Stealth expectations…

Love love love the idea of “stealth expectations”…. yes oh yes… THIS is my problem.

OK…so I was reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown last night,  and got to this section where she was saying that when our expectations don’t match our reality it can be really frustrating.   But it can be especially disappointing, if you never realised you had the expectations in the first place…that would be….STEALTH EXPECTATIONS…

Oh those sneaky expectations,  I imagine them now like ninja warriors, waiting around corners to jump out and surprise me with massive disappointments.

Brene even used an example which hit right at my hot buttons.  She talked about how her and her husband used to argue when they were both home at the weekends,  because they actually somehow found it easier when they had to do things on their own.  It was only after much debate on the subject, they realised that this was because when they were juggling the weekend and kids on their own,  they automatically lowered their expectations of what could be done.  But when they are both home together, they automatically increased their expectations on what could be achieved (to levels that actually couldn’t be achieved)…so then got frustrated with each other when they couldn’t get it all achieved.  But the sneaky part is…they never even realised they had those expectations initially….that’s how super stealth they were…

Oh my goodness… I have had that EXACT conversation with my husband.  I was very upset when he came home from a long trip (you can read about it here)…and it wasn’t until later that I realised that it was because I had expectations that things would be easier when he got back, and when they weren’t,  it made me really frustrated.  Stealth expectations.

Now I am more aware of the spy like skills of my expectations, I have started to look for them everywhere.  To seek them out and give them a good shake.  Because they don’t help me when it comes to just accepting what is happening, they just make me wish things were different …not meeting this imaginary expectation I never even knew I had.

So watch out,  they could be out to get you too…make sure you look behind the shower curtain before you get in…

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Dinner time hell…

IMG_1490I have always been very diligent and disciplined about having a dinner time routine in our house.   We rarely eat in front of the TV,  and always try to sit down as a family around the dinner table of an evening.

Lovely.  Right?   NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Why o why is dinner time such a NIGHTMARE at our house!!!  Seriously,  instead of being the lovely family time where we catch up on our days,  I’m lucky not to walk out of it without having totally lost my cool and turned into Psycho Mumma.

I had a thing we used to do,  where each person had to say three things that were good from their day,  or three things they were grateful for.  We did this even when the kids were younger,  and it was golden (I know,  I’m good hey!?)

Where have those days gone?

Here is a more typical dinnertime …

It starts with me asking the kids to turn off the TV,  which will be followed by at least 5mins of complaining, possible some stomping around or perhaps, the more likely outcome,  completely ignoring me like I don’t exist.  To which I have to then repeatedly ask before I explode with “TURN IT OF NOWWWWWWWWWW” and march over to switch it off myself.

The children will then complain about what I have cooked.  It doesn’t matter if it is their favourite,  I will have cooked it wrong or the green things might be touching it.  So I’ve given up cooking them stuff they will like, and I just cook them things they won’t like, so at least the whinging is justified (HA!).

My husband will then try to tell me some long winded story from his work but he won’t get two words out before being interrupted by one of the children (not that that will stop him, he will continue to persist with the story).  Most likely the children will be complaining about the other ones behaviour or asking about some random fact, like does it really take 5 days to fly to the moon (I know that is not true, at least I think it is not, useless trivia facts are definitely not my forte)  They then sing, yell, burp, fart or just generally make high pitch ear piercing noises for no reason whatsoever…

My husband will finally give up on his story and we will try to focus on the children instead.  How was your day?  tell me some good things about your day?   To which they will launch into a story, that has nothing to do with their day,  but usually some kind of whinge about the future..like whether they can watch TV after dinner (no you can’t…just like EVERY OTHER NIGHT)..whilst constantly being “talked over” by the other child.  Then getting cross.

This whole scenario has also been sugared with my husband and I inserting a long series of table manner reminders.   “Please use your knife and fork”,  “don’t rock on your chair”,  “eat with your mouth closed”,  “elbows off the table”,  “seriously….you need to use a knife and fork to eat mashed potato”…”NO…don’t wipe your hands all over your top”…etc etc.    All of which are pretty much ignored.

Once they have eaten two mouthfuls,   they start asking what is for Dessert.   Usually,  there isn’t any, except on weekend/special occasions.  But this does not fail to surprise and dishearten the children every single evening…another great opportunity to whinge.

We leave the table 15min after we started (that’s if the children haven’t already been sent to their rooms half way through dinner because we failed to keep the chaos under some kind of control) and I want to lie on the floor and sleep…but instead, I’m packing the dishwasher (it was the children’s job but I have lost the will to argue with them about it).

So…to all you wise family people who tell me that dinner time is one of the most important times of the day…YOU SUCK.   I’m sorry, but dinner time is hell. After a long day, it makes me want to cry.

As such…I have decided to drop my quest for elusive achievement of dinner time bliss.  I’m not saying that we won’t sit and eat at the table…but I’m going to give up on this being a quality time of our day.  It is a practical and required part of the day,  a teaching moment perhaps, but it is not quality time.  Maybe in the future it will be, I can’t imagine that…but sure…I’m open to miracles.

Instead,  I’m going to use reading time,  when the day is done and we are lying quietly in bed together…to have some quality time with the kids.   And when I have left them all snuggled up in bed,  then I can listen to my husband telling me about the stories from his day (and maybe insert something in about my own day if he stops long enough..because, lets not forget that I have also been at work all day)…. as long we are all finished before My Kitchen Rules starts,  because all I really want to do is sit infront of mindless TV with a cup of tea…and be grateful that I have made it through another day.

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Yep…I totally need a wife…

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I think it is fair to say,  I thought I had been nailing it recently…until…well… I wasn’t.   All of a sudden, a torrent of pent up exhaustion and resentment came pouring out of me like a cannonball  which was directed at my husband (Shout out to my husband…love ya!…).

What was his crime,  you ask?   Well…he left me on my own (he had to travel for work) and I had to juggle it all on my own (not unusual),  and I was secretly high fiving myself for getting through the week (yep…nailed it, can I get some applause please?) but then when he returned I was hoping it would all magically get easier.   And it didn’t.   So…clearly,  that was his fault.

Now, I’ll admit.  Quite possibly it was not all his fault.   And,  I do acknowledge that there has been some effort on his behalf to step up his game and get crap done when he IS home…

But what I really need….Is a wife.

I think I’ve talked about this before because Annabel Crabb wrote a great book called “The Wife Drought” …why women need wives and men need a life.

And it is so true.

It would be so much easier if there was someone at home I could just pick up the phone and call to say “sorry dear, going to be a tad late today”.  And I wouldn’t even have to add “can you pick up the kids” because they would already be doing it.   I wouldn’t have to think about the chores that need doing, and co-coordinating school notes and uniforms.

I resent the fact that my husband still has a little bit of this.  I AM the wife.  Which means I get the phone call saying “I have to work late today”  or “next week, I’ll be away all week”…and then I’ll be left juggling schedules trying to make it all work.

I had dinner at a friends house after work this week and it was blissful.  I finished work at 6pm,  drove over and was greeted with a ready poured glass of wine.  I then sat at the table chatting while she busied herself cooking in the kitchen, setting the table and helping the kids with their homework.   Then my meal was placed in front of me.  I ate.  And then someone else cleaned it all up.  Ok…so I probably should have helped a bit more but oh my goodness is was blissful to just have all that taken care of for me.

So…how do I get myself some of that?  Does my husband have to change his work, so he can help more?

The thing is though…I don’t actually want my husband to change…to be my wife.  I am very proud of him and the work that he does.  I don’t want him to stop working and look after the house & kids.  I think that would just annoy me even more.  I want us both to follow our dreams and raise a family together, all at the same time.   And what he really needs,  is more time to spend on his “life”, because right now all his time is spent working (and dealing with his crazy wife…but, you know, she is also kinda awesome).

So I guess we have to just keep navigating our way through this partnership.  To divide and conquer the things that need to get done.  To accept that maybe sometimes,  it is just going to be hard…but that doesn’t mean it is wrong or bad.

And,  I probably will find myself on the couch again,  crying into the pillow.  But then we’ll make some changes,  pick ourselves up, dust off…and keep making this work,  because in the end…it is totally worth it.

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Be who you are…

darequoteIt is so much harder than you think to always be your authentic self.  Until I started thinking about it fairly recently,  I hadn’t noticed how many times I stop myself saying something…or say something different to what I am actually thinking because I feel like that is what I “should” be saying.

It’s been bubbling a lot to the surface recently.  New job, new responsibilities.  I find myself thinking that “I will be different”.  I’m going to knock their socks off with my calm and insightful presence.  I won’t be the first one to make comments in the meeting, I will sit quietly and ponder my responses carefully.  I will not get too emotionally involved in my work.

But the thing is,  as much as I would LOVE to execute these things…the reality is, the more I try to be and act like someone I’m not,  the more mistakes and frustrations I have.

So that begs the question?  Why do I do it?  Why do we all do it?

I think part of it is wanting to be perfect.  Often cleverly disguised as a need to be the “best I can be”…it really is perfectionism sneaking in.  I want to file away the rough edges.

I guess the other part is fear.  What if being the person that I am, doesn’t get me what I want?  What if people don’t respect me for being…well…me?

But when I think about the times I have achieved the most, it is when I am being my authentic self.  When I am confidently cracking jokes and using my passion to ignite the fire in everyone around me.   So when I try to distinguish the flame on the “bad” parts, I end up distinguishing the flame on the things that make me awesome too.

So…sure….snorting/laughing/honking in my business meeting (yes…that really happened…sigh),  may not have won me any favours and telling my story on this blog might expose even more of my flaws to people…but maybe,  just maybe,  they’ll see some of the awesome things I also do and they won’t mind about my rough edges.

Do you dare to just be yourself?

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Sometimes you just have to laugh…

Saw these pjyama's at Kmart and couldn't resist!
Saw these pjyama’s at Kmart and couldn’t resist!

You know those moments when everything seems to be going a little (ok a lot) pear shaped,  and you find yourself doing this kinda crazy half laughing thing because you think if I don’t laugh right now I’m going to fall into a heap and never get up again?   Yeah?  I have those moments quite a lot…

And I was thinking about this the other day and realised that humour can be a really important coping mechanism.    I think the key is being able to look at yourself from an external perspective (sometimes I imagine that I’m in some sort of dodgy sitcom on TV),  and take some of the personal emotion out of what is happening.   Because most of the time, what is happening is not actually that bad and would make a pretty funny scene in a movie…

OK..so here’s an example that got me thinking about this.   It was morning time in our household and I was super excited that the husband was home to help because he is normally long gone before morning chaos hits.  I’m running around like a nut bag,  trying to get myself ready for work whilst simultaneously making kids lunches,  packing bags,  getting kids dressed and all the typical morning stuff…you know the drill.   Anyway,  at some point my husband yells “shall I get the kids breakfast?” and I say “yes”  and I think ….great…he’s getting the breakfast sorted.  So I jump in the shower , finally get myself ready in record speed,  gather up the children and just as we are about to walk out the door my son says “but I haven’t eaten anything?” .  What?  how has this happened?   I look at my husband, who looks accusingly at me.  “Err…you said you were getting them breakfast?”, I say.   “No??”  he says “I asked you, if you had already given them breakfast and you said “Yes”. Ahhh… right.

Lets face it,  it was actually a pretty funny moment.   Us standing in the doorway,  looking at each other as it dawns on us that we both thought the other person had done it and no one has given the kids anything to eat.   But did we laugh?  No…no…we did not.

I got cross.   I believe “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” was yelled at some great decible.   I stomped into the house and started opening and slamming cupboards trying to find a suitable food item that could be consumed whilst walking to school.    I stared my husband down with my best evil glare,  hoping he might feel the burning rath of my fury and remember never to cross my path in such a failing way in the future.   I got cross with the kids for not reminding us that they hadn’t eaten…I mean, seriously…who forgets to eat?  it’s not like they don’t do it EVERY morning.  Take some responsibility people!!!   Needless to say, the kids got upset and everyone left for the day in a bad mood.

Wouldn’t it have been better,  to take a big sigh and then, maybe,  laugh about our misunderstanding?  Quickly run into the house and make a joke about the lame breakfast they were having and everyone would have gone on with their day in a much better mood??  Oh…if only….

Luckily…later in the week, I had another chance to handle things a bit better… we were on an adventure to go chop down a real Christmas tree.  It seemed like the perfect family outing, and everyone is a little bit excited.   We jump out of the car to choose our tree,  and things start going wrong.   The kids split up and decide that different trees are perfect.  I wander around aimlessly trying to find the tree with the perfect shape.  And my husband just wants to chop down the one nearest to the car and get the job done.   Finally we choose a tree (my selection of course), and my daughter cries all the way home because we didn’t choose her one, while my son yells at her to just shut up.

We get home to put the tree up and my son immediately says “can I just go play computer games?” before we have even managed to push the tree through the door.   As we battle to get the tree into the stand,  it becomes clear that the tree WE have chosen actually has an incredibly wonky trunk which means every time we stand it up, it falls over.   My husband starts cursing, and we start debating about whose fault it was that the tree was falling over (clearly his because he cut it down,  although he thought it was mine because I chose it …I guess that bit is true…and because I was “holding it funny” when we put the stand in..sooo wasn’t).   We decide to cut down the trunk some more, so next thing we know, the tree is shoved half in and half out of the house through the balcony door, so my husband can saw off the end of the end of the trunk (but he’s having a bit of trouble). He is getting REALLY cranky.  There is swearing involved.  I’m inside the house trying to hold the tree still.  Pine needles are going all over the floor (what the hell is he doing???) and I can feel my blood starting to boil….this was not turning out to be the lovely family day I had imagined.

Then I stop.  I take a look around.  I see my daughter standing there with three of our ugliest baubles patiently waiting for the tree to be upright so she can put them on, my son completely oblivious to what is going on staring at a screen in the corner,  my husband trapped in the corner of the balcony having a battle royale with a Christmas Tree, me with pine needles stuck up my nose and a rash starting to appear on my arms from holding the tree…and I think…you’ve got to laugh.  This is pretty funny.  I mean, seriously,  this could totally be a scene from a Chevy Chase movie ( those movies were a family staple in our household).   My blood pressure drops and I manage to stay calm enough to keep my husband from jumping off the balcony in frustration.    Finally the end of the trunk was cut and we somehow manage to get the tree standing with a the help of a brick on one side of the stand.   My husband went and had a strong coffee,  while my daughter and I put on the Christmas music and decorated the tree.  And when we were finished,  there were smiles all around.  Our first Real family Christmas tree.   We DID IT!

It’s easy to take life way too seriously sometimes.   And it is REALLY hard to catch yourself in the moment and stop the rage from appearing.   But, sometimes…well, really…what else can you do but laugh?

Hope you are having lots of holiday fun at your houses too and just remember ‘life is better when you are laughing”.

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Are you enough?

perfect

I’ve been listening to a Brene Brown audio book (yes…I am a little obsessed with Brene Brown right now and yes…I am also a little bit obsessed with audio books and podcasts) and Brene talks about the concept of feeling like you are “not enough” (it is one of the things that “shame” makes us think).   When I first heard this,  I was thinking….nah…I don’t struggle with that.  I am totally enough.  I am awesome.  Sure,  I’m not perfect but I’ve dealt with that demon and I accept who I am.  Overall,  I got this.

But as I progressed through the last week,  I was a little bit amazed…and scared…at the amount of times I realised that the voice in my head was telling me “not enough”.  Not so much that I, as a whole person,  am not enough….but that in all the things I do, the tasks I take on, I always have the sense that I should and could be doing more.  More more more more…

At work,  I catch myself scrolling through Facebook and I admit, it’s a little bit of procrastination…and my inner voice is saying “you should be doing more,  what are you just scrolling through this for,  you’re wasting your time,  I know you have been working productively for the last 4 hours…but that is NOT ENOUGH…you cannot afford to take this time”

At home, I catch myself watching the children playing handball, while I wash the dishes, and I’m thinking “you should be out there playing with them,  you haven’t done their homework with them yet…it is NOT ENOUGH…you need to do more with the kids”

My husband comes home and I’m feeling a little tired and irritable (because I’ve been at work until 6pm and only just come home after picking up the kids from afterschool care)…but my inner dialogue is saying “when was the last time we went out to dinner together, we need more quality time together…it is NOT ENOUGH…you should be planning something..”

With my friends,  I realise we haven’t caught up for a week and I’m thinking “you really should be a better friend.  Better friends ring each other every day, what if something bad was going on with your friends and you didn’t know about it because you are not connecting enough.  If you want to have true deep friendships, what you are doing is NOT ENOUGH”.

With my family,  I attend our monthly family dinners,  really enjoy catching up with everyone and getting all the lovely little cousins together…but my inner voice says “we should be doing this more often.  You haven’t made enough time for the family this month,  the cousins should see each other more so they can be awesome friends.  Once a month is NOT ENOUGH.

When I go for a run, but I’m feeling a little tired so I run 5Km instead of the 10Km I was hoping to do.  I’m still feeling great, breathing in the fresh air, the sun is shining but the voice is still there and it tells me that I should have done the 10km,  that 5km was NOT ENOUGH.

I write this blog every week, consistently, but I haven’t posted on Facebook every day like I thought I would…it is NOT ENOUGH…

I think you get the picture.  Whatever I do,  no matter what I give…my inner voice always tells me that I could have done more.  There is ALWAYS more that I could do.   So, even though in my heart of hearts I know that I AM enough,  that I am doing the best that I can,  that it would be unrealistic to strive for more.  That voice still mocks me at every turn.

Does your inner voice tell you that you are not enough?

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Slow down or lean in?…I’m so confused

IMG_0888As you know, I’m a little bit addicted to personal and career development stuff at the moment,  I’m inhaling books, blogs and articles like oxygen.  I’ve become incredibly curious and interested.  I think it stems from trying to work out my own mind, which is always searching for answers  (not that I am entirely sure what the question is…which is why I keep on looking).

OK…so there are two pretty significant pieces of advice that have really hit home for me recently,  which I think I ought to be applying in my life… but the problem is, they seem to often be conflicting with each other and I can’t work out when to do which?

Firstly… there is the whole idea of sllloooowwing dooown (imagine me saying this in slow motion, not quite sure how to get that effect in writing..,..but you get the idea).  I totally believe that this hectic crazy world has us all hyped up to the max.  Social Media and internet bring everything to us at break neck speed and people expect responses immediately.   “Busy” has become the standard catch cry, and not only is it boring, but when was being busy in anyway cool?!  yet, time and time again I catch myself inadvertently busy boasting.  So hard not to be in a work meeting and comment on how busy things are, or to be the standard response when friends say “what’s happening?”… So I know this needs to change.  I need to cut out some commitments,  consider my priorities, learn to say NO thank you, No, No and No again…

Which brings me to my dilemma,  because ideal number 2,  is the whole concept of Leaning In.  As I mentioned before in my post about being curious… I have spent a large part of my life being fearful and hiding in my comfort zone  (for the record, my comfort zone is totally warm and cosy.  I have a lovely cup of tea in my hand, perhaps some chocolate caramel slice and sometimes my comfort zone even offers free massages…it’s a nice place and I really love staying there).    But I know that not pushing out of my comfort zone, means missing out on lots of life experiences.  That being curious and interested in the world ignites my passion and fire.    And when I get my whole feminist zing on…I’m all about leaning in baby…   no hiding at home living a quiet and small life.    I need to take my awesomeness to the world.   Promotion at work? more responsibilities?  Bring it on baby,  because it will open me up to new experiences and I’ll learn more.

But hold on a minute here.   How the hell I am supposed to slow down, at the same time as leaning in? I’m so excited and interested, and I’m on the look out for new challenges that light the fire in my belly…but I also have this niggling feeling in my belly that taking on more is simply going to overload me so I collapse in a heap on the floor.  That far from helping me to slow down and focus,  it will simply wind me up like an energizer bunny.

How can these two things work together?

OK…so I’m hearing the voices of all those guru’s out there that I keep reading..and I’m thinking their telling me that I need to search deep inside for my inner purpose and values.  These things will help guide me to make the decisions about where to lean in and where to lean out.   But there is so much more complexity in the realities of the every day. I’m started to get confused about the voices in my head,  I know what my goals and priorities are, but sometimes they overlap with each other.  I can’t tell the different between the voice that tells me to stay in my comfort zone through fear and the voice that is telling me to stay in my comfort zone because I need to give myself some space, to say “no” because it is ultimately what is best for me.

One recent example is when I thought I may need to go to New York for work, be inspired so I can then go on to inspire others…which is something I’ve been wanting for so long (totally on my vision board peeps)  but it was at a time when my husband was also away with his work which means it was possible…but going to require a lot of outside help and be exhausting for all of us.  So if I “lean in” and just make it happen..it clashes with my family values, wanting to spend more quiet afternoons at home with my family,  baking anzac biscuits and sitting in the sunshine with my tea.  I don’t want to palm the children off to friends, family and random others and  I don’t want to come home and be jet lagged and grumpy.

So who should I listen to?  Is that the voice of reason helping me to make wise choices that are going to keep me calm and grounded,   or is it fear keeping me in my little happy comfort zone?  Fear that my friends/family will think I’ve asked too much, fear that my kids will be upset with me, fear that my husband will be annoyed?  Or on the flip slide,  am I just being driven by fear that I will lose my status at work if I say I can’t go at this time?

I know there is no silver bullet easy answer here.   It is going to take trial and error,  wrong decisions and u-turns.   It reminds me very much of all the diet and exercise information there is out there.   Do I eat sugar or fat? carbs or no carbs?  It can be really confusing.  But at the end of the day,  if you spend enough time listening to your own body, continually reading and learning then experimenting…you’ll figure out what works best for you…and just for you.

So I have to patient with myself on this stuff too.   Nothing is ever that cut and dry.  The idea is just to keep practicing.  To make conscious decisions (even if they turn out to be the “wrong” ones),  rather than just floating through life like a stick in a stream…not even noticing when you get stuck on a rock.

I don’t think that is possible for a serial over thinker like me…although… right now, when my brain is about to explode with too much thinking, floating like a stick in a stream is perhaps exactly what I should be doing.

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