but rather that when she wants or needs some, she can find some.
She recently met a new bloke. I won't say too much about him (although one doubts he reads this blog) but I will say that this new guy opened up a whole can of worms with 007 and I. My POV is that, as long as what you are looking for is a decent, loving relationship - you shouldn't be giving up the goods (so to speak) too early on. There should be a bit of wining and dining and other stuff before there is the other, other stuff. Now if all you're after is a quick shag and a decent pash, well, by all means go right ahead. But if what you want is a partner to go to weddings with, someone to fart in front of, and a willing chick-flick partner ... just hang onto the goods for a bit. Not months and months on end ... but maybe 3, 4 dates. And I mean DATES. As in going out in public, doing stuff together, maybe spending one night in with a movie, whatever. But clearly DATES as opposed to "hanging out with some mates."
I also see no point in sexting unless you got the real thing first - because then it's just teasing bullshit which keeps people from actually giving up the real deal. Much easier to hide behind a flurry of texts than it is to pony up with the goods...and the number of times I've had friends with 'relationships' which never get beyond a mobile phone is staggering.
007 thinks I am, among other things, 1) a total dag, 2) a nerdy berger, and 3) supremely old fashioned. I'm not denying any of those tags (especially #3 but then you all knew that already.) In her view, there doesn't need to be dinner or drinks or really anything at all. If you want to, do it and that's that. She sees no need for any of the rest of it, even when it IS a relationship she's after and not just a wham-bam situation.
I think to me, the whole dinner/drinks/time together is more about the respect you're giving the other person, the interest you're taking in their lives, and the fun of the pursuit. She thinks you can have all of that without the actual dating bit, and that just hanging out together or with friends will give you all of that. Me, I'm not convinced - but then we did say that I'm old fashioned, didn't we?
To be fair, I have close to zero dating experience, and definitely none happening at the age she's currently at (because I have several years to go before I reach that age, and because I was a child bride). Maybe things are different now and I really am a stick in the mud. I just refuse to believe that most relationships (although maybe some do) start with the sex and without the dating.
...but then again, I'm also damn grateful I won't need to find that out anytime soon. Perhaps I'd better crawl back under my suburban married rock?
Friday, December 10, 2010
Today my kids got their term reports...reports which I always read with a healthy dose of scepticism and an even healthier dose of cynicism. School reports are totally bullshit, and there is nobody here to blame but the parents they are addressed to. Without fail, all of my kids' reports are filled with "DD1 is making pleasing progress," "DD2 is a pleasure to have in class," and "DS is very inquisitive and is achieving above the level expected," and so on and so forth.
It's all a load of crap. I say this because I find it difficult to believe 3 paragraphs waxing lyrical about how great my kid is, only to be faced with two enormous D's on the top of the page. Seriously? If my kid sucks this hard at this subject, why are you trying to sugar coat it? And really, if this is the END OF THE YEAR, why didn't you do something (or ask me to do something) about the fact that they suck at something like math? I'm kinda thinking math is essential for life skills...or maybe it's like those days when kids got shoved along until someone realised they were in 12th grade and still could not read.
I would love to say that this is all the teacher's fault - but being related to a teacher (my sister), and good friends with another one (The Neighbour's Wife), I know that school reports are designed to tell parents exactly what they want to hear, which is not necessarily the truth of the matter. My sister has often told me that 'nothing in a school report should be a surprise' - because if it is (either positive or negative), it implies your teacher isn't doing their job. I think parents of this day and age don't want to be bothered with the truth - it's far easier to hear that little Johnny is fine than it is to confront the fact that you're raising the devil's spawn. Diplomacy rather than truth seems to be the name of the school report game.
Of particular irritation to me is when teachers use cut-and-paste for their comments...which for us is obvious since we read three of these in a row, but probably works okay for most parents. *sigh* I would have thought they would figure this out by now, but clearly not. I realise that there are only so many ways to say, "Your child is totally fine and basically unremarkable to me," but it still irritates me. Ha - *I* should probably be the one to figure out that after all these years, it's not worth my irritation (clearly I too am slow on the uptake.)
What say you about parent reports? Useful tools, or just bullshit indicators?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I had the most fantastic day at work today. My fondant mojo was totally happening (as was that of my assistant, which is a gold star day all around, let me tell you...). All our work was getting done in a timely fashion, the kitchen was not too humid or hot, and DH was in the office getting some of my admin done. All around, I found myself thinking, "emzee is in her happy place!" more than once today...and yes, I used third person when talking to myself. I'm good like that.
...and then I had a minor tiff/not really a tiff/kinda weird moment with a friend,
...and then DH tells me his job is now not starting until MARCH (but it IS starting),
...and then my kids tell me that their day (spent at their new school) varied on a one to ten scale from "ten and 8 quarters" to "eleven" to "four hundred and eighty six,"
...and then I watched a movie with the kids which made me feel just horrible. Who knew that a Miley Cyrus movie (for those who want to know, it was "Last Song") can make you bawl and bawl and bawl? It was about her and a total hottie but also about her Dad dying. Nice.
...and then I get an email from someone asking for a bunch of money which I know I need to spend, but trying to find that money is just overwhelming and discussions of money make me want to bury my head under a doona for ten thousand years,
...and then, and then, and then. What a bloody crazy rollercoaster day of extreme highs and extreme lows and everything in between.
Clearly, the only solution is ice cream.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
We all know how I live and die by the meal planner...that this crazy family plans their meals in advance THREE week blocks of time, that we try new recipes all the time, try to eat fish more than once a week, ensure we all have a very healthy and varied diet and in general act all holier-than-thou when it comes to family meal times. Frankly, we totally rock when it comes to meal times and both DH and I put a lot of time and effort into our end-of-day family time because it's important to us.
However, because I don't want all of you in blog land to think I'm perfect, and humility is probably a good thing...let me just say that for dinner tonight, the kids and I all had two-minute noodles. From a packet....which came with a whole bunch of unidentifiable sachets filled with god-knows-what, all of which are probably cancerous and most certainly contain banned substances in some countries in the world.
You know what? We are all still alive, the damn things were pretty tasty, and I think I might be forced to put these on the officially official menu once in a while.
But the best part about all this? My kids never ate anything like it until about a year ago, when they had lunch at one weekend The Neighbour's Wife's house. They came home and told me they had the BEST lunch ever, and that I had to call TNW *right away* in order to get the recipe. TNW is not known for her cooking (it's not bad, she just doesn't enjoy doing it very much) so it was a bit of a surprise that she would pull out some serious recipe action for a kids' weekend casual lunch. Being an obedient sort, I did as told and when I called her, she laughed so long and hard I nearly dropped the phone. Her magic recipe for "the best noodles ever" ... was cheap $1 per packet Asian brand 2 minute noodles. The method is simple too - buy at supermarket and follow instructions on packet. My kind of recipe!
Sometimes even us cooking types use short cuts...and the added bonus is my kids think I'm awesome for even letting these scary packets in my front door. Mum points AND friend points!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This past Sunday we went to watch DD1's gymnastics display. And by "watch" I of course mean "endure."
In theory, it's a nice idea - getting to see your little darling bounce around while wearing a skin tight shiny leotard. (FYI, I hate those girls on sight. There was not a single moment of my life - even on the day I was born - when I looked decent in a leotard.)
In reality, it's 3 hours of my life which I will never get back.
The idea is to see your kid doing all the various bits of equipment which they've been practising all year. So there are different groups - and each group also has a dance set to music. So at each part, one group does a dance, and then 20 minutes or so go by in which you need to watch ALL THE OTHER groups on various bits of gym equipment. I should also mention that each kid does a routine on each piece of equipment, and most groups have 8-12 kids in them. Then there's a gap of time for piss-farting around, and then another dance by a different group, and then everyone moves around to other bits of equipment, and then it starts all over again ad infinitum.
There's also a big finale dance which all the groups do together, and then a very llloooonnnnggg award presentation. It's basically hell on earth, made even worse by the place it's held - an enormous open floor gymnastics mecca. The only seating is in the gods, on hard wooden bleachers (very wide steps actually). It's hotter than hell up there, your ass is killing you, and the only food on offer is whatever is in the vending machine. The families who have been there before come along to the event looking like they are either going camping or going to watch the Test cricket. They're shlepping eskies filled with food and drinks, blankets and pillows and squishy seat thingies, and games and books for the younger kids. I only WISH I was kidding about this. The newbies who have not experienced this yet come with...nothing. The rest of us watch them in silence as they spend the first half hour in rapture, the second half hour in hunger, the third half hour in ass pain, the fourth half hour sweating uncontrollably, and then fifth and ongoing half hours running back and forth to the vending machine, hoping against hope it will have suddenly filled with hot chips and Big Macs.
Trust me, by next year they will either have decided that gymnastics is a sport for masochists, or they'll BYO eskie and squishy seat thingie.
My problem, as we all know, is that (as previously mentioned here), the first law of motherhood is "Thou Shalt Suffer" and so this is now the fourth year I've endured this special kind of parental torture. My MIL, god bless her, bowed out early this year with a mystery sudden-onset illness...but sadly, I couldn't in all honesty make ALL FOUR OF US come down with the same thing so we had to suffer it all from beginning to end. DD1 has announced to all of us that she's going to do it next year, too...because she desperately wants the little gold trophy they get after 5 years attendance. The next one after that is a 10 year trophy, and frankly, if I have to go through ANOTHER 5 years of this crap, I'm going to make DD1 buy ME a trophy for surviving it all.
Motherhood. Sometimes it's a pain in the ass.
Not sure if I have blogged about this before, but in addition to my own business I also work part-time in another female-owned small food-based business (say that ten times fast!). This originally started because she and I had kitchens in the same building, and about 18 months ago she was desperate for a helping hand and asked if I'd pitch in. I helped that day, and then every once in a while when she needed an extra pair of hands - it was a very casual affair. Eventually winter came (the quiet time for me) and she asked if I'd do a regular once-a-week gig for her. Then DH lot his job, and it became a regular two day a week gig.
She's a lovely person, and the product is great...and there is no way I'd get the money or the conditions she offers anywhere else. And yet, I hate every single second of that job. I'm grateful for it - VERY grateful as it happens - but I can't stand it, and I swear small pieces of my soul chip away with every passing moment. The night before I go there, I'm irritable and annoyed about it. While I'm there, it can often take a while before my attitude catches up with my stern internal reminder that we need the money so I had better shut up and get on with it. At 5pm on the day I'm finished there, I practically skip out the door.
Why do I hate it so much? Simple - every moment I'm spending on HER business, I'm not spending on MY business. Here's where it gets messy. My business does not pay me enough to support my family, so I have to go out and find other means of financial support. HOWEVER if I invested that same amount of time in my business, I'd finally be able to grow it enough to actually then take the salary I need in order to succeed. Instead of investing that time in my business, I'm investing it in someone else's business and this is killing me. Slowly killing me.
The real criminal here is TIME. If I had the luxury of time - and if I could just tell the mortgage company, "Hey, listen, give me about a year and then I'll be all good!" - then just imagine what a force I'd be. Since I don't HAVE that luxury of time, well... I'm spending 2 days a week in a kitchen which is not my own and wishing I didn't have to be there. It sucks, and yet it's paying my bills.
Sometimes being a grown up is just no fun AT ALL.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
...to blog about. I even asked DH for some topics and all he had to say was, "I don't know! Pets? Trains? Books?" and then he sort of looked around helplessly as if to say, "What do I know from this blogging madness?"
Yeah, that's really helpful. I know I have some unfinished business of topics you all suggested which I have yet to get to (including a rather difficult marriage of mother in laws and men in bed together) but I just don't feel like tackling those topics tonight.
So - forgive me this non-post and let me get back to you all tomorrow, when hopefully inspiration will have struck. If not, well, I might be forced to take more photos and post them (and not delete them.) Now there's a scary thought!
So last night I spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom attempting to take a photo of myself, for the purpose of a profile pic for here and on facebook. I look different enough to my current photo that I thought it was a good time to take one. I was even having a good hair day (even though it's grey and overgrown..) and thought it was worth a shot.
Well, about 50 shots later I realised why none of these pictures were appealing to me. I look different, yes...but I don't look like ME. What a strange sensation to be looking at photos of yourself and be thinking, "Who IS that? I don't have that angular of a face or that pointy of a chin...weird! Must be the angle, I'll try again." Then I tried again and again and I still did not like any of those pictures. It's like the me in my head needs to catch up with the me in the viewfinder.
And this, you know, could be the focus of an entire therapy session. Instead of delving into the emotional minefield of it all, I'm just going to blame it on the hair. Seems to work as a strategy for everyone else, right? ;)
Saturday, December 4, 2010
It was a kabillion degrees today. Seriously. This is Australia in the summertime and this means (for Melbourne in particular) that yesterday was a massive rain storm and today is the freakin' Sahara. (Great day for cake delivery, btw. Not.) Anyway, the kids and DH went to the local pool while I went to deliver a wedding cake, and the plan was to join them upon my return.
I didn't really want to go to the pool today.
I wanted to come home from my delivery, lay on my cool bed in my air-conditioned room and just have quiet time reading a good book and eating junk food. So I did exactly that, and I even had a plan for what I might say if the kids questioned my absence. About 5 minutes after I lay down, DH called to see where I was, and to say he'd paid for a family pool ticket so I could just walk in and not worry about queuing to get in.
Damn. He totally foiled my plan.
I did grant myself 15 minutes of quiet time and snacking (which I then regretted = massive stomache ache = spew up that which did not agree with me) and then headed for the pool. I decided en route that even though my bathers were waiting for me at the pool, I wasn't going to get in. I had a stomach ache, it was hot, I hate wet clothes, the pool is noisy - hell, any excuse you can think of, I had used as a reason not to get into the pool.
So I stood around in the glorious sunshine and watched my family play in the water, and my kids jump off the diving boards, and my husband laughing as the kids dunked him yet again, and I thought to myself: FUCK THIS. I am BURNING THE DAMN BOAT of the fat, lazy mother who does not want to go swimming and I am going to live in the moment with my kids. The excuses of not wanting to get wet, not feeling too great, and being too lazy to change were all still there...but the mind-set had changed. Why would I want to miss all the fun of this sunny summer day? Why would I want to spend it BORED and HOT on the sidelines, when I could be having fun and cooling down in the pool with my family?
The mind is a funny thing. Frankly, the mind is a big JERK sometimes.
So I went and changed into my bathers, and had 2 hours of splashing and laughing and in general acting many years below my chronological age and I loved every single second of it. I didn't even mind the wet clothes, or the damp hat, or the rough concrete on my feet, or wearing the bathers with not enough boob support. I just lived in those moments, and adored all of it.
We've come home, and the hungry three are showered and clean and smelling delicious enough to eat. Dinner is almost ready, and we'll eat together in tired happiness until their eyelids droop and they head for bed and I head for a hot shower. My only regrets about today are the 15 minutes I wasted in bed, and the half hour I wasted on the sidelines when I could have spent those minutes living a happier, healthier, far more authentically wonderful life.
You know, I could get used to this whole boat burning business.
Friday, December 3, 2010
In the last couple of weeks, I've had to cancel two hair cut appointments due to either family scheduling muck-ups or major cake muck-ups. This now makes me something like 10 or so weeks since my last hair cut, which means I am rocking the salt-and-pepper look (hey thanks Mom for those genes..). Not only is my hair showing some serious grey hair action, it's also all out of shape and much longer than usual. Plus my ridiculously cool blue streaks faded weeks ago so now I am somewhat lion-ish in appearance with random blond bits.
It looks really bad.
And yet, in the last 2-3 weeks, I've had no less than SIX people tell me they love my new hairstyle, they want to know where I got it done, they want to tell me that it really suits me, and in general it's all been OMG you have the most awesome hair we have ever seen!
People, people, people! What you are noticing is NOT my hairstyle, it's that my ass has shrunk significantly, but you either a) are blind and can't work out what is different about me, so you think it must be the hair, or b) you're not sure how to be polite and say, "your fat ass is smaller than it used to be," so you're focussing on the hair in your version of trying to be complimentary without making possibly offensive reference to my formerly massive ass.
Either way, let me just assure you that it ISN'T about the hair (and if it IS, how shit did I look before, if you're all complimenting the 10-week-old look?!)
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I had a lengthy chat today with a business coach - I've mentioned him on this blog before, and I think as interesting tid-bits come to light I might continue to share them - all about burning the boats. Now apparently this expression is attributed to various cultures from the Spanish to the Ancient Greeks and beyond, but here's the basic premise: Make a decision, and then make it impossible for you to go back from where you have come.
In the case of our mythical explorers, the legend is they sail to the shores of their enemies, and on arrival the leader cries, "Burn the boats!" thus signalling that either they were going to win the battle or die trying. Really, it's all about signalling their intent, both to the enemy and to themselves. One of the issues we spoke about today was that I am not spending enough time burning the boats. I'm making decisions and then thinking and re-thinking and then going back a little ways and then giving up (just for a while) and then starting again (for a while.) At no stage am I burning the boats and just moving forward with things, and this reluctance to just commit to a course of action is doing me (and thus the biz) more harm than good. Without the willingness to move forward in a significant way, there is just NO way to move forward in the first place. This doesn't mean you act with haste, without thought or without research. It just means that once you have arrived at the decision (and recognising that you have arrived is in itself hard to do), you then MOVE FORWARD without looking back.
Thinking back over the course of my life, there were many times when I did not burn the boats. For whatever reason, burning them was too big a step, too scary a step, too much like hard work and far too much like getting rid of my safety net (which is exactly the point of it.) It's not hard to come up with examples...like all the times I lost weight but kept my fat clothes in the closet. Or left the phone numbers of people I hate in my mobile phone. Or stayed in a job for too many years because it was easier to stay than to go and question the status quo. Or said something like, "I'm not fussed, YOU decide," when really I was fussed. I'm sure all of this is sounding pretty familiar, isn't it? We are a world of wafflers.
So you can call it what you like - burn the boats, cut the cord, rip off the band-aid, cut loose, 'never look back' -but either way it all boils down to the same thing. Stop the bloody flapping around and GET GOING.
Which boats will you burn this week?