Happy New Whatever-You-Want-It-To-Be

(Disclaimer! Most of the below photos are not owned by me!)

Besides the fact that I’m a glass half-full gal, on this final day of 2015 I feel universally compelled to write a post of inspiration.

Quotes are all around me at the moment, proliferating in particular online. I didn’t really know what position to take on it, but I found light-hearted humour in the following example:

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Then I saw a funny and eye-opening one calling into regard all those people who are all New Years Resolution talk and no action:

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My daily calendar told me something else today, that was sweet and promising:

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(this is the only photo I own, but feel free to use as you please 🙂 )

Then I saw a ‘woah’ one that made me go “Yes!” Lleyton Hewitt fist-thrusting in the air style. “I will do it!”

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And then that quote reminded me of one of my all time fave New-Year quotes, something that I think most writers would appreciate the symmetry of and hold close to their chests:

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All of these quotes are well and good. They are inspiring and promising to the right person seeking it. I used to write myself New Years Resolutions, every year. Sometimes 5, sometimes 10, sometimes 7 (because it’s one of my lucky numbers). I started to realise that it was hard to hold onto promises I made myself when I wrote them down and didn’t look at them for the rest of the year. Even when I did save it in a spot I could bring up time and time again, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to commit myself to something that was a year-long project. Sure, there are things we should commit to for life – eating right, exercising, drinking plenty of water. These are all good, positive steps to getting the most out of your life. Yet still, I never managed to keep all of them, faltering at some point (sometimes after a month if I was lucky) and it just left me with an air of disappointment.

I think every day is a reason to start anew, start afresh, and make resolutions for your life. Keeping a list to keep track of is good, but you need to allow for life’s little adjustments and remain flexible to changes that may come. How ridiculous is it to commit yourself to one way of being for an entire year, when as a species we are forever changing? Change is necessary for reaching milestones and goals that we set ourselves – no one wants to remain ‘stagnant’ for the rest of their lives. It’s a part of life, and just as we change, so will our goals and dreams for the future.

Which brings me to the quote I think best sums up my interpretation of the new year. Happy 2016 All. Hope it’s everything you want it to be.

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A Year of Happiness

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GRETCHEN RUBIN – The Happiness Project

“A happiness project was no magic charm.”

The above eye-opener comes in July from Gretchen Rubin, over half-way into the author’s year-long project into happiness – how to get it, how to be it, and everything else associated with making your face turn into an upward curve.

It’s actually taken me way too long to write this review. I kept reading other books, and failed to update my notes on all my read books, making me fall way behind on my reviewing. I can’t give an explanation other than to say I was lazy/uninspired, and in relation to this particular book felt it much too hard due to the vast and confusing landscape of ‘happiness project.’

I purchased this book at the end of 2013, a limited edition one that was sold through the beautiful stationary store kikki.K. It came at a time in my life when there had been a huge amount of upheaval. I was in the store shopping for Christmas presents with an almost 4 month-old baby girl, following a year that had involved a major and distressing death in the immediate family, with then the subsequent birth of our daughter. With all the ups and downs, it was hard to imagine us ever being normal again. I was hopeful, as a glass-half-full gal always is – but it was so hard to envisage us living life to the full the way we used to. A book on happiness sparked my curiosity, and besides, I was always drawn to self-help type books. We can all improve ourselves.

I was soon to discover that Rubin had divided the various paths to happiness (as she felt them to be), into 12 areas, and would allow herself to focus on one major aspect, with its various subdividing offshoots, each month. I thought, being so close to January, that I would go along on the project with her as she had done, and decided to read the chapters month by month, in so doing my own kind of year-long project analysis of my life. I wanted to take my time and think these concepts through.

This is the book I read during the span of 2014.

This was a project into happiness, but what I loved was that it gave an insight into human nature, the way we are as society, and gave me a good sense of who I really was via the questions it posed. The book was set up in 12 areas of happiness building – for example March was “Aim Higher!” with the ‘Work’ tag associated with it, and some of the goals she had outlined for that month were “enjoy the fun of failure,” “enjoy now” and “launch a blog.”  (We’ll come back to that one later).

At first it seemed a little confusing, and as a novice into this field also somewhat bewildering. In her initial research into happiness, she discovered the personal principles that would help her to stay on track during her project, which also coincidentally turned out to be 12, which she called her ‘commandments.’ Then there were the ‘secrets of adulthood,’ the goofy things she had learnt over the years, and her ‘resolutions chart’ would help to keep her on track as she checked herself and her goals against it, month by month. All of this made me feel like the whole thing was awfully complicated and too-thought-out. I mean, if you want to be happy, identify the problem, figure out the solution, do the research, and go. I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a book if she had taken a simplistic approach, and also, I do empathise with the need for lists and ticking off items, as all avid-organisers and OCDers can attest to. But this was going to be one of many baffling (and awfully irritating) things about Rubin that bugged me.

Rubin’s sentiment for starting the project rang true for me. She didn’t think she was necessarily unhappy, but she did feel as if she should be happier and more appreciative of the life she led, following her lightbulb moment one day with the profound question “Is this really it?” singing out in the background.

From the get go, I immediately started to learn things and discover ways that would make my life easier, in turn making me happier. Organisation was key to happiness, with the obvious revelation that outer order does bring inner peace. This helped me to understand why I do always need to clean or sort before I start a project, because I feel scattered by things that are around and distracting me. I took on board two of her suggestions: the ‘one-minute rule’ and the ‘evening tidy up.’ The first one refers to tasks that should not be delayed if they can be done in less than one minute, and the latter is as it says, helping to give you a more relaxed and serene start to the following day, when all your crap is organised. This especially helps with kids I think, and it really made me realise that a lot of the jobs we often put off can be done quickly, when we can identify how long it will take to do it and then just do it. Take my current example of changing flat batteries in baby girl’s toys. All I really need to do is get her toys, turn them over, find out what kinds of batteries are required, go to the battery drawer and change them. That’s it. It won’t even take 5 minutes. Yet the act of putting it off will make this job seem like the hardest one yet, just by the fact of constantly delaying it.

Realistically though, we have to understand that some things will never be ticked off, and they will either be ongoing jobs or things that will create more jobs for us to do. This reminded me of an entry I read many, many years ago in Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, where he said (and at the time it blew my world) that our ‘Inbox’ will never be empty. We’re constantly trying to get everything done, but it’s just not possible. Understanding and accepting this is one of the key things to calming down and stressing less.

I got many other ideas from Rubin, such as the ‘6 second hug,’ a hug that for that minimum time is enough to produce mood-boosting chemicals to promote bonding; having a simple thing like a candle in your office can give you a sense of peace and help you to work smarter; and when she wrote about creating traditions in the family to foster love, I couldn’t help but think of all the singing and dancing that we do with one another, as well as our special family ‘eskimo kisses’ where Hubbie, baby girl and I rub noses with one another.

In particular, one of her goals actually set me on my own journey, as just as she started her own blog in March, so too did I follow a couple of months later – bringing me to where I am today! For that I am utterly grateful for her ideas. She had come across to writing from originally clerking, and so I felt it was encouraging to me, since where she is, writing full-time, is where I want to go.

Writing related, she mentioned a self-publishing website where she was able to create a book out of the journal she kept of her daughters first 18 months. This definitely spiked my interest as I too have kept lengthy journals of the exact same thing, and also I would love to have a hard copy of my first blog which is still being (un)read out there in cyber space, as memory of my life and writings when I first started out in the blog forum.

There were so many nuggets of life and happiness wisdom that it was hard to keep up. Things like:

“Experts says that denying bad feelings intensifies them; acknowledging bad feelings allows good feelings to return.”

“Happy people don’t need to have fun… the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good.”

You can gain happiness from tasks that actually don’t make you happy in the process: my recurring ones are writing and throwing parties. That was a puzzling, yet true, revelation. Also, there was the ‘arrival fallacy’ which is the assumption that when you arrive at a certain destination you’ll feel happy. What makes you happier though, is the anticipation of it (something I think often about and have touched on here). Usually reaching significant goals gives you more challenges and work (i.e. the ‘Inbox’ is never empty!) which is why it’s so important to take pleasure in the atmosphere of growth. That is the fun part.

The most challenging tasks, give you the most sense of reward and accomplishment. Harder, therefore = happier. Last year when I made up all the invitations for baby girl’s christening from scratch, little did I realise how much running around, work and preparation would be required. But when I finished the lot, boy was I proud of myself.

One of my ‘woah’ moments came when I read about the fear of failure. She said that to succeed more, we had to acknowledge that we would fail more. She calls it the ‘fun of failure’ to help counteract the dread she feels. But my favourite quote was when she referred to a friend of hers, who always says whenever crisis strikes

“this is the fun part!”

Kind of like yelling “plot twist!” when something in your life doesn’t go to plan. I LOVE IT.

However, I also discovered questions that I really didn’t find an answer to. For example, she spoke about a controversial topic – does money create happiness? Can more of it, really make you happier? This was very dependent on your experiences, and also how much you had in relation to people around you. I realised in reading that chapter that I love buying coffee out, and eating out (Food Reviews anyone?) and yet I didn’t get an answer as to why that might be. Did it make me feel good, knowing that I could buy food and drink? Was it the fact I didn’t have to make it myself? I’m still pondering that one.

And just as I couldn’t discover why I love to eat and drink out so much, so too did I struggle to work out the character behind Rubin. At first it was slightly unnerving to read her accounts of ALL the books she read on a regular basis. Early into the book she recounted at list 20 titles just on one page. Being an aspiring author, this made me totally jelly. Then with all the ongoing references to an endless amount of books and quotes, I couldn’t help but think that she planned the book really well, or just retained a stupid amount of information that I never could. For her sake, and being the organised being she is, I hope it is the former.

My love/hate with Gretchen had begun.

There were other moments that made me feel inefficient. She talked about reading a lot, as any author would, and one of her goals one month was to ‘read at whim,’ where she noted about a zillion different writers and topics. I remember thinking ‘she has two girls, right? And one of them is a year old? And she does this how?’

She wanted to read, so much more than she usually did, even though her main work centred around it… and yet she wanted more time to pursue her passions, she wanted to read more for enjoyment.

I found one explanation as to how she finds all that time to read when she said:

“We had plenty of money to do what we wanted.”

But I wanted to reach through the book and slap her when I read this, when she was taking on the challenge of writing an entire novel in the month of September:

“Writing the novel was a lot of work, but I had less trouble squeezing the writing into my day than I’d expected. Of course I had it easier than most people, since I was already a full-time writer, but even so, I had to scrimp on time otherwise spent reading newspaper and magazines, meeting people for coffee, reading for fun, or generally putting around. My blog posts became noticeably shorter.”

Did she want writers around the world to unite against her? Don’t rub salt into time-poor writers’ wounds, Gretchen.

However, my frustration with her reached boiling point when I discovered from page 255 onwards, that not only does Rubin have qualities very like a person in my life who infuriates me, but she was actually her. This was a rude shock and made me question how I could continue reading a book from someone who I didn’t have any time for in my life, let alone let them teach me about being happy. Pffft.

In this section she spoke of her realisation of interrupting others, pushing her opinions onto friends in the example of forcing clutter clearing onto them (gosh she sounds like a delight), as well as a party of other very unfavourable qualities: she was a topper – “You think you had a crazy morning, let me tell you about my morning;” she was a deflator – “You liked that movie? I thought it was kind of boring;” and she was belligerent, looking for ways to contradict what people said.

When she went on to say that her first instinct was to argue with people when a statement was made, I made the following colourful note:

‘Yes! That’s her! Why argue? Go and argue with yourself over how you’re a fucking moron. (Did she write this in secret?)’

I started to, through my new-found anger towards Rubin and resurgence of hatred towards that person in my life, discover snippets of happiness-inducing tasks in the book that could help me on my own path, and help me in dealing with my frustration at infuriating people such as this. The following two quotes made me feel better about myself, as I pondered and focused instead on my own private insecurities, and why people like Rubin and others made me angry the way that it did. Insight can be a wonderful thing.

“Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.”

“It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light. We nonjoyous types suck energy and cheer from the joyous ones: we rely on them to buoy us with their good spirit and to cushion our agitation and anxiety. At the same time, because of a dark element in human nature, we’re sometimes provoked to try to shake the enthusiastic, cheery folk out of their fog of illusion – to make them see that the play was stupid, the money was wasted, the meeting was pointless. Instead of shielding their joy, we blast it. Why is this? I have no idea. But that impulse is there.”

Critical people appear smarter, and gain superiority from their know-it-all attitudes – but there is nothing superior about putting another person down, no matter what form it comes in.

And then, Rubin was giving me advice. Rubin, so similar in character to that person in my life, was giving me advice on how to deal with a person, like her! She spoke of rumination, which was dwelling on slights, unpleasant encounters and sad events, which led to bad feelings and often depression for women particularly as they were more likely to ruminate. This discovery rang true for me, as often following a troubling encounter with someone (that person), a solo drive in to work, alone with my head, can be absolute hell. But the idea of an ‘area of refuge’ which she invented to avoid her tendency to brood, sounded like a brilliant idea. She decides to think of one of Churchill’s speeches, or something funny her husband has done. Although I haven’t had a proper think about how to implement this, it’s certainly a life-task I will be coming back to. It’s like I was meant to read it.

In accepting Rubin’s help, I actually came to realise there were things about her that I liked. For example, she admitted to her faults (and wrote about them for all to critique), something not many people could easily do. She was human, getting upset at her husband and children for everyday things, and had to accept defeat the way many people did, giving up on one of her goals, a gratitude notebook, because it started to feel forced.

Finally, one final thing tied us together and made me much more sympathetic towards her. Her crap handwriting. I too suffer from shithandwritingisis, and it was refreshing to learn she couldn’t write lyrical prose for 45 minutes in a beautiful journal every day, because she wouldn’t be able to read it afterwards! Ahh, kindred spirit.

And, after all that, there was this:

“I love writing, reading, research, note taking, analysis, and criticism….”

This only confirmed to me that I was doing, what I was meant to be doing. In my free time, it’s all about books, notes, reviews, writing… This is where I am meant to be. This is where I am happy.

Although some of the above were tasks I could implement into my everyday life, there were other passages I read, those kind of insane life-changing lightbulb ‘Aha!’ moments that left me with goosebumps I would never forget the feel of.

She told the story of a man who would take his sons out because they would wake early every morning and his wife wanted to sleep in. They gave up trying to convince them to go back to sleep, so the man let his wife sleep and took them out, he got coffee and then watched them play in the park before returning home for breakfast. Rubin said these days, the couple slept late, but the man’s memories of those days with his young boys are the clearest and happiest of that period.

Excuse me while I cry.

Following that story came the highly appropriate quote, and also one of her ‘splendid truths:’

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

This quote quite literally gives me chills. It has become one of my favourite sayings, and a bittersweet reminder of parenthood. It puts everything into perspective, at a time of my life when there are difficult days, when things feel so hard, when I just wish certain stages were over. It reminds me that nothing lasts forever, and only to look back on the last two and a half years to realise that. It’s a scary thought, and a hopeful one too. It puts me where I’m meant to be most importantly, which is in the present.

A second profound insight interestingly came from a reader on her blog, who wrote:

“One day – I was about 34 years old – it dawned on me: I can DO ANYTHING I want, but I can’t DO EVERYTHING I want. Life-changing.”

Hell yeah. We can’t do it all, though in the name of positive thinking, we should be able to. Just another thing to think about, and to remember to do things that make you happy, rather than trying to do everything, just because we can. Focus on those things that make you smile. I’m sitting her typing at my laptop while baby girl naps, but when I re-read this, I’ll feel good about my writing efforts (remember, greater challenge, greater reward).

There was I poem I also came across that struck a particular cord with me, and thank God I googled it before re-posting it on facebook. It was an 18th century epitaph, those things you find on gravestones:

“Remember, friends, as you pass by,

As you are now so once was I.

As I am now, so you must be.

Prepare yourself to follow me.”

It is actually quite eerie, and yet when I first read it I found it to mean something else entirely. In line with my negative take on the saying ‘every dog has its day,’ I felt like it was a promise to those, that their day will come, that they will have hardships, and especially my friends without kids: ‘You will see how hard it is one day too.’ I don’t know why I am compelled to think like this, and why for a glass hall-full gal I am thinking on the negative side when it comes to this dog saying. I know that parenthood is hard, and I know that there are many out there, who like I was before kids, just don’t get it. I think, as weird as it sounds, I feel it’s comforting that I won’t be the only one in life with troubles and dramas. Sounds ridiculous, I know, as if no one has issues. We all do. But knowing you’re not alone, and other people will follow in your steps and have your problems, just as you will follow in other people’s steps and have their problems, makes me feel like we’re in this thing together.

“As you are now so once was I.”

I think whether you’re brimming with happiness and bouncing off of rainbows, or whether you’re staring at that second bottle of vodka with deep desire, we can ALL use this book. Sure, one can argue ‘Why the need to read about being happy, just BE happy!’ And I agree. There were many parts of the book when I just found the whole project a tad complicated, and her second ‘splendid truth:’

“One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy.

One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.”

was a bit of a chicken/egg scenario and rattled my brain as I tried to logically work out which should come first and how they affect one another. But at the end of the day, as long as you can eat both the chicken and the egg, we don’t need to work anything out. Just as we don’t need to think too much about happiness – just be it. And if all that fails, fake it ‘til you make it and as Rubin says and does

“Act the way I want to feel.”

It doesn’t have to be so technical, but then again, whatever works for YOU. Rubin had her splendid truths, her commandments, and that helped her in her happiness project. At the end of the book she supplies additional info and tips on how to better your life and even start your own happiness project, just as she started her own book club too (something I seriously pondered, and still ponder today).

Rubin gave me a lot of inspiration, confirmed for me I was on the right path, and gave me lots of nifty tips and tricks, as well as self-learning, and that is a lot more than other books can say. She vowed to stop reading books she didn’t enjoy, and I too realised that I shouldn’t feel the need to read short stories or stories of sadness/loneliness/woe, no matter how acclaimed they are or how well they’re written. I thought in depth about my ‘True Rules,’ a term she coined for a collection of principles developed over time that help you to make decisions and set priorities. Where one of hers was “When making a choice about what to do, choose work,” I soon discovered one of mine were “There’s a reason for everything.”* And when a reader on her blog listed all the groups and clubs they had joined that year and all the amazing experiences that had come out of that choice, I couldn’t help but think with awe ‘Imagine all the friends and experiences you’ll miss out on by not doing anything?’

The Happiness Project is a must-read for all. Even if you don’t like Gretchen (as I can surely relate to, at times), you will love the ideas and insight into YOU that come out of this book. It’s a helpful guide to come back to time and time again.

As my sauce-splattered kikki.K wash cloth says:

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Too right.

Please let me know your thoughts on The Happiness Project in the comments below, I would love to discuss with you.

(*True Rules coming up in a later post).

Mortality at 5

Finite Creatures

I’ve always wanted to do one of these Daily Post prompts, but no one idea suggested there has ever spoken to me like this one. I may be a couple days late, but I don’t really care. I like the topic. Well, I don’t like it, but it speaks to me.

Hubbie and I were talking about this very thing the other day: death.

It’s not something unfamiliar in our house, especially with the fairly recent loss of a loved one.

I was telling Hubbie about one of my earlier memories. I was about 4 or 5, and had just gone to bed, with my lamp light shining softly beside me. My parents were still up and about, doing those night time things that parents do, that I now do at the end of the day: cleaning, tidying up, preparing for tomorrow. Amidst all this, I started to cry, really heavily.

My Dad came in. And when he asked me what was wrong, I said “I don’t want to die.”

I don’t remember what prompted this sudden outburst of sadness, of desperation to cling to life forever. I was crying, sad that one day I was gonna die, sad that one day my parents were gonna die. I don’t know if I’d just seen something in a movie, whether my parents had been to a funeral that day, or what. What I remember quite clearly though, despite the many years between then and now, was the sinking, agonising feeling, the realisation that one day it would all be over. My Dad tried to comfort me, and eventually I fell asleep, feeling helpless.

Imagining life without your loved ones is heartbreaking. Imagining life, where you’re not in it… is mind-boggling. Death is something we don’t understand, and many people don’t want to. Yet it’s something we will all experience, as we witness loved ones leave, and then eventually, we will be the star that ends our own show.

My take on it has always been the same. Glass half-full gal here now, but I’ve always believed there is another side. Life after death, where our soul continues, our body having been left behind on earth. In earth. You can say it’s a coping mechanism, you can say I have no proof, you can say it’s a load of bull.

And you may be right. But it’s what I believe. And it helps me to turn off my lamp light at night.

Born Again

There isn’t any religious theme or Christianity embedded within this post, despite the suggestion of the above title, however the element of re-birth is very strong, and quite appropriate given the subject matter.

Spring is coming. But no, that’s not all this post is about. I only realised it earlier tonight when Hubbie told me tomorrow was the first day of it, and I don’t know how I hadn’t realised it earlier; as much as August is such a festive and happy month, and it’s all anticipatory with excited thoughts of the warmer months ahead and all the opportunities for getting out and about and being out in the sun, I’m always so happy, enraptured in fact, when Winter finishes. I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts of returning to work and dealing with massive separation anxiety from precious baby girl, to even understand that today being August 31st meant the end of the cold season, ’til it was told to me.

We’ve had a pretty spectacular preview of it too. The last week has shown many beautiful, bright, still and sunny days, and it still amazes me just how much weather plays an integral role on my mood, even though every Winter I go “blah,” and then every Summer I go “yippee!”

But it’s more than that. This time last year I had a 2 week old baby. I was severely sleep-deprived, insecure, and in shock, the days stretching out before me like they were weeks, the nights dreaded and never-ending. Slowly, over those first few weeks, whenever I had a breakthrough “I get this!” moment or a parenthood ‘understanding,’ I grasped that glimmer of help, of hope, of happiness that suggested to me that things were going to get better, like everyone who had kids before me was assuring me, which I just couldn’t fathom in my zombie state. As down as I was at times, confused and indecisive about EVERYTHING, I was still that glass half-full gal, and I held onto all those moments where things were on the improve.

Little things. That’s all they were, but by God, they were the big things. Baby girl sleeping an extra hour. Not crying as long. Falling asleep without me trying. Finally breastfeeding! – now that was a task and a half. Bit by bit, things were on the rise, and the weather was getting better too.

The weather, as always, was something I was desperately holding onto. Even during difficult days, if the sun was shining outside it lifted my spirits, and a quick 15 minute walk around the block pushing baby girl in pram, significantly helped my mood. The weather is always – though I hate the dependence – something I rely on so much of the time, even when I’m not thinking about it, and in those early weeks and then months, it was getting warmer and getting easier, at the same time.

1 year later, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am blessed beyond words, with the most clever, cheeky, curious and very cute baby girl. I look back at those dark days, now just a blurry distant nightmare, asking myself ‘was it that hard?’ I know that, yes, yes it was very hard. No one says parenthood is easy. But that’s what makes it so rewarding. I don’t understand how you can be in such a confused and frustrated state, so devoid of any happy emotion, and then you get that sleepy smile that newborns do, and it’s all ***heart melting*** And that’s it, you’re gone, you’ve succumbed to the power of this little human, and for the rest of your life when they smile, every inch of your heart and soul will smile with them.

The weather saved me, back in those days, many a time. You have a baby, and your whole life is turned upside down. It’s a completely different way of life, and though you are living through the warm months, enjoying them, your way of life is far removed from what it used to be, which at the time you are completely oblivious to. All I was thinking of was the little things and the little milestones that I was slowly accumulating as baby girl got older.

The good weather, reinforcing, telling me to keep going. ‘Things are gonna get better. See that milestone? Things are easier, they’re better.’

Constantly.

And it was only this last week or two, when we had an influx of happy Winter sun, that it hit me: I remembered. I remembered warm weather, and how it used to be.

It’s not like I forgot the warmth. It’s more that I forgot the things we used to do and the life we used to lead while it was warm. I was so focused on getting through, counting the good moments, counting the days, then the weeks: “she’s 14 weeks… 15 weeks… 16 weeks – 4 months!” that I let go of all memories of how our life was, before baby girl. I had to. Thinking too much of the past, looking back, was ineffective. Our lives had changed forever, and for the better. I couldn’t wait to be going out and doing things with baby girl. I counted down the days.

However there was that little part in me that remained, that every now and then reminded me of how things were the year before, thoughts that I pushed away because they wouldn’t do anyone any good. We didn’t regret, we were happy with our little family unit, but as is natural, you can’t help, as is the human nature of things, to ‘want it all.’

I’d forgotten, and ignored, for so long. And finally, just days ago, driving to baby girl’s 1 year maternal child health nurse appointment, looking at the fun hipster-shirt Hubbie had on as the afternoon sun shined down brightly on him, I remembered. And I went “wow.”

Now, as I preview, and look back at the huge, amazing, monumental year we’ve had, with so many changes, and happily now more ups than downs, I can say that I feel re-born. We’ve dealt with death, we’ve dealt with birth, and we’ve dealt with a whole range of emotions in between, every single one on the scale.

And now, things are getting easier. Breastfeeding will be a thing of the past in a few weeks. Baby girl is eating food, so, so well. She’s becoming more independent.

And the sun is out. It’s shining, it’s warm, and I’m thinking of all the things we used to do… and I can’t wait to introduce them to baby girl 🙂

I felt like I was in this little world of our own for so, so long. And now, we’re coming back. I’m back.

Watch out world.

Every dog has their day

Dogs and Days. This idea has been flitting around my mind the last couple of weeks. It provides me with hope for the future, yet reminds me that life has its ups and downs, and to be grateful for the wonderful things that come my way, while they are around.

An old clock my sister used to have said “Good times and bad times have one thing in common. They never last forever.” Quite appropriate being on a clock.

Having to be different, I look at the dog saying in another way – not just in terms of ‘your success will come,’ but the meaning for me personally, has always been ‘every one will get a bad day.’ I know it’s not meant to be interpreted that way, and is probably a rather odd interpretation for a glass half-full gal, but if you just think of the way people say it: it’s always a mellow “every dog has its day,” rather than a chirpy “Every Dog Has Its Day!!!” – complete with cartwheels and a full cheerleading routine.

It depends on which way you look at it. You could be dismayed by the thought of good times ending, or be relieved by the promise of a rainbow at the end of hardship. Having gone through a rather difficult year, which has, as it’s gone on become better and better, especially with the meeting of our baby girl, I have to say that the thought of each dog having their day actually makes me feel ok, and grounded.

As much as I’m loving Motherhood (really, it’s cliché but so true what they say: It’s the best, and you don’t know ’til you’ve done it), I see and hear my friends and family out enjoying their lives, being free from major responsibility, and just generally doing whatever the hell they want to do AT THE MOMENT THEY WANT TO DO IT. And I can’t help myself, but I think: ‘That’s ok. They will have their day.’

I’m not trying to be cruel. I don’t mean it in the way it probably comes out. In fact, I can’t wait for all my family and friends to be in the fortunate position we are in and know what a blessing it is to have a beautiful family you are so, so proud of. I’m so happy, I’m rapt. But I guess sometimes I feel like, ‘they don’t understand,’ and it’s probably what our own family and friends with kids wished for about US, before we had kids, and I see all the childless couples out there living it up, and I remind myself ‘we used to live it up,’ and then I say ‘we’ll live it up again’…

We will get our days too. The good doggy days I mean.

I think what really frustrates me, is that if I’m wanting something else, does that mean I’m not happy now? No. It just means as normal, that we want too much. I want too much. I want what I used to have, while still having what I have now. I don’t think I’m that unique, I think it’s the natural order of things to be thinking like this, especially for us Mums. We don’t get many breaks (every sense of the word) and we just wanna every now and then let our hairs down and out and get smashed on cheap wine because we haven’t had alcohol in over a year but then we still wanna come home and be watching our babies sleep before running off to barf up yellow and green bile in the toilet.

But it’s still annoying. Because, as society tells us, we should be content with what we have, and if we’re not, we’re bad.

You know what other discoveries I’ve made in Mumhood? You really do find out who your friends are. And family. I’ve learnt who really cares, and in the case of my cousins, who would drive across town to come see me and baby girl, time and time again… while that ‘close’ friend I thought I’d reconnect with, because she all loves kids and stuff? Well yeah. Just that.

But you know what I think about her? ‘She will have her day.’

I won’t be a bitch, as somewhat gratifying as it would be. When she has her day, I will be there for her. Not saying “I told you so.” Just being. Because I wouldn’t want anyone to feel the way I’ve felt in the past.

I know that Hubbie and I have had a rather big year. A couple of huge ones in fact. And when you go through heavy shit, people tend to leave you alone, and give you space. But they don’t realise that after a little while, you want someone around, you want someone to reach out, and you want to know that someone cares and is thinking of you.

Same goes for having a baby. Apart from the never-ending 1-2 hour visits to meet baby girl, people then leave you alone. They think you need your space – and too right you do. But then they continue giving you that space, past the 2 month, 3 month, 4 month… 7 month marks. And you’re like ‘really? I do still have a life you know.’

And then you realise they don’t yet know. It still hurts a bit, but you realise they don’t know. And that’s ok, because one day they will. They will have their day too.

Freedom, the ugly face of

I’ve recently come to the terrifying realisation that I can do whatever I want.
It’s rather an odd thing to be fearful of, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I am no ‘natural’ pessimist: I am a self-proclaimed glass half-full gal, I’m infinitely inspired by the beauty of nature and stunningly warm days (of which a plentiful amount of posts will be subject of here no doubt), and just in general I like to smile, have fun, go out and socialise. The ability to do whatever it is I want to do should be something desirable, especially from a person of positive nature. It should be a good thing, right?
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my future career goals. A lot. Doing-my-head-in A LOT. Having been on maternity leave for 10 months, I really don’t want to go back to my old job. The reasons?:
– I need a change
– I don’t see myself moving up in that field
– I want a more flexible workload, work that can fit in around me and my family’s needs
– I want part-time work (and I don’t know if my old employer can offer it)
– I promised myself I’d never go back.

That last line was what I said to myself on my last day there, as I entered into my year-long maternity leave. It’s no secret to people that know me: I want to write for a living. It’s my love, it’s my passion, and it so conveniently ties in with the lifestyle and the life that I want to live.

Do I go back to my old job, requesting part-time work, or do I move onto other, more flexible projects… like the direct sales position I’ve been researching?
I never in a million years dreamed that I would want to go into direct selling. But it fulfils my ‘flexible life’ requirements, it means I’d be my own boss (and don’t we all want that?) and I’d actually be promoting a product that’s been popping in and out of my head for years, something I’m actually genuinely passionate about.
Look, my old work may just tell me they have no part-time positions… I’m kind of hoping they do. Because then they’ve made up my mind for me. That’s what it is I’m looking for you see. A sign. A universal sign that will tell me which path to go down… the old familiar path working part-time at my old job, or the new, more flexible path promoting a product I know nothing about in strangers homes, while also continuing my writing dream in my other spare time?

Yes, I could write in my spare time at my old job too. But, but, but… I’m looking for excuses. I think my time there is up. I just need to be sure. I need to get a sign that this is it, and I’m making the right decision.

I’m so scared of making the wrong decision. Either way.