Thursday, October 25, 2012

#The Human Brochure

In the spring of 1996, my best friend Sam and I decided to take my 9 month old cafe connoisseur daughter to Canberra to see the Floriade. We loaded up Sam's tiny Daihatsu, with the child seat, and managed to get the ridiculously big pram that I just had to have, in as well. We then proceeded to drive the three hours it took to get from the Sutherland Shire to Canberra. For the day. As you do. (Laura was one of those babies that you could cart around anywhere, and was happy to just be. This would not have been a trip that I would have even contemplated with my next two children!!)

We had a gorgeous day. The flowers amazing, the day glorious, the colours were magnificent. And then we turned around and drove the three hours home. I must confess that on the way home, Laura had her first taste of McDonald's French Fries. Which I guess means she can now blame me for her ongoing love of them.


This weekend I'm off to Canberra again. It has only taken me 16 years to return, but as they say, better late then never. Back in August I entered a competition and out of nearly 32000 applicants I was one of the lucky 500 to be selected to participate in the first of its kind "Human Brochure".

What’s a Human Brochure? I hear you ask - well in the well articulated words of the people who have organised this amazing opportunity:

When I applied, I was asked to select from four areas - Food, Family Fun, Adventure and Art & Culture. I did consider Family Fun, but decided that a trip for me and M would be wonderful (not having any idea that I would possibly win!) so I selected Art & Culture. The itinerary is amazing. I won't spoil it now by telling you where I will be going. You will just have to follow along on my journey vicariously. (How strange it is for me to NOT be the one doing the vicarious living for a change!)

Come Friday morning 7am, I'm removing my mummy hat, and leaving it behind for 72 hours for fun, frivolity, and making new friends. To say I can not wait is an understatement!

I Heart My Body. I want you to Heart your body too Laura

I'm writing this for my daughter, who is nearly 17. And who has become re-obsessed with her body image again. At 7 her paternal grandmother called her fat. A couple of weekends ago, her paternal grandmother again implied that she was fat. To say I'm furious is an understatement.

This is me at 18.

This is me now at nearly 43.

As you can see it has undergone a lot of change in those 25 years. My body has grown three children inside it, delivered them via Cesarean section, fed and nurtured them from it, undergone knee reconstruction.
I am lazy. A great spectator. I wish that I had been more active in sport. Not so that I had long sinewy limbs, but so that my core muscle strength was stronger to support my back, which I now I have ongoing problems with.

Until I was pregnant with Aston, I ate what ever I wanted. Then I developed gestational diabetes, and now have to have annual tests to check my blood sugar, as I am pre diabetic, or glucose impaired. I wish I had been more mindful about what I put into my body. I drank too much through my teens and early twenties. Smoked and partied hard.

Here's the thing about bodies. They are all Different. All of them. And each and everyone of them undergoes changes. Constantly. They grow older, fatter, healthier, thinner, taller, shorter... constantly changing. From environmental factors, from each year passing, from what we put into them, from what we do to them. Change. ALL. THE. TIME.

There's another thing I know. This body of mine, the external shell that everyone sees, is just that. A shell. It is not the total sum of my body. My body is my brain, my heart, my blood, my feelings, my soul.

And now my body is telling me... To love it. To take care of it. To nourish it. To celebrate the wonderful things that it has done, and can still do.

There are women all over the Internet today celebrating their bodies in the I HEART MY BODY 2012 campaign. I love this. It challenges the "norms" that are shoved down our throats every day in every medium. Beauty is not, as popular media would have us believe, what is on the outside. The most beautiful people in the world are because the light of the beauty of their souls shines so brightly you can't help but see it, and say, Wow, they are so beautiful. That's true beauty.

When I was 40 I had tattooed down the side of my body an Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote:

What Lies Behind Us and What Lies Before Us are Tiny Matters Compared to What Lies Within Us
This is my body. And I love it. Its the only one I have. My darling daughter, LOVE YOURS. Its amazing and the only one you have.  It is going to change. Constantly. And that is a beautiful thing.

PS - sorry I didn't ask if I could wear your bikini in this photo. I love you. xxx

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Where to now Charlie Brown?

What am I doing?
What are my plans?
Where am I'm heading?
That's all that has been going through my head for the last month.
Moving home from a place, that while I no longer wanted to live there anymore, it was a place I knew, to suburbia, and all that it entails, has caused me to feel somewhat displaced.

When you have been in an area for 8 years, which is the longest I have ever lived anywhere in my life, this feeling is somewhat disconcerting. I moved around a lot both as a child, and an adult, until I moved to the Noosa Hinterland. Although I moved to three different houses in that time, I was in the same area, same people, same familiarity, same routine for those 8 years.
Now, I am at sea - with everything. Everything is unfamiliar. And if I'm really honest, at times, terrifying. My children have adjusted far quicker, and better then I. There is Truth in that statement about the resilience of children. Me, on the other hand, I have those three questions set on constant replay in my brain at the moment. Instead of pushing me into action, I find them paralysing me with fear.
I read something today over at Work Life Bliss, about the one brick strategy. What the author behind that story experienced was huge compared to the little life change I have had. But the overwhelming feeling, and the consequent strategy can still apply. One brick, that's all I need to take out of the wall that I feel I am standing in the shadow of. Let in a beam of light, and maybe, just maybe I can see where to now....

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Circuses and Africa

In the last week of the school holidays we were accosted approached by someone who was signing up people for Karate in the local area. As we had already discussed it with Nathan about him wanting to do it again, I decided to take up the opportunity and trial period offer.

This is how my afternoon/evening went last night...

Picked up Aston from his new school, were he was full of excitement about having a "buddy" in year 6. He then declared to me that he was big enough to walk to school by himself because he was "brave". Nathan, who goes to the high school in the other direction had started the walk home, and I was meeting him to pick him up.

Nathan gets in the car, annoyed that I didn't have his new bike to take to the bike shop to get serviced. Unfortunately, I can not lift anything at the moment without it hurting both my back and my elbow. While he understands this, he is 14, and well, everything is about him. We got home, and he tried to fit his huge bike into my tiny hatchback, unsuccessfully. Cue cranky face.

My two boys are always in a constant start of starvation - because - you know, I never feed them or anything! They both proceeded to vacuum up a bowl of ice cream, all the while Aston is demanding that he go and visit his friend from school who lives only several houses away. Nat let his cranky face go, and he and Aston scooted over to said friend.

M and Laura arrive home at 4.30, as I'm about to put corned beef in the pot to cook. Then I suddenly remember Nathan has Karate tonight at 5.15, and we were told to get there 20 minutes early for the first lesson. Ring Nathan, tell him to come home. Cue Aston cranky face. "Why did we have to come home? I didn't get to play with my friend!"

Absolutely winning here aren't I?

Grab the karate folder, and the information that we were told is different to the sheet in the folder, so I ring the sensei to confirm that karate is on tonight. Drive down to the address. There is no-one there. Empty community centre. Not a sensei, or sign in sight. Call Sensei again.... "um, so where are you, because I'm standing outside the community centre and there is no one here..." "oh, you have the wrong information, we are at this community centre now." Great. Because, you know, I know this area like the back of my hand- NOT!! Sensei gives me the address, and I attempt to put it into my GPS on my phone, which decides at that precise moment not to work. (Anxiety is ramping up, and I'm thinking What the fuck did I sign up for???) Turn phone off and on, because that is the standby fix it solution for any kind of electrical equipment right? Phone decides to behave itself, and point me in the right direction, in its dulcet tones, with me telling it to fuck off every 5 seconds.

Mean while, the 20 minutes that we were supposed to get there before hand has now decreased to 5 minutes before the lesson starts. We eventually find the place, and can see the lesson has started, and attempt to get into the community centre - unsuccessfully. Nathan looks at me and says, "lets just start next week mum." I'd be lying if I wasn't tempted to get back into my car and go with it. We found an entry that wasn't locked into the community centre, and the sensei approached and directed Nat into the lesson, looking at how frazzled I was, assured me that they had only just started.

I sat down, and breathed. OK. Made it. Oh shit, didn't ask Laura to get the vegetables for dinner ready. Flick off a text to her. OK. Now I can breathe....

Lesson finishes an hour later, and Nat is keen to continue. So it hasn't been a wasted trip, or $65. We drive home, without getting lost. I pull up into the driveway, and Laura is at the car door before I have even opened it, literally jumping up and down, "Mum, can you sponsor me to go to Africa in 2014?"

"Um... hello Laura."

Walk inside, and Nathan and Aston proceed to karate chop each other up, Laura is jumping up and down excitedly showing me this website she has found, and she just has to go, and it will be fantastic, and please, please, please can you sponsor me..... M is mashing potatoes, laughing. And I'm trying to breathe again.

My house is a circus between the hours of 3pm and 8pm. I swear I run on pure adrenaline. Half the time I'm not even thinking, I'm just doing.

Now that it's a new day, and all the kids are at school I have sat down and had a look at "Laura's Please I must go to Africa Trip". And are blown away. Laura wants to do something in the field of medicine. What exactly, changes on a fairly regular basis, but the field of medicine is always constant. She is planning to have a gap year before going to uni, and this is what she found, and so desperately wants to do. Gap Medics offers students who wish to pursue a career in medicine the opportunity to gain "a genuine insight into the work of doctors and nurses in Africa, India, Thailand and the Caribbean".

Right now her chosen medical career path is in midwifery. I'm pretty sure it was reading the following that light her fire:

Placements are ideal for students aged 16 and over and are popular with undergraduate nursing or midwifery students as well as those in Year 12/13 or taking a gap year. Good supervision is crucial, and you’ll be assigned a specific midwife or nurse as your personal mentor for the duration of the placement.

Unfortunately we can’t predict exactly when and where babies are going to be born(!) but the maternity departments we work with are generally busy and you are likely to observe several deliveries in a typical week. You’ll also have a good chance of seeing Caesarean sections, as home births are common in the developing world so those that come to hospital are often do so because of complications.

When you are not attending deliveries, your time will usually be divided between shadowing staff and helping on the antenatal and postnatal wards, and or neonatal intensive care.
Most students join us for two weeks, but our placements are available from one week to a month or more. As long as we have space on the programme, you can start and finish whenever you want, 52 weeks of the year. If you’re interested in midwifery, but not yet 100% sure that’s the career for you, we’re happy to arrange a combined midwifery and nursing placement that allows you to experience other hospital departments as well.

Undertaking hospital work experience abroad not only allows you to experience the effect of local conditions (such as malaria) on maternity care, it helps you to appreciate the diversity in healthcare provision around the world and see first hand the ethical dilemmas midwives in these countries face every day. It also – of course – turns a couple of weeks’ work experience into the adventure of a lifetime!

So between now and Jan 2014 we are on a mission to find sponsorship for her to partake in the adventure of a lifetime. For me, Laura's excitement and enthusiasm is the most beautiful illustration of why I am a mum. And why between the hours of 3 and 8 pm my house is a circus!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

little things....

1. I named my daughter Laura after Laura Ingalls in Little house in the prairie. Her name also means Laural Tree. There is a myth surrounding the laurel tree. Daphne, a nymph was turned into the laurel tree to protect her from Apollo's sexual advances.

2. If Nathan had have been a girl, I would have named her Natasha. He was born 4 weeks early by emergency Cesarean, and I didn't hold him for ten hours after he was born. His name mean God's gift.

3. Aston is called Aston after Aston villa, the English football team. No I'm not a mad football supporter, yes, his father is. However, I agreed, because I think its a strong boy's name. NOT because his father loves the team! His name means home.

4. Laura and Aston are the most alike in temperament. Loud, demanding, at times challenging. Nathan is my SNAG - Sensitive New Age Guy.

5. All three of my children have taught me different lessons - Laura, what unconditional love really means, Nathan, that its OK to play and pretend, and Aston, how to feel joy after extreme heart ache.

6. My children keep me anchored to the earth. Without them I would have given up a long time ago.

7. I have put my heart and soul into being a mother - sometimes to my detriment.

8. sometimes I like to take my mother hat off, and party like its 1999

9. my children bring me joy, exhaust me, teach me, delight me, terrify me, make me laugh, cry, and everything in between.

10. I wouldn't change a thing.

You're not in Kansas anymore...

So I've done two loads of washing, made lunches, made three lots of lunches, made sure three kids had breakfast, made their beds and gotten them to the three different schools they attend. Packed the dishwasher, cleaned the kitty litter, made myself a cup of coffee to sit and contemplate what to tell you...

Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore!


I haven't lived in real suburbia in 15 years, since I left the Sutherland Shire (yes, the one made infamous by THAT show) to live on the Sunshine Coast. Back then suburbia on the Sunshine Coast was nothing like Sydney. But there are definitely areas now that resemble it. I just kept moving further north until I was on a hill surrounded by fields, cows, kangaroos, and various other forms of wildlife, including the slithering kind!


Now, I am bang smack in the middle of full core suburbia. Massive estate that is just continuing to grow, wonderful pathways, and parks, and lakes dotted around the place.
And people. Lots and lots and lots of people.
It's all new and strange, and more then a tad overwhelming. This is the first time since I moved that I have had the house to myself for more then an hour. Until 3pm, the house is all mine. So what to do?


oh joy, my cat just brought in a bird. A bird! FFS she has a bell, how the hell did she do that!!

What was it Glinda the good witch said to Dorothy? "You've always had the power to go back to Kansas" ..... now, just have to find my ruby slippers, click my heels three times, and I will be home.

(and all the unpacking will be done, and everything will be where it should be, and I'll have a job, and...)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

any fool can make a baby...

Why try and say it, when someone else has already done it so aptly

On Saturday night my teenage children's father got married.
Laura and Nathan found out via the facebook status update of their now stepmother. (I'm beginning to agree with M's renaming - fuckbook)
My son was confused, and asked to call his father. Nat spoke to him for all of two minutes, to be informed that yes he had gotten married, and that no, his wife's children where not there. Once he got off the phone he became very emotional and upset, and wanted to be left alone, and proceeded to shoot anything and everything on C.O.D.
My daughter raged with fury- for her, for her little brother, for all the times that her father has hurt her and her brother.
The lioness within me roared. How could he be so insensitive to his children? How dare he be so selfish! How dare he.... behave as he always has.
Laura's initial reaction of fury fell away two days later, finally revealing her real feelings. "HE DOESN'T EVEN CARE ABOUT US!!!" she screamed sobbing at me this morning.
What can I say to that? How do I act with grace when all I want to do is scream at this man how can he be so hurtful AGAIN to our children? He doesn't see the hurt, the tears, the confusion, the questions... he doesn't have to deal with any of that. I do. Again.
Will he ever think of them and their feelings? Am I expecting too much?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I won something!

I enter lots of competitions. All the time. So many, that most of them I don't even remember entering them. This competition was one of them. Late last night I received notification that I had been selected as one of the 500 people to participate in the Human Brochure for Canberra.

I'm still in shock. A weekend away, doing something I love, immersing myself in art and culture. How lucky am I?

Thank you universe, I really needed this. Oh, and thank you Canberra for having me. Can't wait to get there!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Sharing the load

I have just spent the last half hour typing up and printing off, and will laminate job charts for my three children. After living in our new home for two weeks, I have been feeling very s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d!

My anxiety has been rife, and living on a adrenline overload exhausts you beyond description. This afternoon, I may, or may not, had a small tantrum about feeling like I was the only one doing anything in this house.

My daughter has just returned to living with me after being away for a year at her father's. Different house, different rules - you know the drill. And we are all adjusting to becoming a family again, with an added person M. Needless to say, there has been lots of change going on, and adjustment for every one.

So in the interests of self care, and self preservation I have prepared the lists for all three of the kids. These jobs were all things that we discussed together before the move even happened, so it was a family decision.

Who does the all the work in your house? Is it shared willingly, or do you spend you time nagging the kids to do this, do that etc? Got any great ideas to share? Please do!!


Blog Design by Sommerfugl Design