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I hate cleaning, I hate tidying, I hate scrubbing my shower but I love washing my clothes. As a mum, there’s a lot of expectation on us to be clean, neat-freaks. We’re supposed to have our house, finances, children in order and if we’re not, then we’re failing.

This is an unspoken rule, of course. It’s not as if you pop out your baby and the midwife says, “Oh, by the way, now that you’re a mum, your house must be stylish, clean and tidy each and everyday. Even when this little muppet becomes a toddler.” But there is an expectation the basic dusting, vacuuming and cleaning will be done weekly but in my house (gulp) I must admit it often gets left until it’s so gross that I can’t stand it anymore and out come the rubber gloves and tub of Gumption!

Let me propose that cleanliness is not the bee’s knees; that it is not the most important thing in life. I have wooden floors and I cannot remember the last time I mopped them but they don’t stink and they still look relatively clean when I bother to vacuum them. And some would say that cleaning too much is actually bad for our health; that anti-bacterial cleaners actually do away with the good bacteria as well as the bad, leaving us at the mercy of any bug that would walk through our doors.

In fact, would it be better for our hair and skin if we didn’t wash it as much? The natural oils would come pouring through and do their God-given job on their own, without any help from those nasty chemicals in our shampoo and skin cleansers. Have you ever gone for days without a shower? Sure, you stink but a quick swim will wash away any truly nasty odours, would it not?

I’m not saying that we should all embrace the hippy lifestyle and grow dreadlocks and eat mung beans but I just think it’s crazy how obsessed we are about how we present ourselves to others. Why do we care so much? I think that a clean toilet is a MUST and that showers are fantastic but the rest of the stuff, the surface stuff, who do we do that for? And what are we missing out on when we’re on our hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor?

To me, relationships are so important. So, if someone needs me or if my kids want to talk to me, I’d rather roll around on my dusty floor and listen to who pushed who at school, than be vacuuming while they stare at me with sad little faces. I think we should all be free to spend as much time with people and less time scurrying around making ourselves and our houses look perfect to impress those very people. Because, in the end, everyone loves to feel important, they love to be listened to, they love it when people show that they care and how can we do it when we are elbow-deep in Gumption?

And, that’s my excuse for having a messy, dusty house and I’m going to stick to it! Join me, why don’t you!

 

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The sun is sunny and the heat hot and I’m inside. Gulp. Feeling a little guilty. Yup! The kids went to the movies (how could they on a day like today) and they may just choose to play inside! Shocking!

As much as I love the great, beautiful, airy outdoors, sometimes I’m just a home bumpkin. I like sitting and swinging on my chammock (chair hammock) and reading and sipping peach ice tea and relaxing in the comfort of my own space. This can often make me feel a tad guilty as I live near the beach, I feel I should be on the beach every day or I’m a spoiled little lady indeed (at least that’s what my inner voice tells me).

I must say, when I get to the beach, kick off my thongs (they’re the shoes we wear on our FEET in Australia, not the other thing!), and get my toes digging in the sand, there truly is no better place to be. The kids come alive in the open air, the sea spray flies into their nose and out their mouths giving them a kind of high.

Then there’s the small to medium waves and the slight chill when your sandy feet first touch that pristine water. Exhale. Ah, this is the life. Why would I want to sit at home staring at a computer screen when I can be exhaling here, in paradise. That just makes me feel even more guilty when I do choose to stay at home and sit and swing in chammock and tap away on keyboard instead of scrunching toes in crunchy orange sand.

I think I need a serious forehead slap. There are bigger fish to fry, more pressing things to feel guilty about that indoor/outdoor issues. Geesh. I swear, if I didn’t have anything to worry or feel guilty about, I would invent something.

What do you feel guilty about! Do share.

 

I’m back after a lovely summery holiday up north. Ah. It’s nice to just sit and talk instead of always typing and thinking BLOG!

But it is great to be home and I’m pretty lucky to live in such a beautiful place. This time of year the crowds flock to our beaches, clog our streets with their automobiles and walk around our town with confused looks on their faces.

The locals know which cafes serve the best coffee, which aisle has toothpaste and where the heck you go when there are no parking spaces available (which is pretty much every day).

Though it is a sunny time of year, it can bring out the worst in people, especially locals, God love ’em. In the ‘off’ season, you can pretty much have a beach to yourself. Swimming in the pools is not a kamikaze affair and the line around ‘The Bends’ can be completed in 2.45 minutes.

One New Year’s Day we (as a local fam) decided to go to our ‘happy’ spot. It’s a little out of the way. We thought a-ha, no one will know this place except for us (and a few other locals perhaps). But, after relaxing into our spot in the shade overlooking yachts and other ridiculously beautiful things, a couple of cars pulled up. They were not locals and they were here for the day. They pulled out their doof doof blaster and their 4 inflatable boats and started yelling out to each other.

The peace was broken BUT I was full of revelation, these peeps don’t get to hang here anytime like we do! So I adopted a ‘share-the-love’ attitude and embraced their presence.

So, when the roads get clogged with lost tourists, the cafes with fancy-pants visitors from the city, I just sit back, watch and enjoy the festivities, cos I know that they will have to return to their normal life… and so will I! Hooray!!!!!

Each day we are bombarded with bad news. It’s no wonder we don’t want to have anything to do with each other. The world is presented to us as dangerous and full of conflict. So we build higher fences and carefully select who we hang out with.

This has to stop! When all we had was the newspaper, no nightly news or internet 24/7, were we happier? We may have been more ignorant but perhaps that is how we should be. There are some things that we just do not need to know. While it is important to understand how our world is working and where we can help, our brains get a little twisted when they are soaked in bad news hour after hour.

Look at kids. For the most part they are ignorant of what is really happening in the world. What a golden age this is. Their world is small and mostly safe. We hope! In this place anything is possible, dreams are big and there are no limits. My son has had the same awesome teacher for the past 2 years. He goes to a large school, so he’s been extra lucky. I’ve been talking to him about having a new teacher next year but he’s optimistic that he’s going to get the same teacher again. It’s a small thing, but to him, this is possible, maybe even probable. I love it.

One day we were travelling to my parents’ house and he said, “I wonder if nanny will have a present for me.” I replied, “Oh she’s not going to give you a present every time you visit, so don’t expect one.” His answer? “Oh mum, think positively”. I bowed my head and downed a large slice of humble pie. He’s a bright button with a positive outlook on life and I’m in awe.

Perhaps it’s time to switch off the news. The internet can be such a negative place as well. A little ignorance goes a long way. Let’s vow to have a technology-free day or week and see how it affects us! Are you in?

 

Whaddya wanna do before you die? Do you have a bucket/wish list? Do you want to own a boat, sing in a cathedral or whisper sweet nothings in your loved one’s ear as you paddle through snake infested jungle waters?

If taken seriously, this question can be confronting. It challenges what we do day to day. It makes you think about whether we’re getting the most out of each day. Do you want to sky dive? Then what is stopping you? Book it in Eddie! Wanna learn how to sew a wedding dress or make a decent mosaic, go on, there are courses out there. You just have to do it. For me I would love to learn how to crochet. It’s a little bit granny but you should see what my friends can make with that little hook and a decent quality wool. Beautiful!

Dream destinations are on almost everyone’s bucket list. I am happy to say that I’ve been to almost all the places on the list in my head: New York City, Italy, Canada, France and Egypt. The problem is that now I want to go back and spend a decent amount of time eating, smelling, living these places. There just aren’t enough hours in a life nor money in the bank to make this all happen, so I will just be content with the scents and tastes I quickly experienced in the past.

Then there are the achievements. Do you want to be on TV or swim the English channel or be featured in The Guinness Book of Records? Perhaps you’re a crazy inventor-type with wild frizzy hair and ideas shooting out your ears. Invent away my friend. Do you want to write a novel? Start today! Maybe it is to have happy kids grow up to be happy adults! A noble cause indeed.

My dreams are not too lofty. I want to be able to work from home, writing, to be around for the kids when they come home from school and do a bit more travelling when the time is right. I want to renovate an old house, learn more about film and read more inspiring stories. And maybe, maybe one day write a book but it’s not a requirement, really.

Why do we make lists? Is it to keep us going through our daily routines? Is it because we are not content with what we have? What do you have on your bucket/ wish list? Do share.

I just spent a glorious short weekend at the ‘family’ farm with one of my closest friends. There’s something special about this place. Every time I arrive I let out a giant sigh that leaves my body feeling like a wrinkly, deflated balloon… in a good way.

My mother in law bought this house several years ago and it oozes her. I call it an ‘Anne of Green Gables’ type of house. It is an A-frame house, two storeys and sits in the hip of a small hill. Inside, the house is full of memorabilia, mostly photographs of the family, the kids when they were babies and some of the older gen who are no longer with us.

There are also knickknacks from various trips around Australia, Europe and Hong Kong. There’s the little cow ornament, St
Moo-low that we brought her back from St Malo and the soft choir-boy teddy from the time they sang in Winchester Cathedral with their own choir. In the bathroom there is a curious mobile that has always dangled over their shower. It’s like a quirky tradition that no one ever questions.

If you look carefully you may spot some pink birds attached to the curtains or the scary man’s face in the wood panelling of their wardrobe. My little daughter refused to sleep in this room because she could see a scary face in it. It’s things like these that make childhood memories.

As you go up the stairs, you’ll see beautiful paintings of ancestors and landscapes. There are photos, drawings and paintings of important houses and places that have been special to the family. It’s like every piece has a story… a memory. When I sleep in one of the top rooms I look up at the complex and beautiful roof and remember when my kids were babies. They slept in a cot in our room. It was always dark when they woke in their fluffy green, red or white sleeping bag. Their cheeks were freezing so we bundled them into bed with us. Ah.

Or the time everyone was about for someone’s birthday. Or when the fire pit was built and we all had pancakes. Or the weekend every single child had an accident. Or the tree that my son has claimed as his own. There are memories in toys, dress ups and chairs. We all may grow older but somehow this house stays the same. It’s a comforting thing.

The view is incredible. The sky seems so big out there in the country. Down the bottom of the property is the parachute club that provides hours of entertainment with its sky divers and planes. There is something soulful and exciting about this place. Spiders and snakes and sky divers, trees, old gates and quirky cows who demand more bread.

This place oozes love and memories and family. It is a generous and welcoming place. You are guaranteed not to go home hungry, lonely or tense. The wind may blow, the rain may fall (or not) and the cold may whip but in this place, you are part of something sweet. I just love it!

You know you’re getting old when you look back on the past with a sigh and a lukewarm cuppa tea. To you, the world is going to hell in a handbag and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Remember communities? Those tight-knit, small, quaint towns where everyone walks slowly and stops for a ‘yarn’. I’m sure there are such places but they’re nowhere near me. No. My town is filled with flustered mothers, overworked parents and more activities than you can handle. Our eyeballs are bulging with cool stuff but it has cost us our sense of community.

No one has the time to make a meal for a friend, or even pick up a chicken from Coles. Most people have their heads down while their bum wiggles in the air. Everyone is doing it. And when a nice thing is done for a neighbour or friend, there’s that awkward moment when no one quite knows what to do with the situation. There’s a nervousness of putting yourself out there, of risking rejection.

It’s silly really. I remember I cooked a risotto for a family I didn’t know that well. I made it quite bland because they had kids and I was trying to hit all targets with the one arrow! I had cooked it and was going to surprise her and just drop it in and RUN! I had a lump in my throat, on the verge of panic. I knew this lady was pretty well off and fancy pants but I wanted to show her some good old fashioned community spirit regardless of her bank account. So I did it and felt like a complete idiot when I did. Why? I was thinking how naff the food was, how the effort was, perhaps unnecessary and how old fashioned I was. She was grateful but it still felt a little weird.

I love reading stories and watching shows set in small communities. Gilmore Girls is the perfect example of a community living in each others’ pockets, helping out when even the slightest thing goes wrong. The whole town turns out for a cat’s funeral, they try and make the mother the biggest pizza ever, there is a dog’s funeral that is very well attended and they farewell one of their town kids with a massive party in pouring rain with speeches, sashes and the school band.

Then there’s Anne of Green Gables where a huge effort is made when the minister visits. They make their own currant wine and pies and milk their cows and spend precious time talking about the lives of all around them.

Perhaps the key is time. It seems like the world is like one of those wind-up toys. Click, click, click… around we go… things getting tighter and more stressful and more intense. Perhaps, like the toy, some one is going to let go and we’re going to spin out of control and land where we began. In community, in simplicity, in long dresses, with cows and veges and time.

Stop for a moment and think. Has the world reached a terrible climax? Are the prophesies true? Are we all about to be vaporised? I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, the universe is physically shrinking as technology makes the world shrink.

Bombs are being created with much evil laughter by those in power and the poor old ice bergs are withering in the arctic sun. The polar bears will have to move to Australia, killing all the bandicoots and turtles and people are making their own heads spin with grand desires to own it all, be everything and do everything. It’s enough to make one simultaneously combust!

Now, it has been reported that you can rent a friend. Stop. Think. Rent a friend? Whatever happened to hanging out with people from work or other parents or similar organic relationships! Sounds a bit seedy to me. But it’s all on the up and up. Apparently, Australians are too busy to get off their sociable butts and make their own friends. So some tricky businesspeople are cashing in.

This is the generation that eats foul dried pasta with foul powdered milk and fake bacon out of a satchel cos we cannot find the time to eat proper food. We are those who have 18 tvs in our house just in case we miss something. We even have tvs (or the equivalent) on our phones so we’re never bored. No wonder the world is about to end!

Whatever happened to staring out of the window, dreaming about the world, thinking up new stories and having important thoughts while our saliva runs down the backseat window? We leave the stories to the so-called professionals who give us scenario after scenario. We are so hungry for more that these writers push the boundaries, even for kids, so that we know how to do an autopsy on a murder victim, while diagnosing someone suffering from Hepatitis. It’s madness.

So longing for the simple life. And what if it happened. What if all the knowledge we had disappeared. What if we had to start again? We’d have to plant vege patches (yippee) and share them with our neighbours who would give us eggs from their very own chickens. The hunters would bring back a slab of crocodile and kangaroo and we’d have to take our time to collect wood for our fire. Tea would be made from pine needles and our nights filled with stories; true and false.

Then at the end of that long, simple day, we’d all sleep deeply, undisturbed by severed legs, headless ghosts and mass murderers. Would the world be a better place if it ended?

Check out: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wellbeing/mates-rates-the-friendships-bought-by-the-hour-20110520-1ewq3.html

Steps by Petr Kratochvil”>

Image by Petr Kratochvil

Do you ever feel as if you’re running, sprinting as fast as your pretty little legs will take you and you’re getting nowhere? I know it sounds like the beginning of an ‘Infomercial’ but I wish I could find a product that combines motivation with efficiency! It would taste like strawberry liquorice dipped in Cadbury’s best!

Once you’ve lost momentum, it is so hard to get it back. And being a stay-at-home mum in this day and age means getting back to work is a tricky thing. First there’s the self-esteem thing; “What have I been doing all these years? What do I have to offer the world? Who cares what I think?” and second, there’s the  flimsy old resume, worn down from years of neglect.

It’s so hard to revive an old career or kickstart a new one, something that I’m experiencing right now. I love writing. It is something that I can’t (and won’t) stop. Sure I’ve had a few things published but nothing consistent as yet. My aim is to be able to write from home so I can be around for the kids. Cos even when your kids are back at school, you still have to be available when they’re out and about! How do you start a career, be a mum, do the dreaded house cleaning, be a wife and still have time for your own stuff?

Parenting is often referred to as ‘juggling’ which sounds a little panicked if you ask me. But we’re not an ignorant lot just chucking things up in the air willy nilly. No, we’re like the seasoned juggler who is riding a unicycle whilst juggling batons that are on fire! How good are we?

However, there are some times when the rush of the day/s can give you headspins. When it is like running on butter and if you fall, you’re going to slide and keep on sliding (like the scene from Big Fish when Edward Bloom is born and slides out of his mother’s womb and down the hallway). I’ve had those days when I’m just not with it. The eyes are glazed over and I’m one step behind in the conversation, which leaves you feeling vague and a bit slow! It’s just hard keeping everything in your head. And if your day starts like this, well, there you are on your bum sliding and it’s not even morning tea time!

Yep, modern parenting is like walking in fast forward. The trick is learning how and when to slow down and look around. To regroup and gather all those thoughts in your head together to make something meaningful. And as our kids grow, our confidence and abilities follow, opening doors at the right time for us to follow our dreams.

A woman struts down the street. She’s dressed in high heels, jeans, low cut top, rubber gloves and a whistle hangs around her neck. She walks heavily. Her head is weighed down by an assortment of interesting hats: policeman cap, chef’s toque, baseball cap, nurse’s cap, hard hat, Mortarboard, Pith helmet, Santa hat, Slouch hat, Trucker cap. She holds her head aloft, proudly holding up the weight of all these headdresses. Her feet never stop moving, she is constantly in motion. There’s always something to do or somewhere to be.
This woman is a mother. Ta da! Surprised? A mother is one who is expected to be all things to all people: a daughter, wife, friend, mother, aunty, in-law, acquaintance, customer, driver, school parent, volunteer, employee. If she isn’t doing things for her kids, she is doing the basics for herself. When was the last time a mum had time or money for a good, old fashioned wax!? Or time to scramble over rocks at the beach on her own? Or time and permission just to sit in a hammock and doing zippo?
If a mother isn’t doing, then she’s feeling… guilty! Why do we do this to ourselves? We don’t give ourselves a moment’s peace! It’s true. How many conversations have you had with a mum who has admitted to feeling guilty over something. And we role our eyes when they say it because it is quite often petty. It is almost like we look for things to feel bad about so that we feel like we’re what we should be. The rush of life is enough without the added guilt in the down times because we need these moments of nothingness.
Birds still sing whether we hear them or not. They still fly in ‘V’ formations whether we see them or not. I find the more I rush, the more I just look down or ahead, not up! Up is a revelation. Up there is blue sky, sometimes angry black clouds, birds, planes, helicopters, wires, clouds that have shapes and stories and thoughts to give us! Up is simple.
Simple is not rushing here, there and everywhere, even though it is often necessary to do such things. We do it to give our kids opportunities: sport, art, tutoring, socialising, parties, outside play adventures! It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time! It’s life, baby, and we’re living it but sometimes the busyness of living gets in the way of deep living. Those magical, arty moments when the simple things become important again.
You’re not a bad mum if you don’t feel guilty. If you’re free and happy and simple, then you’re free to be a great mum. So on behalf of all mums everywhere and without a smidgen of authority, I give all mothers everywhere the permission to stop, to look up and enjoy!

Image by Mila Zinkova

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