I come from the land down under

Over the last week or so, my good friend Karen S Elliot has hosted an International blog tour, which has been just wonderful.

So far we have read about beautiful, wild Ireland from Niamh Clune, rustic, charming Scotland from Heather L Reid and diverse, colourful India from Prem Rao. You can go to Karen’s blog to read these fabulous posts.

Now it’s my turn.

Hop on over to Karen’s blog, The Word Shark, to read what I wrote about the best country in the world (okay, so I’m biased!).

Thanks, Karen, for having me on your blog 🙂 It’s been bonza!

Finding the balance

Just this week, the precarious balance between life and death has once again been impressed upon me, with the unexpected passing of a long time business associates wife.

Death is all around us, and is part of life, I know. So how do we live with that juxtaposition? How do we live openly in our relationships, whilst still making the most of every moment, not getting caught up in the small stuff and treasuring each day with a person.

That balance can be a hard one to maintain.

In the face of irritating quirks and habits that we all have, it’s hard to remember that those very things would be things we would miss, if that person were no longer around.

It’s hard to keep perspective on savouring each moment with our children when they are whinging, demanding and frustrating.

It’s hard to remember all the good character traits of our spouse when they disappoint us and let us down. It’s hard to remember their good points at two in the morning when you can’t sleep for their snoring! (Sorry darling. I know I keep you awake some nights!) When their socks litter the bathroom floor, they are grumpy with ‘man-flu’ and they forget to bring the washing in, even though you asked nicely – six times!, it’s hard to remember that they cooked tea the night before and gave you a back rub.

So how do we live with this constant see-saw of everyday life and the knowledge that it can all be snatched away in an instant?

The only answer I have come up with is to live in honesty.

It would be wrong to live in a constant state of denial about the things in people that irritate us. Just as it would be wrong to never acknowledge that each moment is precious and could be taken in a split second.

If we keep the communication lines open, remember to verbally appreciate those around us and all they do, we can live with no regrets.

And living with no regrets is what it is all about. It doesn’t mean we can’t air our true feelings about certain things, it doesn’t mean we have to ‘settle’ for things in a relationship that need changing.

Rather by living honestly, we can more freely share those things, safe in the knowledge that those issues don’t effect our relationship as a whole but enriches it. When we really accept our partner, children, friends, warts and all, we can have relationships that are honest and open, with not a regret in sight, no matter what circumstances may bring.

The meaning of life

Okay, so I lied in the title. I wish that a simple blog post, from a simple writer, really could answer that age-old question, but alas, I fear it will not.

The meaning of words, is what the title really should say. Funny how words are supposed to have the same meaning to everyone (well, at least in the lucky country, we should all know what we are talking about) but often don’t. They tend to get mixed up, leaving the speaker and the listener equally as confused as one another.

Take the other day for example. My parents are at our place (nice, all good so far), they begin telling us about a mutual friend and where she is at (nothing unusual there) and then my dad says an expression that I take to mean one thing, which is quite different from what he actually meant. He looked slightly confused at my response but I didn’t think much of it because that happens all the time (only joking, dad!). Later in the conversation, it dawned on me that I had got ahold of the wrong end of the stick entirely. Man, my sides nearly split from laughing so hard.

It really struck me later how easy it is to get your wires crossed in conversation. So often what we say, we don’t actually mean and vice versa.

Meaning what we say and actually saying what we mean are two different things. Often our meaning and our words are at a juxtaposition, causing all sorts of problems in our everyday life.

Sometimes, saying what we mean is hard. Finding the right words to articulate our feelings is tricky. Too often, words have leapt from our mouths, only for us to realise split seconds later that that’s not what we meant at all.

Sometimes, meaning what we say is hard, too. Saying we will help a neighbour move house or saying we will visit a difficult relative are hard to say and really mean. Words seem to fly unbidden from our lips and then before we know it, we are spending our Saturday loading and unloading the neighbours ute full of furniture.

You know what I think the lesson to learn is? Thinking. If we really thought before we spoke, we would both mean what we say and say what we mean.

Oh and also not assuming your parents know the meaning of the phrase ‘cutting someone’s grass’ would help too.

It’s just small change

We have a family piggy bank. It sits on the bench and any coinage that is left unattended by a hapless family member is soon deposited into the belly of said pig. As you can imagine, it gets fed quite often and it isn’t long before we are emptying it out to make room for more. The coins are then placed in a ziplock bag ready to be taken to the bank and converted into ‘proper money’ as my eight year old calls it.

Today we did a big count up and the sum of all the bags is nothing to be sneezed at. A nice tidy little sum at our disposal. Much discussion always then ensues regarding the dispersement of the stash. Holiday treat money? Divvying it up between us? A night out for dinner and the movies? The possibilities are endless and all appealing.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly it all adds up. Fifty cents here, fifty cents there – feels like slow growing but before you know it all those fifty cents make up fifty dollars.

It made me think about our words and actions. Lots of good words deposited into a child turns into a healthy self-esteem. Consistent small good deeds turns into a lasting relationship.

The beauty is in the slow growing of it. If we just handed our kids a cheque, as opposed to them watching the coins grow and seeing the steady increase of bags full of silver, the excitement and anticipation wouldn’t be there. It would still mean something to get some money but it wouldn’t be quite so sweet.

Just like in life.

The impact of meaningful words said once is not as powerful as the smaller, consistent words of encouragement and love. We are much more profoundly affected by an ongoing positive deposit into our lives than a lump sum.

Children who receive a steady stream of love, shown daily in varying ways grow up to be well adjusted, balanced adults with a strong sense of self awareness and confidence.

Telling our children that they are beautiful, sweet, funny and kind at random times throughout a day will mean so much more for their lives than a speech at their 21st birthday party full of things you have never said before.

A marriage full of regular ‘moments’ is far more likely to last the distance than if both parties only show their love on big occasions. Give me the small gestures of love, like a cup of tea in bed, flowers for no reason, a wink across the room, over a grand gesture of a surprise overseas trip (although, I am happy to accept that, if anyone is offering!).

How are you depositing into your loved ones piggy banks? Are you looking to make a one-off lump sum payment, thinking that’s enough? Or are you committed to making smaller contributions regularly?