I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Missing Piece

Tonight DD2 went to a friend's house for a sleepover. This isn't really a monumental event for us, although it certainly isn't a terribly common one. As a family we are ridiculously close to one another - in part because that's the growing up experience both DH and I had, and in part because of the whole triplet thing. Who needs friends at other houses when you've got some in your own house? Growing up, I can clearly remember my Mom forcing me to join various youth groups and events, and literally sitting me down and saying, "Michelley, you need to GET OUT of the house more and hang out with kids your own age. It's not healthy for kids to want to spend time with their parents."

Healthy, shmealthy, I still love hanging out with my Mom and siblings and let me assure you, my Mom just wishes I could hang out with her more than I already do.

So DD2 went off to her friend and the remaining four of us went to a function. I'm sitting at the function, and the entire time I'm thinking, "Where is DD2I haven't seen her in a while, has she eaten yet? Where's she gotten to?" and then it takes a second or two for me to remember that DD2 isn't even there. I am just so used to thinking about three other people that it takes a while for my brain to engage into thinking only about two of them. Then of course when we got home, DD1 (who has shared a room with her sister her entire life, and her brother until recently), got into bed and burst into tears. "I miss my sister," she cried, "I want her to COME BACK." In a moment of perfect timing, the phone rang and it was DD2 calling to wish us all goodnight. I let DD1 speak to her on the phone, and my heart was in pieces as she literally cried, "Please, please PLEASE come back! Please?!" She was crying so hard that it was difficult for her to speak...and I couldn't help but wonder how these three will survive when one of them decides to go somewhere for longer than a few nights. When one of us is away, it just feels as though a piece of the puzzle is missing. It's quite disconcerting.

Tomorrow morning, I have to wave goodbye (and try not to cry like a total idiot) when DS goes away on Cub Scout camp for a week. Okay, 5 days, but saying "a week" makes it sound better, like I'm suffering properly for a long time. My boy - my only son - is heading off to the mud and dirt and wind and rain and endless hours of testosterone fuelled fun - and I won't be there for even a minute of it. (Which, from a comfort point of view, I'm grateful for. But from a "my baby, my BABY!" point of view, I'm none too happy about.) For an entire week, I'll be missing a big (literally and figuratively) piece of my family puzzle. I just know I'll be constantly waiting for him to come home from walking the dog, or waiting for him to get out of the shower, or cooking meals which are too big by one serving, or feeling slightly annoyed that there are no smelly boy socks lying around or copies of Harry Potter to fall over for the 3rd time that day.


I'm going to miss my boy. I'll probably cry at the bus stop when he leaves, like a big ol' embarrassing baby...but I know he'll be back, full of stories (and bugs and mud and dirty clothes) and he'll be better for having had such a fabulous experience. And even though I hate to admit it, I'll be better for the reminder that the best two gifts you can give your children are roots and wings.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blogging Me, Blogging You

I started this blog originally because someone I worked with was a blogger. She would come to work filled with excitement and enthusiasm, and her digital camera was as much a part of her chef's toolkit as anything else. She's actually the first person to explain to me what blogging actually entailed. I had heard of it, of course, but really had no idea what a blogger actually DOES. I won't lie, it sounded hugely appealing. Food AND words? My two favourite things? Sign me up!

A few weeks later I found myself with a blog, and all this glorious white screen space on which to pontificate about stuff. Originally I had planned on a fairly classic food blog, not dissimilar to Mel's. I was going to be all about close up food porn photos, witty yet occasionally scathing reviews of funky new restaurants I had been to, and in general be that foodie we all aspire to be. The one who puts dried acai berries on top of cupcakes and then takes 18 photos of said cupcake from 18 angles. Except that it didn't take long for me to realise that a) I was pretty shit at taking digital photos, b) I didn't eat out all that often, c) I'd totally forget to blog altogether, and d) I like to eat food, not stop to photograph it. I discovered along the way that what I liked to do was blog about my kids, my life, random ramblings and occasional gripes (okay possibly more than occasional). In short, what I had was - in the bastardised words of Seinfeld - a blog about nothing.

What prompted this train of thought was my completing a survey all about blogging (the technorati 'State of the Blogosphere' survey). As I was clicking all the little bubbles, I kept thinking - damn, I should have cultivated a larger readership. I should have made some money off this blog. I should have, could have, would have parleyed this blogging shtick into some sort of real, in-the-flesh writing work.

Dang. The whole growth of blogging seems to have passed right by me, probably way back when I was forgetting to photograph my Meyer Lemon sorbet with a ironic twist of lime.

Then I thought about all the bloggers I USED to read but don't read any more. The ones who went on to publish books (and spent far too many blog posts promoting said books). The ones who got a modicum (or a flood) of popularity and in the same moment lost all their funny juju. The ones who went from 'occasionally write a review of a product' to 'click here to see my review blog.' The ones who I deleted off my feed reader because I simply didn't find them all that entertaining any more. Fact is, I'm sure a lot of them (okay, all of them) didn't even notice when they lost me as a reader, and if they DID notice, I'm guessing they didn't give a hoot.

That's fine by me, because I'm quite happy sitting here, in the corner of internet land, writing my blog about nothing. If there are some of you out there who are getting some amusement (either by laughing at or with me) from this blog, well, that's good enough for me. I don't need to have loads of readers (although some more comments to spur on discussion wouldn't go astray) to feel like I have some blogging self-worth. As time has gone on, blogging has acquired a financial and social life of its own, and has become a lot more about business and readership numbers and publishing deals and who-knows-who that's going to BlogHer. I just can't get into that.

...and yet, I think it's fabulous that normal, everyday, real people are getting their opinions heard and noticed and read and shared.

Can you be one and not the other? I wonder.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


All this recent introspection and coming closer and closer to the idea of my own mortality has made me examine a whole lot of things, and one of these things is age.

I've always felt that age is a matter of behaviour, attitude, state of mind - more than it is just a chronological accounting of years. I have been fortunate enough to meet many people who are wise beyond their years and who amaze me with their insight. I've even been fortunate to meet people who are far younger than their years would imply and who would be described as immature - but I think that word can have both a positive and a negative connotations. I also think that kids today (and here I go with already sounding older than I am), are in some ways much more mature than kids of, say, 20 years ago. In other ways, they are a lot younger. The youth of today are exposed to a lot more, but they behave as though they are a lot less responsible for things.

My Mom was often fond of saying, "When I was your age, I had [insert number of kids] already." I think it's a common saying among mothers of a certain age, and being a child bride myself I'm sure I'll eventually trot out that old chestnut myself. When my Mom was my age, my brother was only just born...and yet, the very idea of bringing a baby into my household at the moment almost makes me want to run screaming from here. I cannot even begin to imagine what having a baby now would feel like (and nor do I want to, thanks very much.) When my Mom was my age, she had 3 kids, a full time job, was running a household, and was battling with her weight.

Wait a second.

That's sounding awfully familiar.

Here's the weird thing about age. My DH (who is significantly older than me) often behaves in a way which seems to indicate he does not give a flying shit about his age. Nor does he think anyone ELSE should give a shit about it. He just kinda, well, goes along in his own way - whatever happens, happens. I would venture to say his personality type is not one of a planner, either. He'd be hard pressed to tell you his retirement plans (even though they are not all that close, they're not all that far away either.) He'd be hard pressed, in fact, to tell you his plans for NEXT WEEK let alone next year. He feels absolutely zero (or close to zero) pressure about his age in relation to the stage of life he is at. His age is just his age and that's it. He's fond of saying he only "recently matured to around 30." (Which is an improvement. When I met him, he had "recently matured to 23" and he was 35 at the time.)

Me, on the other hand...me, I've got plans. LOTS of plans. But I have those plans because I feel an immense amount of pressure around the fact that I am 34 years old and yet still feel as though I'm not entirely sure where this life is headed. I am 34 and I don't really know what I want to be when I grow up - but I know that I fee I need to know that NOW NOW NOW NOW because otherwise I will be 45 and looking back and thinking, "What the hell happened?"

I'm 34 and yet feel like my life is already half over, when statistically it's probably nowhere near that much. Or at least, I hope not. Fact is, I feel that time - and hence my life - are on runaway trains, and this scares the living daylights out of me. At the same time I read about famous authors who only started writing in their 70's, or artists who started in their 50's, or swimmers competing well into their 90's and I think, I've got SO MUCH life yet ahead of me. It's only just begun, really... but I have a very hard time coming to grips with the idea that I'm actually fairly young.

I have two friends, both of whom are exactly 10 years older than I am, and both of whom love to tell me I'm "just a baby" (and hence should not worry as much as I do). One is in a successful but fledgling food business. The other is working in a part-time retail role. Both of them have later-life babies (and so are dealing with toddlers and pre-schoolers at a time in their lives when my own kids will be going on 19 years old.) Of course, the kids being small makes a huge difference to how one can live their life on a say to day basis, and on one's finances. But I look at both of those people and I think, "Holy mazoly. I don't want to STILL be having those family, money, and life struggles when I am 44. By 44, I want it SORTED OUT."

How foolish I am to believe that my life will have a specific trajectory which it will follow and there will be no deviation from that trajectory. If nothing else my Dad's death has taught me that the old catchphrase is true - shit happens - but still I hold on to this ridiculous hope that it will all get sorted out and STAY sorted out. As for my friends, I don't think either of them are necessarily old, or have 'missed out' or have done a poor job organising their lives. I think they're just doing a great job juggling life and work and money and kids ... no different to me, here at the 34 year old end. There is in fact NO difference between them and me other than a decade of time. A decade is a very long time, or a very short time depending on your point of view.


Time frightens me. Some days I feel as though the LAST ten years of my life have flown by... when I was 24, I was going through IVF and working in a job I liked but wasn't all that fulfilling. At 34, I'm raising pre-teens and working in a job which is much more emotionally fulfilling, but financially crippling. They seem like a very long ten years, and yet they happened all so quickly. I am terrified that the next ten years will be the same - full of changes but not necessarily steps forward. There goes the old "follow my life plan" fallacy again. DH is the kind of person who would not even think about this sort of thing, and yet...me? I am totally terrified that if I do not get my act together sooner rather than later, I will have wasted a whole chunk of my life. And let me tell you, as a number one ace multi-tasker, wasting time is NOT AN OPTION.

What about you? Are you worried about the passage of time as it relates to your life plan? Do you feel that your age - whatever your age - is old? Young? What impact, if any, does your age have on your life?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's Your Story?

Today I had the unfortunate experience of attending a funeral - a friend of mine recently lost her Dad in an unexpected way. When I heard about it, I didn't hesitate to make sure I would go to the funeral, even though I didn't know him all that well. As DH reminded me, I got immense comfort out of my friends during that difficult time in my life ... and so it stands to reason there was never any question of me going, no matter how much my heart ached to see a friend in the same situation as I was.

At my age, I thankfully haven't had to go to many funerals. In fact I think including this one, I've maybe been to 4, and three of those were Jewish ones. So I didn't know what to expect, and I found myself really moved by the whole event. Many family members and friends came up to speak, and most of them did a short re-cap of the person's life. This was different to my past experience because I'd only ever heard people talk about the person rather than the events. So, I had heard a lot of"Mrs X was a lovely person who loved to knit" rather than, "And in 1989, Mrs X went to Blah Blah University. And in 1991, etc etc." I actually learned quite a bit about this man, all of which was interesting and painted a picture of someone for whom family, love and working with his hands were all a joy. I found myself totally drawn into the story of this man's life. A story which, previously, I had only known very small snippets of.

As I was listening to these people share their stories, my mind wandered a bit to the people I know and love, and I found myself wondering what their stories would be. Or, in fact, what MY story would be. I don't think this is morbid - it just tied in with my recent wondering about the higher purpose of my life. When all is said and done - what will people say about me? Heck, what would I WANT them to say about me, assuming I could have some way of hearing it? Would I want them to talk about my life's timeline? Would I want them to talk about the person I am? Or would it be some mixture of the two?

Today's experience also reminded me that everyone does, indeed, have a story worth telling. I think even the people with the most (seemingly) mundane lives will also leave behind some sort of story..and while it might not be colourful and punctuated with humour and excitement, it's still a story worth telling. We - people - are all really just a collection of stories.

What's the story you want told?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Treats and Luxuries

I recently had a conversation with The Neighbour's Wife about money. More specifically we were talking about how we really should organise a Girls Night Out, but both we and all our friends are broke so it would probably need to be a "Girls Night In with Potluck." She went on to say that they are actually "haemorrhaging money" at the moment...and I'd be lying if I said the same was not true for us. Both the Neighbour's Wife and the Neighbour are gainfully employed, so they don't have the added issue of less than one income to live off of, and yet they are still struggling to stay afloat.

I'm pretty sure my parent's generation didn't have it so hard.

Of course there are all the usual issues of the increased cost of living, of mortgages being higher but salaries not increasing at the same pace, and of the modern world's need for 'stuff.' We just all spend way, way, way more money than our parents or grandparents did because there's just more "stuff" available to us. Plus you have things like lines of credit, and credit cards, and myriad other ways to live beyond our means. Spending, on a global scale, is just out of control.

Here is the part I find hard to swallow. When I look at my life, I don't see a whole heap of treats and luxuries. I see some treats and luxuries, but I don't see a life of wasteful spending. Let's take my house as an example. It's a nice family home in a fairly middle class area. Nothing at all special about it other than it is closer to the centre of town that not, which immediately makes it more expensive than further away homes. DH and I could have chosen to live far further out of town - and saved a bunch of money on the house - but then we'd spend a bunch of money driving back to town because that's where our family lives, and where our cultural centre is (I'm talking religiously and socially.) So it's either mortgage, or gas/time/wear and tear on our cars. If I were to list other treats and luxuries in my life, I'd list these:

- My kids attend private school (but only do so thanks to generous family, and a generous chunk of financial aid.)
- We have cable tv and internet access at home.
- We eat well. As in loads of meat, and loads of fresh veg and fruit and some boxed items like cereal and dried crackers and occasional deli treats.
- Have two cars, both of which are 13 years old and 8 years old respectively, and decidedly work horses rather than show horses. But still, it's two cars.
- Travel once a year, mostly to go see my family in the US.
- Allow our kids to do one sport or activity per kid.
- We have private health insurance

But what we don't do is:

- go out very often
- smoke or drink (unless it's a bottle which was a gift or out of DH's pre-marriage collection)
- have a cleaning lady every day or even once a week
- hire babysitters (thank god for nice uncles and grandparents)
- shop for clothes unless they are totally necessary
- shop for "stuff" for our house
- eat out very often

Now we've sat down and done budgets - many times, in fact. And every time we do it, we're just shocked at what plain old LIVING costs us. Car insurance, mortgage repayments, health insurance...all things which I think are just basic living costs, are basically eating us alive. I recently paid the car registration on my car and it was over $600. Which is about 1/4 of what my car is actually worth. I look at our lives and I think, "but we don't spend all that much money on fun stuff! We don't have many luxuries at ALL!" And yet, I find that the amount of money DH and I have to earn just to stay afloat is absolutely astronomical. HUGE.

Is it just me who suffers from sticker shock? Are the things which I consider luxuries really able to be cut out of our lives, and if we DID cut them out... then what? What kind of life is it where "good food" is a luxury? Of course, intellectually I know we could cut out some if not all of those and still manage to survive. But I don't want to live a life devoid of luxury. I don't want to stay home every single night, and I want my kids to have a religious education. Suppose I cut out the private schooling. I'd still want (and on some level feel obligated) to send them to some sort of extra learning for the religious bit of it, which will cost money again. Where, exactly, have I saved anything?

I suppose what I'm really saying is, I understand that life is bloody expensive these days. What I don't get is - why is it all so hard? When did the necessities of life (as defined by me, for my life) become such a burden? Is it really the luxuries we've allowed ourselves which is the difference between survival and mounting debt? Is it that we have a far more luxurious life than I think, and really I'm just a whining snob who is living in dream land?

Humour me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Only Money

Last night I watched the first episode of Junior Master Chef with my kids. I was truly astounded at the skill shown by these kids - they were making things which even I think are pretty complicated. Baklava, gnocchi, poached eggs with truffle, a pomegranate and walnut dish... and even a beef dish which was a roll filled with cheese, soft boiled egg, and so on. Seriously, these kids could put quite a few adult chefs to shame. It was an absolute pleasure to watch (except for George's incessant arm waving and his irritating talking-slash-shouting style of speech). These kids were all so excited about food, excited to show off their skills and proud of themselves for having made it this far. Almost every kid talked about their family being proud of them for getting into the Top 50, and about how they love cooking and love food. Truly it warmed the cockles of my somewhat jaded food industry heart.

And then...and this being MY blog, you know there is an "...and THEN...." :)

Today I went to the Fine Food Australia show, which is an industry-only event showcasing all manner of food products, food machinery and related stuff. Today I saw an oven which requires NO skill to operate, beyond pressing buttons. Literally. You slide in a tray of fish, select "skin on fish" and then "well cooked" and then walk away. No need to do anything else, it just sensor-cooks everything...and I mean everything, from croissants to beef roasts to cheesecake to potatoes. Monkeys could do it.

I was at the show with a friend of mine (also a chef), and we were commenting on the preponderance of "monkey cooking" machines and gadgets they had. The thing is, I totally understand the need for efficiency, and precision, and making more money through reduction of waste (either product or time.) I also understand that the hospitality industry suffers from a constant skill shortage - there are just very few skilled people out there, and the ones who are skilled often don't make enough money to survive, or burn out easily because of the difficult nature of the job. I won't even begin to talk about the training which is available for chefs (long time readers will remember my complaints of useless students and useless teachers.) So I can actually understand why there is a perceived need for these machines in the first place. We need machines which don't require trained people to use them. I get it.

It makes perfect economic sense that these machinery companies are spruiking products which require less time and less skill to actually operate. However you can't help but notice what is happening in the food world around us - Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, the preponderance of Slow Food events, the popping up of farmer's markets, the push for sustainable food supplies, the concern about things like food miles. We are all busy trying to return to the earth, return to cooking skills of old, embrace cooking as not only a skill but a lifestyle....and yet, the industry would appear to be clamouring for yet more machines which make things faster and cheaper.

It also did not escape my notice that said machines cost thousands and thousands of dollars (many of them in 6 figure sums.) You might argue that they cost so much because over the space of 2,4, 10 years - they'll be saving you that much and more. And it's entirely possible that they WILL save you the money and time they promise to... but it's also entirely possible that you'll be "saving" the industry from having to produce and employ capable, passionate cooks.

...and that, my friends, is no savings at all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Little Too Close

I didn't grow up in a particularly touchy-feely family. I really can only vaguely remember my parents giving me hugs and kisses, although of course they did give loads of love, it just wasn't always very physical. It's really only since I've been with DH (who is so touchy feely as to resemble a large man-shaped piece of velcro) that touchy-feelyness has been part of my life. I've noticed the difference in myself especially when I am around my siblings. My sister still isn't into touchy-feely - she visibly cringes when she senses someone coming in close for a hug. It's just not a comfortable thing for her to do. My brother, who was also previously of the touch-me-and-I'll-sock-you-in-the-eye category, is engaged to someone who is clearly a touchy feely. So he, too, has now been sucked into the vortex of hand holding, ear nuzzling, hug-while-standing-close-in-a-line affection of the physical sort.

My new-found (if you count 13 years as new) touchiness is something which has clearly been passed onto my kids. We own what is quite possibly the world's largest living room couch. It's enormous. If it had wings, it would be a jumbo jet. If it had wheels, it would be a road train. It's this massive, sink right into it's luscious goodness L-shaped leather couch. However, it's clearly far too big for us, and it has this magnetic field embedded in it. Observe us watching TV together as a family: At the start of watching a show together, we're all one person away from each other (so person-space-person-space-person). By the first ad break, all the spaces between us have disappeared and we're all smooshed onto one end. So you look at this vast expanse of couch which is all empty, and at one end it's personpersonpersonpersonpersonanddog (on floor.)

We just spend an unbelivable amount of time squished into one another, and the couch is only one example.

For us as a family, it's all about hugs and hand holding and "just one more" hug or kiss or touch or pat. I have no shame in admitting I love giving my daughter's butt a playful smack or rub when she walks past, that tickle fights are an everyday occurrence around here, and that we spend an extraordinary amount of time invading each other's personal space. 99% of the time, I love that about us. I love that we are close in every way it's possible to be so, and I like to believe that this closeness will be carried through the rest of my children's lives. We're a team, in everything we do, and it stands to reason that teams stick together (although perhaps not quite so literally.) I truly believe that the families who eat together, play together, and work at things together will ultimately be successful at producing happy, healthy individuals.

However. I'm new to this whole velcro and sticky tape lifestyle, and so occasionally I completely lose my shit over the fact that YOU PEOPLE ARE ALL UP IN MY SPACE AND CAN YOU PLEASE STOP BLOODY TOUCHING ME!!! and then I flap my arms like a girl and yell some more until everyone realises they need to take a GIANT step back before I go totally postal on the whole lot of them. Today was one of those days. We went to find some camping gear for DS (and we all know how I feel about camping, so my comfort zone was already feeling a bit hot and itchy and annoyed). This camping shopping trip involved lots of walking and looking and canvas discussions and bits of metal pole and a whole lot of money and other stuff I don't like. DS, bless him, found a new way to walk along next to me. He's so tall that he can now lean his elbow on the top of my handbag (which is hanging from my shoulder) and then kinda lean into me nice and close. So the end effect is he drags my shoulder down, which makes me look more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame than I already do. Plus he weighs a lot so it's a bit like walking while carrying a sack of flour with legs. It's really an unpleasant way to walk...and no matter how much I tell him to STOP LEANING ON ME, he doesn't even realise he's doing it. He's a touchy feely, and that's just his way. So then, of course, I either walk much faster than he does, or I move my handbag to the other shoulder. I take defensive action and engage in a choreographed dance of anti-child elbow leaning activities. It's totally futile, because exactly like the weird magnetic field on the couch, this kid just kinda...shoomps right back over to me. (No, I don't think shoomp is a word, but it sounded right in context. Work with me.)

This happened all afternoon.

I don't need to tell you how much my last nerve was herself getting annoyed at being leaned on.

By the time we got home today, between all the thinking about camping crap and the leaning and DD2 driving me INSANE with her endless questions I'd already answered 3 times (yet another endearing quality of all children)..I'd had enough. So, as you might have already guessed, I lost my shit at everyone. I yelled. And then, of course, I felt kinda bad about it - because what sort of crappy mother shouts at her kids for wanting to be close to her? I should be shouting about drug use or plagiarism or blatant misuse of grammar, not shouting about something like cuddling! Geez, what sort of crappy mother am I?

The very same one who loses her shit, feels bad about it, and then solves it all with a hug and a butt rub.


I think this is a vicious circle, and I'm the one keeping it going...and yet I can't very well yell at myself to stop leaning on me, now can I?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crazy Dog Lady

Way back when (before kids, and even after kids), I didn't want to get a dog. My Mom claimed that she was allergic to anything with hair, so I never grew up with pets of any kind (other than Rupert the turtle who reincarnated himself before becoming soup, but that's another blog post.) Then I grew up, and DH wanted a dog, and then suddenly I wanted a dog, and now we have one - the amazing Teddy, greyhound extraordinare.

To be sure, I'm still not a dog person...even though this beast was my idea in the first place, and even though he's fit so well into our lives that I can hardly remember life before him. Tonight we had some dinner with friends who are contemplating getting their first dog. The wife (who knows my prior life as a "no way in hell am I getting a dog" person) asked me if I was glad we got him.

I had to think about it for a moment, because, well, I don't love that he needs feeding and walking and whatnot. This is especially true since my kids can now feed and walk themselves and part of me loves the freedom I have from childcare duties. I don't love that he shits on my lawn because DH was too lazy to teach him to do his business in one specific corner of the garden. I don't love that it costs money - precious money right at this moment - to feed him the fancy dog food DH insists Teddy needs. I don't love that we cannot just disappear from the house for a weekend, because we need to plan for his welfare.


I love that he just wants to be loved, and that he somehow manages to get 5 humans to comply with his requests. I love that he lays himself down - often in the strangest and most uncomfortable looking positions - just to be close to us. I love that he follows us around from room to room, and will often sit as close as he can (he even wraps himself around the base of the office chair as I blog) just to be with us. I love that his walking regime means we ALL get exercise at some point in the week. I love that he eats leftovers because it's almost like we are recycling, and I *heart* recycling. I love that giving him a pat and a cuddle and pulling his ears up gently so he looks funny can calm my soul. I love that the cheeky bugger manages to get himself loads of treats even though each of us will claim that it wasn't us who let him have it.

I just love...that he needs to be loved and we can provide that. I never realised how much love we had to give (and frankly, I thought our love was all accounted for my 3 other people in this house).

So while I may not have turned into "a dog person"...I'm a "Teddy person." So, god bless his cotton socks (which I just know he would wear if he could), I told her she'd be CRAZY not to get a dog. Because, you know, all dog ladies are crazy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thoughts and Wonders

In the past several months, I've been a bit adrift in terms of my life and what the heck it is I want to do with said life. Yes, I run a business and yes, I'm a mother and yes, yes, yes, it would seem as though my life is pretty darn organised and I've got this whole 'live a good life' thing pretty sewn up. The truth is, I don't think I actually am living the life I am meant to. I'm referring to my professional life, not my personal one (although, being a small business owner, they sometimes seem like the same thing.)

Don't misunderstand me. I don't have any need to escape my life and go hang out in an Indian ashram like the eat.pray.love author, nor do I want to eschew all creature comforts for a crunchy hippy life, nor will I wake up tomorrow wishing I was a corporate high flier. It's just that I'm not entirely sure I am doing what I am meant to be. I suppose you might say I am having a crisis of faith. I'm just...vaguely uneasy with things. There are certain thoughts, words, ideas which just seem to constantly live at the back of my brain, niggling away at me. At first I mistook these for negative self- talk: "I should be doing more" "I should be helping more" "I'll never be good enough" "I should have tried harder" "I haven't achieved enough" and so on. Having thought about it for a while now, I think it's more about not living an entirely authentic life than it is about me being some sort of bad or incapable person.

Just typing that "living an entirely authentic life" makes me snort and laugh and giggle like a 5 year old who just heard the word 'penis' said out loud. What the heck IS an authentic life, anyway? And who the hell believes in that hippy drippy arty farty stuff?

So here is the part where it gets a little interesting.

About a year ago, I organised a fundraising event for the kids' school. I used a certain company for this event. On their website, they credit a business coach for helping them to grow to their current level of success. I clicked through to that biz coach's site, liked what I saw and signed up for his newsletter. I've read the newsletter now for almost a year. It has never occurred to me to engage a business coach, I really just thought the newsletter would have some good free advice. Which, I should say - it did! The coach's writing style was engaging, funny, and often (to me anyway), full of wisdom.

Stay with me on this, okay?

A few weeks ago, said business coach offered some free mentoring to anyone who wanted to trial his services. Since I enjoyed his writing, I thought I'd sign up as it seemed (from what little I knew) that he and I would get along well. Ridiculous, really...to like someone based on their writing, while not really knowing anything about them, but there you go. I just had that strange feeling that, if I knew this guy in real life, we'd be fast friends. So we had our first session - which was eye opening and interesting and full of light bulb moments and it made me think a lot in the days afterwards. The first session was clearly meant as a freebie to get people to sign on with him for further (paid) sessions. However I made it clear that although I enjoyed the consult immensely, I had no means of engaging him for further work. Much to my extreme surprise and delight, he said, "I don't know why, but I really like you. I think we can achieve things together, and something about you draws me in. Let's just talk again next week" and then he set me some 'homework' tasks in preparation for our 2nd chat.

The second chat revealed a whole heck of a lot more than I thought it would, in so far as I revealed to this person (who is basically a stranger): I'm not entirely sure I am living the life I am meant to be. I'm not sure the path I've chosen is the right one. I think I've lost my way...and even though we're supposed to be talking about growing my business, I'm not all that sure I even want to BE in business in the first place.

All of those, and more, are thoughts which I've never said out loud, let alone to some guy I don't know at all. Still, it was an enormous admission for me to make. HUGE. Because after all, I am this...person...who is achieving what she set out to achieve, who is doing exactly what she said she would. But what if the thing I said I'd do... isn't really what I want to do? What if I just went along this path because a) it was expected of me and b) I knew I'd succeed at it? What then?

...and then he started using words like "intention" and "authentic" and a whole lot of other words which kinda made me feel uncomfortable.

As you can imagine, this conversation opened up an enormous can of worms. ENORMOUS. The crazy thing is, he thinks we should keep on talking... knowing full well I can't afford to pay him for his time, and knowing that he will only (for now anyway) be paid in gratitude. How do you explain that?

At the end of our conversation, he set me a task, which was based on Christine Kane's philosophy of 'Be. Want. Do.' It sounded terribly time consuming and emotionally difficult to do, but...I think I need to do it. Anyway, after hanging up with the biz advisor, I kept rolling that name around in my head...because the name Christine Kane sounded so familiar. And then I reached back into my mind and realised that almost 18 months ago now (around the same time I started to feel unsettled), I had read a post over at Karen's blog about making a vision board. A vision board post which referred back to - you guessed it - Christine Kane. I even bookmarked the post, because something about it resonated with me...and that in itself is funny, because I would have said all this 'authentic life' stuff is a load of crap.

Of course, now I can't shake this feeling of how life has come full circle. I read a post, and bookmarked a link, and then 18 months later met someone who led me right back to that forgotten post, and that forgotten link.

My head is now bursting with thoughts and wonders. I think this will be an interesting year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

New Year

So it would seem I've not been the best blogger I could have been this past year...but then, events of the past year have been, while blog-worthy, also emotionally challenging. So I've let my blogging slide in favour of time spent under the covers, bowls of cereal late at night, visits to the gym for some mind-clearing time, and endless hugs and time spent with my kids and DH. Not that I didn't do those things BEFORE my annus horribillis (not a condition requiring softer toilet paper - it describes a type of year) ... but this year I revelled in those things, and I didn't make time to blog about them. This year, I resolve to be a better (or at least more frequent) blogger.

How can I make new year resolutions in September? Well, this Thursday is Jewish New Year, which is followed by the Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe.) Over this period of ten days, you are meant to reflect on the year that was and ask for forgiveness for all the bad stuff you did. For me, I tend to ask The Big Man Upstairs (who, I should say, I've had a tumultuous relationship with thus far. I have some believing issues...) to listen to my various requests for the new year. 10 years ago, I sat in temple asking TBMU to please, please, please let at least one of those eggs in that lab grow into a viable embryo. I then famously had to leave temple in the middle of New Year services in order to undergo the transplantation of said embryos. Some days later I sat in temple again, begging TBMU for those embryos to continue to grow and thrive...and as I write this, those 3 embryos are now upstairs asleep in their beds. So it would seem that, on occasion, TBMU listens to his flock...and reminds us to be careful what we wish for.

This year I have quite a lot to ask forgiveness for... mostly because there have been times when I have not been kind when I could have been, not been patient when I needed to be, talked a whole lot of smack (I'm a gossiper. There you go. It is what it is.), and ate too much stuff although I'm not entirely sure that's sinful. I also probably lied, coveted other people's stuff, and in general did not act as holy I could have. What I DID do this year was try to be the best sister, friend, mother and daughter that I knew how to be given the situations I faced. I think that's got to count for something.

Without further ado, TBMU, here are the things I would like you to consider giving me this year if you can take a break from protecting soldiers, helping the Oreo company make a calorie-free version, and keeping tsunamis from happening too often.

1. A job for DH. Not just any job, but one which will leave him happy, content, and proud of himself. He deserves it - because he is not only a good father and good husband, but just a good person.

2. Some sort of acceptance on my part. Acceptance that my Dad is gone, that my kids will grow up and be okay, that I will never be a Size 10, and that sometimes it's okay not to be cheerful all the time.

3. Peace. There is a page in our friday night prayer book which lists a bunch of things we want peace for - peace for soldiers fighting wars, peace for people struggling with themselves, and so on. So I want that whole page to come true. Incidentally, my personal favourite line refers to peace for parents who are worried about their children, and peace for children who are worried about their parents. I like the idea that it can go both ways.

That's it. I only want 3 things. Truth be told I could come up with a whole long list of things I really want...but then this holiday is not about being selfish. It's about being introspective, and when I really, really think about it - those 3 things are all I really want. I don't think it's too much to ask for..and if it is, well, call me selfish and then I'll repent for that next year. Never too late to start planning...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Oi! Oi! Oi!
(a common shout out done by rabid fans at Australian sporting events.)

You know you have been living in Australia for too long when:

1. Your hybrid Aussie/American accent does NOT fade the longer you are in the US. At the end of two weeks you are still getting, "So where are you from?" and then a confused look when you say, "I'm from LA, mate."

2. Said accent comes in handy when you get a speeding ticket on the I-5 somewhere in Central California...and you pull over to the wrong side of the freeway (not realising it was the wrong side in the first place.) Then you put your best Aussie accent on and tell the officer you're just visiting from OZ-tray-liyah and so don't know nuttin' about American road rules, let alone silly things like speed limits...and it totally works on him. (Also helpful to throw in a LOT of "mates" and "come round for dinner if you're ever Down Under")

3. You see Tim Tams for sale in American supermarkets and it annoys you because this means they have sold out to American consumerism and that this is a dilution of the Tim Tam brand. A Tim Tam fails to be special once you can easily get it in another country.

4. You hear that damn song "I Still Call Australia Home" played on the Qantas flight a million bloody times and yet the sight of those kids singing in Uluru still makes you tear up like an idiot.

5. You go to an Ice Hockey game (in Australia, who knew?!) and when they tell you to stand for the National Anthem, you panic a bit because, for a split second, you can't actually remember how the American one starts. (Good thing, too, because they sang the Australian one..which they would, given that the game was played in Australia. Duh!)

6. You think it's cool that, with the exception of a New Zealand stamp, all the other stamps in your passport are Australian...but then you forget that this just means your sorry ass hasn't travelled anywhere really amazing in a long while. (Other than New Zealand, which is almost like vacationing in your backyard. A truly spectacular backyard, but still...)

7. When you come into an Australian airport, you automatically head into the "citizens" line before you remember you've always been too cheap and too lazy to apply for citizenship so you sheepishly go and wait in the really, really long line which should be labelled "this line is for people who are too cheap and lazy to apply for citizenship."

8. You didn't vote in the recent election because you're not allowed to (see #7), but realise that if you could have, you probably would have...and you would even have a decent idea of who was running and what they were all about.

9. You cannot understand what the hell the menu at Starbucks says, and you find yourself standing in line muttering, "Bloody Americans! Why can't they just say "coffee" on the menu if that's what they sell? Venti, shmenti, latte, shmatte, I just want a freakin' cold coffee."

10. You can write a list like this in the first place, and have to use your imaginary editing pen in order to not make this list go on for several more pages.

Sadly, people, I think the transformation is complete...mate!