You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘simplicity’ tag.

Early morning. Freshly (?) squeezed mango juice and strawberry juice! Oh. My. Goodness. So yum. It made the 5ish am start to the day bearable. Thank goodness for 5 star hotels!

After our delicious breaky we headed off to the airport and hopped onto our Egyptair plane. Oh dear. Firstly the flight attendants scared me. Smile people! And secondly they had a camera on the bottom of the plane giving us a great view of the dodgy tarmac. Hmmmm. Sounding like a whinging westerner here but whatever!

Up, up, up we went. Then, eventually the scary attendants served us a weird inflight meal: partially frozen muffin (which was actually quite yummy) and a cup-o-tea! It was a shortish trip to Luxor. And after we landed, the whole plane cheered! Fu-neeee. But it was all worth it. This place was incredible. Temples a-go-go! Hardly any tourists.

After a day of temple exploring we headed to our boat. Oh bliss! We had to walk through about six other luxurious floating hotels to get to ours. We found our room – just like the hotel we left in Cairo. This is the way to travel Egypt! (Cocky westerner now? Oh well.). Up to the deck we floated and sat there sipping some kind of drink overlooking the Nile! The Nile!!!!!

That night we headed back to Karak temple for an exciting (yawn) sound and (yawn) light show. Ooo sorry… flashbacks. It was freeeeeezing cold and the first ten minutes was creepy and exciting. But then it went on… and on… and on! And we both nearly fell asleep.

Next day was the flippin’ Valley of the Kings. This place rocked. The tombs were beautiful. The colours of the drawings/paintings were still brightly coloured and well preserved. We headed down into the bowels of the thing and checked out where the poor Egyptian was laid to rest. We heard tales of brains being sucked out the noses, grave robbers and the afterlife. Fascinating… and a bit gross.

Out we popped and off we went to one of my fav places: the temple of Queen Hatshepsut. This giant temple was built into the side of a mountain. It has a sad history. In 1997 62 people were shot by terrorists so it had an eerie feel about it. But it was also magnificent and awesome. For me, Egypt was full of ‘moments’. And this was one of them. Loved it!

After a full morning we headed back to the boat and set sail for Esna. Ah, this was the life. I felt for the poor adventurous tourists in Felucas (small sailing boats) with their lack of toilets or personal space. Imagine if you got the runs on board! Eeeeeeek.

The next few days were filled with Nile-side temples, jewellery purchasing (oh why didn’t I buy more? So cheap and lovely) and various interactions with various locals that made us feel a various range of emotions from annoyance to affection.

After reaching Aswan we went to a perfumery, had a dance on the ship with our tour guides and headed back to the airport to brave the scary flight attendants once again. Smile and nod. Smile and nod.

Hello Cairo with your crazy cars and your millions of people. Hello The Egyptian Museum with your amazing artefacts and floor filled with King Tut stuff. Hello Bazaar and Egyptian Restaurant. Hello taxi driver and hotel again. Hello… where had the Americans got to?

After we went to the restaurant our tour guide put us all in taxis (this was not part of the tour so no bus). We all made it safely and way too swiftly back to the hotel except the car-full of Americans. We feared the worst. It was a bad time to be an American in Egypt. Half an hour went by. One hour. Our tour guide was frothing at the mouth. He was furious.

Finally the little taxi ambled its way back to the giant hotel and everyone started to breathe again! Crazy times.

The tour was over. We said our fondest farewells to our lovely tour guide and prepared ourselves to become our own tour guides in Europe. In countries we had no idea about. In places we couldn’t speak the language. Driving on the wrong side of the road. Um. Yeah. We felt a little apprehensive. But that’s adventure, baby!

See you in Paris! Bye.

 

Image by Whit Welles

Fear. Dread. Anxiety. Terror. Things that go ‘bump’ in the night, or the day, or in your head. What scares the nickers off you?

The tangible: spiders, snakes, lizards, whales, donkeys, hippies, carnies, clowns, fingers and/or toes. For me, it has got to be spiders and whales. Imagine a spider whale or a whale spider… (she shivers). I don’t mind cockroaches or snakes or sharks unless they’re crawling over my face as I sleep or trying to bite me to death. Nup, it’s the hairy, multi-eyed, crawly little eight legged bug and the huge lump of blubber that gets my heart racing. What about you?

Answer: __________________________________________________

The intangible: failure, success, rejection, nightmares, ghosts, commitment, marriage, being a parent, not being a parent, being a nerd, not being a nerd, other people’s opinions on you being a nerd, depression, sunshine or failing friendships. This is the big section if you ask me. Because you can pretty much stay out of the way of sharks, spiders and snakes (if you’re lucky) but these are always with us. We carry these fears in our heads, throughout our lives. It’s a constant battle to keep them in check so that they don’t ruin our lives.

Fear of failure is pretty common. Especially when you take on a new job or school, most of us just want to be seen as successful. It’s humiliating when you miss the mark. It hurts. And that hurt stays with you and effects the future levels of anxiety and fear. Ooga booga.

Then there’s rejection. There’s nothing like school to instil in a person the fear of rejection. Girls especially are skilled at the nose in the air, turn of the back move. They perfect the ‘you’re not my friend’ sentiments from a very early age. Not sure why girls are particularly hard on each other. Must be something in the waters. Or the emotions.

Fear of people’s expectations is tied into the whole rejection thing, which is linked into the fear of looking daggy or not seen to be fitting in. And I bet that nearly every person is walking around with this paranoia; that they’re not good enough, that they don’t fit in. It can drive a person crazy, all this comparing clothes, cars, careers, houses, smarts with everyone else is exhausting. Why do we bother?

Our masks don’t help anyone. Rather, they perpetuate these false standards that everyone hates but strives to life up to. We’re all running around trying to be good enough, when the truth is that we are good enough, because no one is good enough, if you get my drift. We all have our weaknesses. Truth is powerful, masks are harmful.

What are your biggest fears? Come on, remove the mask and share. Cos you’re not alone out there.

One simple way to make people more greedy is to guilt them into generosity. The response is usually defensive. They clutch their wallets closer to their chests, fix a frozen smile to their faces and walk on by. I know, cos I’ve done that before. I’m not proud of that but there you have it.

Collectors that go door-to-door, stand on street corners shaking their semi-empty cans or cold callers have got a tough job. But it just doesn’t seem effective. In our culture it is all too easy to turn a blind eye to the injustices in our world because there seems to be too many. We can’t or don’t want to get our heads around them. It’s all too depressing.

So when a million voices call out in need, the ears of a million others slam shut. I think we need to be smarter about this. As much as we hate to admit it, our culture is greedy. We all know by now that there is actually enough food in the world to feed everyone. But still people die every day from starvation. We know that. But we keep on eating.

Guilt will not end world hunger. Greed will. That’s why Op Shops are so popular at the moment. There’s no pressure to give endlessly to these charities. There are no demands. There are just a few humble shops with odds and ends, 2nd hand clothing and collectables that give us a shopping experience without the guilt. Op shops tap into our desire for more. They are a great place of recycling, of course, but their main task is to fund a charity and they do it in a subtle way so that most of us don’t have to think about the horrible situations those in need are facing and how our measly dollars are helping them.

Massive fundraisers are also hip! Because people get a good feed, they get to hear from interesting people and they get to feel like they’re doing something good for the world. Tick that box. There are also awesome prizes that once again tap into our greedy nature. It’s just fact! I’m not putting down fundraisers or op shops, quite the opposite. I think they’re smart.

The fact is that most of us love to get! I love to get. I would go so far as to say it is my love language. But I look around Sydney and I see so much wealth and gluttony and stuff. And I wonder how I can get people to donate charities in Africa who are suffering, who can’t even put food on the table for their kids. I wonder how we can squeeze stuff out of our ‘stuffed’ city and dribble it into the hands of those who need it way more than we do.

And it all comes down to greed. How do we tap into greed and subtly turn it into generosity without having to lay a guilt trip, without begging, without disturbing?

Any ideas?

Here’s one     http://ourneighbours.org/

Today I became a canteen mum. There was I with my holey but protective footwear, my bright eyes, my expectant face and a little fear of the responsibility of adding up cash correctly.

But never fear! It was a great experience. The other ladies were very nice and patient and understanding but I must tell you about the star of the day. His name, I cannot remember but his presence was unique.

I arrived 9:30 ish to find a tall, elderly man pottering around the canteen kitchen. His eyes were bright as he pottered around. He saw me and the other new mummy and tottered over to tell us something in hushed old man tones. With personal space not being his forte, it was a little confronting at first. But then he was sent on a supermarket errand and the ladies told me his story.

This man used to be the maintenance worker at the school. So each week he comes in for half a day to relieve his glory days, to sit, to drink in the familiar surrounds. It is a nice break from his home life, where he visits with his frail wife who is suffering from dementia. But there’s not a skerrick of bitterness in him. He looks like a man full of stories, full of experiences and full of hope of more life left to live.

Like any of us, he loves his weekly routine. He serves the kids at recess, often giving them freebies if he can’t quite understand what they want or how much it costs. After this he eats his chicken sandwich, yoghurt and sweet chilli chicken, lost in his own happy world.

His pottering continues with stories of being a sailor, travelling throughout Asia. I picture him with a captain’s hat on his head and a pipe clenched between this teeth, squinting into the sea spray while singing a sea shanty through his gritted teeth, urging the ship to go faster, despite the roaring waves.

Because of his lack of personal space, I would imagine this man is a brave soul. Despite his age, he still travels overseas, often bringing back presents for his ‘girls’ in the canteen.

Around lunchtime he packed up his tucker and did the kiss-on-cheek rounds to all of us, all while sharing jigsaw pieces of his life in snippets of conversation. He left me smiling. Though some find him intimidating, I thought he was fascinating and sweet.

I love that older people have such a wealth of experience to share with us. To the rest of society they may seem past it, quirky or muddlesome but when we scratch the surface, when we ask the right questions, there is gold to be found, stuff that we can learn from and admire.

 

Image by Bill Ebbesen

Tic, tic, tock. Time is a-ticking away to my daughty’s first day at school. I’m tired of the build up, the stress of getting everything ready, the geeing up of little gal… I just want to be in the routine. Then what?

Daughty is my last kid at school. It’s a big moment. Tears have already welled, as I push down the panic of what the heck is next for me. I’m sure she will be alright. Big bro will be around the playground for a bit of security. But as I look at my friends entering this new phase, it’s like we’re all looking at each other saying, “Whadda we do now?”

So, I’ve decided that after 7 ish years of stay at home mumming, I’m going to take the first couple of months reclaiming the fun in my life. Work can wait. I’m sure we’re all due some early long service leave. After all, parenting is 24/7 with bad pay and no real holidays so, ladies, live it up.

Plan 1: Go to the movies in the day time with a friend. Stuff this watching a movie by yourself idea. That just feels weird. I’m going to grab my nearest bud-dy and head off at midday for some popcorn and a girly movie AT THE CINEMA. Woweee.

Plan 2: Hire a canoe, boat, stand-up paddle board and get onto the water (or probably INTO the water knowing my poor boating skills). It’s a simple thing but there’s nothing more soothing that being gently rocked by the water as you look out into its sparkling vastness. You can’t help but breathe in the healthy, salty air and gain a little perspective.

Plan 3: Head to my buddy’s house, grab a floatation device and float around in her pool, perhaps sipping on an exotic drink and talk for hours about stuff without interruption. Bliss!

Plan 4: High Tea! Got it for Christmas so I’m going to sit, sip and enjoy some lovely delicacies while talking, once again uninterrupted, about STUFF!

Plan 5: Day trip. Finally I’m going to visit my friend that lives across the water. I’m going to catch the ferry and have a chat, hang out with her little bubba and reconnect. It’s going to be awesome.

The rest of the year can then begin. Hopefully I’ll be so full of ideas and zeal. You never know, I might just get some work done.

What are your plans for post school days?

Technology is great! Love the iphone 3, 4 or future 5. I love the internet, access to music and movies is easy as start up, click, click, download, wait a bit, loaded, watch. Ah! Funky and efficient stuff.

It’s summer in Oz and that means hanging out with good friends at a bbq or on holidays. This year I’ve noticed a marked change in how we socialise. Even us old 30 something year olds seem to interact by showing funny clips from Youtube or sharing fav aps or taking ridiculous photos of each other! (Ah delete, I had neck rolls in that one! Love digital technology).

It seems everyone has a portable digital device of some brand or other. Does that mean we have lost the ability to be creative in the way we entertain our guests? Try camping in a spot without mobile reception, without wifi. What would you do to pass  the time? How would the conversation go? “What is your status?” “I’m sitting on a deck chair staring at you, wondering what the heck I’m going to do without my iphone for 5 days.”

Imagine silence. The absence of keyboard clicks, or badly filmed Youtube clips blaring from someone’s phone. Imagine having a little shut eye in the afternoon. Telling jokes was once big, though the punchlines were often lame. Cards were played, friendships put on the line as the one cheat in the group started getting out of hand, or someone genuinely forgot the rules and stuffed up the game. Good dramatic times.

Hours were past creating new silly songs with an acoustic guitar (a real one…true story!). Rock ballads were played with a group of tone deaf singers belting them out at the top of their voices! That’s fun. Loud, but fun.

In the past people spent time helping each other out. There would be working bees on houses, with beers for lunch and a sweaty but satisfied handshake at the end of the day. People would spend hours swimming, eating and building sandcastles or other structures that would eventually be washed away by a freakish wave.

Phone calls lasted hours (if you’re a girl) and words were spelled in their entirety. Remember letters? If bored, olden days people would grab a lovely smelling sheet of lovely paper and write a lovely, well thought out letter to one of their lovely friends or family. The recipient would then open their lovely letterbox and there, on the lovely envelope, would be a letter from their lovely friend to their lovely self. And the news would be NEW cos there was no facebook, twitter, linkedin.

People played games in the same room as their friends, across a heavy cardboard square with tangible counters, square, die on them. The roll of the dice would be in 3D because it was real. Ah. Yes!

As much as I love technology, I think that it is healthy, once in a while to banish all that stuff from your life. Just for a week or so. Smell the roses, pick a daisy, spend a day using eye contact again. And see how it feels! Blissful, I’d say.

 

November has arrived and so have the toy catalogues. I just got hit with a wad in the mail today. Wow. Check out what kind of toys they’re trying to sell us suckers!

Firstly, if your kids like Toy Story, then be prepared to pay between $20 and a million dollars per toy! Yippee! As if Lego wasn’t expensive enough. I cannot recommend ebay highly enough for Lego. My son is 7 and wasn’t concerned at all about the imperfect packaging on the second hand Kit Fisto Lego ship we bought him for his birthday. He was just stoked to get it!

Yes, they can cope with second hand stuff… can you?

The catalogue tells me that I can now buy goth dolls for my little 5 year old. Oh goody! Now instead of a little girl dreaming of being a beautiful princess, she can now aspire to wear dark clothes, thick eyeliner and act strange! No offence to goths out there. None taken? Great!

Also, our little darlings can get monster dolls with strange button eyes. They look like zombies. Oh, if only I had one when I was a kid! (please note the sarcasm…. I’m dripping in it today!).

Then if you haven’t already spent enough money on chunks of plastic, why not check out some mildly violent video games? Oh yes! The mob will love sitting back slicing off each others’ heads or kickboxing their opponent until they fall down dead… blood gushing out of every orifice. And another plus is that you will never have to have another conversation with your child… EVER! Because their new best friend, the video game machine, DS, ipod, blah blah will keep them occupied for that long! Ah. What a relief.

Forget the outside world. So overrated, so dull. Although, if you’re looking at easing your guilty conscience and want to get the little ones outside, why not buy them a fort, a jumping castle or a slip n’ slide? Surely they can’t be expected to entertain themselves. Keep them high and dry, clean and safe.

Ah. But seriously, I do love Christmas and I love catalogues (hypocrite) and I love buying presents for my kids. It’s just that I’m frustrated at how manipulated we all are and how ‘happy’ we are to pay a ridiculous amount of money for toys that we know will not last. Yep. Come March, our kids will have stuffed their Christmas presents under the bed to gather dust as they search the catalogues for the next big thing.

Do you find it hard budgeting for Christmas? Any tips?

Let’s face it, we all know the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Have we finally had enough? With ‘Occupy’ marches happening around the globe, perhaps we have.

In Australia these protests were relatively small. Then our national carrier, Qantas, cancelled all flights because of industrial action but the boss enjoyed a pay rise. Fat cats be warned, us mice (hopefully) won’t stand for this kind of inequality any more.

Dream with me here: imagine a tax system that charges 10% of a ridiculously rich person’s salary and all of it goes to worthy charities. Would they miss it? Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is a popular concept because it seems fair.

Instead of buying a large boat, maybe we could cancel out world hunger, or provide mosquito nets in places ravaged by Malaria or Dengue Fever. Oooo how about everyone having access to clean water or a healthy sewerage system? Wouldn’t it be just dandy if all children could be vaccinated against deadly diseases instead of just our lucky kids? Or if women could experience safety in childbirth? Perspective Westies!

Think of what we could do in Australia. There would be no one living on the streets, for there would be enough shelters, homes and public housing for everyone. Our Indigenous brothers and sisters would have a decent chance at a long and successful life with proper healthcare and a more sensitive education system. Universities would be free and available to anyone who was keen and our hospitals and schools wouldn’t be in such a mess.

I know, I know, I’m dreaming here. Perfection is unattainable in this world. It just seems crazy that 1% have so very much while the rest of the world suffers. Food for thought.

If you want to steal from yourself and give to the poor, check out my friend in Zimbabwe who runs a home for abandoned babies. It is called ‘Our Neighbours – Isaiah’s Home of Love’. If you have any corporate connections, this charity is desperate for ongoing support. They find foster homes for these beautiful babies in their own villages. They are doing incredible things with very little.

Check them out here http://ourneighbours.wordpress.com/author/ourneighbours/

 

 

 

I don’t know about you but my inspiration goes in circles. It’s like being on one of those silly kids rides that goes weeeeee up up up and then flows down making your tummy sink and tickle. Perhaps its just my all-or-nothing personality but that is just how I roll.

I can feel like “I’m the king of the world” one day, then the next I’m doubting my abilities all over again. I’m hoping that puts me smack bang in the ‘sensitive writer’ category. At least, then, there’s a reason for the roller coaster of emotions. Today is a great day. Whenever I have a ‘work’ meeting I leave feeling on top of the world. It confirms in my heart that I am on the right path, working in the right area. It’s a passion and I get to do it for a ‘job’! Yeee haaa.

It can be pretty daunting turning on the old lap top and checking out the brilliance that is out there in the interweb! But I figure, no one is me and I’m not anyone else. I’m a niche all to myself as others are to themselves. How cool is that? Comparing oneself to another oneself is not helpful in any area of life at any time… you dig?

I just love it and enjoy it when the inspiration surge hits. I’m a little childlike in these times. I fully believe I can do anything and reach high heights… except when I don’t, because sometimes I won’t.  (paraphrasing the Dr Seuss book Oh The Places You’ll Go here). But there’s no boom-bands playing, nor weird fluffy haired characters around (except my husband when he has his bouffant).

Like the dip on the ride, crashing down after an inspiration session can make my tummy feel weird and my eyes water. Questions race through my head, doubts rise and in the end I chow down on a few squares of chocolate look into my kids eyes and regain my composure and self-esteem. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

The bottom line is I love to write, I love blogging and I think the internet is amazing. I have a great family, I live near the beach and I have food in the cupboard. What more could a gal want!?

What inspires you in your work or play?

It is my daughter’s birthday today. She is a very pleasant 5 years old. On days such as these I like to look back over the past and reflect on what has happened: the good, the bad and, sometimes, the ugly.

It is different being a mum to a girl. There are so many bad stories out there about mothers and daughters. Some are as close as you can get and others are like same ends of a magnet. It seems the closer they get, the harder they push off each other. Is it a clash of the hormones? Jealousy? Competition? Or just a mismatch?

My little girl is a funny little bunny. I love that she thinks another name for a daughter is a ‘darling’. She has the sweetest and strongest soul. We are very much alike, which can be quite confronting. When I had her I decided a few things: I would always try to listen, to see beyond her behaviour, to value her emotions and always have her back.

Daughty and I are very close. We have been since she was a baby. I have a different relationship with my son which is also very close but the two are simultaneously different and that’s ok. Daughty and I ‘get’ each other. We both have times of losing the plot, both love are very affectionate and both hate being wrong. I am curious about what this relationship will look like when she is a teenager, but so far so good.

I think the key to having a good relationship with your daughter (from my oh so limited experience) is to know your place. She needs me to be her mum, to be an adult, to be patient and take time to understand her. She needs to know she’s a kid that is learning and that is ok. This is a girl that thrives when she is soaked in both love and boundaries. I think she likes the combination and appreciates when she is listened to and loved despite her fiery moments.

Ultimately, it is all trial and error and a whole load of  love. At the end of the day, if she knows she is eternally loved then I think we’ll be ok – teenage years and all! Fingers crossed!!!

Happy birthday daaaarling!

Categories