What is the deal with February anyway?

What is it, with a date? Or even, a time of year?

I came to realise months ago that there was some peculiar, truly funny business concerning a certain month, and in particular often, a number.

The offending number was 27.

And the all-encompassing offensive month was February.

Specifically, February 27.

Because you see, on that date, a few things happened. Well, this year one BIG thing happened, but then it reminded me of other like things, and soon I was scratching my head and looking up at the planets and asking ‘what the?’

Was it a cyclical phase? Were the planets aligned a certain way the same time each year, making certain life-changing events happen? Was it coincidence (of which I don’t believe anything of…)

Chance? Hmmm…. nah.

Let me divulge.

I received a phone call on February 27. It was in the afternoon, from an unknown mobile number.

From my bosses, bosses, BOSS.

It was my great grand-daddy of bosses. Immediately, without even being in my industry, well, being a person of any workplace or industry… this was NOT a good sign.

I immediately thought to myself amidst the shock of it all, “some heavy shit is going down.”

I imagined bosses getting sacked.

A huge weather disaster.

A terrorist attack on our work building (I am not even kidding).

But as he began to speak, I started to see where he was headed…

What he said meant major changes NOT just for me, but for me and practically every person I knew and worked with and came into contact with in my daily work operations.

We, and I, were being given notice, of a more than likely redundancy in a years time.

I was in absolute and profound shock. I somehow managed to string some words together and sound somewhat professional talking to this grand-daddy of bosses. He expressed his need to talk to all involved, even if they weren’t at work that day when the news bomb had dropped. It was a hardening business, the industry was changing, and in doing so they were downsizing and moving on over interstate to help themselves, economically speaking.

I remember sitting with baby girl only minutes after the call ended. She kept asking that I play with her dolls. I sat on the floor with her, holding up some barbie doll, it could have been Ana, Elsa, Ariel, hell it could have been all of them for all I know. All I remember though, were the whirling thoughts in my head, the shock, the getting to grips with things. The adjustment. The profound sadness for myself and all of our team.

The acknowledgment, that this good thing, was coming to an end.

It wouldn’t be for another year. They didn’t know when the official move and migration would happen… at this stage, all we had was indicators, and we were given lengthy notice to help us in this massive change of our lives.

And we had known for a while. We knew this was coming. My favourite phrase was “if we’re all still here in 5 years, we’re VERY lucky…”

We weren’t lucky anymore.

And as I sat there, my mind bursting with all of this new information, I remembered something.

Something from that morning. Something that wasn’t shocking. Rather, something that had made me smile.

Because it had been a facebook memory.

You know how facebook reminds you of something you posted years ago, and it will say “on this day X years ago…”

Well I got one of those that morning. I got a “On this day 5 years ago…” and saw with absolute delight that February 27 had been the day I had made my birth announcement on facebook, that I was expecting baby girl. I didn’t share the memory again, instead I opened up the photo, remembered the comments, smiled so hard at the joy expressed from family and friends, and reminisced about a major and truly important milestone of our lives.

From Feb 27 2013. And on that day, Feb 27 2018, I was getting made redundant… soon.

But no, that wasn’t even ALL. Because the previous year, I had walked into the family room with baby girl at the start of the day, and upon opening the blinds, felt it odd I could only hear…

ONE BIRD.

We had two then. We had our trusty and loyal male cockatiel who had been with us for well over a decade. He had been hand-reared by both myself and Hubbie, and had travelled through houses near and far to be with us.

The other one was an Indian ringneck, recently given to us by some family members who could not give the bird the attention it deserved in light of them having had a baby recently.

Then, our cockatiel had been with us for about 15 years – the Indian ringneck, 6 months.

Both males. Yet both so different. The ringneck was cheeky and clever.

A dangerous combination. Because that morning as I decided it was all too weird that I could see one bird from the side view of his cage, yet I could not see the other, I decided to open the back door and take a closer look…

I gasped when I stuck my head out. The cage door was ajar.

The ringneck had escaped!

Feb 27 was whirling in my head. What? A Feb 27 incident from this year, last year, 5 years ago, and that wasn’t even the entire list of everything that had ever happened in February.

2 years ago I had had an accident, literally 20 minutes after jumping in to drive my new car. 20 minutes. My new car. Out of nowhere. This upsetting event was the precursor to my carcrashgratitude site being born.

And then 6 years ago in February, we found out a family member had a terminal illness. The ending wasn’t happy.

I couldn’t believe the insane symmetry of it all as I sat on the carpeted floor alongside baby girl. It was just too much. It couldn’t be a coincidence. Though one event was a happy one, the others were generally upsetting, with another one a shock, but one common theme threaded them all together…

They all indicated CHANGE. Whether the change was good, bad, or just a new adjustment. A learning curve. All these events brought with it major change and adjustment, a different way of coping or looking at life, of trying to deal, and grow in amongst much uncertainty around us.

An illness change – Someone passed away and it gave us an important life lesson in life and death.

A pregnancy change – The most beautiful life change you can get, that equally drives you insane as it does heap rewards on you.

A car accident change – It sent us on a spiral but I started my carcrashgratitude blog, a personal exercise in writing daily and finding gratitude in each day and in everything. 

A bird disappearing change – Some things are just there in your life for quite literally, a season.

And now, seemingly a career change – to be continued…

It must be planetary, there must be something above us making the same wheels turn again and again at the same time of year. I don’t understand it, though I don’t think I am meant to. I think I am just meant to do what I always do.

ADJUST.

And I have. I have had a long time to get used to my new adjustment. My new work change. I haven’t been able to talk about it though, and I don’t know why. Very few people know, and for some reason the words to talk about it can’t seem to find their way out of my mouth…

I think it is because saying it out loud, makes it more real. It means it is actually happening. Sure, it is about the only topic we talk about while at work, but away from work, when it becomes spoken of, well… then it becomes MORE real.

And when it is more real, you know what else will come?

“What are you going to do?”

And that is the clincher. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I have a million ideas. But I just don’t know where to turn to. And it is this unknowing that has me holding back.

roman-bozhko-251947-unsplash

Roman Bozhko at Unsplash

 

 

 

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‘Been there, done that’: A stressed Mum speaks up

One of the most frustrating things about being a Mum, is the judgment you face.

It’s bad enough when it is from a non-parent, one who has no idea of the trials and tribulations you go through to get by, day by day.

“Why do they eat that?”

“Why DON’T they eat that?”

“They go to sleep how late?”

“They don’t take any more naps?!”

“She needs to come out of her shell more.”

“She is too boisterous for her own good.”

“She craves attention from adults constantly” (this from baby girl’s kindergarten teacher – she is 3 for God’s sake!)

“She is very energetic!” (from the same teacher – and that is bad, how?)

But when you get judgment from a parent, one who has ‘been there, done that,’ and is well past the tried true and tested toddler stage, well, it’s shit.

Even worse if their critique is aimed not at your child… but at YOU.

“Why are you so stressed?”

It HURTS.

Judgement, from a parent who knows how it’s like, is really upsetting. I often wonder how that parent felt when they were dealing with one, or multiple little people all at the one time, and think of how they would have taken to such life-changing advice, from someone who had almost all but forgotten what it is like.

“Don’t be so upset. Relax.”

Because it is that easy. While you are in the throws, in life’s midst of teaching your child manners, toilet training, speech, not to finger suck, how to play fairly, how to not break things, how to not crack the shits every time things don’t turn out the way she/he wants, I am just meant to turn a blind eye and go

“Oh WTF. Stuff it all. Let me down this tequila.”

I am meant to shirk all parenting responsibilities and duties, and let them be, as they want to be.

And then what happens –

When the finger gets stuck in the door frame

She falls down the stairs

She chokes on a tiny object

She falls into a pool

She runs off into a darkened crowd

She climbs under the DJ table pulling out a cord and electrocuting herself

She ends up in the middle of the Main street

She wanders off on the beach

She goes up to that strange dog

ALL because no one was around. Because I was chilling and letting my hair down and “not stressing, man!”

Who picks up the pieces?

Who is to blame?

Who is judged???

I am. The Mother. The one who gave life, is the one who is given the most crap. Time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.

Look, I get it. The having fun part. It’s not like I’m a stickler for the rules, and I actually enjoy yelling “no!” all the time. I remember what it’s like to party. I remember what it’s like, (though very faintly), to not worry about anyone but ME. I remember how it’s like to wander wherever I like at a whim, whenever it suits, child-friendly areas or not.

I give baby girl plenty of room and choices to make up her own mind and do her own thing. I am not constantly stressing, helicoptering around her and grabbing her hand at every curious impulse of hers. I hang back and watch, but I am also, always, on guard.

You have to be, as a parent. It’s a very fine line of letting her learn and discover, while trying to look out for warning clues of impending trouble.  I mean, why would I carelessly put her in the firing line of trouble, when trouble and toddler are so unanimously tied together, naturally?

But I made a choice, about 4 years ago. I made a choice that in conjunction with Hubbie, we were going to love, cherish and nurture a little human being that was an amazing yet simultaneously super-challenging mix of the two of us.

When she gets hurt, she runs to me. When she needs comfort, she runs to me. Anything wrong that happens – she comes crying, yelling “MA!”Mum picks up the pieces. Mum needs to look after everything. Everyone looks to Mum, when baby girl is crying… no matter what, why, or how.

I don’t need someone who has passed the phase, to be telling me to relax. Turn a blind eye. “Chill a bit.”

I just want those parents to understand, and remember. That is all.

And for all those childless couples thinking that they will do SOOOO much better when they are a parent?

HA!

Girls… we have a LONG way to go yet

(I’d like to forewarn, of my use of the word ‘men.’ I use it in a general all-encompassing sense in this post, however I don’t really mean ALL men, rather to the scum presented below, and those who hold women back from where they need to be in 2017).

Frankly, I’m a little appalled at myself.

This time last year, I wrote a gratitude piece on International Women’s Day. I wrote things like

 

“As women, we need to know our worth and value it, and not continually lay blame on the man, or complain that we are not given fair treatment because of him.

“It’s due to this that we should place further awareness of this important day, in order for those other parts of the world, those ‘cavemen,’ and likewise any unintentionally or not, abiding cavewomen, to catch up, and smell the coffee roasting from the beans that we bought ourselves.”

To read it in its full context you should probably click here. But basically I was saying that  women are sometimes equally to blame as men are for their unfair treatment, because of the way they expect to be treated – they don’t realise their worth, therefore, men will NOT realise their worth.

Excuse me as I bitch-slap myself.

Lucky for me, I am a keen and curious soul, and I LOVE to listen to other people’s points of view. And call it fate, call it opportunity, call it divine intervention trying to tell me something, grabbing hold of me by the wrists and shaking me and yelling “Listen! You have to take this in!”… but lately, I’ve been getting really mad, as I get exposed to a whole bevy of stories and circumstances where women are treated awfully unequally.

Like slaves.

Like nothing.

Like a pile of shit.

So I’m sorry to say, but on this International Women’s Day, we still have an awful long way to go.

Women are still being treated like sex slaves. Domestic violence leads to death for one woman a week. One woman a week. Women are raped, ALL around the world – Eastern and Western cultures do not discriminate. Sexual assault is one of the most undetected crimes, with many women fearing coming forward due to the traumatic process of needing evidence, and having to be strewn through the courts with examination after examination. Offenders get a slap on the wrist, before moving on with their lives, with the victims left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives, and try to make some sense of it all – only there is NO sense in it all. Side effects of the ordeal are long-term, psychological, physical and affect the entire support network IF there is one, not just the sole victim.

Women are still being paid much less than the opposite sex. Women are underpaid compared to their counterparts, and even though they are often given the advice to be ‘more confident,’ ‘more assertive,’ (like men), it is a double-edged sword, as displaying these career-driven characteristics place them in the unwomanly field – they are not acting in accordance with their sex, and that is a deviation.

What I have come to detest particularly is the victim-blaming: always on behalf of the woman.

The woman sends a naked pic of herself to her boyfriend, and it is HER fault when he later posts it when they break-up.

The woman gets side-lined for a promotion, and it is HER fault, because she was too assertive – too much of a bitch.

The woman gets raped, but it is HER fault, because she was wearing a mini skirt.

The woman gets assaulted, but it’s HER fault yet again, because she was drunk, and really she was asking for it.

Why are the women, ALWAYS to blame? Why is it their fault that men can’t act accordingly? Why is it their responsibility to ensure they will be respected and treated equal, like men are: that is, not discriminated against or assaulted in any way.

How about the MAN is held accountable? I mean, he DID upload that naked pic of her online.

He didn’t promote his female employee, because he was threatened by her assertiveness and drive.

He raped her, because her mini skirt ‘provoked’ him.

He assaulted her, because she didn’t know better, and wouldn’t remember it in the morning anyway.

HOW ARE THESE THINGS OKAY?

In September 2016, Stanford Uni student Brock Turner, walked out of jail after only serving 3 months of jail, where he could have received a maximum of 14 years. It was a severe breach of court justice, and the male judge is now removed from residing over any criminal cases. Brock was found guilty in March on counts of intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, and penetration of an intoxicated and unconscious person.

His father showed the world why his son turned out to be such a weak imbecile and cowardly piece of filth, when he infamously asked for a lenient sentence for his son in a letter, saying a lengthy sentence was a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.

20 minutes of action.

20 minutes of action.

Really. 20 minutes of action. Your son assaulted a woman who was both intoxicated and unconscious. It was sexual assault. Choosing ‘lighter’ words make you sound like the type of scum that needs to be removed from this earth, rather than make anyone submit to your case.

If you want to get really angry, you can read the victim’s full statement that went viral last year, here.

Closer to home, and recently I read the explicitly disturbing story of Tara Brown, who was savagely beaten to death by her ex-partner in 2015. Lionel Patea had dropped off their daughter at school, before chasing her down in his car, running her off the road, and then picking up a hydrant and bashing her repeatedly while she was trapped in the car.

She died due to the extreme injuries she had sustained later in hospital.

And you know what he wrote in a letter to her family? He questioned how a tragedy such as this could have happened.

He had beaten her to death, and yet, he did not understand how he did it. As if it wasn’t his fault. Excusing himself from blame.

These examples are primary ones in the issue of women’s equality, however they are only the beginning of the tip of the cold and stark iceberg that is buried deep beyond sight. The discrimination, the fear, the uncertainty that you are born with when you are born a woman… sure, we can vote. Sure, we can work. Sure, we are treated equally in some workplaces, to some degree.

But we are living in 2017 people. Repeat. 2017.

Sexual assault.

Sexist culture.

Unfair pay.

Discrimination.

Bias.

This is happening to a woman, RIGHT NOW.

It doesn’t feel very forward-thinking and living to me.

Sure, I appreciate the women in my life on this day of ‘Women.’ And sure, I am grateful for their positive role in my life, and how they still to this day continue to shape me with their strength, their courage, their fragility, and their never-say-die attitude.

But I don’t have my head in the sand anymore. I am looking at the bigger picture, rather than just my small circle. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know how one person can even make a difference.

But together, as women and men respectfully unite, WE CAN.

Education must start in the home. Children must be taught to treat all as equals. Schools must follow suit, and then there must be legislation against the deviants who think themselves above the law and system, and take it upon themselves to ‘show a woman whose boss.’

WE need to show the deviants whose boss.

They are simple sentences, but they are big, HUGE, ideas. They require a lot of reform.

So on this day, the 8th of March, I celebrate one thing in particular:

The women who make things happen, and make positive changes for the better of all future women EVERYWHERE.

Because it is that woman that I also, want to be.

 

 

 

 

I’m sorry…

I’ve noticed a change in me lately. It’s come as a result of being self-aware of some of my ongoing words and actions, words and actions that have upset me very much.

I’m overly apologetic.

And I’m sorry for it.

I became quite aware of it, a couple of weeks ago while at work. I was in the company of some new people, and when the mention of my footy team came up, and how I supported it, I brushed it off.

You see, the old SmikG would have just told you that I barrack for a team that you either love, or you hate. If you are from Melbourne, or follow the AFL in any way, you would be lead into knowing who I follow without me saying anything more.

But today, I tell you bang smack in your face, that I am a proud supporter of the Collingwood Magpies.

I always have been. But as I said above, like their colours, you are either white for them, or black against them. Because of the sheep mentality of many AFL fans, where they think it is cool to collectively hate on the most popular team of the AFL, people jump on this unfair bandwagon and throw shit at the club and it’s supporters, only because they feel threatened. It’s easy to hate on another team, instead of focusing on the strength (or lack of, which is where the insecurity comes from) of your own team.

Ok, rant over. But you get my point. Because of this constant negative attention, and because I was in the midst of some new people, I dismissed my devotion to the club, saying that I hadn’t been into the AFL so much this year, and was not following the matches as much as in previous years.

Which was true. I was so busy with other things in life that I genuinely wasn’t watching many games. But the main point, was that I was apologetic for my devotion to them. And I was avoiding the ugly head that would undoubtedly rear in light of my devotion. Sure enough, a snarky comment followed from one said newbie: “don’t bother following them this year, they’re not going anywhere (near the top of the ladder).”

I went home later that day, and told the following story to Hubbie. I was teary. Not for Collingwood. Whatever. You can’t make everyone love you, or the choices you make, or the things you follow, or what you’re passionate about, right?

I was upset at myself. I recalled the story to him, telling him I was upset that I was avoiding the point of who I followed. I also recalled the story, of a little encounter that happened YEARS ago, but nevertheless an encounter that had stuck in my head, because I guess I hadn’t understood it at the time. We had been at an engagement party, and a girl we were speaking to at our table, asked me what my star sign was. And I, the proud Lioness that I am, responded with a silly shrug and said “Leo.”

Hubbie jumped on this indecision immediately. “Why do you say it like that? Like it’s bad?”

I tried to explain it away, by saying “oh, you know how Leos sometimes get a bad rap for being full on…”

I was apologising, for being born in August. I was apologising, for having the best damn star sign there is. I was apologising, for being me.

I recounted all this to Hubbie and said I was shitty with myself. It was not good enough. I was letting myself down.

I think it all leads to insecurity and wanting to constantly please people. Not wanting to upset people. Not wanting to make others mad. Not wanting to say and do anything that might make someone cranky with me. I’m a people pleaser, and yet I’m also sensitive, which means I know how it feels to be hurt easily… therefore I don’t want to be the one that hurts others.

It goes right down to the smallest things. Not speaking up because I might offend someone, when really all I would probably say is to set a fact straight, like telling the  barista they got my coffee wrong. I say sorry, when I walk into a person who I didn’t see… they also didn’t see me, and they weren’t sorry, so why should I be?

Someone saying sorry to me for getting in my way… and then I’ll say sorry back, because they’re sorry! Even justifying, is something I am DONE with.

“I just work 2 days a week.”

“I just did the grocery shopping.”

“I just wanted to get you something for your birthday.”

NO. It should be more like this:

“I work 2 days a week, because the other days are spent raising a small human.”

“I did the grocery shopping and it was a task while I wrangled a climbing, running, easily bored toddler with me the whole time, but I did it, and I did it successfully with minimal yelling and threats.”

“I wanted to get you this gift because I think you’re great, but so I am, because who else would remember to give you a present 3 months after the fact, and not be embarrassed it’s delay?”

You know what, I don’t even have to justify. To over-compensate my words. Just removing the ‘just’ in the first example is enough. But I’m trying to show something here. I’m trying to show that due to my need to people-please, and my inner insecurities, I tend to apologise, a lot. Some of it came from me. And not laying blame, but I can’t deny that A LOT of it came from being in the close company of the greatest narcissist I know. Even that sounds like a compliment, and I definitely don’t wanna hand her any of those and inflate her ego even more. But being forced into hearing about this person’s life difficulties, their high-maintenance ideals and life choices, their constant negative battles, their obsession with how good they are and how our earth rotates around htem, affected me in such a profound and deep way, that I swore vehemently that I would never, ever be like her. Not one bit. Not at all. Not ever.

Self-awareness was the key to my awakening. I have always been aware of my weakness, but when I had to apologise for liking the ‘Pies, I was so mad. I swear. A footy team woke me up to my inner dealings, and I decided that I should never have to be sorry for anything in my life. Nor should anyone ever be. We all have our personal thoughts, emotions, likes and dislikes, and ways of being, and these are the things that make us unique. They make us who we are.

I wanted to be like the people I looked up to. I wanted to be an unapologetic bitch like Madonna, and actually live her words to one of my many favourite songs of hers

“And I’m not sorry.

It’s human nature.”

It so is.

Recently, I’ve been making changes. It’s been a subconscious process, but because I’m making little positive changes to what I normally would have done, I am really noticing them in my day to day activities. Yesterday, when we sat down for coffee, I asked the waiters to clean the table from the previous customers there. Normally I would have dealt with it as is, not wanting to trouble the waiters or appear difficult.

Today, I called the I.T. department at work due to a computer fault. Normally I would have waited for someone else to call up when they came across it – I would have shirked the responsibility of it. But I called, and while I did I also asked for a replacement keyboard, because my current one had dodgy keys.

People now pass me, and if they get in my way and say sorry, I just nod.

I’m not endorsing being rude, or making people move mountains for you while you sit back, filing your claws. I’m talking about voicing your opinion, being YOU, and if you do that while being nice and giving a smile, as I did with all of the above, people will actually want to help you. You won’t be putting them out with your request. They’ll be glad to help you, because of your sincerity.

But, backtrack. Quite accidentally, I got my first opportunity about a week ago, with that person who had told me to give up on Collingwood this season. We were at work, and while making small conversation she asked me “who do you follow? have I asked you this?”

And with a smile, I said “the Pies.” A warm, self-assured smile. I had come full circle, and I was glad to have redeemed my self-worth and self-esteem. She didn’t know it, but I achieved a lot that day. I’m still learning, and I’m still travelling… but like the Leonine Collingwood supporter I am, the only direction is up.

I’m sorry… that it took me this long. But I’m not sorry anymore.

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(not my pic, and I’m totally not sorry either… unless this is yours and then thank you so much 🙂