Saturday, December 24, 2011

'tis the season


Oh, it's been so busy! Hasn't it? Don't you think?

I remember a day somewhere where I lay down and had a nap. It was amazing.

Since then and before, we've been flat out.

What with? What with-n't I say!

(oh, I know that's not a word. I know)

Three story compilations edited and published into little books. One book was of stories by my lovely Tuesday writers workshop, another was of my son's stories, and another was of my girl's (along with sweet illustrations). I thought it would just take a minute to put these together. How funny!

A trip to Sydney where we got to stay in a hotel RIGHT downtown, something I'd never done before. A whole weekend of browsing, present buying, bus riding, movie making, food eating, caroling, hanging out with my mum, and running around in the hotel like silly monkeys. It was so much fun.







Creating dozens of little crocheted bookmarks to give as gifts. Another thing I thought would take just a minute!

Bike riding, on my mum's borrowed exercise bike. I'm supposed to ride it every day. When I don't feel like it, I think, well, I have to. It's part of my get-well-package, like insulin or heart pills might be. Or at least a bit like that.

Getting presents ready, especially for loved ones over in the US. Yes, you heard me right, dear people in Arizona. Your gifts are Officially in the mail!

Getting ready to host Christmas with my sister and my niece. Now the under-the-couch area has been vacuumed, along with the corners of all the rooms, where cobwebs had grown like little spring flowers. The study/guest room that used to be a study/guest room, but had become the place we folded laundry and shoved stuff when people were coming over, is now a study/guest room again. Thank you, beautiful husband. It looks so lovely I might use it as a study again. Imagine that. Plus, food has been bought. And not last minute either: like, two whole days ago. Now we are sitting and waiting for them to arrive. We are twiddling our thumbs and peering out the windows.

There's been jolly and not -so-jolly walking hand in hand. It's the anniversary of two family members passing away. There have been other difficult moments. I've seen my counsellor twice and she has been extraordinary in helping me sift, find the joy, hold it up to the light.

And there's been silly. Just plain laugh 'til you cry silly. I love that part.



We've got jingly reindeer antlers ready to wear; we've got green and red napkins that match the candles; I am planning to bake and host and play games that make our sides hurt with laughter.

I am peering out the window. The stockings have been hung with care, at the least the ones for the pets, on the exercise bike.

Let the joy rise!


And to you all, I hope this season brings love in bucketloads, and peace and the kind of smiling that hurts your cheeks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

a particular day

I almost missed this.

sunset
Samoa, December 12, 2010

With ten minutes to go of the day, I suddenly realised today is the anniversary of my dad passing away. He has been gone now for 11 years.

One year ago, we stood by a rock pool in Samoa, a deeply spiritual place, and spoke of him.

The water was so still while we were speaking. Just before my sister opened the box with his ashes inside, just as she was talking, a wave washed into the pool and lapped at my sister's ankles. 

We spread his ashes over the water. As I said goodbye to my father with my sister by my side, I finally cried. Properly, deeply, hard.

And afterwards? We threw frangipani flowers over the water. They smelled so beautiful in our hands.


Love, and peace, to you all.

credit

Sunday, December 11, 2011

feathered angels and soulful light


Hey, it turns out tawny frogmouths aren't owls at all! I've been misleading you this whole time. Shame on me! 

They are so much like owls that many people think they are. But The Owl Pages website explains why they are not. 

Still, they were so very beautiful. They haven't been back. Must be off somewhere, making someone else's day. Like fuzzy-feathered, winged, beaked, big-eyed angels. :) 


We went looking for the lunar eclipse last night. Me in my jammies and ugg boots, my husband in his boxer shorts, standing out on our just-mown lawn under a soulful sky. 


The moon was hiding behind clouds, perhaps, or swooning away behind some trees, so we never saw it shine and change. But it was still magical. Standing in that ethereal light. With my husband, in the garden. The frogs chirruping and insects whispering amongst themselves. 

Something rustled loudly in the trees. I think our new chooks roost up there. Perhaps they were startled to see humans roaming about their bedroom… I know I'd be alarmed to see them in mine. 

We drifted upstairs and slept with the curtains open. Fans whirred in the kids' bedrooms. And the moon quietly transformed itself while we slept, and silver light coated our dreams.



Friday, December 9, 2011

and good things look like this



Because here, all around, is beauty happening. Right under my nose. It's everywhere. I just have to walk a step and I'm tripping over Sheer Wonderful.

A whole week of wonderful, in fact.

Which I am so glad about. So very thankful for.


Saturday
brought a whole day of Lego League National Tournament-ing. We went up to Sydney and cheered on my son's former lego league team. We cheered ourselves hoarse (at least I did). National champions last year, this year, the team came second.

Second! Woot! Well done! Now they've been invited, again, to represent Australia in an international tournament. And because we were part of the team for the first 2/3 of the season, the coaches and families have (incredibly kindly) said my son can come too, if he wants. How about that? Looks like we might, maybe, possibly, be going to Germany or the US next year. A-ma-zing.

Here's a taste of what the day was like. It was beautiful. Spirit rising beautiful. Kids supporting each other beautiful. We had a wonderful day.



Sunday
brought a full day of Conservatorium Open Day performances at our Town Hall. My husband was there for 12 hours straight…and somehow in all his busy-ness and tiredness, he was still so funny and beautiful. How does he do that?

My son played in three concerts. In this photo, he is about to solo on piano. A grand piano. In the Town Hall. Out there, improvising on the high wire. So inspiring.


Monday
brought the circus. And a boy on a trapeze…



and a girl writing stories on the laptop as I talked with friends.

Later, we took a long walk. There was talking and going all the way to the shops to have sorbet (for a girl) and hot chocolate (for a boy), and then a browse in the library. So peaceful.

Plus there was more talking, talking, talking. We were processing sadness, but in a way that made us laugh and reclaim ourselves. Then there was more laughter thrown in for good measure. So lovely!

Tuesday
brought my mum. The three of us took her out to an impromptu lunch for her birthday.

I love hanging out with my mum. The kids adore her. We are so lucky.

Tuesday saw me thinking a lot about where I wasn't, while at the same time looking around at where I was. I looked at what I had. Who I was with. When I looked, I saw so much smiling.

And Tuesday
brought a family of four tawny frogmouth owls. Right to the jacaranda tree outside our window. They sat there, dozing and dreaming, for the entire day.


At dusk, I took this little movie. At some point in the film, the mama owl feeds her baby. Listen to my daughter being utterly blown away :)



Wednesday
brought a park date with two beautiful families—one family being dear new friends and the other family being dear old friends. It saw children running all around, playing for 3 hours straight.


And afterwards, my daughter said, "I know we haven't known them [our new friends] for very long, but already I feel like I've known them forever!" She was so happy.


But Wednesday night came,

and just like that,

the sorrow rose.

Sorrow I'd been keeping at bay for days—ever since some triggers earlier in the week. Just like that, it rose and sat flat on me.

How strange, to be surrounded by beauty and joy, and still be squished by sadness. To spend days with kind, loving people, and still feel sadness there like a prickle on the skin. Like a steady, close buzz. Tinting whole sweet days, just a little,
blue.

How strange, and how perfectly normal, too? Normal, to be joyful, then suddenly, to mourn. To find and reclaim joy, only to forget again and be sad.

I think this is part of grieving.

Not just these new hurts, but old ones too. There they go, all the hard bits of the past, tumbling together with the present, tangled and tumbled, tumbled and tangling.


And I think this is part of letting go.  

Of what I thought life should look like, what I thought I needed, and thought life should have.

And I think this is part of accepting.

What IS.


So, here's to sorrow and joy, coming intertwined. The dark and the light, like two walkers. Moving together. Holding hands.


As for today?

Today
brought clarity.

Today brought friends and family, and loving words, and professional help.

It is so clear,
how much love there is.


I am loved. We are loved.
We are.

We are blessed, blessed, blessed.


Today I was driving. Just me, the car, the road.

Beautiful music was playing on the radio.

And in that moment, I felt as though I was

surrounded by butterflies.

.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

grief feels like this

an okay day and a good day and a great day

then a bad.

bad that follows you.

bad like a sinkhole.



an unrelenting urge to lay your head down on the table, wherever you are, whoever you are with.


a night of vivid dreams, and when you wake,
all day you hold one dream close
because in it
everything was back the way it once was.


it feels like
you've fallen overboard. You are swimming, swimming to get back,
but the boat moves steadily away. You can see the lights; you can hear the laughter and the music on the decks. You tread water. The boat moves away.


it feels like missing. You miss your friend. You miss your friends. You miss the laughter, the cups of tea, the times on the couch with small children showing you stories. You miss confiding and letting go. You miss everyone. You miss talking, being, sharing together.

you miss them. You miss them. You miss them.



and all you want is to walk into a forest 
and cover yourself with leaves.




So.

What do you do?


I suppose you keep treading water. You keep your head up, as tired as you are. 

You look north south east west. 

You see, 
there, and there, and there, 
other boats. How did you not see them before? They are all around. 


Perhaps, 
you swim. 

Perhaps, you hold up a hand. 

As tired as you are, 
perhaps you wave until someone sees you. 

You swim. 

People stand at the deck's edge. They throw out a line, 
and you pull and they pull. Hand over hand over hand. 

A ladder comes down. It takes everything you have, everything that's in you, to grab that ladder. You pull up. Hand over hand over hand. 

It takes a long time. 

To swim. To wave. To pull. To rise. 



When you enter the new boat, this always-there-but-for-the-seeing boat,
you are exhausted. 

But all around you are faces,
smiling. 

People bring you blankets, warm drinks. They watch over you. 

They keep you close, these beautiful people. 


They keep you above the water.

.

Friday, December 2, 2011

how much

I think I've mentioned before, like here and here and here, how much I love my husband, and what a good man he is.

He's a beautiful person. From the inside to the outside, from the tips to the ends. All the way through.

But he's not just beautiful to me, or to my family. He's beautiful, and dedicated, and inspiring, to many, many other people in his life too.

He is a music educator. He lives and breathes music. He shares this love with anyone and everyone. He is music, I think. Take an x-ray, and you'd probably see notes—notes everywhere! Crowding, calling, laughing, singing out.


Two weeks ago, I got to celebrate and share what this beautiful man has achieved.

Two weeks ago, I was at a 10-year reunion concert, marking 10 years of a jazz program that my husband built from the ground up. A program that, before my husband arrived, had one combo with 5 kids in it. There are now hundreds of kids enrolled. There are combos, ensembles, a school bands program, and a killer jazz orchestra that's about to tour the US West coast. Every month, world-class jazz musicians come to perform. My husband has been involved in music festivals, international tours, and jazz camps. He is incredible, devoted and so hard working. He is completely passionate about what he does.



That night, two weeks ago, I was sitting contentedly in the dark of the concert. Tucked high up on the second floor, in an almost sold-out theatre, sitting with my girl (and without my boy, who was away at scout camp).

I suddenly thought, This is amazing. What my husband has done. What he has helped to create. Because now he has an amazing jazz faculty; he has an amazing assistant and co-conspirator; there are now others helping teach in the school bands program, and the program is growing, growing. Now he is building something with others. Now he's part of a beautiful team.

Emotion rose inside me. I felt so moved. I suddenly thought, Someone should say something. Someone should mark this moment. Someone should thank this man.

And I thought, Perhaps they've organised to give him flowers? Maybe someone will pop onto the stage at the end and say something. Yeah, I'm sure someone will. Someone else. I snuggled back in my chair, there in the shadows.

Then I thought, People are busy. Life is busy. This concert is squeezed in between busy and busy. Hmmm. I don't know that anyone's going to pop onto the stage.

I suddenly realised.

It's me.

I'm going to go on stage. Here. In front of over a hundred people. I am going to thank this beautiful man.

Holy mackerel. Instant nausea.

And so, as the music played, I tried to think of what I'd say. Some words came in. Nausea rose. My skin prickled. I felt cold. I thought of more words. My mouth went dry. Over a hundred people were in this room.

Then my husband said, "This will be our last piece for the night," and the orchestra began to play.

I leaned over and whispered in my girls' ear, "I'm going to go on stage to say thank you to Daddy."
Her eyes went huge.
"Really?!"
"Yep."
Big grin. "I'm coming!" she said, and we both stood.

We went down the stairs, into the lower level. We saw my husband's colleague who was videotaping the concert. I leaned in and whispered, "Do you think there'll be an encore?"
He said, "I think this'll be it."
"I want to go up and say something," I said. "When do you think would be a good time?"
His eyes went huge.
The music ended.
Big, slow smile.
"Now, I'd say."

Now.



And here, for the hearing impaired (because even I can't tell half of what I said in this video!) is the text of my speech. Somehow, I found the right words to say.

I haven't the same volume in my voice as my husband, and I don't know how he does this, night after night, but I wanted to say a few words because the spirit has moved me. Ten years ago, or just over ten years ago, I was a very homesick young mother living in California with a music teacher for a husband, and I asked him, would he please, please come to Australia with me. And he said, Of course. And it was uncomplicated for you because you loved us so much.
And so then he came here, to this country, to this beautiful place, and you didn't know anybody. You just knew my family, and that was it. And on day 2 of arriving, he picked up the yellow pages and started looking for work.
And I've never seen anyone more dedicated or more devoted to his job than you. And the passion you have for music and music education and the people that you teach and are part of—whose lives you're a part of—is extraordinary, and it shines in every single thing you do. And you've helped build something beautiful here. And I've never seen anything like it, and I think you're amazing, and I'm very very glad you came here. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

roll up, roll up, summer has begun…

It's day one.

Here we are!

Summer. Officially! (According to the Western Calendar, that is).

Which means every single day will be glorious. Right?

Are you listening, Sky? Sun? Clouds? Ocean? Wind?




It's day one.

It's my mother's birthday today. I love you so much, Mom. I hope your day is so beautiful you can hardly stand it.


It's day one.

I saw my counsellor/therapist person yesterday. She's my long-time regular counsellor, the one who was living overseas when I needed to see her last year. The one I actually hadn't seen in 3 years. Woah. That's a long time between talks.

She was so lovely. She said, Be wary of labels. (That is, blindly accepting them. Letting them define you). She said, Go information gathering. Look at your treatment options. There isn't one way to do this. And, after she and I talked about all the Stuff…and I said, "This is no way to live. When my life is this beautiful and I'm still this sad, something has to shift"…she showed me her pad of paper, where she had written what I'd said in huge capitals: THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE.

So. We are agreed. We have a plan.

Something is shifting.

Are you listening, Self? Fear? Brain? Doubt? Universe?

It's day one.

The kids and I have also come up with a Plan. The kids and I have realised that "Mum is like a puppy. She needs regular food and walks." If I don't get walked, I fret and chew the furniture! It's pitiful, really.

So every day after breakfast, we plan to do some exercise. So far, we've walked to the beach and along to the next suburb, then taken a train home (so fun). We've walked around our streets exploring. And today, the plan is to Swim.




Yesterday was supposed to have a swim in it, but instead there were two visits to the vet. One for a very sick chook (who didn't make it) and one for an arthritic dog (who did make it and should make it for years more, but can no longer jump into or out of cars. I need to lift him. He is heavy). Some days don't go to plan. Doesn't mean you give up. Right?

R.I.P Chook. We'll miss you. 


It's day one.

I haven't written about homeschooling in ages. Our year is winding down, but the kids haven't lost steam. My girl is flying, and I mean flying, through maths right now. She's got her times tables down. She's learning long division. She's adding and subtracting like a fiend. She knows how to figure out change. She knows her shapes and angles and weights and time and probability. She finished Year 3 maths a week and a half ago, and is now rocketing through Year 4. Who would have thunk it? Seriously. Where's the sparkling apple juice? We need to CELEBRATE!

This last week she's also written a cat magazine, plus created a brochure for a kitten surf school.


And along with the hundred other stories she's working on, she is writing a series of tales about her beloved cat Mittens. Mittens is adorable, annoying and very simple minded. We call her Shmoo. Here's one of the "tails" my girl has written:


TAIL 2. 
Dis is a gigantic drinking bowl,” thought Mittens, peering into the toilet. “It’s vewy smewy.” She leaned over to look and...fell in!MARRROWWGGLLE!!!” she gurgled, thrashing around. “It GURGLEMMOWW!!! Doesn’t MMOWW!!! Taste MMERRR!!! Dat GUURRGLLE!!! Nice!” She scrabbled out of the toilet and ran off to the other end of the house, dripping wet.
I don’t tink dat was a dwinking bowl after all,” she said, licking herself. “But if it was, It would need fwesh water.” She walked to the mother of the house and mowed: “If dat’s a dwinking bowl, pwease change da water. It wasn’t vewy pweasnt to dwink.”
The mother of the house wondered why the kitten was so wet.

So funny!

My boy is all about his schedule right now. He practices, he does his maths, and now he has asked to "do history." So I found some cool e-workbooks on Rome that he's really enjoying. He loves knowing what's ahead, this one.

Plus he's doing chemistry experiments, and researching periods in art. He's watercolouring, sketching, painting, writing, reading reading reading. He's doing music, circus, scouts, and art class, and all the time he's watching over his family like a shepherd.





The kids are like a carnival.

You come into their lives and watch them Being. Doing. Learning. Loving. You see all the rides, and the sparkling lights. You see how nothing is dimmed, or if there are dark spaces, they don't stay dark for long. There is talking, laughing; there are games and prizes. Oh, the prizes! You can't believe just how wonderful they are. You carry them in your arms; you are full of spun candy and soft toys and laughter 'til your sides shake. You can't believe how lucky you are to be here. To see this. To be a part of it.

Getting to be their mum, and parenting with my beautiful husband, are without a doubt the best things that have ever happened to me.

It is day one.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vegie Wednesday on a Saturday: thanksgiving

Thank you, so much, for your comments on my last post.

Thank you, so much, for sticking around. I am so grateful for that, and for you. I hope to be around for you as much as you have been for me.

I suppose this is a beginning, then? Where I declare Loving to Learn to be about Everything and Nothing and all the bits in between.

I am so glad for that.

And thank you, in advance, for reading a Vegie Wednesday post written on a Saturday! (I think it's clear to everyone now, that my attempts at living a predictable life are futile. Which I think—actually I believe—is okay.)


Thanksgiving: different but the same


Nine years ago, we began a tradition of having Thanksgiving dinner here in Australia. We did it with our neighbours and friends who had lived in the US for almost 2 years. When we decided to do it, we consulted our American expert, my husband, for the Official Thanksgiving Menu. He said:

"There's one way to do it. I'm going to give you a list. These things HAVE to be on the table."

There had to be mashed potatoes. Then some sweet potato dish, and gravy—there had to be lots, no, oodles, of gravy. Cranberry sauce needed to be there, but it didn't need to be fresh. Out of a can was fine. Plus we needed to have "some sort of green thing," my husband said. "It can be green beans or peas. I won't necessarily eat them, but they have to be there."

Of course there would be pumpkin pie. It had to be served with whipped cream AND icecream. And without question, there would be a big old turkey. The turkey was not negotiable.

So that's what we've eaten. Year after year, with this family and various invited friends, for 9 years.

Last year, we were vegetarian, but my husband was on the fence. He was still a meat-dabbler, a turkey nibbler. Last year, the kids and I ate the vegies, and my son and I tasted a single turkey slice each. (And then decided it was not for us, ever again).

This year we are committed vegans (well, that is, if you don't count our eggs from the backyard chooks and the honey we still eat. We're never very good at fitting completely into labels).

Our friends are committed carnivores. Yikes. What would we do? Would we have a big old bird on the table or not? Such a quandary!

Then our friends decided to go away camping for the rest of the year. The turkey/no turkey dilemma was avoided for another year, but it left us wondering what we should do on this special day. Celebrate it? Ignore it? Try and replicate the menu using vegan alternatives? (Tofurkey anyone?) Invite friends, or not?


I have loved our Thanksgiving menu in the past. Who doesn't love knowing that on a single day, every year, you'll put the same delicious food on the table, and share it with loved ones? It's the same fizzy, delighted feeling you get when you put the Christmas tree up. You pull out the decorations, the home-made ornaments, the tinsel. You dig out the stockings. And every single year on Christmas day, you give presents. It's a tradition. 

Like all the other important holidays, in every culture, there's a way to do it. There are particular foods you eat, rituals you follow. And I have never ever celebrated a Thanksgiving and not had a turkey sitting on the table when we sat down to eat.


So what did we do this year?

Well.

We decided to re-invent.

We decided that Thanksgiving didn't actually have to have a turkey.

(Crazy, I know!)

We decided, actually, Thanksgiving wasn't about my husband's long ago list of Must Eats.

(But it was such a good list!)

At its heart, we decided,

Thanksgiving is about sitting together with loved ones, sharing gratitude, sharing a meal.


This is true, isn't it? As yummy as the food is, as delicious as that turkey leg used to be for me, and the lashings of whipped cream all over that pie, it's the sitting and the sharing and the thankfulness that matters most.

I can't think of anyone who wouldn't agree.

(At least in part! All you Thanksgiving turkey lovers would say: Yeah. It's that, AND the turkey.)


So this year, for our Thanksgiving, we invited two new families over. Two families who are very dear to us. Two Australian families who had never done Thanksgiving before in their lives. Luckily they had no tradition to be attached to, so we could experiment on them with our very own Vegan thanksgiving menu. Lucky, unsuspecting them :)

Ah, it was a beautiful night.

We had home-made guacamole and corn chips for appetisers. Then for dinner, there was loads of garlic bread, and a roasted pumpkin and sweet potato salad with chick peas. Plus an enormous Vegan Shepherd's pie with green lentils, tons of vegies, and a crisp mashed potato topping. For dessert? Fresh mangoes and mango sorbet.

YUM.

not my pie, but it's pretty, no?
I got the recipe from here and then tweaked it a lot.
Our pie wasn't spicy. Our pie had lentils.

There were 15 of us, and we somehow fitted everyone around two tables, kids mixed in with adults. I had to borrow a pie dish and 8 plates from a friend, and one of the tables had a bedspread for a table cloth (don't tell anyone). We served the sorbet in coffee mugs because we didn't have enough bowls. The 9 kids tore about deliriously all night, and I think a 2-year-old guest might have swallowed the fooz-ball balls (we can't find them anywhere! I hope my friend doesn't find a strange surprise in her boy's nappy. Sorry 'bout that).

We were full, and more to the point,

we were so happy.

As we ate, we took turns saying what we were thankful for. The kids spoke, and the adults spoke. We spoke when we were moved to. We spoke from the heart.

The words we said were beautiful.

They floated.

Thankfulness lay itself on our skin.

It shifted inside us, finding room like children snuggling into laps.


We were thankful all the way through. We were joyous inside and out.


What a wonderful Thanksgiving it was.

What lucky, blessed people we are.

What a lucky, blessed person I am.



(And I nearly didn't go through with this wonderful night. I nearly let my recent health and possible diagnosis, overwhelm me. It would have been understandable if I'd just taken it easy. I lay in bed that morning, after writing my last post, and I thought, I'm not sure I can do this.
My son came and found me, as my kids always do. He lay down and wrapped his arms around me. He knew about my visit to the doctor and he knew some of what the doctor had said.
He said, "Mum, on a scale of one to ten, how much do you want to just lie in bed today, and read, and crochet?"
I said, "I think about an 8, or 9."
"So that's what you should do, Mum. You should do that."
But then I said, "But if you ask me how much I want these friends over, who I really want to spend tonight with, then I would have to say a 10."

Which meant we went for it.

It meant I chose love. I chose joy. I always will. To the best of my abilities, I always will.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

giving thanks: in sickness and in health

When I started this blog, in the wee hours of the morning almost two years ago, I thought it would be a homeschooling blog. Where I wrote about our journey—for me as a homeschooling mother, and for my kids as learners. I wanted to record our learning, and think about our methods. I wanted to focus on our love for learning, especially our creative learning and how important that was to our day.

Loving to learn was born. No fanfare, just a simple Plop, or perhaps a tiny Plink, and it was there.

I began to write. Very sporadically at first. More and more deeply as time passed.

I found myself writing not just about homeschool, but about parenting too. About choosing Yes in my parenting days over No.

I found myself

walking into Yes.

Into everything that meant. In our homeschool days,
in learning in general,
in our life.

Choosing Yes opened my eyes.

That choice became a turning over of the soil for me. It began a deep digging down and a deep unearthing.

It became clear that I wanted and needed to share more.

I began sharing myself, my own story.

My journey into and out of sadness, and how Choosing Yes was in fact a part of a bigger picture.

That of Finding Joy.

Seeking and finding joy, is for me,
the way I try daily to save my life. To lift and fill it.


This blog has become something Else.

In writing it, and in the passing of time, I have become something,

someone

Else.


I am

a grown up

a writer

and a mother,


but I am ALSO

and have become


a homeschooler

a learning 'facilitator'

a student—of art, crochet, cooking, maths, astronomy, physics, history, knitting, sewing, gardening and lego robots

a cook, a cleaner, a dog washer and the owner of two fairly challenging cats

a lap (available at any time)

a vegan

the mother to two bright young artists, writers, inventors, and musicians (who are an inspiration to me)

and the wife to one extraordinary, beautiful man.


I am also

officially,

someone suffering from clinical depression.

As of this moment. As of Right Now.


And

as of yesterday, after a visit to my doctor, and a long long talk,

I am also possibly, probably,

someone with bipolar disorder II.

I am someone who will have to get treatment. See a counsellor, see a psychiatrist, go to naturopaths and to doctors. Someone who must seek help. Someone who might have to go on medication for life.


Where does that fit? In this life of mine that is

so beautiful?

So full? So blessed?

How is it even possible?


And how does that fit here, into this blog?

Where and how do I write about that?

Really. Without people squirming and looking away?

How do I write and not think: This is too much. This might make people see me differently. That label is not for people like me, is it?

Is it?

It must be, if it is true. If it turns out to be part of who I am, then it is. As much as any of the things on my list of Me.



On this day, I am either moving into good-bye, because writing about this was never what this blog was meant to be about.

Or I am beginning a new journey here. Where I write about finding the joy, more and more. Where I show our day-to-day and our Good,

along with the Hard and the Healing.

I wonder which one it should be.

I do know that having been swept hard into the undertow, I'm barely writing. I know that right now, I rarely leave comments on other peoples' blogs. That makes me sad, because I have found so much support and so much inspiration from their (your) words. I know that some days putting one foot in front of the other, thinking of what to have for dinner, finding moments to smile and laugh and really BE with my family, is an effort.

So what does the future hold?


Wellness, I hope.

Joy. I believe.


It will find me giving thanks,

every single day,

for the life I have, the people in it, the love in it.


I know it will see me
walking daily into love.


Today is Thanksgiving.

Today I am scared. I am sad. I am uncertain.

And I am so utterly thankful.


.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

why I write sometimes about being sad

I'm feeling Peace, again, of the 'mostly' kind. It's a welcome feeling. It's kind of fluid, kind of wobbly, mostly kind of nice.

This is what it looks like
I think.

It looks a little bit like acceptance. Like letting life Be.
Because life keeps on Being, doesn't it? No matter what.
It Be's and Be's and Be's. And before you know it, you're Being along with it. You can't help yourself. Life's like a jig you hear—you can't help but tap your feet.

'Mostly Peace' moves, with moods that shift like the wind. A gloomy, gusty wind, sometimes. Other times, a low breeze, calm and soothing. Wind over lake water, bringing the morning calls of birds. Sometimes it brings rain—majestic, maybe, or thunderous. Sometimes it's a rain to dance to. Sometimes, it's just rain.

'Mostly Peace' looks like

looking around. And noticing

all the love that's here, in the room and outside it.

There's a whole lot of love, I've noticed. How beautiful that is to see.


'Mostly Peace' isn't 'All-the-way-through Peace.' I'd be lying if I said, 'Hey! All I see is sun!'

Because I think I've come to realise something very important.

Depression, that mysterious thing—the thing that can topple a person, bring them to their knees—the thing that sometimes (maybe even Often, or Usually) you get to leave far behind—is a part of me. As much as any other part of me might be.

I used to be so afraid of that. I have been as afraid of being sad as someone might be of shark attacks or spiders or bears.

I believed that sadness, suffering a pervasive, often inexplicable sadness some days, and succumbing to it some days, meant I'd failed. I'd failed at being Normal. At being happy. At Life.

But that's not possible.

Because look: I am here. Aren't I?

Living it.

I get out of bed, almost every single day. I cook, I eat, I talk, I laugh, most of the time. I love my children to the ends of the earth, all of the time. I love with all my heart. Faithfully and foolishly. Giddily and always. This much and this big.

I walk my dog and don't walk my dog. I weep and I don't weep. I feel hollowed out and devastated and then I don't.

And still: I am here.

Even on the hardest days.



And in this moment, I want to explain why I write about this thing called Depression.

This thing that is Being Sad.


I write about it because

living, truly living,

matters so much to me.


I write about it
because I think,
If even one person reads this and feels less alone or hollow, then my words have done something
good.

I write about it
because there are lots of us.
If you close your eyes and feel the threads of us, here we are—a translucent web, connected. Truly, you and I are not alone.

I write about it,
because what I care most about, and believe is possible

is the getting UP.

Finding the joy.


I write about that often, don't I?


More than that—I write how I find it.

Sometimes it's in something as simple as stirring porridge. Sometimes it takes a beach and a dog and holding hands with someone small. Sometimes it's hearing a bird call or seeing how light moves through a leaf, altering it. Sometimes it's in a movie, or a moment on the couch with your hands around a cup of tea. Or in talking to people you love, or sharing a meal, or getting a hug just when you need it most.

Joy is there. It's always there, waiting.


I write about looking UP.
Because I have spent months sometimes, looking down. Look up, I tell myself. I say it and say it. Look up, if you can. Even if it's only a little. Look up.


And I write about living

as much and as big as I can,

even if some days the Big is kind of small.
Even if all I have inside are small steps.

Those are wonderful. Those steps can be the most important ones you take.


I write about it all because I am so very glad for This.

This Peace, and Mostly Peace, and Elusive Peace, and the Peace that comes and surprises me just when I think I might never see it again. It's waiting there,
a lot like Joy.

I think sometimes they sit together, you know? Peace and Joy. Like two old men at the bus stop. Just waiting for you to pass by, and pick them up.



.

Friday, November 11, 2011

into the light

And quite suddenly, the sun comes.

You're looking out over the open ocean, perhaps, or a range of mountains, or some other open space. Looking out into the distance, out to the East. You're stamping your feet against the cold, perhaps. Blowing on your fingers, feeling kind of giddy. Because you are up early, mindfully. To see something extraordinary. To be a witness to light,

rising.

You see the clouds change first. They are the heralds. They hark and marvel at the light. They stream in pinks and golds. Streaks of change, the idea of it, marking the sky.

Then, there, just over the horizon. It comes in a glimmer to begin with.
Slowly, slowly, a band of light appears. A glow.

Something, here and now, is happening.
Something is possible.
Something different.

Something magical.

Suddenly it is here.


The sun appears.

Bold. Glorious. New.


And the sky shouts.

Light! Light!

Light arising!


The birds wheel and marvel; they careen into that blue like daredevils.

Light! they call.

Light arising!


And there you are. Tiny. Awestruck. Standing, watching, your mouth open, your heart lifting. Because you are witness, here and now.  To something extraordinary. You could watch this every day and you would never stop marvelling, being thankful, feeling blessed.

You press yourself into the light—it opens its arms and lets you in.





Peace be with you,

on this special day of ones,
and beginnings!

Peace be rising.

Peace be by your side.





Thursday, November 10, 2011

Look at how it shines

What do you do?

When you are a writer but you can't write?
When just looking at words exhausts you, and inside, you feel filled with silence?

What do you do when some days you can hardly speak or move because the Sad is so big?

When you can see joy, so clearly—it's right in front of you—but it skims over you, past you. It can't get in.

What do you do when you feel thin as clouds?

What do you do when you know you should feel your good life deeply, you should feel it well, but you can't? It's as though you are outside yourself. Watching the smiling and the good things and the sweetness but you can't get to it. You know, logically, the joy is there. You want so badly to have it inside, to keep it close. You wish for it—you will it inside. But it slips by.



Two nights ago, my son said, "Mum, do you think you'll ever feel happy again?"

All I could say was, "I think so, sweetheart. I hope so. I'm working on it."

How hard that moment was.



What do you do when the loss of a friendship brings back your whole history? Everything you've ever feared and everything that was devastating about your childhood—here it is again.

But now you're a Grown-up and you should be able to take it, shouldn't you? Where is your armour, woman? Where is your bounce? Why are you lying down? Why aren't you fighting?

Damn it, get up.
Why can't you stop crying?




So.

What do you do?

Well, I guess you start right here. Right now. With something simple. You make yourself raise your head. You look around. You point yourself towards the good that is. Whatever you can see.

Here, you point. And here

and here.




My girl's birthday was on Friday. She's 9 now. She is so beautiful to me.

She had such a great day. She got a windmill house and tiny toy cats to put inside. The paddles of the windmill actually wind up and move. How amazing is that?? Guess how big her smile was all day?
It was this big.

I just held her close and breathed her in.



We went to Taronga Zoo in Sydney on Saturday. With my niece who makes every day technicolour. She is so cool. My kids loved being with her. We laughed and gave hugs and saw tiger cubs! My kids got toy animals from the zoo shop and played with them the whole car ride home. AND we found vegan gluten free pizzas for dinner in Newtown—one of the hippest areas of Sydney. What a fine day that was.



Then it was my birthday on Sunday. My very own. I got cuddles and sweet presents (toy foxes and owls from my kids. So gorgeous). Dear friends came for lunch. They sang happy birthday to me in three part harmony. Can you believe it? It doesn't get more beautiful than that.



After our friends left, I walked the dog. Slowly, slowly, just the two of us, to the park and back. And then—as the kids read peacefully on their beds,
and my husband took a nap—
I went
quietly, privately,
to church.

It's not something I regularly do, or grew up with (religion and faith were not my parents' thing at all). So now I'm a grown up, I visit places of worship with wonder. I go to church services like they're an Event, like an art opening or the ballet. Each time, it feels special. Every time, I feel like a tourist, wondering how and where I can fit.  I sit there taking it all in, my mind and heart open.

Just before the service started, I met a woman who has read my blog all year, who has sent me the kindest emails, even given me a book. I walked up and said, "D__? I'm Helena." We hugged like we'd known each other for years. What a gift that was.

The kids were waiting for me when I got back.

"Where did you go, Mum?" they asked. "What did you do?"
I told them, and they said, "That's great. That's cool."

Because, if I've taught them anything, it's to explore.
To learn, to reach for things bigger than them, to dream. To let everything in.
To be open.

I try to live that, with everything I am.



Then on Monday, I had to face our loss all over again.

Friends were meeting up for lunch, but not us—we couldn't be a part of that circle any more. On Tuesday, our regular group met, but we aren't part of that any more either—I can't see how to go without causing stress.

All the lift I'd found—the positive I'd tried to build over the past three days—disappeared.

Monday and Tuesday were deep and hollow.

And I blamed myself completely. I felt (and still feel) so sorry—even without knowing exactly what we did. I keep thinking, Somehow, I missed something. Somewhere, there was a moment I could have turned this around. I could have been finer, more together, been a better friend. I could have fixed it. And then I wouldn't have this loss. I wouldn't be here, on the outside.

Childhood all over again.

Days like these you think, How do I get out? Where do I go?
Where are the ladders, where is the light?

You look out and think you see nothing.


But yesterday, in all that hollowness, I took my kids to the pool. We swam and relaxed, and in that moment my girl—who has steadfastly refused to have swim lessons—suddenly figured out how to breaststroke. Just like that.

On Monday, I took my son to circus class. He laughed with his friends and learned to spin a plate. He loved that.


Tuesday afternoon, I ran my after school writers workshop. Those kids are so fantastic. Every single time I see them I am glad.

Last night I had a date with my husband to the movies. The film was lovely and sweet. I curled my arms around my husband's arm and he kept his hand resting on my leg.

My mother watched the kids while we went out. She is so beautiful. She is staying close—like a mama bird with her wing out.


Each day I have cooked for my kids. I've taken them to every place they needed to be. When I have seen friends, I have smiled. 



This Friday is lunch with friends, old and new. I just know it will be filled with Lovely.

Tomorrow is another swim, with other good friends. Another swim to go with the one we had on Tuesday, and the one we had today, out in the glorious summer sun.

As for this moment?

Well, the frogs are croaking outside. The dog lies, splayed out, on the cool tiles. My husband is reading upstairs in bed.

The children lie in their beds with fans blowing on their skin. Their cheeks are so soft. Their smell—I could live inside it. And inside their kindness, their sensitivity, their thoughtfulness. Inside their pealing laughter. Inside the way they reach out to me,

with their wings out, sheltering.



Ah.

Look at this.

What I have.

What we have, together.

Such beauty.



Look,
I say to myself.

Look, please.

Look at how it shines.



.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

vegie wednesday: a book and a burger

Here we go, my first Vegie Wednesday post! I meant to start last week but…didn't.

Life's like that, isn't it? All unpredictable and pebbly sometimes?
But you keep on. At least, you try.

So yesterday marked day one of moving on. And today? Well, it's day one again, like tomorrow will be. Fresh and unbroken—a field of unmarked snow. Perfect for making new prints, unlike any I've made before.


Anyway, on to Vegie Wednesday! Here goes nothing, as they say…!


So I read this book the other day.

Now, there are books you read and think, "That was awesome! I couldn't put it down!" Then there are ones you think, "Yeah, it was okay, but I didn't like the part where the guy did that thing and it didn't seem that believable and I thought the language was kind of trite so anyway, meh."

And some books? Well, they change your life.

They are written in a way that completely resonates with you, all the way through. It's like the author is sitting there and simply talking. Quietly, he or she reaches in and rearranges you—the way you see things, the way you live your life, the way you want to live your life from this point on.

This book was like that.


This is the first, and probably only non-fiction book for author Jonathan Safran Foer (who wrote a book I loved, called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). He wrote it because, as a dabbler in vegetarianism  and as a new father, he wanted to know about the food he gave his son. He wanted to know, specifically, about his meat.

He researched this book painstakingly for three years. He interviewed cattle ranchers, turkey and pig farmers, activists, members of PETA and even a vegetarian who is building a turkey slaughterhouse. He read exhaustively on the subject of animal farming—hundreds of articles, reports and books. He visited industrial farms, family operated farms, and animal sanctuaries. He went deep inside the subject and came out altered.

His book is not, in fact, one huge argument against eating animals. He actually becomes friends with a number of ranchers and farmers. He never says, "Meat is murder!" but he does say this:

The way most animals are farmed today is cruel and destructive. To the environment, to communities, to people and, especially, to the animals themselves.

Foer writes that industrial farming, the farming that represents over 90% of our pork and chickens, and over 75% of our beef, didn't exist 100 years ago. Farms have become corporatised, animals have become mere products, and many independent family farms have disappeared.

Foer presents clear evidence that this type of farming harms the environment in countless ways. He shows clear connections between factory farming and public health issues—such as our growing resistance to antibiotics, the spread of food poisoning and outbreaks of disease.

As for the way the animals are treated—at best, they are treated as commodities. At worst, the treatment is inhumane. Most of these animals lack anything resembling a normal life. Their suffering is often extreme. And this, quite simply, is how most factory farmed animals live and die.

Some of Foer's book is incredibly hard reading. It should be. I mean, we all know, in some part of ourselves, that if we had to face the reality of the modern meat industry, we'd find it a terrible thing to watch.

It's hard learning, but Foer never stands up on a soap box and shouts at us to change. He doesn't say, It's all or nothing! Do this! Do that! This way is right! This way is wrong, wrong, wrong!

He just states what he learned. Bluntly sometimes. Conversationally most of the time. Then he states what he and his family chose to do as a result of his learning, what path they chose for themselves personally.

Foer chose to become a vegetarian. My family and I, who were already vegetarian, have chosen to become (for the most part) vegan. But Foer says you can make a difference with other choices—like, by simply eating less meat. You can also make a difference buying your meat from ethical farms, family farms, local farms. You can read the food labels, do research, be informed.

Foer says, "Our day to day choices shape the world." They do, even though we sometimes feel so small and insignificant. I really believe they do.

He also writes this:

"Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use 
and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty would change us."

When I read those words I thought, That, there, is the muscle I choose. The one I most want to strengthen.

Compassion. First, and most.

This book made such a difference to me. And I've read so much about the subject since. I'm still learning, investigating, making up my own mind. Our family is traveling the path that fits us,
but

there is no single path to walk.

I love that a book changed me. I love that a writer changed my life. That's how it should be. Books should do that to you, don't you think? Otherwise, they are just marks on a page. Otherwise, we are just people holding paper.

ø

Now. Who wants some lentil burgers?



We made them this week. Oh, they were deliciously divine. They were lip-smackingly scrumptious!

They kind of surprised me with their yumminess, as the last two attempts at vegie burgers haven't been so great. The previous ones needed a LOT of sauce :) But these… well, they were moist, didn't fall apart when you looked at them, and were totally tasty. A very welcome addition to our new menu (which we keep adding to, so watch out!).

Here's a link to the recipe and a fancier picture than mine, so you can salivate some more:



I should mention that for our vegie burgers, I forgot to add the bread crumbs (or rice crumbs in our case). I think you don't need them and it might have made them a bit crumbly. Our burgers were really moist and moldable (just how you want your food to be, right? Moldable. Yes.)

ø

Okay. That's it for this week's episode of Vegie Wednesday. I truly hope you enjoyed it. :)

If you want to share any tasty vegie things you've had recently, please do. I would love to think of us cooking together, leaning over the stove, sniffing, tasting, testing. Then sitting down, together, to eat.

Isn't that a beautiful thought?

.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

let's begin

.
Here's to
JOY.

And to moving forward.


Here's to letting go.

(of expectation, of outcomes, of the past. Of as much Stuff as you can)


Here's to living what is,

which is not always what you plan, or dream of, or wish for

but surprises you sometimes

with how very beautiful and true it can be.



Here's to beginnings.

To the rest of Now.

1. 11. 11

Here's to moving on.

Into clarity,

into light.


Into
LOVE.
Love.

Love.



Love without end.




'The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion'

H.H. the fourteenth Dalai Lama

Saturday, October 29, 2011

walking in another's shoes

Such a happy day we had, she and I.

Her brother off on his jazz adventure today, his dad in tow.

leaving us to four days of Us, together.


Day One saw

she and I,

planning and designing the template for some wolf toys we'll be making out of felt tomorrow!


Which included looking up wolf images on the internet

which led to us

watching silly kitten videos on Youtube (as you do)

and making a little movie of our own, of our cat trying to crawl through a too small box. (Don't know if we'll end up putting it on Youtube, but it sure was funny)



Day One saw
she and I

eating lunch together in companionable silence because for a while there she went into a deep and thoughtful daydream about a book series she read and loved (The Wednesday Tales, if you'd like to know)

And then out we went walking the dog.


She and I
talking and laughing,
laughing and talking, and

then she made me laugh so hard I bent over

and she said so simply,

"I love hearing you laugh, Mum."


Then out we went in the afternoon

to buy felt for our toys and a new backpack and a fruit smoothie treat.

She and I shared a single smoothie—she passed it over to me time and time again without me asking,

which made my insides slip and my heart tilt.


Somewhere in the day, I think it was while walking across a field, there in that brisk wind, waiting for the old dog to catch up,

she said

so simply:

"I had a dream about them last night." (About our no-longer friends, you see)

I said, "How'd it go?"
and she said,

"It was my birthday and they were there. I was so happy we were friends again. They gave me a card and a toy paper dragon. Then… I woke up."

Ah, my beautiful girl.



And then it was dinner time,
and afterwards we snuggled up together on the couch, just

She and I.

Watching How to Train Your Dragon together, our knees touching and her spoon clinking against the bowl as she took tiny bite after tiny bite of mango sorbet. And the cat was on my lap and my girl kept leaning over to pat him, saying, "Oh!" and "Oh!" because he was so peaceful lying there and she loves him so much.


And then
it was bed-time. We two girls in our Just Us house, pottering about amiably upstairs.


Lights out, and I had my arm wrapped around her. We lay dreamily talking of the toys we would make tomorrow, and

then she said

so simply:

"Now I've got no-one to show my toys to."


Ah.

My beautiful girl.



So…
we began to talk.

Of the friends she still had, the ones she could still show things to. Of the good she still had. But we talked more of loss.

Because that's what she was feeling biggest, there in the rising dark. Hurt and confusion and sorrow. Out it spilled into that dim-lit room, as the cat licked himself on the spare bed, his leg lifted into the air like a furry dancer.

We talked for over an hour. As she spoke it hit me how old my girl was becoming. How here in this moment she was growing. Her voice was clear and calm; she asked if we could write them a letter. So we did—I went down and got the computer and she dictated. A whole page of feeling. A page saying, "Please, could you explain? Because I don't understand."

Afterwards she said, "Put a smiley face in there, Mum. So it doesn't seem mean."


We didn't send it straight away. We talked more.

We found ourselves talking about what could be the issues, trying to figure it out for ourselves. We talked about what part we might have played.

And as we talked, we walked into a sense of understanding.

We put ourselves completely in the shoes of our once-friends. We imagined ourselves walking where these friends might have walked; we imagined their path and how they might have felt. We imagined what might have made them come here, to this place that no longer had us in it. We imagined why they might have needed room and time away from us.

We saw it as though—for a moment—we were them.

And suddenly my girl said,

"Oh, Mum, I think I know what it is. I understand now! I don't want to send the letter any more. I want to give them space, Mum. We should give them space."

"And love," said I.

"Yes, let's send them love. Space and love. That's what we'll do."


And then she said

so simply,

"It's time to go to sleep."


So I kissed her and left her

with the cat looped like a spiral on the spare bed

with the night-light glowing green

with the fan on

and with her

at peace.


Ah.

My beautiful, beautiful girl.

.




(Tomorrow, I'll take photos of us making our wolves. I can't wait to share them here with you. And thank you so much for your comments and kind wishes. Thank you so much for the love.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

dear friends

I want to share a story with you.

Once upon a time there was a woman who was once a girl. From almost the time she began to remember things, she

felt.

She felt the strangeness and wonder of new countries, one after another after another.

She felt the newness and isolation of going to 8 different schools, each time needing to make new friends, each time feeling so very different from the people around her.

She felt the confusion and fear that came from a home life that was often unstable.

She felt the slippery path of panic when she thought about life, the meaning of, the inevitability of death.

She was 8 when she began to have anxiety issues. She was 13 when a family friend said, "You are too sensitive. Don't be." She was perhaps 15 when she thought, "I wish you could freeze time. Just stop this, this being. Take time to get your bearings, then wake again." She was a child when life sometimes seemed impossibly big and impossibly hard.

But she kept on.

She lived. And had some extraordinary adventures and made many mistakes.

She grew up and met an incredible man and had two beautiful children. She felt everything for them so big and sometimes so hard, that now and then she was nearly swallowed by feeling. She wobbled, she stumbled, but still she kept on.

In all this, nothing changed in how deeply she

felt.

To this day, to this moment here and now, nothing has changed in how deeply she

feels.

Which means this woman, the once child, is constantly heart-open and sensitive and sometimes laid bare with feeling.

It means that she has,

—that I have—

thought, "How do I live in a world so filled with things that hurt? Everywhere I look, there is suffering. The hardest to bear is the suffering caused by human choice. In the the treatment of children, of adults in crisis, in the treatment of animals, in the treatment of the land and the sea and the sky."

How does she

how do I

go on?


Well.

I suppose it is with

tiny steps.


Tiny step

by tiny step.


And sometimes actually, by bigger steps. Sometimes skipping. Sometimes holding the hands of loved ones. Sometimes leaving footprints in the sand as waves roar beside. Sometimes with the wind at her back, driving her on, sometimes running with her arms out, dreaming of flight.

And sometimes, you make decisions that make the steps feel light, and sweet and fine.

Sometimes you make choices that put you on a path away from suffering. You choose the path that doesn't cause or bring hurt.

Those steps are beautiful.

Those are the steps that make me want to write my Vegie Wednesday posts.

Those are the steps that make us search for vegan cheese, and adapt to putting oat milk on our cereal. Those steps bring us to polenta and bean mix for dinner, and insanely delicious lentil burgers.

And there are other steps too.

When my kids see me donating to charities and organisations like Oxfam, Greenpeace and Medicines Sans Frontiers, they see me making choices that can help ease pain.

When my kids see my husband rescuing the enormous (enormous!) huntsman spider from a bedroom and releasing it into the garden, they see someone mindfully choosing a path away from suffering.

Those steps are

filled with light.



But you know, we aren't perfect.

Sometimes we mess up. Even if we don't mean to. Even if it's the last thing we ever want to do, we hurt others.

Sometimes the choices we make don't prevent suffering; they actually cause it.


Here, right now, is the path where I am walking.

Two days ago a friend, whose family we love, and have treasured being around, told me they no longer want to continue our friendship. It had been coming for a while, with them gradually slipping away. I didn't understand why—I was simply asked for space and gave it. So it's been a confusing and difficult time for me and a strange time for my kids. When the decision came, so very finally on Monday, it was devastating.

The reason? I guess it could be summed up as, "It's not me, it's you. More to the point, it's your children."

As a mother (as any mother knows), hearing criticism of your kids can be incredibly painful. But the issues raised were issues I believed we had resolved. When they came up a long time ago, I had spoken with my kids. They had listened, and agreed to change what they felt they could or should change. And then they (we) thought the issues resolved, let go.

I remember at the time thinking, "Ah, this is a bit tricky." I thought, "I guess this is the sticky stuff that life and interactions with other human beings brings you into. But the love gets you through, right? You ride it out, right? The hard stuff. Because at the core," I thought, "there is love." So perhaps I didn't work hard enough to sort it all out. I didn't realise that what seemed simply sticky to me, and would pass, was actually impassable for them. I made a mistake. I am so sad, so sorry about that.

My kids are not malicious kids; they are as sensitive as me and love as big and deep as I do. They would never have intentionally hurt their friends. But it seems they did hurt them. And I did. We did. And it wasn't mended in time, and now it's too late. Now, my kids are baffled and sad. As for me? Well, I am broken-hearted.


Tiny

steps.


I wrote a post about this on Monday, and then deleted it. It felt too raw then. It feels too raw now.  Thank you to Jessica and to Deb for the comments you left. Did you wonder where your words went? They were incredibly kind and supportive, and I am so grateful to you for them. I can put them back in the comments below, if you want? Just let me know.


And dear friends, I hope it's okay if I write about Vegie Wednesday on another day? I can call it, "Vegie Wednesday on a Friday" or something clever and inspiring like that. I'll be sharing my recipe for lentil burgers and writing about a book I read. I do hope you come by. It would be so lovely to have you here.

.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I raise my glass…

to our slower days!

Our taking time out and off days,

our finding balance days;

our days of not doing everything, and doing everything 

at the exact same time!

Because you know what happens, don't you, when you make room? 

Well, 'Everything' springs out…it can't help itself.

All the art and projects and music and ideas and reading that we were trying to find time for, that we were squeezing into our spare spaces… 

there's room for them now.

Time has opened up, laid itself out like a rug,

and we have sprawled over it blissfully, like cats in the sun. 


So there was time last week… 

1.
For one man to celebrate his birthday

and for us to give him banana fritters for breakfast 
and give him our goodies, all wrapped up
and to walk on the beach with him 
and take him out to dinner in his new shirt and tie.

It was a glorious day (for all of us! And it makes me wonder, with all the joy this man brings every single day, whose birthday was it really?)

Happy Birthday, mr beautiful. I love you.

 doesn't he look handsome in his new shirt?

2. There was time…

For a girl to be given an early birthday present from her Nana last Sunday

to go see Mary Poppins! 


In a gorgeous theatre in Sydney,


with two dear friends and a brother and a mum and a dad and a Nana and an aunt!

Plus we had divine Thai food in a restaurant before the show. 
It had this wood carving on the wall, which was carved out of a single piece of wood. Wow. (That's a lot of elephants in the room)


And there was mango sorbet for dessert after the show
and we caught the train there and back 
(which was so. much. fun)



Oh there was such joy bursting out! Three girls and one boy were laughing so hard sometimes they had to call time out on the jokes 
just to breathe.

This was the Best-est Ever Day I was talking about last Monday. It was the kind of day you keep close; you take photos of it, inside your mind, all day. The kind of day you don't ever forget. 

Thank you so much, Nana. I feel so incredibly lucky, having you as my mom and as the Nana to my kids. 

My cup runneth over. 


3. And there was time for…

Joining a food co-op!

How fun it was, to browse inside this tiny store, getting to know how it worked, meeting the people working and shopping there. While my boy did his music lessons, my girl and I scooped gluten free pasta into brown bags, filled jars with pistachios, baker's yeast, and organic popcorn, and we smiled at the babies. 

I have never really been a whole food/bulk food kind of person before (didn't know where to look, how to start, how to move into a food world of organic, whole and simply good). Now it just makes sense to go that direction. 

A new path will do that to you—have you noticed that? You decide one thing, then all these interesting opportunities, contacts, friendships and discoveries open up right in front of you, because this new path and you are a Fit. In this and SO many other ways, this journey is just like our homeschool one. (And how that makes me smile!)


4. There was time
to hunt for vegan cheese… 

and we found it! Scrumptious pizzas on Monday night. Hooray!

(Pizza should get its own star in Hollywood. Don't you think?
Or be awarded the Nobel prize for Awesomeness. Really)

5. And there was time 

to go to the library,

and come home with bags full of beautiful books.

Like



Awesome books that my kids have been poring over for days. 

Yum. 

And I truly believe libraries are some of the most magical places on Earth. You step in and come out different every time. At least, with different exciting possibilities, whole new worlds in your arms. I can't think of anything better. 


6. And there was time 

to write for days and days and days and days and days and days and days!

My girl is over 2,000 words into a chapter book she's writing on the computer. She's typing it all herself! She does it first thing in the morning, often straight after breakfast, at all times through the day, and sometimes at night instead of reading. She is a word girl on fire. 

And it's a great story—we're loving each instalment. Today we talked about illustration, and she and I started doodling the characters. That turned into her sitting at the table, drawing page after page of characters and scenes from her story. She had such a big smile on her face.

My boy is working on a longer piece too. It's set in this ancient, mythical land and is really complicated. It has him translating English into Spanish and Latin, and juggling a whole bunch of different characters. I've been talking to him about editing recently, about how to use dialogue to create scene, and how fun it can be to pare down a section to its finest bits. He's completely interested—loves getting feedback, just like his sister.

I feel so inspired around them both. It's so great talking to them about their stories. I feel like we are three writers, all of us driven, all of us excited, all of us equals.

7. There was time too,

for a visit to a Buddhist temple with a friend

which was delicious


and peaceful 


and just plain fun.



Are you full yet? 'Cause I'm not done!

Because 


8. There was time 

for a boy to create a piece of music, a jazz piece, and play it for his dad.
Who then wrote it out on manuscript paper
and then they worked on it together and wrote it out on Sybellius (a music software program) and together they edited it. 

The plan is to arrange it for my son's combo, and perform it at the end of Term. Kind of awesome, I think. We've been singing this song for days!



9. There was time for 

a boy and a girl to go to art class, where they sketched copies of portraits by other artists.

A girl was happy with what she did (and doesn't want me to post it here. She's pretty private that way)

And a boy took his sketch and artist's copy home 
to continue working on it, and working on it, and working on it.

A boy in his Element (at least, in one of his Elements!): 



10. 

There was also time for a girl to go to a birthday party
and 
for a whole family to go another birthday party straight after the first birthday party!

I tell you—we are social animals :) 

11.

Of course, there was time for a bike ride. 

Bliss.

Enough said. (I was too busy zipping along in the sunshine with the kids careening in front and behind, all of us exploring, talking, laughing, to take photos!) 



 And finally…? 

(Yes, I'm stopping after this!)

12.

There was time for a boy to rehearse with his Latin Jazz Ensemble, which he just loves.

This coming Friday, the Ensemble are off to perform at a National Jazz Festival. Their band director is none other than mr. beautiful! In one of their songs, my boy will be solo-ing on timbales. Boy, is he excited. 

My girl and I aren't going, because two days of driving and two days of concerts just aren't my daughter's thing. (Not yet, anyway) 

So the boys are off on A Grand Adventure,

and my sweet girl and I will find, you know, a few fun things to do ourselves. :)

(We are actually off to this festival on Sunday. We can't wait. Another train ride up to Sydney. Lots of yummy food! Not that I'm ever driven by my tummy. No no, not at all)


Ah.

We're all of us so excited. 

For the future, and for now. 

For our fine adventures—

the ones we take on together, and the ones we do alone—

and for 

having time to savour them.