Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What to value above all else

A friend posted the above pic on Facebook. It rings true, doesn't it? How many times have you had similar conversations with people? MANY, I bet. Success, it feels at times, is measured by what we have, not how we feel.

I've always known that being happy is worth far more than owning stuff. My parents taught me this. They were the happiest couple I know, and they had what they needed, nothing more. I don't remember growing up wanting for anything, and yet our lifestyle back then was simple. My Dad worked with his hands in various jobs, driving cranes mostly. Mum stayed home with us. Our house had two bedrooms and one bathroom. Holidays were spent driving to various locations in Western Australia with our caravan in tow.

I had the BEST childhood.

Back in late October last year I attended my 30 Year High School Reunion. Funnily enough, I had never been to a school reunion before then. I had no interest. I figured everyone I wanted to see from my high school days, I saw, and I imagined reunions to be where people would do their best comparison checking. Who has the best job? Who has the best house? Who was the most 'successful'?

However during a trip back to Perth at the end of 2016, I asked my friend, Penny, if she was going to organise our 30th, seeing that she'd coordinated all the previous reunions? She said, 'If you promise to come, Jode, I'll organise one.' I bit the bullet and promised her I would.

I'm not sure why exactly I changed my mind about attending a reunion, I just did. Perhaps it had something to do with my parents' deaths in recent years? I've spent a lot of time since Dad died in 2013 thinking about my childhood and earlier years. I guess that's a pretty standard thing to do. I felt my time with the few old high school friends I caught up regularly with had changed over the years. We had become more and more about just having fun and relishing in each other's company. Not that we hadn't had fun before, it just felt as though we cherished our old friendships more, you know?

So I booked my ticket and I flew to Perth for the reunion. I remember saying to Mr A before I left, 'It'll probably be all over by 10pm.'

WRONG. I can't tell you how good the night was! Someone said it was midnight, and I was practically like Elaine in Seinfeld ... 'GET. OUT!' Much to the dismay of the hotel staff, we finished up well after 1am.

I don't recall a single conversation about who had what job and how many kids everyone had. Well, there was maybe a tiny bit of that, but essentially we just enjoyed each other's company. Everyone seemed to be genuinely concerned about how people were doing. In fact, Penny said it was the highest attended reunion of them all to date. Why? Because I think we've all gone past valuing stuff and now we value happiness, and we want to spend time with people who made/make us happy. (We were lucky - we had a pretty good cohort in '87!)

The older you get, the more you realise that happiness is far more important than what car you drive or what clothes you wear. I doubt anyone is on their death bed saying, 'Gee, I really wish I'd bought that Gucci t-shirt I always wanted.'


Friday, January 5, 2018

Writer's block

Last year I posted on this site four times. FOUR. That's a record for me, of the not-so-good type, I guess.

Not that I'm going to beat myself up about it, because as I've said before, writing about having nothing to write about can be so bor-ing. *yawn* I avoid blogs that churn out posts about nothing. I just can't justify spending my time reading about someone cutting their toe nails* or giving advice on how to clean your dishwasher*. Nuh-uh. In actual fact, as I write this, I should be honest and say I rarely read blogs at all these days. There's only a few (okay, probably one at best!) that I read with any sort of regularity. (Actually ... irregularity, in truth, would be a better choice of words.)

It's funny, because I remember back in the ole Mummy Mayhem days I used to read multiple blogs daily. It took up a lot of time, but, you know, to be a part of the blogging world, you have to contribute by reading and commenting on other's blogs. I liked reading the blog posts, and I feel like I followed a bunch of interesting bloggers at the time, most of which don't blog anymore. I also loved the blogging community back then. (Well, most of it. Some bloggers I could have gone without crossing paths with.) These days, I don't know who the 'popular' bloggers are anymore. Not a clue. But nor do I feel a need to 'build a community' like I used to. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I write for myself. That's it. I don't care how many do or don't read my words, hence the reason I'm not FREAKING OUT over the fact I barely wrote anything last year.

I just find it interesting that 2016 was a bumper writing year here for me. I don't know why, I just found more to write about. I guess I suffered from writer's block last year. Every time I opened my Blogger account, I couldn't find the words. I started posts, I just never finished any.

It is what it is. It's a new year. Let's see what happens.

Happy 2018!


* Actually, I've never read any posts about people cutting toe nails (ewww) or how to clean a dishwasher (Zzzzzz). Thank goodness.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life is short #cancersucks

On the 28th of July, a Perth friend from my early twenties - whom I spent many hours dancing, eating and drinking with all those years ago - lost her battle with cancer.

Krista, 46, spent the last few weeks of her life putting together photo albums for her two girls (age 13 & 5), spending mum and daughter time with them (that included taking her youngest to have her ears pierced - a precious memory) and even hosting a High Tea for her family and friends, all whilst preparing for the inevitable.

Through it all she maintained a sense of humour and will to embrace what little time she had left. Leading up to her death, she was often described as 'brave'. This, I believe, was an understatement.

Our paths crossed for a fairly short period of time. We lost contact for many, many years. It happens. There was no falling out, no conscious decision to part ways - just another example of two lives that headed in different directions (and to opposites sides of the country).

I am thankful and feel very fortunate for the opportunity to reconnect with Krista a few weeks before she died. I was reminded of all the great times we spent together - especially with my niece (my age) and our friend, Mel, who moved to Canada in the mid-90s. (We were quite the 'Awesome Foursome' back in the day!) I loved seeing all the photos of all the great times we spent together that we sent to each other during the last few weeks of Krista's life, and the ones I saw on Krista's Facebook page.

Amongst all the photos I saw though, my absolute favourite photo of Krista was one that didn't include me or anyone else I know - just Krista herself. Nor was it taken during the period of time I spent with her. The photo is of Krista in 1996, sitting on a castle wall in Greece, looking out towards the ocean during a trip there with her late Mum (who died just five months later at age 49). She titled the picture in part 'contemplating life', and it was no doubt taken by her dear mum. It is a beautiful photo capturing Krista's youth, thoughtfulness and a serenity in her. It showcases, in my opinion, how many described her over the years (including myself): free-spirited. Looking at it, I sensed the contentedness and thankfulness for spending that time with her mum that she has expressed previously in an earlier Facebook of hers.

I have always believed that Heaven is a different place for all of us: it is a place where we choose to go where we felt happy once upon a time. When I think of Krista in her Heaven, I'm going to picture her back in Greece, sitting on that wall, reunited with her dear Mum, where they will no doubt watch over Krista's babies together. (Look for Mum in your dreams, girls.)

My heart goes out to her partner, two beautiful girls and all her family and friends. It is a huge loss.

Where do people go when they die?
Somewhere down below or in the sky?
'I can't be sure,' said Grandad, 'but it seems
They simply set up home inside our dreams.'
- Jeanne Willis

RIP, Krista. Thanks for the good times, hon. You will never be forgotten!

Like I always say, life is short ... live it.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Oops, I did it again

Just like I have done in the past, I have accidentally neglected this site. I can't believe it was mid-Jan the last time I wrote!

It was a very busy first term once the boys headed back to school. Youngest Son (now 10) joined his big brothers this year; it's the first time I've had all three at the same school. Oh my God, I can't tell you how fantastic that has been. Not only am I saving time by not having to do the extra driving to and from another location, and only having to read one newsletter a week now (that's winning stuff in itself), but the boys sometimes jump on the bus home now, extending my time to get stuff done in the day by up to an hour and a half!

So, I guess that may beg the question, what have I been doing with all that extra time?!

Well, I have been reading a lot more than usual. I've slowly but surely made my way through all of Liane Moriarty's books. You know how I love Aussie authors, right? I am now up to the last of her books on my reading pile. I enjoyed them all - some, admittedly, more than others - and I can tell you my absolute faves were The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies. Probably in that order. I watched the television adaptation of the latter on Foxtel and I wasn't the least bit disappointed in the series, even though the location moved from the northern beaches of Sydney (somewhere close to my heart, obvs) to Monterey, California. The heart of the characters remained, and it was compelling viewing. (There has been some talk of extending the series, rather than keep it as a stand-alone one, and I guess I'd rather they left it as is. I'd be keen to see The Husband's Secret made in to the next series.)

Apart from my reading, I'd love to say I've been paddling in all my spare time, but that would be an unfortunate untruth. The weather in Sydney over summer and early Autumn has been nothing short of disappointing. It was either way too hot, too wet or too windy to get out on the board, and on occasion when it seemed a good day to get out, I had something on and couldn't go. At the beginning of summer, I had anticipated spending far more many hours out on the water than what I've had. As they say though, tomorrow is a new day, and the weather lately has been more conducive to getting outdoors and looks to be shaping up in the coming weeks. Watch this space.

In any case, over the last few months I've just been doing a lot of house stuff mostly, but also looking after myself a bit more - something that is taking time.

But I'll talk about that in another post.

Until then ...


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In the blink of an eye

When Eldest Son (almost 15) was a baby, I was standing at a frozen yoghurt stand one time, waiting for my order (love that stuff - frozen yoghurt, that is, not waiting) when a gentleman commented on how cute my son was. I thanked him, and then he said, 'Enjoy this stage, because before you know it, they're all grown up. It happens in a blink of an eye.' He had that Believe me, I know kind of look on his face.

Yeah, yeah, I thought, whatever.

One thing you soon discover almost immediately after giving birth is that everyone suddenly becomes an expert and wants to offer advice and/or their wisdom. For some reason, even complete strangers feel compelled to offer it. One time, an old lady noticed Eldest Son chewing on a toy while sitting in his pram and immediately launched in to 'teething' remedies she felt I could use. He wasn't teething, he was just chewing. Sometimes babies do that. Another time a woman noticed me feeding Youngest Son some Heinz bottled baby food as we sat in a cafe (minding our own business) and quickly advised how her daughter NEVER feeds her son 'bottled baby food', but instead makes it all herself, and how 'real' food is better than 'that bottled stuff'. I smiled knowingly. 'Her first child?' I asked, a hint of sarcasm in my voice. 'Yes,' she replied. 'Hmmm, I thought so,' I replied. 'Good for her,' then scooped another mouthful of baby food in to my son's mouth, smiling at the lady as I did, that he eagerly consumed.  

In truth, when the man commented about time flying, I was probably wishing time along back then, because Eldest Son was not the best sleeper. It took about 7 months for him to finally sleep through the night, and, in turn, I was perpetually exhausted. The idea of him being more independent was incredibly appealing at that stage.

Over the last year or so, my first born has started to venture out more and more on his own. He jumps on a bus and meets his friends, sees a movie or swims with them at the beach. (Something that made me incredibly nervous the first time he did that solo - what if he got caught in a rip? What if he forgot to put sunscreen on? What if he got his bag stolen and couldn't get home?) He even flew overseas last year during the school holidays for a school trip to New Caledonia. It was the first time he'd flown without Mr A and/or I, and he wasn't the least bit concerned about that. (Unlike myself.)

He's becoming so independent, and heads in to Year 10 this year. Before we know it, he'll be driving (gah!), sitting the HSC then perhaps heading to university.

It seems like only yesterday I had that conversation with the man at the yoghurt stand. Unlike the other advice over the years, his was spot on. It really does all happen in a blink of an eye.