I did it!

Yesterday, I took my last photo for the Grateful 2016 book 🙂

The book is so full it won’t close. And it’s representative of the year which has been full to overflowing too! And as I flick through it’s pages, with dodgy polaroids, crossed out words and often indecipherable hand writing, I truly am grateful for 2016. It hasn’t been the easiest one, by far. It has challenged me, caused me to look at myself with stark honesty and it has shown me that, aside from God, I really am capable of nothing. He has sustained, comforted and been by my side through the adventure of this year.

And as I look down the barrel of 2017, there are things on the horizon that scare me, things that I know will bring me joy and plenty of ‘normal’ life in-between. Perfect 🙂

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Remember me?

Gosh, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I was here! I’m going to blame uni for the absence….that and some big changes for us work wise 🙂

Yesterday I sat my first and final exam for my first semester at uni *cue big sigh of relief. Whilst it has taken up my spare time, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m already looking forward to March when I’ll do another two subjects.

Now that I have a little bit more time, I thought I’d get back into posting my Grateful Book entries every day. And check out the book now! It won’t even close, it’s that full 🙂14804937_10211000219778283_1388735858_n

So stay tuned for another post tonight with today’s gratefulness 🙂

Day 4 – the sweet, sweet rain

We’ve had unseasonably cool (ish) weather for this time of year and we are definitely not complaining. Today was mainly overcast with some lovely, welcomed rain falling this afternoon. I don’t know many people who don’t love the rain; it’s biggest drawback for me is that it makes me want to snuggle up on the couch with a book or a movie and drink copious amounts of tea, coffee and wine instead of doing my work 🙂

It was nice not to have to water our little veggie patch today and instead watch it almost instantly turn a shade greener. And I’m especially grateful for all the rain that is falling on our drought stricken areas of late. Our farmers certainly deserve some kindness from our earth and it’s weather right now.

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Day 3 – that man o’ mine

(Disclaimer: this is the first but it won’t be the last, mushy post about my husband. I incur his wrath every time I write about him but hey, I like to live on the wild side.)

Today, as most days, I woke up to the question “And how’s the most beautiful woman in the world this morning?” Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder that’s for sure! But it was the question that followed shortly after that really made me grateful for him today because it had the word ‘bacon’ in it. Yep, a lazy Sunday brunch cooked for me was definitely welcomed today 🙂

Later, we decided to go for a quick drink, or ‘pint’ as I now like to say after my England trip. After visiting four places that were closed, yes, you read that right, we found a nice corner table in a pub and had a paddle of beer each, nicely complemented by some sweet potato chips.

This man is someone who frequently tops my grateful list 🙂

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Day 2 – Art shop sales

Today I am grateful for art shop sales which allowed me to stock up on canvasses and a couple of tubes of my favourite paint. And a new paintbrush. Oh how I love a new paintbrush!

So, painting (and writing that manuscript) will be my down-time creative relief while studying 🙂 I can’t wait to start the study so I can feel stressed, need the down time and paint!

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Father’s Day thanks

Recently, it was the 60th anniversary of my parent’s first date. They were 15 and 16 years old and went to the cinema to see Carousel. To celebrate the occasion, my father surprised my mother with flowers, her favourite chocolates and a DVD of the movie, which they spent the afternoon enjoying together.

I was blessed to grow up enfolded in this 60 year love affair. One of my memories is of my father buying my mother an orchid flower every week for what seemed years. My mother, home cook extraordinaire, was constantly cooking his favourite everything. They never miss an opportunity to hold hands or say something wonderful about the other. I never once, to this day, have heard one of them say something degrading about the other, regardless of whether the other one was out of earshot or not.

I learnt a lot about myself as a woman and what it meant to be a wife and mother from my father. It might seem strange that I didn’t say mother there but here’s the thing – from my father I learnt my intrinsic worth and value by watching how he treated my mother. From my mother I learnt many other things but what to expect from a man, how I deserve to be treated and valued was taught by my father. He taught me that mothering was of huge importance by appreciating all my mother did in the home. He never saw her role as ‘less than’ simply because she didn’t go out to work. He never questioned ‘what she did all day’ or diminish the countless, often thankless, jobs she did to keep the household with five children just nine years apart, running smoothly. My father taught me that I could be and do anything – that gender was no barrier.

We learn so much from our fathers. And more often, we learn the things that aren’t directly said or done to us. My father never sat me down and told me how much he loved my mother or how much he appreciated her, he didn’t need to. I could see it and feel it.

Like I said, I know I had what many would describe as an idyllic childhood, although it wasn’t perfect, it was wonderful. And I know that many, many people don’t have the childhood I had; sadly, many fathers are less than ideal and some cause much more harm than good. And because of this, we often downplay the importance of fathers or father-figures in society.

So this is a shout-out to all the great fathers out there this Father’s Day. To the fathers who didn’t have great fathers to model on but are turning it around for the next generation, to the fathers who value their wives and mothers, to the fathers who are teaching their girls to fish and play soccer and letting their sons ‘do their hair’ or supporting them in the arts. To all the fathers out there who are just doing a damn fine job of doing the best they can.

You are important. You are teaching your children more than you will ever realise. And one day, they will thank you.

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Dad, for my past, my present and my future – thank you. Love you longtime x

Three wishes: what would they be?

If you had three wishes, what would they be? Would they have been different when you were younger? Do you think they will change as you get older? How about when you were around 11 years old? What would they have been?

My 11 year old’s teacher asked this question of them recently at school. It then went around the class with each student responding with what their three wishes would be.

When she was telling me about it, I really did not expect what she said next. “Apart from me and two others, everyone said they wanted an unlimited amount of money.” One child even followed this up by saying it was what he wanted because then he would be happy.

I was staggered. And deeply saddened. What on earth are we, as parents, teaching our children?

This school has a fairly high percentage of white collar parents, so it’s not a case of underprivileged children wanting money because of a real need. And even having said that, I wonder what the answer to that question would be from a different socio-economic demographic – quite possibly it would be these kids who would demonstrate a better understanding of what brings satisfaction and happiness in life.

When I was 11, I think my answer would have been something along the lines of 1) a new Barbie doll 2) another pet 3) that my brother would disappear, or at the very least leave me alone!

Yet, the majority of these children said money was on the top of their list and that if they had money, they had no need of the other two wishes. What a terrible insight into this future generation.

Do these children have this view on money because their parents emphasise the need for more and more money? Or is it the media, constantly telling us that we need the latest of everything? Or is it social media, which gives a first hand insight into other’s lives and ‘all they have’ compared to us? It’s most likely a combination of all three but I would be willing to bet that how their parents view money would weigh as the most influential.

Kids pick up on everything we do, say and show – even when we don’t realise it and especially when we don’t want them to!

Do you constantly say you don’t have enough money? Do you show how much you value money by working extra hours on the job and spending less time at home? Do you have to have what your friends have and throw a two year old tantrum if you don’t get it?

As parents or care-givers, we need to be checking ourselves. We are still the loudest voice in their world and it very much matters what we say.

Have you ever heard of someone on their deathbed saying they wish they’d made more money? What they do say is they wish they’d spent more time with family; valued the friendships they’d had; and enjoyed life.

Let’s not wait until it’s too late to realise what our ‘wishes’ should be and let’s help our children recognise the right things to value, now rather than later or not at all.

Important conversations

The other day, my eleven year old came home with the school-set task of writing a speech on cyber bullying. One of the benefits of being slightly skilled with words is that one’s children deem it useful to have one read over their work; and this has the added benefit of me being very up to date on what they’re studying at school.

I was startled that at eleven, she had been shown a video of a girl who had ended her life due to cyber bullying. I was already formulating my complaint to the school, deciding which teacher to take it to first etc etc. And then, as the discussion went on, I realised how thankful I was that she had been given this assignment. It had paved the way for a great conversation on cyber bullying, its effects and sometimes tragic consequences.

It’s scary to talk about these issues; issues like suicide, self-harm, depression, eating and anxiety disorders. They make us afraid; as though talking about them and acknowledging their existence will somehow beckon them to our door. Sure, we all know in our heads that talking about these issues actually reduces the chances, but in our hearts, it’s still scary.

It’s confronting to hear these words coming out of my barely pubescent daughter’s mouth. And part of it, actually, nearly all of it, is that I don’t want her to see this ugly, awful, nasty side of life – of people. I don’t want her to be confronted with the cruelty that is cyber bullying and the devastating ramifications of it all. I want her to still believe that bad things don’t happen to good people, that “it will never happen to me” can be true, that if we just all try hard enough to get along, peace will reign. And I want to believe those things too. Oh, how desperately I want to believe them.

By the end of the conversation, we had talked about the reasons why bullies bully, why it effects some people more than others, and, importantly, what to do and how to feel if it ever happens to her. We talked about what to do if we see someone being bullied. We talked about social media, its dangers and its benefits. We talked about when to believe what someone is saying to you or about you. We talked about who to believe and who not to believe. We talked about remembering that God made us and that His opinion is the only one that matters. We talked about how hard it is to remember that sometimes. We talked. And we talked.

What started out as a conversation about an assignment, became one of  the most important conversations we will have.

And the real kicker at the end?

“I love talking to you, Mum. Especially about things like this that really matter.”

Some conversations are hard to have; have them anyway.

 

 

Turning up

Today we went to a funeral. And that’s probably all I can say about that fact right now. It’s too tender and raw to put into words on a screen. But I will soon because writing…well, it’s kinda my thing and how I process life, in case you hadn’t noticed.

But, having said that, my husband made a comment after the service that has been rolling around my mind. He wasn’t disrespecting anyone by this question, more a wondering about us as humans. He said, “People turn up to funerals but who of them turn up during life?”

There’s all sorts of reasons to go to a funeral; some of them are right, and some aren’t. It got me thinking about the people whose funerals I would go to, should I hear of their passing. It goes without saying that I would go to the funerals of family and close friends, but what about those I maybe haven’t seen in awhile, or have lost touch with, or who I share a past with but not so much of the present? Those who I don’t brush up against week to week; relationships that time has eroded, or distance has separated.

You see, as a wise friend once gently reminded me, some friendships have seasons, and it’s okay to let them go and the letting go doesn’t void the friendship or the lessons and blessings received within it. With other friends, neither time, distance or lack of interaction can dim the love and catch ups that are months or even years apart, seem like just a day from the last one.

Today challenged me to, if not rekindle relationships, then to at the very least let people know what they meant to me and how they contributed to my life. After all, standing at their funeral may support their family and give evidence of my love and thanks but it won’t impact the person who has passed.

Don’t stand at a funeral thinking of missed opportunities and regretting not seeing more of that person, or telling them how you felt. Imagine standing at a funeral, free of guilt and regret, with nothing left unsaid. And the beauty of it is that it wouldn’t just change how you feel at the funeral, it would change how you feel in life.