My ‘No’ List

Every so often you come across a realisation that makes you stop and think, and it literally blows your mind.

You discover yourself in a whole other way.

I came across a blog post on Instagram recently, by author Sally Hepworth. She had been interviewed on a podcast and had happily shared her list of no’s… that is, things she says a firm NO to, time and time again.

Her list was so surprising, so long, so wide and varied, that she was asked to share it again… the short version, I believe. 😮

Here are some (emphasis on ‘some’) of the insane things on her list that she says NO to:

  1. Entering the school grounds of her kids for ANY reason

2. Cooking dinner

3. Remembering birthdays

4. Entertaining at her home (apart from her close friends, and then it’s only takeout 😮😮)

5. Talking on the phone (unless it’s work or an emergency)

6. Dancing

7. Playing with her kids – not like park outings or play dates, she means more like hide and seek or dolls 😬

8. Going to the supermarket

I KNOW! MIND BLOWN, right?

I was freaking out, because firstly she has 3 kids. And secondly, I do all of those things, sometimes daily!

It must be said here that Sally has a very supportive husband who pretty much does all the things she doesn’t as she goes about supporting the family with her day-job, i.e. writing.

Nonetheless, it was an enlightening and thought-provoking piece, and it left me with the ultimate question…

What is on my ‘no’ list?

I went to Hubbie the next day, a little upset. I actually felt like I didn’t have much of a ‘no’ list! Sally was so badass, sure of herself, laying down rules and foundations, etc etc.

And Hubbie said to me “that’s not a bad thing!”

Awww. Trust him to make me feel better.

He assured me that not having a big no list was not bad. It meant I was easy going and chilled about things, and that was great in itself, just as Sally is awesome for setting her boundaries!

We can all be awesome, and are awesome… just in different ways. 😁

So, I must ask, and I bet you’re already wondering, counting, pondering… what is on your definitive ‘no’ list? This is the list that you are very clear-cut about, no umms, maybes, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

This is dead set, NO.

Now that’s not to say that you aren’t allowed to ever change your no list. In fact I would be a little disappointed if you didn’t change at least some through the years. That’s life, and we are always changing and evolving, shifting as we enter different life stages and come across new realisations.

Do you wanna know what’s on my list? (But you have to promise to share some of yours!)

Here’s my very small ‘no’ list, and I’ve been sitting on it for weeks now so I know it won’t get much longer, despite my hardest to be super badass 🤣

  1. Ironing. It is overrated, time wasting, and I hate it. I admit, if I have to do it (pre-fancy occasion), I begrudgingly pull out the iron… but I curse the whole time, and still think it’s shit when I’m done.
  2. Super high heels. Like, why would I want to risk killing myself, and buckling my toes in the process? And walking like a baby horse that’s just stood up for the first time?
  3. The cold, and cold activities. The snow can wait for me, like all my life.
  4. Sucking up to people. I physically can’t do it. I recoil. If you think you need to suck up to someone, news flash, you don’t, you just need them out of your life.
  5. Coke. Never. Ever. I found my kindred spirit without meeting them in my uni days, when scrawled along the outside of a building I saw the graffitied words “coke is great toilet cleaner.” Now when I ask baby girl what coke is good for, she says happily “cleaning toilets.” Case closed.
  6. Any messy activities baby girl engages in, like play doh, glitter, glue, paint… must have newspaper underneath, and must be supervised! (Not so much a ‘no’, as a ‘no buts’). I’ve even been known to set her up outside on sunny days, on the grass, just so I have less mess to deal with.

That’s it. That’s my minuscule list, but I guess looking over it I’m a little badass about it. 🤣 It’s really easy to go the easy route and start listing food and drinks you don’t eat, but that’s cheating a bit, and unless it’s something truly shocking, I don’t think it counts as one to put on the ‘no’ list.

So now, share! Please tell me yours. 😁📣

Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

Expand your horizons

We live so much of our life looking in.

In the day-to-day, and even in the wider aspect.

I realised this after walking to a nearby cafe this morning to grab a coffee. I placed my order, went outside to wait…

And immediately pulled out my phone.

I scrolled, I scrolled. After some time I realised there was nothing fascinating on it, and remembered the days of pre-mobile devices, and how when you waited for something, well you just WAITED.

(Yes I do remember the days of pre-mobiles, even though it was a long time ago).

I initially looked around me. The groups of people, partners and those with dogs on leashes, sitting around at the tables out front, sipping on hot beverages, talking, making company.

Still, I was only focused on what was in front of me.

I made a conscious effort then, to look UP. Around. At the crisp blue sky, the houses in the neighbourhood that I just walked by without a second glance. The trees, and which ones had branches that seemed to touch the sky, and which housed nests for all the bird-life by the bay.

We focus inwards and on the little details so much, that we become consumed by them. They become our all, our life, our everything. And we forget about the bigger picture. The trees that loom in the background, providing us context of place. The sky that is so vast and huge that we forget it is even there. The sun that sets, and rises, its predictability so guaranteed that we take its warmth for granted.

We live our lives in this superficial manner. We become obsessed with trivial things, believe our problems are the greatest, and try to control all the storylines within our life path.

We must be more like nature. Going with the ebb and flow of it all. Shifting with the Winter breeze, or dancing under the Summer sun.

Take stock of what is going on in your life, sure. But also remember your place in the scheme of things. Instead of asking, “how will this affect me?” and trying to control the outcome, perhaps ask instead:

“How can I change me, and the world in doing so?”

Look at the bigger picture. Remind yourself of the sky, the stars. Look up. Look around.

And then take a step forward.

Photo by Jill Burrow on Pexels.com

Baby girl says the darndest things #11

I had to share this beautiful moment from earlier tonight, even if just so it’s stored away somewhere, a back-up against unreliable memories, worries and useless facts.

Baby girl and I were watching The Babysitters Club on Netflix. When it first came out I was excited: I thought it’d be a good thing to share with baby girl, and I could relive the book series I loved so much all those years ago.

It HAS been a good thing.

Watching a scene tonight between Dawn and her mother, baby girl turned to me lovingly, with a wistful look in her eye:

“Mama, when I grow up… I can’t wait to look after you.”

Awwww!

Before adding sweetly “now you tell me that when you grow up, you’ll look after me!”

🤣

Darling, I’m getting there. I’m still trying to ‘grow up,’ whatever that means. ❤

The 500 club

So, yay! I reached a milestone with my blog the other week…

My other blog.

Carcrashgratitude to be precise. This blog that I created, birthed from my parent blog, this smikg.com, has now amassed over 500 followers.

519 to be exact, as of this writing. 😁😁

And it’s great! My offshoot blog has almost doubled the followers of my original writing blog, and I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER.

And why? Because gratitude, that’s why.

I just wanted to write and celebrate my little win, my ‘happy progression’ as it were, but also speak to you about how I came to be here, and place some perspective, some thoughts on this experience, and maybe even offer some advice for some of you who may be starting out…

So how have I managed to exceed the number of followers with my second blog when it arrived on the scene two years after my first one?

  1. Consistency is key. I blog every single day about an item of gratitude. Looking at my latest title, you will see that it’s at 1887 days of consistency.

That’s 1887 days of gratitude in a row. If I said it was easy, I would be LYING. I’ve almost given up many times, and all those hard times was when life got really, really hard. But I was proving something to myself, more than anything else.

So, I’m still here.

2. Second. Photos help A LOT. I can’t tell you how often a well-placed photo gives me more likes.

Clearly, I don’t do it for the likes. We’ll come back to this one in a moment. But people are a visual species, and seeing something, even if it isn’t your photo (the Pexels free photos option via WordPress is great) encourages a person to click on your post sooner. The photo tells them the story, before your post does.

Also, food photos tend to be really popular. Just saying for any would-be chefs.

3. Don’t just follow for the sake of getting likes back, please. That is so trite. Be original for goodness sakes.

Just be honest. I think we’re all immune and desensitised to commonplace, fence-sitting ideas and thoughts. Be yourself. No one else will be.

4. I haven’t overly promoted myself in all this time. I haven’t promoted myself, really at all. In the WordPress world, I’ve liked blogs that I genuinely like, and let the blog grow organically from that.

Just remember… I have been doing this carcrashgratitude blog for 5 years now. So 500 followers in 5 years, is really not much…

That’s about 100 a year. Less than 10 a month. Of course more recently my reach has grown exponentially, but we are talking averages.

5. Why don’t I care about followers? Well let’s be honest, I do, kind of, because it means that people are appreciating what I’m saying and my words are having an impact. So that, I care for, greatly.

But if you are a writer, you are going to write, because you love writing. It’s something in you, and no matter how much you write and you write and you write, you will never ever get it out.

The writing bug that is.

Therefore, people clicking like or follow, is just the icing on the cake, the sugary sweet, superficial stuff.

It’s not the bread, the carb, the density of the cake. The whole piece that just took you hours to bake and get out of the oven.

So, if you’re a writer and just starting out, keep going. You’ll be glad you did.

If you just wanna join the ride, my carcrashgratitude blog can be found here, with a little story about how it all came to be, here.

And yes I am being cheeky and all self-promoting, I’ve done that before too, here.

Ha ha ha. Now I am being too much.

Anyway, thanks for joining me on this ride.

To quote a masterful genius…

“We are gathered here today, to get through this thing called LIFE.”

💖💖

Photo by Tessa Wilson on Unsplash

What I can and can’t read

I had a revelation the other week.

Not really a full-blown knock my socks off lightbulb moment, more this was a slow burn, a gradual dawning and coming to understand what it is I should read, and what I should not…

This idea cemented itself in me as I had sat on the couch before midnight, finishing the last 20 pages of the novel The Light Between Oceans, while CRYING MY EYES OUT.

I can’t do sad stories. Not now. Maybe even, not ever.

I realised it first when I was reading Burial Rites. A deeply haunting, fascinating tale, but ultimately one that made me sick to my stomach as I finished the last chapter. Actually, sick, in a gagging way.

Following on from that with my latest read, The Light Between Oceans, and though I didn’t feel nausea, I was deeply anxious for the characters from the second half of the novel onwards.

At one point I nearly stopped reading when I thought there was the possibility that MY IDEAL ENDING wouldn’t eventuate.

But I convinced myself, surely it would, surely there weren’t people raving about an amazing book, when it left you on such a sad note?

Well, guess what?

IT DID.

Really, it broke my heart. I have no bad words to say about the writing, the plot, the setting… the author describes the characters and place so poetically, and with such elegance, that to know this book received many awards is absolutely not a surprise.

Even the plot, which ebbs and flows, growing gradually at first, that becomes a can’t-put-this-down, edge-of-your-seat page-turner that you must keep reading towards the end. No faults, at all.

But, I have to question, and I ponder, and I think, again and again and again…

What kind of frame of mind does one have to be in to write this kind of story? How can you feel any sense of satisfaction, knowing readers won’t be satisfied?

And what kind of frame of mind does a reader have to be in, to actually LOVE this type of sad story?

It is driving me crazy.

I’m still IN the novel, the feelings and the melancholy and the feeling of loss still following me, and I feel I will never read an award-winning book again…

Because they all seem to deal with huge, hard, really difficult and sad emotions, and I can’t do sad.

It reminds me of another book I read many years ago, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She wrote something I still remember to this day. She always felt she had to read a certain type of genre book, but those kinds of books brought her no joy.

They brought her no happiness. So she was going to stop reading them, accept that they weren’t for her, and choose ones that brought her happiness.

This decision brought her a huge sense of liberation, and I think I need to do the same.

Maybe if life was all going to plan, and there were no dramas in my life, and I had no problems… maybe then.

Maybe then I could read a sad story, just to know, awaken the senses.

I get that life will always have it’s problems, but I seriously believe that maybe if my life was devoid of confusion, deep frustration, and things were generally more peachy than keen, then maybe, maybe then I could be happy about a sad ending that made me heave with sobs, my pjs becoming wet from my stream of tears.

Like, if I was bored. Life was so good, it was boring.

Yeah, if I was bored. Like that’s ever going to happen. 🙄

I need to know how you feel. Can you read sad stories? Have you read this one? Am I just overly empathetic and feeling too much?

You know what it made me realise though? I wanted to read stories of youth, of drama, crazy days, love and lust and gossip and secrets, revelations and family, friendship, coming-of-age and acceptance.

All bundled up into a nice little off-the-beaten-track package.

I wanted to read, MY STORY. And you know what they say?

Write the book you want to read.

Well, I better keep on then…

Slow steps are still steps

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” – Paulo Coelho.

This quote greeted me today as I sat down to work from my desk at home. I managed to smile somewhat amused, while wondering –

“Does the same apply if you’ve fallen 216 times… and it wasn’t just in this COVID year?”

“Shouldn’t getting up then, be harder?”

The answer came to me, like a whisper in the air…

‘Falling down that many times should make it easier.’

Tonight’s sunset. Possibly the last I will snap for this year. A year that has been rife with drama, heartache, loss, sadness, frustration, and SO much sickness.

I, like many, are heading into the new year VERY cautiously. I do like the idea of a fresh slate, but remember, the construction of life, of time, into days weeks months years, is a human construction.

One digit in the year date changing, does not mean things will magically change.

We, US, have the power to change our life and our state, every day, every hour, and every minute with our decisions.

Scary stuff, right?

As a kid I always wanted to know SO BAD, what was going to happen to me in my life? Where would I end up? What would I do? Who would I be surrounded with?

I’ve come to realise that we just aren’t meant to know.

Life can be seriously scary, and the last few years have shown me that. Tell a person the obstacles, hardships and frustrations they will encounter over the next few years, and they will likely collapse and die… and I am not even exaggerating. People would just give up. Cry mercy and throw their hands in the air, throw in the towel as it were.

Nothing.

So instead, we know nothing. This is how it is meant to be. This is how we get through life.

Slowly. Minute by minute.

Hour by hour.

Day by day.

Step by step.

Living in the present moment. Being in it wholeheartedly. Dedicating ourselves to the nature of just being, and by being in that space, finding that slowly, but surely, we are inching forward.

That is my plan for the new year. Really, my only plan.

We can’t guess, nor can we assume to know what will happen. It would be ridiculous to. And this past year has shown us ALL, how we really do know nothing.

It might be good. It might be bad. Likely, it will be both.

But how much of either, and when, and how?

Don’t fret.

As the sun soon sets on the day which many people will celebrate the end of, remember…

It’s all in your head. Sure, have fun in the moment. God knows we deserve it.

But remember, each day…

Step, by step.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Getting to Christmas amidst a pandemic

I had to question myself the other day, only days before the big festive day.

“Why was I so behind in Christmas preparations when we had been in iso over half the year?”

Why wasn’t I prepared?

Why didn’t I get to it earlier?

What was I doing ALL THAT TIME?

It’s enough to make you feel down and unaccomplished, especially in comparison to those that share their Christmas achievements, way from, I don’t know, OCTOBER.

But it’s been a tough year. A tough year for many. A tough year for ALL.

Like something I read on social media… we have all been in different boats. Some of us went through the pandemic in a fully-manned yacht… others were swept up in the storm from within the rickety confines of their dinghy.

Everyone has had such a different journey, so it’s important not to compare their covid boat ride, with yours.

Just like all of life, really.

We are all on a different life journey. Things will happen at different times for ALL of us.

We will be sad when others are happy, and vice versa.

We will be well when others are sick.

And vice versa.

Personally, I had both good and bad. Good in that I was fortunate enough to get a job just as the lockdown began.

Bad in that I experienced a bevy of health problems that manifested physically, and then caused me a great deal of mental stress.

When you throw in the worries, routines, and schedules of all those around you – children, partners, parents, family, friends…

No wonder we have barely held on.

I am here to tell you.. if you’ve managed to get to Christmas by the skin of your teeth… it’s ok.

This is your journey, remember. Be easy on yourself.

Look after yourself this holiday season. Be kind to others, but most importantly yourself.

You are here. You have survived. That is more than enough.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. 🎄🎅💖💪

How it feels when waiting for feedback

What are the feels when you give away your most prized possession?

How are the insides of your body, every second, every minute, every hour, of EVERY SINGLE DAY?

How do you cope, knowing someone is out there, casting a seriously discerning eye over your soul’s work, while you are there…

Alone. Wondering. Waiting.

If you aren’t a writer, here are some other-worldly scenarios that you might be able to relate to.

WAITING FOR FEEDBACK…

It’s like getting to the train station on time, but the train leaves as you reach the platform.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Pexels.com

It’s waiting all night for dessert, but then you throw up, and everyone else eats the cake anyway.

It’s giving someone your newborn child… and then they don’t call to tell you how the baby is going. And then they leave the country.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

It’s having your arm hanging out the window of a fast car, flailing about wildly, and the driver won’t slow down no matter how loud you scream.

It’s someone taking the last bite of your favourite meal. Without asking.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It’s calling someone repeatedly on their phone, but only getting through to their voicemail.

It’s the ellipses (…) being a permanent part of your every day life.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

But finally, waiting for feedback is like being in a seemingly unending lockdown that has no definite end date.

Waiting. Just waiting.

Hold on… 🤔

Photo by Felipe Cespedes on Pexels.com

(Inspired by life, but not intended for anyone in my life… I promise 😉 )

My Quotes #5

“Like a tsunami that hits the coastline

A hurricane that throws up houses

Or an earthquake that splits the earth in two

Watch your words.

They can change relationships forever.

Think carefully.

Choose them wisely.

They cannot be unsaid.

Elephants don’t forget.”

– SmikG.

Some social commentary on isolation in COVID

Gee we’re living in interesting times.

And that’s not to trivialise any of the sicknesses or deaths associated with COVID here, or around the world.

Absolutely no.

But just look around you. Look around us. Look in your neighbourhood.

We’re all running around like a bunch of chooks with our heads cut off, not quite sure how to deal with another 6 weeks of isolation.

Buying up at the shops… going out quickly to grab those last minute things we just can’t live without!

Calm down people.

Why are we going nuts like we did at the start? Don’t you remember what happened the first time around?

We will still have eggs.

We will still have dishwashing tablets.

We will still have freaking toilet paper.

I for one, don’t mind this round two one bit.

So what? We’ve been in one form of isolation or another since late March. That’s approximately 15 weeks if you’ve been social distancing correctly, and 106 days going off my gratitude blog since this all began.

If this had been done properly the first time around, and restrictions hadn’t loosened as early as they did (I always felt they relaxed too soon) this may not be occurring.

Only Victoria. It had to happen in Victoria. The garden state. The state, ‘on the move.’

Too right coronavirus is on the move.

This time feels different. I honestly feel like if we’re able to get through these 6 weeks with EVERYONE isolating, we will kick this virus well and truly.

Read a book.

Watch a movie at home. You can rent, Netflix, subscribe to an online service.

Go for a walk. Remember that’s still allowed.

Connect via zoom and video calls.

Listen to some old records.

Dance in the kitchen.

Flick through photo albums.

Rediscover the fuel that makes you tick, that which makes your heart soar, and what makes your soul happy.

Sure, some things are gonna suck. Work will be hard, school will be hard (if it’s done from home again, especially hard) and being isolated from those you love can be especially disheartening.

But remember this. What sucks more is this thing going on for months and months because we as a state can’t get it right.

What sucks more is the people who have died from this.

Whatever problem, issue or inconvenience this isolation causes you, it is not as bad as dying alone in a hospital room.

No support. No holding hands. Because that’s what this virus does to you.

Keep that in perspective.

Do it right now, please. Do the right thing, so we can go out in the glorious Spring sunshine come September, and breathe in that fresh air, knowing it is finally, over.

Let’s go from corona, and ‘BC,’ before corona…

To ‘AD.’ After disaster. After disease. After death.

Let’s do it.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com