Month of Mini-Motivation

 

I sit here, looking at our sudden deep water frontage and a river knocking at my back door after rain so voluminous who knew the world could produce such a thing. I have four kids on school holidays jailed inside the house and never enough food.  Opposing this, I also have that New Year thing swirling about in my body – you know where you want to change something, refresh life with a deep cleansing breath, or complete a much-desired-to-be-completed task. I’m trying to get motivated to get into writing again, after a holiday from it. My task to complete is a big structural edit of 100,000 words – it’s that part of my fabulous authoress’ job which is something new to learn, but also, from this angle of having yet to begin, appears like it could be tear-jerkingly boring.  

I look up motivation on TED and surprisingly, there is nothing on there to fix my problem. How dare they!

However, I do come across something which germinates an idea.

30 days of something new (http://www.ted.com/playlists/321/talks_to_form_better_habits).

Ah pfft, I’ve tried that, thought me, as I get a 5th round of breakfast for the children who are behaving in a manner which is not at all conducive to grand or refreshing ideas.

 I’ve tried 10 minutes of mediation a day.  I’ve got my writing every day thing sorted. I’ve spring cleaned the springs right clean out of the house. Etc Etc. Where do I find a refresh on the motivation front within these good, but old habits?

As I lock myself in the bathroom, yelling out the the word “cleaning” to the children (a word which usually makes them suddenly busy or pretending not to be there) in an attempt at some peace and quiet, it comes to me:  How about 30 days of spending some dedicated time outside?

Sounds simple, and like something I should have been doing all my life.  But we all know that it’s easier said than done. General life and busyness just seems to get in the way all the time.  

A good time to start is the school holidays, when routine is banished and the best thing to do is get kids outside.  These holidays I will follow them out, rather than relish in a stolen moments peace in a quiet house.  (Really Felicity? Yes: Really).

We were just blessed with a wonderful bit of family travel where, although we had the comfort of a nice hotel, we made the most of our time in a beautiful place and got outside. Even if it was just sitting and watching the outside, instead of the TV.

Well, Australia is a beautiful place too. Perhaps I can recreate some of that holiday freshness. Be grateful for what I have. If nothing else, the wide open sky and rawness of mother nature gives you moments of that big perspective on life. And hopefully some motivation and inspiration! (now I’m remembering this blog post – Finding Inspiration)

I think I’ll try and do some, if not all, of this outside time in my own backyard.  So that when school goes back and life ramps up again, I have the best chance of continuing the routine. I’ll need to think of things to do in my outside time – ‘cause just looking at the weeds ‘aint gonna cut it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Gardening. I love it but never afford myself the time
  • Sitting in our new outdoor chairs – bought, surprisingly on New Year’s Eve, for the purposes of relaxing in our own outdoor space – this ‘outside’ idea has been germinating a while now, I realise. In our chairs I can read, write, watch my kids, look at the sky, feel the sun’s warmth in my bones, perhaps even snooze (oh, hang on, I’m a parent – closing your eyes indicates to children they are hungry even though they just ate 72 kilos of meat).
  • Play soccer with my kids
  • Play basketball with my kids
  • Swing on the swings with my kids
  • Lay on my new beach towel my mum bought me for Christmas 

    feet
    Just missing a cocktail
  • Picnics and dinner outside
  • Board games outside
  • Morning coffee outside

And…

  • Who knows what else!

Are you coming? 

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Hope v Fear

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

These words bring so forceful a feeling, an image, a time from the past, into my mind that I am reliving it as if it were now.

It’s a time when our family was holding on to hope as if it were the stairway to heaven. When we were waiting in that brace of not knowing about illness, within our baby girl.   

This is what I wrote:

Lately I have been trying to explain some good news we’ve had in our family.  It goes something like this:
‘Our daughter has a shadow of bone growing in the empty cavity of her hip joint. She will be susceptible to arthritis and will be disabled.’  
I often get the raised eyebrow, silently asking, and this is good news?
The rest of it goes:
‘The other option was that the bone had disappeared all together. This would mean our daughter will be susceptible to arthritis and will be disabled.   But at least now there’s hope.’
That is the only difference at this stage, a word, a feeling – hope.
Hope that she may grow a 100 per cent normal hip ball joint.  Hope that she won’t even have a limp, let alone be the proud owner of a wheelchair.  And – please God – hope that she has no pain.
I sound rather dramatic to myself at times, when all these words come out of my mouth.  I am well aware on the scale of sick children we are on the 90th percentile of hope.  Every time we see our wonderful doctor at Sydney Children’s Hospital I am quickly pulled into line with my dramatics.
However, at times the issue has swamped me. 
But now we have hope.
And I’m telling you, it feels better than Christmas.

Can you remember a time you have held onto hope over fear?

hope-life-people-quotes-Favim.com-426177_large

The smell of safety

It’s enough to singe the nose hair. Or at least relieve my nasal spray of it’s duties.

Is it alcohol?  My wine definitely doesn’t smell like that. Thank goodness, the old glass of patience.

Astringent might be how one would describe it.  The AK47 of germ terminator’s, might be another good description.

I’m talking about the pink, squirty liquid, in a bottle attached to the entrance wall of every hospital ward.  In the Children’s Hospital, it was attached to the end of every bed.

It never got my hand, always the floor, my shirt, my arm. And a little bit in my hand.  The nurses seemed to be able to do it correctly, heaven knows they had enough practice. hand sanitiserWash hands in the sink, dry hands with paper towel, squirt hands with pink stuff and rub rub rub for a very long time. For Every. Single. Patient. Sometimes twice for the one patient. Must have good hand muscles, those nurses.  I bet they’re good at opening jam jars.

I wasn’t worried that I’d squirted the rest of my environment with the thin pink liquid. Sometimes I even did it on purpose. Like the time someone let their sibling into our pod, coughing and sneezing all over the place. I would have liked to shower him in the stuff.

That pink liquid most reminds me of the day I can pinpoint as my rock-bottom.

On Day 1,300,400 (or so it seemed), a truly delightful thing called the Noro Virus came to visit our entire ward, pushing each patient down in a hurl of vomit and diarrhea like some sort of macabre Mexican wave.  Miss Molly and I were isolated in a room with another Noro family, simmering, behind closed doors.  In that room I became Oh Oh OCD, squirting pink stuff everywhere – all over Molly’s pram, all over the sheets before I lay her on them to change her nappy, all over my hands every single second I spent in that room, all over the tray of food the trolley dolly left at our door, the spoon, the edge of the bowl, the napkin before I wiped her face. Not a speck left un-pink stuffed. I was like a Ghostbuster with it.

I did her hands constantly too, every now and then wondering if it was ok to smother a baby’s pristine skin with something that could kill a virus so evil it shut the whole ward off from the rest of the hospital. nurse baby handsWho cares.  All my efforts to stick to the vaccination schedule with military precision, only breastfeed my baby, make all her pureed wholesome food from scratch, knowing every little thing that went into her body, hadn’t stopped her from contracting Pneumococcal disease and nearly dying. So bugger you, natural schmatural. It’s heavy duty drugs and cleaning products henceforth.

It was here, in this Isolation room, that I could not go on – and if I couldn’t go on, who was going to carry my precious little girl on in her battle for life?

I was mad, upon reflection. 

My true madness was yet to come though.

I thought I knew scared – having the thing you love most raced onto an operating table, and having to say “goodbye” to a body so tiny she could have lain across the operating table rather than along it.  Yet this paled in comparison to what was coming when I re-entered life. 

No, I didn’t know scared, til we left the safe confines of those hospital walls. I missed that constant stinging smell of the pink squirty at the back of my nasal passage and in my head cavity. It had come to mean safety to me. No, I didn’t know scared when we were enveloped by the layers of medical knowledge and the humane instinct of nurses.  There was no true scared, when surrounded by the life saving abilities of doctors who would come round two or three abreast, twice a day, to check if my little Molly was being invaded by deadly bacteria, yet again.

When we left, that just left me.

It was then I knew scared.

 

This creative writing excercise was on how delving into the memory of smell can invigorate into your writing.  What smell brings out deep emotions in you?  A childhood frangipani tree?  The smell of apple muffins wafting into the backyard? 

My heart, newly born

You put your head on my chest: First your ear, then your squashy little cheek, then your perfect, faintly-haired crown nuzzles down with a sigh, above my heart.  Your head and my chest become one, together, there is no difference between us anymore.

www.henphotography.com.au
http://www.henphotography.com.au

Just like when you were growing inside of me, only better.  Better, because now I can touch you.

You need to know I’m there for you. You need protection because a noise scared you; you need comfort because you’re tired; you need to hear my heart underneath your body which constantly says:  Love.  You.  Love.  You.  Love.  You. 

I need you too, my soft little miracle.  It’s a need that should be called an urge, so strong is my desire to envelope you, consume you, smother you in my love and protect you fiercely and forever. “Eat you up!” as I often whisper in your embrace.

Then you place your little pudgy arm on my chest alongside of your head.  Your fingers look like they’re squeezing out from underneath the pink mound of your hand. A fat hand – til I was blessed with a baby, I never would have thought there was such a thing. I press my finger into it’s velvety beanbag, full with the effort of my whole being that I’ve put into you – all the love, all the carefully chosen food, the age-old marvel of breastmilk, my upmost protection, the lessons of living, the settling into slumber, the softest of soft touch, the tears we’ve cried together, the cuddles and rocking in the dark hours of night, the song “Daisy” which I sang as “Henry” over and over, all the love… Definitely all the love. It’s all in that fat little hand, resting upon my chest.

I feel pulses of your love come out of your palm.  It travels through my densest bones, across my muscles taught to rigidity from carrying you around; through lungs busy with important work – but nothing as important as you.  I can only feel these tiny soft pulses if I am very, very still: but once I do, they come, and come, and grow, and swell, flowing through my body, over my heart, riding the flow of my blood, buzzing from my heart out to my arms up to my scalp and down to the balls of my feet on the ground. I can no longer ignore it; it is suddenly like electricity, pulsing my whole being with a love that at first I cannot believe. It is all consuming, defies my understanding, just a physically overwhelming pulsating inside me. It makes me grit my teeth, my muscles strengthen upon themselves so as not to crush you, but so great is my physical need to give my love a purpose, and outlet, that I just might. 

www.henphotography.com.au
http://www.henphotography.com.au

I look back at your fat little hand, laying there on my chest, your eyes now closed, your heart listening to mine:  Love.  You.  Love.  you.  Love.  You.  Love.  You. 

I never want it to end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kicking goals

In this big wide world, there was once a little boy who was crippled with shyness all the early years of his life. While his friends were climbing trees and playing on swings, this little boy would cry behind my legs, with an intense fear of being social. In later years, it would be suggested at school that we seek outside help for his confidence issue.

But, he loved kicking balls. Just as he was about to walk for the first time, he swung his leg forward and kicked a ball – then took a step. We took him to a kid’s sports class, in the hope that if he was kicking the ball he would forget he was in a social situation. Slowly we got there. 

Every single afternoon since he could walk, he has been out in the backyard, kicking that ball.

As he grew older, he began to play lunchtime soccer at school.  His confidence took a sudden leap.  His personality shone through, and the kids at school saw he was funny and clever, just as we have always known. He made a good circle of friends and laughed all the time.

He worked his way up to one of the top soccer teams for his local club.  He practised and did more training, and made up soccer games if there were enough kids hanging around: Wherever he could, he kicked that ball. The praise was constant.  Another club wanted him for their top team. This year, his plan was to play for his school – that is all he talked about. I was proud of him for striving so confidently toward a goal.  Of not being frightened anymore.

But, as I looked at him when he got in the car on the afternoon of the trials, all I could see was sadness and shame. He did not get in to the school team.

Later, he sobbed, something boys his age try not to do. And so did I.  I felt like I was losing the young man who had worked so hard toward living a simple life of childhood joy. All those years of self-confidence was being poured into a tissue. Shame is an emotion no child should have to bare.

The only way to take this, was as a lesson.  We made it as black and white as possible – he is a good soccer player, and he should not doubt that.  We wrote down all the things which told us he was a good soccer player. He remembered the specific words of coaches, and parents, and friends. We talked about how he could use this lesson to make him strive harder to attain the next level up in his soccer. And how this, was unfortunately just one of those things.

After he’d wiped away his tears for the last time, he looked at me and said: “Mum, I just wanted to play more soccer.”

kicking goals

I thought, am I looking at this in the wrong way?

The point seemed to be not that his self-confidence was smashed. Of course, being good at soccer gives him self-confidence.  And yes, he was embarrassed in front of his friends when his name was not called out for the team.

But, he was showing himself as strong enough to not place lingering importance on that feeling. He was being brave enough to let it pass, to not give shame any of his precious time. To know that his friends still thought he was funny and clever.  That this was just one of those things. And he could wallow, or he could get on with finding some other way of playing more soccer.  

Because he loves playing soccer. And when you do something you love, you want to be the best at it. And, setbacks can be good, because they can make you realise that it really does matter to you that you play more soccer – get better at it, learn more, immerse yourself more in something that gives your life passion and lots of big fat oomph!

It left me asking if my own passion for writing and this journey toward being a fabulous authoress is as impenetrable as my son’s is for soccer. Can I kick these hurdles in the backside like my nine year old has just done? Can I be that grown up? Can I be that fearless in the face of inevitable criticism?

The next day my beautiful, brave boy wrote some words for a debate.  “I love school more than holidays because I get to play soccer with my friends, and I also get to try harder at my soccer at lunchtimes so I will get into the school team next year.” 

He said it front of his whole year.