(#66) The A-Z April Challenge: Z – Zenith of this challenge!

We have reached the flag-bearing point of our journey… looking high into the sky, at the primary goal of our trek, after searching and climbing and often crawling clumsily through the earth, we are now finally at that peak – the zenith of the A-Z challenge.

And I’m grateful for it.

But not for the way you might think. I was already posting once a day for my gratitude blog, so it wasn’t much of an exertion to do it still for this challenge. I’m grateful for reaching the end of it all, sure, but I’m also grateful for what I learnt along the way.

I learnt that sometimes it was interesting to have the direction of a letter to keep you focused on what to be grateful for. Prior to that, I’d be going through my day asking myself ‘should I write about this?’ With the A-Z challenge, knowing I had a certain letter, such as ‘C’ coming up, I’d be running through things in my head as the day approached, to try and prepare myself for something ‘C’ popping up.

That was another thing too. I completely winged it, going day by day and seeing what interesting things would pop up in my life. There were probably only 2 days where I knew more than a day in advance what I’d be grateful for, that being W for Wind and ‘Z for Zenith,’ actually (it makes it easy there not being too many Z words!) Although this can be seen as particularly hard, and even somewhat limiting as I was fearful of, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t too bad overall, and felt promise that even though my goal was to be grateful for something of a certain letter on a particular day, something that may sound forced, all the things I wrote about were genuine and relevant to that day. It made me think that there is so much to be grateful for, only we are generally too oblivious to realise it. Overall, this provided me with hope. There is hope not only for me, but for everyone out there.

Having said that, it forced me to get creative. I went slightly abstract with A for Absence, and Y for Yonder… and also, with Prince’s passing, I was desperate to get my feelings out in a post, and searched for songs of his that I loved beginning with S – there were some I didn’t mind, but in honest gratitude blog fashion (and SmikG fashion) I just couldn’t fake it. So I got crafty with one of my favourite songs of his, and posted “Star, Baby I’m a.” You sure are you Purple genius.

I did get stuck, undeniably, and ran to Google and the good old dictionary for help, churning out my V and X – hey, I didn’t even know what Xylography was until I came across the definition, but I sure as hell am grateful for it! Coffee was mentioned a few times, as was food, and my V showcased my everyday appreciation of baby girl with her Vigour – these posts displayed part of what I generally think about, what I love and what inspires me. It represented a few facets of me, and all I was doing was presenting different aspects of appreciation for them.

I had to question whether I would have normally had Quiet time on my Q day, and whether it was just the letter of the day forcing me to sit down and take a photo with my feet up on my favourite chair. But, I didn’t mind. I mean, I needed it, 1. And 2, I was genuinely grateful for those moments. That was the point, right?

I’m grateful overall that I’ve reached this point. In fact, I think all A-Zers should be grateful and thankful for this process. I did write after midnight on some days, coming in a tad late, and I don’t know if that counts as a fail or not… personally I don’t think it does. Whether it was me doing it, or you doing it and you couldn’t get your post in on time, I think the point here is that you got your post done AT ALL. Life happens, shit. Sometimes we fall behind. Getting up and trying to get the job done is the hard part, so if you did it, but did it late, well good on you. You did awesomely.

And for those of you who stopped the challenge without reaching the end? I respect you. I know how hard it is to admit it’s too hard and stop a project half-way, or to realise it is not for you… but I will tell you something. That takes guts. It’s hard to even start something and give it a shot in the first place, to commit to a new goal or a plan or just something completely left-of-centre for you. That’s credit in itself. I’ve never done something like this before, so I’m pretty pleased with myself I won’t lie, but even having the balls to start it to begin with, is plenty in itself. And to stop something and realise it’s not working, is just as hard. Remember, you tried, which is more than a lot of people can say. That’s brilliant. You should be proud of yourself.

Would I do the challenge again? Life is ever-changing, fluid, in a constant state of shifting, so that answer is… I don’t know. Who knows where my life will lead me by next April. But in the meantime, I’ll keep on with my blogs. I’ll keep doing my writing. And I’ll keep looking for things to be grateful for. That I will try with all my might.

I hope you can stay on for my journey. If not, I wish you well in yours.

XOXO

 

(#65) The A-Z April Challenge: Y – Yonder

I will be doing something, anything, usually something routine like walking to the park, having a coffee, or driving in the car, and it is this habitual act where my mind wanders and I observe something, or think of someone, and a sentence and descriptions form that I believe would make a great line in one of my novels, somewhere. I may not know where to put it yet, it may not even have a purpose for the current book I’m working on, but just the act of writing it down makes me feel good. I write down all of these random one-liners, about things, people, and also nature, in a book, content and hopeful that one day I will find a great home for them in my writings.

Today I saw something in the distance while driving. The clouds up ahead were so distinct, so large and looming, that the sight made them almost look like mountains. Immediately a scene formed, and words sprung forth in my mind:

The large clouds rose up into the horizon like mountains, in stark contrast to the spotless sky above.

Hours later, as I’ve been going about my business and thinking about what to write for the ‘Y’ of the day, I remembered a word: yonder.

Yonder means ‘over there,’ ‘in sight but distant.’ I recalled my random scene describer of the mountainous clouds (just made up a word I think) being over there, and applied it.

The large clouds rose up like mountains in the yonder, in stark contrast to the spotless sky above.

It made me LOL a little. I still prefer my original, but I am grateful for the inspired thoughts I have. I’m grateful when I get them here. And I’m grateful when I get them yonder.

(#64) The A-Z April Challenge: X – Xylography

Ha! I did it!

I admit, I had to look up the letter X, in two old dictionaries, but it was alas Google my good friend who presented me with this website:

http://phrontistery.info/x.html

which is where I found this word and description:

Xylography – art of engraving on wood

That immediately reminded me of this, a prized possession in our home.

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I love trees. I love the renewal, the growth, the abundance they represent. I have little tree emblems all over the house, and it makes me happy to look at them. The above one hangs on our wall, and is actually carved from wood, so it totally counts.

Phew. That was a close one. It was almost as hard as ‘V,’ as then too I had to go to the dictionary for inspiration…

2 days to go… come on A-Zers, we can do it 🙂

 

(#63) The A-Z April Challenge: W – Wind

Today was a tug of war between ‘work’ and ‘wind.’ I did have other inspirations floating in, but these were the main two having it out in the boxing ring. Yes, I am grateful for work, quite often actually, but that’s a post for another day. Today ‘wind’ won out, and that’s not something I always say. In fact, I rarely say it.

Brace yourself wind. Today is your lucky day.

Wind, on most days it is around, shits me. I consider it the worst weather condition. It really has no business anywhere to be honest (well maybe out on sea to assist sailors – but there too it could blow in the wrong direction and piss everybody off).

In Winter it just makes things that much more dreary. Depressing. Difficult. In Spring it gives many people the most fantastic of symptoms, hayfever, and in Summer it turns a beautiful sunny day into an irritating one as you clutch your dress in one hand, hair in the other, looking like a waddling penguin as you barge into the outdoors.

However, today we are in Autumn. We have been experiencing a pleasant spell of mid-20s weather this week, which is fantastic. Summer is holding on. It was a mild night, and so as I walked into work, looking out across the water, I felt a gentle breeze stirring my hair. It was a firm waft, but nothing too disruptive.

As I walked home later that day, the wind had a much stronger current. The kind of strong that when it pushes itself against you, you need to fight hard to walk into it and not get picked up and carried away into that water I was observing so peacefully that morning, strong. So really, insane strong.

But, it was still mild. Warm. And I was happy. Had it been a touch cooler, I still would have been happy. You know why? I took a different perspective on it. The wind was invigorating. It hit my face and threw my hair about, but I relished in the feeling of being alive. The wind reminded me I could feel. I was alive, and here, and I was so grateful for the reminder.

That’s probably the only day I’ll ever be grateful for the wind, but I’ll take it.

 

(#62) The A-Z April Challenge: V – Vigour, Baby girl’s

She points to the stereo speaker. When we turn it on, she squeals excitedly, spinning around. She gallops around the kitchen, round and round, from front door back to the backyard window, jumping jumping jumping.

“How does she have the energy?” I wonder. She is not tired in the least. Just the mention of bed, or pyjamas, or milk, and it only spurs her on further. Jumping jumping dancing twirling jumping squealing. She waves her arms at us like ‘come on Mum and Dad!’ We join in, jumping with our arms raised above us, mirroring her. Squeal jump dance.

It isn’t really tiring. I actually find it addictive. Seeing her energy, her vitality, makes me so happy.  We have a happy girl. I couldn’t be prouder. Consequently, I am so grateful for it.

Let her dance. Let her dance. That’s what life’s about… she’ll sleep better tonight 😉

(#61) The A-Z April Challenge: U – Unknown

Being that the unknown can kind of represent nothing, it seems redundant to write about it for ‘U’ day. However I’m talking about the unknown that presents itself to us in our everyday lives, the unknown in our future, in things, in the everyday routine of life.

We’ve returned from our long-weekend getaway, from the place that we’re intending on Sea changing it to. We feel we have more answers than questions after visiting the location once again, and yet although we are more definite about our decision to move, there are still so many things we don’t know… we think we will love it. We think things will turn out. We think we have a sure-fire back-up plan. And yet we think we think we think, when really we don’t know ANYTHING. It is all unknown.

The unknown can be scary. The unknown can be exciting.

Likewise, knowing too much can be scary; conversely, knowing too much of impending happiness, can also be exciting.

Which is the preferred?

I am a curious cat, yet I believe the unknown is much more conducive to living a happier life. We are meant to live life in the present, one step at a time: not stuck in the past, not worried too much about the future.

Life is a challenge, which is why we are not meant to know everything. If we did, there would be no growth, and there would be no point in living, because there would be no life. What’s that really negative quote, about the only thing certain in life being taxes, and death? Well it’s true.

Right now we have so many unknowns…but that’s good. I mean, we’re alive after all. I’m grateful for it.

 

(#59) The A-Z April Challenge: T – Trips away

This will be a quick one, because I’m writing from my hubbie’s 4 year old mobile with out of date browser. Word Press isn’t a fan. Onwards.

Having the opportunity to get away is a true privilege, and a real great reason to be grateful. We live in a city where you are within driving distance (sometimes hours by car, but still) to mountains, sea, hills, wineries and bush retreats. We drove an hour 20 today, and we’re on the other side of the city, near spectacular ocean views.

Sometimes a quick trip is all you need. Sometimes you come back to life reinvigorated, ready to go full steam. Other times you ask yourself “why don’t we actually do this?” (as we asked ourselves a few months ago).

I’m grateful for the ability to do this. Trips like this can sometimes, change your life forever.

(#58) The A-Z April Challenge: S – Star, Baby I’m a

Prince1

And so it goes:

“Electric word life

It means forever and that’s a mighty long time

But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else

The Afterworld.

A world of never ending happiness

You can always see the sun, day, or night.

 

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills,

You know the one – Dr Everything’ll be alright

Instead of asking him how much of your time is left

Ask him how much of your mind, baby

 

‘Cuz in this life

Things are much harder than in the afterworld

In this life

You’re on your own

 

And if the elevator tries to break you down – GO CRAZY!

(Punch a higher floor!)…”

 

This is one of my many, many favourite passages from one of my many, many favourite Prince songs. In particular the parts above about “electric word life” and ‘going crazy’ if the elevator tries to break you down, speak to me on a personal level.

Prince was, is and forever will be a musical genius: I don’t think many could argue that. He was a risk-taker and a rule-breaker, transforming stereotypes and ideals and turning the whole music genre upside down as he self-taught himself to play instruments, played the guitar with electricity and made sex of rnb and blues.

I feel awfully lucky to have grown up in the Prince era. It actually blows my mind that I am one of the lucky ones to have lived in the time of his living, too. I was influenced by him by first listening to my sister listen to him in her teenage years, and then grew to appreciate him on my own terms. Despite attending high school in the tail end of the 90s, his songs were a background to those uncertain and hormone-fuelled days. So many of his songs are number 1s in the soundtrack of my life. Bestie and I had an ongoing joke that we still refer to this day, which included his “Purple Rain,” while his other hits like “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” “Erotic City” and “Cream” all provided plenty of ammunition in that era of teen-angst and lust. I actually danced to “1999” at midnight with my cousins as we brought that year in! How many people can say they did that?! I feel honoured.

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To this day, the background wallpaper on my phone contains the words ‘Electric,’ ‘Dance’ and ‘Rhythm of ur soul,’ images I took on my phone from the program I bought from his 2012 concert in Melbourne. When I think of how back then I toyed with the idea of going to his concert or not, I feel like slapping myself. And it was only because of money. The only seats we could get were at the very back row, and I wondered whether it was worth paying such coin when we would be so far from the action.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
PRINCE, MAY 30TH 2012

Best decision ever. It was a hazy photo from where we were and also from my half-decent camera back then, but you can see the man himself on his signature stage on the bottom. This ended up being one of the best concerts I’ve been to. He played at Rod Laver Arena, and anyone who has been there knows that you get a pretty good view there, no matter where you are, even at the back.

I learnt that very big lesson that night.

He played classics. He tore up the guitar, as he always does, but to see him in action like that… oh man. He was a true musician on stage, and I got emotional as he sang songs that held so much meaning to me, songs that I had grown up with and that each held a story in the journey of my life: “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy;” he gave nods to songs he wrote for other artists “Love, Thy Will be Done;” and he experimented with other artists by doing some Beyonce, with “Single Ladies.” I remember the crowd roared with insanity when he chose to cover that. He didn’t play one of my all time faves, the song titled in this post, yet it was still one incredible night, where the realisation dawned on me early on that something unusual, something magical, something out of this world was happening in that room. It was medley after medley, one huge dance party, and I remembered walking away like “Phew, thank God I got tickets!”

I’m usually reinvigorated by an artist and respect them that much more after seeing a live show of theirs. After seeing Prince, he was the biggest 180 degree-shifter for me, as he changed my perception of him, of things in general, of creativity and dreams, of life, and in particular his music, after that extraordinary May day in 2012. His musical genius and creative flair, his quirkiness and quiet confidence to live life his own way impacted me greatly. I would listen to his Purple Rain album, again and again. I fell in love with songs like ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ ‘Darling Nikki’ and ‘I Would Die For You.’ I heard the grunt and strain as he screamed the words, wanting to go as high and low as he did. I wanted to feel how he did, and when he sang, I really did. I felt the passion. I felt the dedication to the song, the music, the experience. It was transformative. Prince did things his way, and he did it with loyalty to the music. He was a success because he forged his own path, and he didn’t give two fucks about anyone who didn’t like him. THAT, is what everyone would like to do, only too many are scared to follow through. THAT, is one of the reasons why he was so revered.

This morning I was in the kitchen getting things ready for brekkie before baby girl got up. I had the TV on in the background, and as I went to get milk out of the fridge, I glanced at the TV in the other room. I saw an image of Prince as I turned to walk away, but a combination of curiosity and trepidation had me turn around and go back to the TV, where I gasped in horror as I saw the damn dash. That fucking dash.

1958 – 2016.

“No!” I stayed glued to the TV for the next 15 minutes, coming to terms with the fact that a man, a genius of 57 years (so, so young) was now dead. Gone. It just couldn’t be.

I’m still in shock, but the information has started to slowly sink in. With it too, that the world will never see another like him. That is simply, devastating. I know there are incredible artists out there, but to have the flair and style and flamboyancy, creativity and sex appeal and ability to get away with it all while producing creating acting singing dancing and playing guitar better than anyone EVER… will there ever be another Prince? No. And there shouldn’t be.

R.I.P Prince. Baby, You’re a Star.

“…Take Me Away!”

prince2

(An unbelievable introduction to this performer is found in this article following his 2012 concert in Melbourne)

Afterword 1:

I had to write about Prince today, and him being the Star that he is, I don’t think anyone can argue my crafty ‘S’ for that reason. I am so grateful to this Star, this genius, this musical prodigy, for the joy he has given me with his music and the inspiration he has fuelled me with in my own creative endeavours.

Afterword 2:

I have been listening to Prince all night now, and though I have shed tears, reading the metaphorical content between his words and finding they sting all the more now that he’s gone (“I may not know where I’m going babe” in The Beautiful Ones) it has been a dance party in this house as we have torn up the kitchen floor yet again. I’ll make sure his music lives on through baby girl. In fact, I think it will live on, regardless. Music offers that, in that it crosses barriers of gender, class, politics, and time. There’s a kind of beauty in that. Through his music, he will live forever.

And that just gives me hope, and another reason to be so utterly grateful.

(#57) The A-Z April Challenge: R – RACV Resort

RACVresort

I didn’t exactly stay at such a resort today, but my sister did book our family for a one-night stay in a month’s time, at one.

We have three things happening in the next month for our family, making it one of those busy months that every family has. Our busy months are August, and May. In May we collectively celebrate Mother’s Day, my parents anniversary, and then my Dad’s birthday. We decided on going somewhere for the night and shouting our parents the stay, instead of buying presents for each separate occasion, presents that are so hard to buy year after year. They have everything! A night away, making memories, just sounds perfect. A better present than any material thing either of us could buy.

In thinking of this upcoming stay, and being grateful for what is to come, this getaway prompted other memories: it gave me cause to Reflect, Remember and Reminisce (let’s be clear that these three Rs are not the topic of this post, and I can use them for future gratitude posts!) especially in relation to family moments shared together.

I remembered the surprise 40th anniversary party we threw our parents, and how exceptional the night was, spent with family and friends; I remembered the surprise party we threw for my Mum years later, how genuinely shocked she had been to walk in as we had instructed everyone to park a street away; and then I remembered my Dad’s surprise party, where my sister and I sang a made-up, sentimental and funny song about him in our native tongue, making him cry, and us along with him.

Needless to say, we went through a whole spate of surprise parties.

I’m grateful just for the booking of the resort today, because the cause for celebration has allowed me time to Reflect. I remember all those wonderful memories, and hope… well I know, that one day I’ll be reminiscing about these days.

Someone once said, how wonderful is it to know that the best days of your life are ahead of you?

Too Right.

(#56) The A-Z April Challenge: Q – Quiet

With the difficulty of today’s letter, I have to wonder how many other bloggers will also go the Quiet route…

However, I am grateful for Quiet, in particular, any Quiet time I get on any day, ever. Having a child means peaceful moments of any kind are rare, and even right now as she sits in her cot, apparently ‘sleeping,’ I can see she is sitting up and waiting for someone to enter and comfort her. It’s the end of the day, and I’m still on edge.

I was fortunate to have about 20 minutes of purely Quiet time today. No baby girl, not even Hubbie was about. I have to wonder if I wasn’t writing about ‘Q’ whether I would have made myself have that break. I don’t care. I did it, and for that I’m grateful for it, ‘Q’ day or no ‘Q’ day.

Here’s what my Quiet time looked like:

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Funnily enough, I love having time out in baby girl’s room. I consider it the loveliest space. It is decorated the nicest, has the most beautiful array of pastel colours, sweet pretty little girl sugary-things… and it also has the luxurious chair and foot rest I used to feed her in during her first year, through all hours of the night. Even though I was in love with this chair before she arrived, I grew to dread it at times because I was so sleep-deprived when I would be in it.

That phase is past though, for now anyway, for this forever baby of mine, so happy memories have returned. And I sit in it at times, when baby girl is downstairs napping in the study, and I usually read, or meditate, if I can force my head to chill for even a few minutes.

Quiet time can actually be exciting.