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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Why we do what we do

Writing.

Why do we do it? We feel that we need an expressive, emotional outlet.

We have a story to tell.

We want to engage with others.

We want people to feel, how we have, when we have read a life-changing book.

We just have to. We just have to get it down, and out of our heads.

That’s some of the reasons why we write.

Have you ever questioned though, what you write?

I did. Yesterday, and quite a few times last week.

Because yesterday, I was at a funeral. It was heartbreaking. There is nothing as humbling and life prioritising, as when you are seeing somebody laid to rest, long before they are due.

Leaving a wife behind. Leaving young children behind.

Just days ago a family member of Hubbie’s recounted how her own Dad lost his Father, when he was only 10.

I remember thinking “shit. Death has been unfairly happening for centuries. It has been unfairly happening FOREVER.”

And it will continue to. UNFAIRLY. HAPPEN. FOREVER.

It’s something we can’t escape. And when faced with questions of life and death, with our subsequent inevitable mortality, and how we should spend our life, making the absolute most of it, I kept thinking of what I love doing, and how I like spending my time…

Where I put my energies, and how I am making a difference.

And that’s where the insecurities began.

Maybe I should be writing about incurable terminal illnesses. Maybe I should be promoting the lack of funding, and urging people to donate, for medical authorities to put more money into research and funding and preventative measures.

Maybe I should be exploiting the child sex trafficking trade, highlighting to the world how absolutely disgusting and soul-wrenching this inexplicable market is. Maybe I should be going to these places and trying to take the kids off the street, shaming the dealers and screaming abuse at them for all to hear, and all to see.

Maybe I should be writing about violence against women. I sure as hell have mentioned it before, but maybe I need to write a book about it. Maybe I need to track down victims and gain statements in order to name and shame the perpetrators, and expose it for the world to see, so the instigators are prevented from repeating their offences, and so that future perpetrators can gain some kind of insight into why it is NOT OKAY TO ABUSE WOMEN.

Or maybe I need to be writing about politics. I mean, Trump. Australian issues. Refugees. Supporting our own farmers and flood victims, versus supporting the unfortunate in disadvantaged countries. I mean, who should be helped? Our own, or people in other countries? Aren’t those abroad also, our own? Isn’t that our human privilege, to be able to help others less fortunate? Or do we just worry about our own backyard?

And yet, what have I been writing about? What have I been pouring all my energies into the last several years?

Why, young adult fiction. Teenage fun, teenage issues. Coming of age stuff. Also, a blog or two, about food, books, and life as we move through it.

Not very life-changing is it?

I stood there in the freezing cold yesterday, pondering all this as a man’s body was lowered into the ground. His life was over. We had seen him only months ago, and there appeared to be so much promise, so much hope for his future. He would beat the bastard disease.

But instead, now, there was nothing. Just memories and a hyphen.

Nothing makes you question life and what you do with it, quite like the death of someone. It provides a warning, an alarm bell, for all those still around to witness it.

No one knows why death happens unfairly. Is it the absence of luck? Is it fate? Is it God? Or is it something greater, or comparatively, something worse… in fact, NOTHING AT ALL?

Could it be just nothing? We’re all just a step away from death, and if we are lucky enough to avoid it all our lives, we have done well???

I don’t know. I spent my time yesterday thinking of why I do, what I do, and I came to this conclusion…

I love to do, what I do. I do it because it makes me happy. I don’t spend hours researching and analysing, trying to change the minds of the authorities and the mass media, trying to sway them to change.

Sometimes an issue will grab me, and I WILL speak out. But my writing is done for my own enjoyment. It’s my own personal brand of therapy. I have to get the words out, the thoughts that stew in me. Whether it is my personal words for my blogs, all the things I like and dislike, what I am appreciate of, and what foods I like to eat and books I like to read, I do it for ME.

If anyone else gains anything from my writings, from my insights, then that is GREAT. That is something special.

As for my fiction… that is also done for my own purposes. My own entertainment. I like the story I see in my head, and I just have to get it out. If the only person who ever reads it are my kids, and they go “Mum that was pretty cool” well, WOO HOO. That is awesome. Of course I will try over the years to try get other people to see it… but at the end of the day, if the only people who see it are me, myself and I, and even if my kids never ever read a word I write… well I don’t deny, I might be a bit sad about that. But it won’t stop me doing what I’m doing. Because what I’m doing is for me and me alone, and no one else. I will gain the satisfaction of knowing that I produced that… and I will be pretty darn happy.

I don’t do it for others. That’s the key. That’s not to say I don’t help, or want to help others or other causes, and try to make a difference elsewhere when my heart cries out for it… but what I mean is I listen to the voice within me, and answer to that voice, that need, alone.

I don’t do things to make other people happy. I do it for me, first and foremost. And when you think about it, that’s the only person in this world you have to keep happy, right? Yourself. You have to keep yourself happy, yourself enriched, because YOU are the only person YOU have to answer to. You and You alone.

And if I’m doing these things, and they’re enriching my life, and making me happy, and filling me with joy – that’s enough, isn’t it? That’s a happy and fulfilled life. Writing about things that aren’t me… what is even the point of it? Who are you doing it for? Why are you doing it for others? It just doesn’t make sense.

Note that the above applies to EVERYTHING in life. If it’s not making you happy… well then find the thing that does, and do it RIGHT NOW.

Start today. We only have one life to live, and nothing is a guarantee. A quote from the author Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic is relevant now:

“You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”

And that says it all.

 

What’s the Big Deal about 2016 anyway?

It first started as a few funny online photos and memes.

‘2016, bleh,’

‘This is how my 2016 has been,’ – a man getting run over by a getaway trolley,

and then there was the one that showed Buffy sucking a lollypop that said ‘me at the beginning of 2016,’ next to an image of her post – demon fighting with hair dishevelled and looking insanely disrupted, with the caption ‘me at the end of 2016.’

I got a bit mad there. Not because they used Buffy – that was cool. I was shitty that people were treating the past year as if it was an other-worldly force, and they were the slayer, and they had battled demons from an open hellmouth and almost, just survived to tell the tale.

Let’s be honest. I’m sure there are people who have battled their figurative demons in 2016. In terms of world percentages, they are probably a small portion compared to those who bitch and whinge and moan that it was a bad year, when all that really happened was that guy dumped them, and they found out the other guy they’d been going after was actually gay.

Or that guy lost out his promotion to that arrogant arse-sucking snivelling tie-wearing suit, or he had to move back in with his parents, or he had to eat rice and tuna for one month of the year to make ends meet.

I’m sure, shit has happened to EVERYONE this past year. Because guess what? Life goes UP…

…And life goes DOWN.

And to think that it can go in any other direction than those, or that it will continue to stay up, and will never get dark, is just not very conducive or responsible, mature or wise, to anyone’s way of living.

What I’m getting at is this: There are too many people out there focusing on the bad that happened in the last year, when guess what? Bad things happen EVERY YEAR.

They can happen every month.

They can happen every week.

They can happen every day.

And they can happen every moment.

Sometimes luck is involved, and you may not come across a bad incident, scenario or situation for quite a while…

And at other times, your attitude determines everything.

Backtrack a bit. Your attitude ALWAYS determines everything.

Its not to say that horrible, terrible, life and death and sickly things happen all the time. They do. They really truly do, and that is scary stuff. One can be completely forgiven for breaking down and curling into a ball when it actually does. And you can call out 2016 for being the worst year of your life, and shout and scream at it until the clock strikes midnight at 2017.

But, having a bad month?

Your child shitting you up the wall?

Depressed because you can’t find a house?

Oh, you drive too far to work?

What’s that, the broccoli from the supermarket is smelly?

It’s been cold the first 3 weeks of summer?

Oh damn, your morning coffee just got burnt.

And what about not having your heating working in the coldest part of the year?

Poor, poor you.

I’ve used many examples above of things that Hubbie and I have expressly been subject to over the last few months. And although many of these things were annoyances, and setbacks, through the hardship and whinging, we still got up, we still moved on, we still put our chins up, and learnt to look at and focus on the things that were really good in our lives.

And they were really good.

You have to know the difference between life-changing, or plot twist. One of my favourite quotes is the below one, as it really puts things in perspective:

plot_twist

Shit happens every year guys. It happens all the time. Think of that next time they stuff up your order at the posh restaurant, or your friend backstabs you to the girl-group.

Go to a different restaurant next time.

Tell that friend to go jump.

Just MOVE ON.

Because this is YOUR life, and you should live it fully, focusing on what’s best, fantastic, and joyful around you… and if you do, your good fortune, favourable days and happy circumstances, will genuinely multiply.

And if you don’t… well then every one of your days, weeks, months and years on earth, will be just… bleh.

Your choice.

Really.