Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows…

I absolutely love rainbows,  there is something about the sweeping colour across a bleak sky that just lifts me up and puts me in a better mood.

Recently I’ve seen so many rainbows and I love this visual reminder of such an important metaphor, because, you can’t have the rainbows without the rain.   And yes,  I have been complaining a lot about the rain too recently.   It is supposed to be Spring time where I am, and whilst it is usually all about sunshine and flowers at this time of year for us,  this year…Winter seems to want to hang around a little bit longer.  Quite frankly,  outstaying its welcome.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a little bit of winter …snuggling up in front of the fireplace,  drinking hot drinks and eating comfort food.  But there comes a point towards the end of the short days and long cold nights that I start to get over it.  I’m feeling grumpy and fedup,  I’ve put on extra weight due to the winter hibernation and I’m really hanging for the sun to come out and just make me toasty warm.

Yet,  to no avail this year, as the rain and cloud have continued long into Spring (and, mind you, all through my recent vacation).

And then, out of the blue, I look up and a beautiful bright rainbow is shining through the clouds and my complaining immediately stops.

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Of course, this applies to so many other facets of my life.  It is easy to get caught up trying to eliminate all the “bad” parts of the things I have/need to do,  in the hope of having days jam packed 100% full of joy (Surely this is not too much to ask?).   But, the reality is that you can’t experience real joy unless sometimes you experience the sadness.   It reminds me of Inside Out, the kids movie where the feelings are all represented by characters in the  child’s head.   They try to ignore sadness and make it just go away,  but it doesn’t work,  they ultimately realise they need to let the sadness out to fully experience the other feelings …clever clever

So,  thank you rainbows, for shaking me out of my winter blues and reminding me that every cloud has a silver lining or at least, a big shiny rainbow with a pot of gold.

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Whatever you do…don’t mess with my sleep…

All the articles I have read of late are touting the importance of sleep.  Apparantly on average we need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night , Arianna Huffington is such a big advocate in her book Thrive .

I have figured out that I am someone who needs about 9.   I love my sleep.  I don’t sleep in, but I take great pleasure in going to bed in the evenings.  Jumping into that bed and snuggling down for the day is one of my favourite moments of my day.

And then I had kids…

Anyone who has kids will tell you that they are sleep killers.   I remember the first few weeks of my first child, wandering around like a zombie and then realising I hadn’t slept for longer than two hours in a row for nearly two months.   Don’t even ask me about my second!!    And the thing is,  after a while, you get so used to being tired,  that you don’t even realise that you are half the time.  Back at work full time after 6mths and running around like a maniac…I found myself at the doctor saying “I don’t understand what is wrong with me, I am just so fatigued all the time”…gee…I wonder?

But…the kids are a bit older now (sending a little bit of hope to all you mothers with young kids out there)… and I have moved back into the wonderous space of having a whole nights sleep consistently for days in a row.   The kids can get up on their own at the weekends and watch TV.  Leaving me to wake on my own and perhaps even spend a little time reading before I get out of bed.

Except,  now, I have become a bit of a sleep monster.  I am no longer in any way tolerant if my sleep is disturbed.  Don’t mess with Mum’s sleep. You will live to regret it.

You see…every now and again the kids still get up in the night.  “I’ve had a nightmare” they say…or “ I have growing pains” or my personal favourite “I can’t sleep”.   That tap on the shoulder I get in the middle of the night (like I didn’t hear them banging around and turning the lights all on, on their way in here, I’m just pretending to still be a sleep in the hope they will go away) and the whispered “Mum”  .

Then I turn, like a crazed devil woman…”WHAT? ” I hiss… I march them back to their rooms with zero sympathy for whatever plight has drawn them to my room.   I turn all the lights back off, I ignore their little pleas and I go marching back into my own room.   And then I lie looking at the ceiling.  Feeling soooo annoyed that my precious sleep has been broken.  Thinking about all the things I have to do the next day and trying not to let the rising panic of not being able to get back to sleep and the fear of being tired all day engulf me.

Then I feel bad… things must have been bad for them to wake the beast from her slumber.

So then I find myself slipping back out…tip toeing back to their rooms and just double checking they are OK.  Giving a little cuddle.  Reminding them.  “Remember…mummy REALLY needs her sleep…it’s important”.   And go back to bed feeling a little calmer.

I finally get back to sleep.  I’m not proud of my behaviour but I think at least I am teaching the kids that it’s not a good idea to disturb mum’s sleep unless it really is an emergency…so they will learn not to do it anymore (please see  Admitting your Mistakes…see..I am good at it!) .

Except then… it’s 6am and I feel a tap on the shoulder…  “Mum….my ipad won’t connect to the internet…will you fix it?”… I think my eyes might have just flashed red and that may have actually just been a growl that came out of my mouth.

Yes people…don’t forget…sleep is important…but if you have kids…good luck to you…

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Admitting your mistakes

I’m really quite fascinated by the idea of “failure” and how we perceive it in our lives.   I’ve talked before about my own avoidance of failure…god forbid… and the impact that fear can have on the way you approach things in your life.

Which is why I liked this article I read recently about Etsy Engineers sending company wide emails confessing mistakes they made.

I love this idea of being more open and transparent about the mistakes that we make.  Not only does it help other people to learn but it changes the way that mistakes are perceived and thus, makes people less fearful and more willing to break the mould and do new things.   You’d think admitting your mistakes would make you look weaker, but actually, mostly it makes people look smarter.

So why do we have so much trouble doing it?

I guess this is part of the reason that I started writing things in my blog about my own failures…in an effort to try to crank open that door and force myself onto the platform.  But, I’ll admit,  it is really hard.  You have to be willing to be vulnerable and, quite frankly,  that can feel a little crap.  So many “what if’s” go through your mind and I can see why the far easier option is to sweep these things under the carpet and move on.

I know the kids are told at school that if they are not making mistakes, they are not learning.  Which I really like (considering school is often the place where we learn that there is only right and wrong, where our mistakes mean we don’t get the grades, where we are teased for our mistakes).   Hopefully they will keep that mantra as they grow up.

I guess that Trust is also key.   Will the people around me, accept my mistakes?

I’m trying to implement an open policy at work, which is tricky, especially when it feels like you are the only one admitting mistakes and learnings while everyone is looking perfect and polished…(story of my life)… but I’m hoping that, given time, my team and colleagues will start to come to me with their mistakes, knowing that I make them too and we can figure out solutions together.

At home, it can actually be harder.  I try really hard to admit when I have made a mistake to my kids, because I know that it is a good learning experience for them as well if I can role model it.  BUT gosh sometimes it is hard to spit those words out.

The more I do it though, the less I am afraid of it, and I think that is a much better place to be and makes me far braver to try new things.  Because if I fail,  well, at least I might have an interesting story to tell!

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Always curious…lessons from Dad

My Dad has always lived his life in a constant state of curiosity.  I am sure it is one of the single most important reasons why he has lived his life with a sense of calm and patience…something I seem to have failed to inherit.

I am not sure that I appreciated Dad’s curiosity when I was younger.  His persistent desire to figure out how things work,  to check out the dirt path …just to see where it went,  to read my text book so he could help me properly with my homework and to think about everything in great detail…really drove me insane.  I just wanted to get to where I was going faster,  just get the answer to my homework not figure it all out properly and I didn’t care how things work as long as they were working…my impatience head butting with his never ending patience.

It is only recently I have come to realise how amazing it is to live your live in a constant state of curiosity.   To explore everything with a sense of wonder,  and even when “bad” things happen, to consider it as an interesting challenge, rather than a dire state of affairs.

I remember going camping last year and being stuck in a storm.  The rain was pouring and my husband was anxiously fretting about whether the tent would hold up.  He was incessantly checking his mobile to get the latest weather forecast, trying to determine if we were better to simply pack up and go, or to stick it out.   Pacing back and forth, not able to sit down and relax with us to play our card game.  He was remembering a disaster camping trip we had been on before, where a storm blew down the tent and we had a flood going through all our things.  We had had to pack up all our stuff with rain beating down,  which in hindsight was a pretty funny experience, but at the time…not so much.   And so…not surprisingly, on this occasion,  it wasn’t long before little drops of water started to seep into the tent and slide down the poles.   Which, of course, set my husband into whirl.   Was a wet weather disaster going to happen all over again?

As I sat watching and pondering the dilemma (Ok..perhaps I was being a tad unhelpful), it made me think of Dad.  I imagined he would not be disturbed by the storm,  infact, he might even be a little bit excited.  He wouldn’t be checking the weather to see what would happen next.  He would be exploring all the crevasses of the tent and considering our structure.  As the water started to slide down the poles,  he would be fascinated about why it was happening and thus, maybe what we could construct to stop it.   All the while feeling calm and intrigued rather than anxious and worried.

I wish I could be more like that…

Today I was listening to my audio version of Elizabeth Gilberts, Big Magic  book on my way into work. Some of the things in it are a little bit “woo woo” for me…but there are definitely lots of little spots of wisdom for anyone thinking about their creativity (for the record, I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person…in the slightest whatsoever…so it has been a little bit enlighting to realise maybe there in some in me…but that’s a story for another day).

The chapter I was listening to today was about curiosity.   She talks about the importance of living your life with a sense of curiosity and following all the little things that spark your interest.   I love the concept she talks about that finding ideas is like a scavenger hunt.  That if you follow your curiosity like clues in a hunt,  not knowing where they are all leading you but following each one as it pops up.  I love this idea.  I can see how thinking about the things in your life this way, makes it all less stressful and frantic.  Because there is no need to go places in a hurry.  You can be patient, because the important piece is the exploring and following.

This is what Dad seems to do so naturally.  And, maybe,  it is not something I simply inherit, but that I can learn.  Maybe if I practice a bit more, I can learn to be more calm and curious too…

And, for the record,  our little foray into the storm… well,  on that particular occasion it simply passed.  The next day we had blue skies, sunshine and even a rainbow.   My husband patched up some holes we found near the poles which were to blame for the leak…and we spent the next few days continuing our blissful holiday.

How could you live your life more curiously?

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Birthday stress…

In case you hadn’t noticed,  I’m a little bit of a control freak.  OK,  as it happens, maybe a HUGE control freak.

I don’t really notice it and, infact, there are days when I really really think that I am not controlling.

It is not until someone else tries to take control from me, that I realise how much I am holding onto it.

Like, the other week, for my birthday,  my husband told me not to organise anything because he would plan our activities for the day.

Yippee, I thought.  I don’t need to organise anything.  This will be great.  I trust my husband.  He’s great at planning when he puts his mind to it and he always organising good stuff.

So I wake up in the morning and I’m excited but now my brain is already in overdrive wondering what the day will entail.  He was not going to tell me what the plans were.  Already my stomach is in knots.  He tells me to put on comfortable clothes that I can take on and off.  What the??? Where the hell are we going.   Do I need to shower?  Comfortable clothes….like track suit pants?  Or like a nice pair of jeans?   JUST TELL ME WHERE WE ARE GOING….

He has the whole day planned,  it is a labyrinth of twist and turns,  we go to café’s, he’s organised a massage (ah, that explains the clothes),  we go shopping, meet family, have drinks and the crescendo is a surprise dinner party  with my best friends,  by a Chef who has come to our house.

It was phenomenal and in hindsight, it was one of the best birthdays ever.

But during the day…cough cough…I’m a little embarrassed to say how uncomfortable and frustrated I was by the whole thing.   I couldn’t relax because I didn’t know what we were doing next.  I couldn’t follow my husband properly at the shops because I kept walking ahead, then realising I don’t know where I am going and would walk into him.  I was worried about whether I should go to the toilet when we walked passed one because I didn’t know where we were going next and if I might need to know.   And where were the children? Who was looking after them? Were they OK to have them all day?  Had my husband packed food for them?

Putting this into a little context, I am also the same person that cried when my husband surprised me with a trip to Melbourne for the weekend for my 40th birthday.  And they weren’t tears of joy, they were tears of fear and confusion… “but I’m going to have to change all my plans”…  he learnt from this mistake and made sure to tell me not to plan anything this time.

( I know, I know what you are all thinking, my husband is bloody amazing and maybe I should be a little more grateful…but, you know, I do some pretty amazing wifey things too…like letting him buy lots of car parts…AND, I think he does it on purpose because he loves to watch me sweat when I don’t have control).

And so,  as this all creeps into my consciousness.  I’ve started paying more attention to where I try to control the every day aspects of my life.  I find myself checking the kids school lunches after my husband has made them,  just to ensure that there are some vegetables included.  I lurke around the kitchen when he is cooking and turn the oven down when he is not looking.  I creep into the laundry after he has set the washing machine, and change the  cycle.

And…then I wonder why he stops doing these things…strange??!

It really is time to let go.  Because, actually,  I need to let other people help me more.  I pride myself on my independence.    When my husband went away for months for work,  I managed all on my own.   I like things to be done a certain way and get satisfaction when they are done.

But if I don’t let other people help, especially my husband, and do things his way sometimes.  Not only am I making life harder for myself, but I might miss out on experiencing different things and the absolute pleasure that comes from beautiful surprises.

Do you hold on too hard sometimes?

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The rage…

My sister and I talk a lot about feeling “the rage”, it is something that has become increasingly prevalent since having kids. Infact, prior to having kids, I don’t recall raising my voice or feeling overwhelming anger in the same way at all.

But yet, time and time again I find myself in a place where ‘the rage’ takes over.

It is that feeling you get when all of a sudden you feel so angry that the blood is literally pumping through your veins, you feel frustrated at everyone around you, you want to yell/scream, somehow it feels like it will make you feel better. Somewhere deep in your conscious you recognise that your rational mind has lost control, but you are not sure how to bring it back. You feel the urge to act, to lash out, to make radical decisions.

For me, the rage is quickly followed by a downward slide into the sadness. What is wrong with me? I’m a terrible parent. My children will be traumatised for life by my yelling about their shoes. This is not me. This is not what I expected life to feel like. How do I make this feeling go away. I am obviously doing something wrong. Other people do not have these issues. Clearly I am a freak.

This is usually when I ring my sister, she reminds me that I am not a freak…at least, if I am a freak, then so is she. We laugh about it but secretly are both wondering if this is “normal”.

And then the feelings are gone. As suddenly as they arrived, they vanish again. Sometimes I describe it like being caught out in the sea, one minute your gliding over the waves and next minute you are dumped. The more you struggle and try to swim your way out of it, the worse it gets. Quite likely you end up swimming further down instead of back to the surface. You start to suffocate and panic takes hold.   Will I be stuck here forever? And then, you’re back, floating at the top, breathing the fresh air with the sun on your back…and it is hard to remember why you felt so bad before.

I had a conversation a while back with some of my colleagues at work, as we were laughing over coffee one day after work, we realised that all of us are working mothers, juggling heafty workloads and also trying to be great parents.

Gently I brooch the subject of “the rage” and I was amazed to discover they knew exactly what I was talking about. They all started to tell stories of their own grapples with “the rage” and moments they wish they could take back.   I was amazed, both at their honesty and the realisation that these overwhelming feelings are a pretty common side effect of motherhood.

I guess the challenge is how we deal with them. I’m currently trying to practice more acceptance. Mostly I can feel the rage building, so trying to capture in those pre-moments is crucial. Take myself out of the situation. Remind myself there is no need to panic, that the best thing I can do in this moment is just try to relax and wait for the wave to pass, and to naturally float back up to the surface again.

It isn’t easy in the moment, because my brain wants action…not inaction. I remember once trying to punch our punching bag in the garage in one of these moments, it was fantastic until I accidentally missed the bag and hit the brick wall.   Fail.

But I’ll keep trying.

Do you ever get “the rage”??

 

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P.s… the photo I attached today was shared from Facebook but I’m not sure the original post.  I had it share it because it made my sister and I laugh so hard and completely encompassed how I feel, but I couldn’t cite the source,  so if this is yours and you want me to take it down…my apologies in advance and please just let me know.

Finding time to do the things you love…

Last week I mentioned that I have been pretty consistent with writing my blog over the last few years…but that doesn’t mean it has always been easy, infact, many weeks I have found it difficult to squeeze it in.  Or maybe I just get lazy and my inner procrastinator just wants to watch TV instead…

Recently, I have felt a bit frustrated because I feel like I haven’t been able to carve out the time I would like to just sit and write.   I like to say that saying you “don’t have enough time” is silly because, it just means you haven’t prioritised things right,  but needless to say, I am struggling to find the right place to slot writing into my days.

Something I have acknowledged of late is that just because you like doing something,  doesn’t mean you are always motivated to do it.  I always feel great when I’ve done exercise,  but 90% of the time I really have to force myself to get started with it.  It is kinda the same with writing.

That’s why, first thing in the morning is when i do my exercise.   I try to get it done before my brain wakes up and thinks “wait! I don’t want to do this?!?!”.  If I move quickly enough,  I’ll be out the door with my sneakers on before that mental process kicks in..and well…by then I may as well keep going.

So I need to find the same kind of spot for my writing.   A time each day or a couple of days a week when it just happens,  and I don’t think too much…just get it done.  I would love to squeeze it somehow into my mornings because that is the time of day when my brain is most on fire.   But there isn’t quite enough time.

Kelly Exeter recently wrote a post “why I get up so early”  where she talks about getting up at 4.15am in order to write and do exercise before her family gets up.  Part of me is totally inspired by this and thinks I should give it a go… part of me is exhausted even thinking about it, 4.15am…is that really what I need to do??

I had to get up at 5am three times a week for several weeks just recently,  to join a global teleconference on a big project.   At first it felt a little ludicrous,  but actually having all that extra time in the morning (the call only went for 30min) was really great.  Plus,  having the incentive of a work call to drag me out of bed, ensured there was no lying in bed thinking shall I or shan’t I?    It was awesome….for a while…. then it started to catch up on me.  And although I was going to bed earlier,  I was started to get tired.  Plus, snuggling into bed with my husband is my favourite part of the day, and I was going to bed so early I was asleep before he even came to bed.

I guess I could squeeze some writing into the evenings, between when the kids go to bed and when I start watching trashy tv with the husband.   But I’m always so tired by the end of the day and my brain is just not functioning.  Plus, I have usually been sitting and staring a computer screen all day for work and so it is the last thing I feel like doing.

I could try hand writing?  Nah, you should see my hand writing and I can type so much faster.

I could shift out my exercise in the morning, but I really miss the refresh and reboot that happens when I exercise first thing in the morning.   And lets face it, if I don’t do it in the morning chances are pretty high I won’t do it later.

OK…so here’s the compromise,  maybe two or three (who am kidding, lets make it two),  mornings a week I will get up at 5.30am (normally I get up at 6am, so this is not a huge stretch).  I will do a short 30min exercise sprint of some sort…then do writing for an hour.   Of course, this relies on the kids not being out of bed before 7am,  which was happening on a regular basis but daylight savings really stuffs that up (now I remember having a similar challenge at the same time last year…you can read about it my blog post “Daylight Savings I Don’t Like You Very Much”..)…

This is all part of the juggling,  constantly reassessing what I can fit in and when.  Checking in to ensure that I am finding the time for the things that are important.  And usually,  it takes a while to figure out how to make it work…but with a little shifting and shaking…I find a routine that works… for a little while, before I’m shifting it all again.

What are you trying to squeeze into your schedule which you know is important but perhaps has fallen off the priorities recently?

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