#1020 The beauty in, and beyond life

Today in my parents yard, Mum told me something I never knew.

She pointed to a flower. A rose bush. And she had a name for it – her niece’s name.

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Mum’s niece, and my cousin, was a very dear person to us. IS a dear person to us. Although by rank you would expect her to be much younger than my Mum, her niece was in fact only a couple of years younger than her – that’s what you get when there are 8 siblings in the family, and my Mum is the youngest of them all.

Her niece was only a few years younger than her, because she was the daughter of the eldest of her siblings – in fact Mum was probably in some ways closer to some of her nieces and nephews due to the wide age gap between her and her eldest sisters and brothers.

Anyway… they made memories, right? As you do when you grow up with someone. When I went overseas with my parents back in 1997, despite being initially heavily underwhelmed by the whole go-and-meet-people-I’ve-never-met-before process, that holiday holds some of the best memories of my life.

Now I was the one making memories. Not only with my cousin who was almost old enough to be an aunty to me, but her children, and grandchildren. As age would have it, her granddaughter was only a few years younger than me.

Big families can be highly fascinating.

Many years later, Mum’s niece came to Australia to visit us all here. We had a fantastic time showing her around our beautiful city, and I like to think she, had an equally memorable time.

She made memories.

While here, she got my Mum a bunch of roses…

The ones you see above.

Mum planted those roses. Not thinking much at all other than it being a permanent and beautiful reminder of her niece, who she had made so many amazing memories with, including other generations of the family.

As the unfortunate nature of life would have it, a while after Mum’s niece was back home, she got very sick and passed away.

.

So today, as Mum told me this, how she had planted this rose given to her by her niece, unknowing then of the future bittersweet nature it would hold, I was amazed. This rose bush was still growing, with one simple red flower, 13 years later.

Thinking of her, and the often cruel nature of life, makes me sad. I sit now, and think of her voice – deep and gentle – how she said my name – with love and tenderness – and how she laughed – gently yet giddy – and remember all of the wonderful times we shared.

I think of that flower… how it still grows… and I know it blooms, solely, because of her.

It still lives, therefore so does she.

In Memory of her… M. ♥♥♥

#1019 Cut and paste with my (inner) child

I could have been doing something for the house… like cleaning.

I could have been doing something for our life… like making phone calls.

And I could have even been doing something for ME… like one of the billion writing projects I have planned to write about.

But instead, I did something for HER.

Or me. You be the judge.

I started when she was at kinder. It was the fiddly job of stencilling out letters, and cutting around them, making sure I was getting enough of every colour I had there.

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I sat there, almost in a half-meditation. Half-focused on the task at hand, and half-contemplative, thoughts running through my mind in slow motion.

I was sitting. I was calm. I had the occasional thought of ‘you could be doing this….’ But then I would pick up a sheet of yellow, and all nagging thoughts would disappear.

When had I last put fun art like this, first?

Once baby girl was home, she helped me. We pasted. We arranged. I got glue all over my hands. She sat with a determined look on her face, trying her best to make an even line of glue along all the sticks she had…

It was a beautiful moment to spend together. But it had also been beautiful, when I had been on my own, cutting away…

And what was it all for?

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2 days people! 🙂

#1018 The Primary Transition

She clutched onto me, hid behind my back, and shrieked out when any of the other parents/ her new teacher tried to get her to sit down with the other kids.

Uh oh. We were reverting back to the old days.

The days where I had to beg her to enter her kinder class. The days where I questioned what I was doing wrong. The days where I pulled at my hair (and wits end) wondering how in the hell to make her calm and happy about being in a room full of kids she didn’t know???

But instead, we let her be. Today, on this 3rd transition day at her primary school, she stood back at first as the kids partook in a ‘movement,’ sport-like class… and once given the option to start jumping on coloured spots and acting like an animal…

She literally jumped right in.

Maybe it was the end of the day and she was getting tired. Maybe she was hungry. Maybe it just felt all too real, and suddenly she was really seeing herself going to this new school – new kids, and even a new teacher!

But despite her initial hesitation and fear, she ended up being amazing. She willingly participated. Her animal of choice was the meerkat, and she put her hand up, offered the suggestion, and all the kids started to act like meerkats as they ran from coloured dot to coloured dot.

OMG. What a 180 from only 10 minutes earlier.

It was a wonderful afternoon. I saw her character. I saw her kindness. I saw her eagerness. And I saw that she still needs us, now more than ever… but she will do ok. She will be ok.

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And just like this clay creation she made in her art session, I think it will all come together. All the colours and shapes out there, textures and concepts that are the kids and teachers next year, they will all come together like her picture, and find a way to stick. A way to work. A way to be beautiful, creative, and inspired.

♥♥♥

#1016 Her boldness

‘Gee she’s a handful.’

That was my thought this afternoon. Another Monday, another swimming lesson. Baby girl was in the lane with another girl and two boys.

4 this week. It was full.

I watched her as she splashed deliberately when the teacher drew near. She jumped up and down repeatedly, bobbing into the water wholeheartedly, her entire head disappearing from view.

When they had to push off from one side, she took off prematurely, and the teacher, for what I observed was about the 6th time that day, said “baby girl, go back, not yet.”

The others kids stood there – taking off when requested. Sitting patiently. Responding when spoken to.

And here baby girl was, kicking her feet wildly as other kids swam up to her end of the lane, giving them a good mouth full of foam.

She was a handful.

I watched her – silently praising the teacher for being so calm, while I was also alert, waiting for baby girl to look over to me up at the benches, so I could wag my finger at her, and tell her to listen to the teacher by pointing to my ear.

She didn’t look.

I thought about her character. I looked at the other kids. She was so full on! She couldn’t sit still! Sure, she was a tad younger than them, therefore their maturity was perhaps a tad more advanced…

But why couldn’t she just, listen?

Wait a minute, I suddenly asked myself. What was she doing wrong?

She was swimming…. YES.

She was listening… YES.

She was partaking in all of the swim class activities… YES.

She was being nice to the other kids… YES.

So then why did I feel a need to shush her? Stop her? Keep her still?

I suddenly realised, I was wrong.

I didn’t want to do ANY of those things to her.

Baby girl, is BOLD. The world will try to dim her light as she grows up, just as it does so for everyone else.

Why should her Mum then be adding to that shadow?

So what if she shrieks a little too enthusiastically?

So what if she is splashing all over the damn place (it is a bloody swimming pool)?

So what if she takes off too early because she is too keen and loves swimming too much?

SO WHAT?

I want my girl to have a voice.

I want my girl to be passionate.

I want my girl to be expressive.

I want her to have fun.

And she achieves all that by being BOLD. Loud. Flashy. In your face.

And I realised, so she should. 

Why should she live in the box? Adhere to the straight and narrow. Tell me… what has the ‘straight and narrow approach’ ever achieved?

I want her to nurture the fire in her belly, promote that kick in her step, and move forward through life knowing she can do and say and be whoever the hell she wants.

Without anyone wagging their finger at her 😉

And if that means being a splashing, loud and over-enthusiastic child, then SO BE IT.

I sat there smiling for the rest of the class. And when the teacher put her hand up high at the end of the lesson for the kids to try reach it for a high-five, when baby girl launched at her and water spray went everywhere…

I giggled and put my hand over my mouth. World, watch out.

#1015 Christmas shopping for you, Christmas shopping for ME

I introduced Hubbie to Fountain Gate Westfield Shopping Centre today.

I only myself realised where its location was a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t really expected all that much then, so to say I was in awe and impressed by the shops and premises, and more than happy to drive the 45 minutes out to see it again, well that tells you something.

As is common this time of year, I was looking at pressies for others. And I got some.

But then with the Black Friday weekend sale still on, and that all-round feeling of generous festivity in the air…

I couldn’t resist.

I actually got myself some regulars, things I get like clockwork at this time of year:

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The kikki.K family planner/calendar which lives on our fridge, which even Hubbie is greatly accustomed to now, and the Christmas advent candle.

Don’t be misled by the simple stature… this candle is HOT STUFF. Finding it in the month of December, ha, GOOD LUCK, because even today I happened across the last one.

Phew. Something about ‘30% off everything’ must have made people go a little shopping crazy.

But it was the other surprise purchases I made which really made me smile.

Let’s talk candles now.

I got a whole box of them from some friends for a birthday, back when I was in my 20s, and it took me yonks to get through them.

I still have one or two from that set. You know how you go through phases where you use candles, and then at other stages, you just DON’T?

Well I was finishing up that phase when I got about a decades worth of candles in one hit.

In recent years though, we have been using them again, which allowed me to slowly go through that jumbo collection… and I have even been buying more.

You know… candles that crackle? Natural organic soy candles? Candles with witty phrases to make you LOL LOL LOL all the way home? Candles are abundant nowadays, a generally great gift for any kind of occasion, and an awesome help when the power goes out for 10 hours… hence why I still have so many in my house. However, I tend to use them a lot more now.

And with that note, I present to you the two candles I got today.

Note to anyone reading this: I DO NOT NEED ANYMORE CANDLES FOR CHRISTMAS.

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Can you see why I couldn’t resist? I love the sentiment of my kikki.K candle (sponsor me anytime, guys) about never giving up on your daydream. I am an eternal dreamer, and this one shall sit wonderfully beside my laptop as I create stories.

The next one… well I just had to. I am not a Kanye fan, but when I saw this candle years ago now, I couldn’t forget it, no matter how hard I tried. I vowed that if I ever came across it again, I would buy it IMMEDIATELY.

I am so happy right now with my melted waxes, I just can’t EVEN.

Oh, one more thing. I lied. The only other candle I will accept is…

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Yep. A lot of mini fires will be burning over the next few months… :):):)

 

#1014 Scaling heights and shedding fears at Faber

I remember going skiing with my sister and her friends when I was about 16.

It was then that I had to face my fear of steep inclines. A fear I didn’t even know I really had until then.

I had these long narrow skis on for the first time in my life, and after becoming quickly bored by the amateur kiddie slope, I knew I had to move on to something more challenging.

But the next step up was actually down down down… a slope that seemed dangerously steep.

It probably wasn’t. Being next in the skiing procession, it likely was a realistic step 2. But for me terror gripped my heart and made my arms and legs go numb at the prospect of going down it, and it wasn’t just from the snow.

I must have expressed my fear to my sister then – I wanted to ski, go down, do something… but it was so damn steep.

She gave me some sage advice. Advice that helped me through that moment, and advice that you can apply to almost any overwhelming situation in life:

“Just look at the space in front of you. Don’t worry about the next 10 metres, or even try looking all the way down the slope – just keep your eyes in front of your feet.”

I was completely shitting myself, but following her lead, did as I was told.

I made it. Sure, I fell over myself awkwardly a few times, but soon I was sailing down, swerving left and right, and making sure my eyes were safely trained on that small space in front of me, that small space I knew I could accomplish.

Little skiing steps.

I had to overcome a similar fear today… but this one involved looking UP.

It’s been 5 years since my last writing workshop/class, an activity that was severely overdue for this creative head. I headed over to the Allen and Unwin East Melbourne office to partake in a Faber Writing Academy one-day course.

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I absolutely loved every moment of it. The interactivity, the encouragement. The shared and similar ideas, sharp proof that I was on the right track. The writing space provided, and of course, the highly sought after, terrifying feedback.

Wooo.

I can honestly say that once the day was done, I felt with all of my being, that I was definitely on my lifelong path. With so much upheaval this past year, uncertainty and confusion being such a prevalent theme in my life, to find that what I had always known and hoped for, was definitely the path I had to take, the path that was for me, was a true joy to realise.

How did I know?

Just the way you know in the feelings that emerge from such an experience.

Like when you have custard for the first time and you go “mmm.”

Or when you hear a new song and straight off you KNOW you’re going to play it until all those around you start to despise you.

The way you feel when you find love, and that little voice tells you “watch out – this is it.”

It’s that same knowing.

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I’ll leave you with one of my writing exercises of the day that we did off-the-cuff… it tells you more about my journey today in ways that I simply can’t at this heady midnight hour.

Theme? A journal entry. Why, I know ‘a little’ about that 😉

 

THE JOURNAL ENTRY EXERCISE

I thought I had given myself ample time to get there.

6am start.

Local café brekkie. My cappuccino had a leaf design in it, the way all hipster cafes do nowadays, and it reminded me of my most favourite emblem, the tree.

Tall, looming and abundant in nature, its roots expansive and far-reaching, to places our eyes were not privy to.

The tree was the symbol of growth and renewal, and the way in which it bared its leaves for all to see, still stood grandly amidst its shedding, and then found the innate courage to sprout green all over again, was an inspiration to me.

It was to be a similar fate for me that day.

The unveiling of myself. My deepest and most personal stories, a torchlight shone brightly on, magnified and criticised for all my like-minded peers to see.

There’s nothing like being in a room of those who do what you do, to instil the greatest sense of doubt in oneself.

Suddenly, I had 10 minutes to go and this huge mother of an escalator LOOMED before me. What? No one had told me I would have to scale those insane heights?

I clutched the rubber rail to my left at the train station, staring at the man’s orange tiger on his sneaker in front of me, willing the mechanical steps to go faster.

But because I had a fear of steep inclines, of course it took its time.

My journey to the top, body leaning forward at a 90 degree angle, was a brutal one. I couldn’t even look back down to the depths of the platform below to see how far I’d come.

I think I’ll take the lift on my way down.

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And that is why I am a never-ending… work in progress.

 

#1013 Setting up the Tree – 5 year old Baby Girl edition

On the 23rd day of November, my true love sent to me…

A tree filled with baubles…

Lights bright and sparkly…

Reindeers and Santas…

Christmas miscellanea…

Yep, you heard right.

We started our Christmas decorating today.

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You say it’s too early?

BAH HUMBUG.

No way Jose. Have you been to the shopping centres? Have you seen the Christmas decorations in department stores, up since, oh I don’t know, early October?

Can’t you hear the Christmas carols crooning over the speakers???

Oh, I have. And I LOVE IT.

To be fair, I realised only early this week that I wouldn’t have much of a stretch of time next week to do all the Christmas tree and house decorating that baby girl and I revel SO MUCH in. So seeing as today we had nothing on, and of course, there was that other reason to stay indoors, being SHIT MELBOURNE WEATHER (Winter again anyone?) it honestly was the perfect indoor day to get totally festive.

We put the Christmas carols on loud and got to it.

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Baby girl enjoyed helping me set up our main tree.

 

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And she has her own mini tree in her room, which I let her decorate ALL ON HER OWN. Bless 🙂

The nicest moment for me, and something which I will hold dear to me every year now that she is in school? It’s the handmade Christmas decorations that she will be bringing home. I still have a reindeer I made from when I was 8, and you can even almost still read my name on the back of it’s legs, with my grade and room number – 2, and Room 16.

Awww 🙂

Well baby girl brought home a rustic Christmas tree made out of branches and pom poms from kinder this week.

I immediately LOVED IT.

So sweet it is to see the homemade collection growing, and it is something I know I will look forward to each and every Christmas… apart from the joy, apart from the memories made, and apart from the cheer felt at the pretty and beautiful sights around us.

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It may have been miserable outside, but it sure was warm in our house today. ♥

#1012 Vote 1 for Decency

I headed into an early voting centre today to make my vote for the weekend’s state election.

I have had no idea who I would vote for coming into it… I usually had a party that I favoured more than the other, but in recent years, both have proved themselves to be utterly as shit as the other. I spent some of my work shift last night looking up news articles and seeing what the parties were offering, and which appealed to me the most.

I mean, I could have just ticked any box on those pieces of paper… but I truly felt deep down, it wasn’t right. I should properly exercise my right and freedom to vote based on the history and what it took to allow women to vote at all. Not voting would be a form of injustice to those who fought so hard for this common and equal right.

So, I stood. I stared. I was in the poll booth, and while others moved in and out of the booths around me, quickly and easily, I stood there planning my moves…

As much as it may seem an annoyance on the day, it is a privilege to have your say about the direction you want your state to go in, and to have your voice heard.

This is when you can make a stand. This is when you can make a difference.

Make it count. Do a little reading and see what feels right for you, and what doesn’t.

And tick accordingly.

(And if all else fails go for my sure-proof method, and select the least shifty-looking of the candidates… the eyes don’t lie).

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Photo by Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

#1011 Feeling good about primary school

I’ve been missing the end of kindergarten, even though we still have weeks left of it.

Kindergarten is just different. Smaller classes. A few teachers. 20ish kids, and since you have been seeing them several times a week for the last year, you know them sooo well, as you do their parents.

The kids can explore. Out in the yard they go, giving grass a haircut, making bird feeders, and watering the flowers. Weekly cooking is a must, and in Winter it is soups and scones, whereas in the warmer months we see things like mini berry muffins and juices.

Although it is a small place, it is set amongst big trees… a big yard. It makes the premises, and everything within it, look that much smaller.

Everything is smaller at kindergarten. And I’ve realised, I like it like that.

Because, with small kids there are small problems. But with big kids… yep, you get it.

It has been a very bittersweet time for me. Because although I am excited about baby girl starting primary school next year, I have been missing what she won’t have, before it has even ended.

Today, during her second transition day at her big primary school… I realised something.

Not THAT much will change next year.

Sure, new school. New kids. Not just a class of 20, but maybe 4 of those. Many teachers. Many yard areas. Longer days and weeks.

But as I looked around the prep area today, I noticed…

The parents. They all looked really nice and respectable. I could be friends with any of them.

The familiar faces. I already knew half a dozen of them, as there were 6 kids coming from baby girl’s kinder. And it wasn’t just the familiarity of the kids, but the parents too, who I got even more acquainted with today.

The yard. Sure the equipment was bigger. But it was still kid-friendly, and there was bark underneath it.

The vibe around us was that of innocence. Naivety. There were still big trees, but this time they were set amongst buildings.

There was still happiness.

This brought me to my conclusion.

They are getting bigger, sure. But not that much will change.

Because they are still our babies.

They aren’t growing up one year all at once.

It is second by second.

Minute by minute.

Hour by hour.

And day by day.

They will still be holding on, and will need so much love and support from us, their parents, during their first year in primary school.

And I think all the parents there, me included, will be so glad to give it to them 🙂

I am feeling more sweet and less bitter, second by second… minute by minute… hour by hour…

and day by day.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash