I take so many sunset pictures. I took some more tonight.
But I realised, how often do I actually sit to watch them?
Quietly. Contemplating. Observant.
I saw Hubbie was out the front after dinner. He had gone to take out the rubbish bins, and of course was called to stay and do weeding.
By no one, but the weeds.
We are cut from the same cloth. If you know, you know. Once you see one, you pick one, then you pick another, and another…
And soon you have a whole pile of weeds in a clump on the grass.
It’s work, but it’s therapeutic. I sat on the front bench, Hubbie looking for stray grass variety in my foreground, the sunset in the background… and I focused on the latter, with the former bringing me back to reality every so often.
The clouds shifted. The sun sunk down. The air was mild, mixed with the smell of cut grass, earth, and spring.
And the magnitude of life, both it’s simplicity and it’s inherent meaning, settled around me.
In this world, we are very small. But we get to do big things.
I was working from home when an old work colleague called me.
She told me that a mutual friend of ours, our old work friend, had died.
She cried, and I said ‘Oh my God,’ repeatedly.
It wasn’t that much of a shock. In terms of, we knew she had been battling a serious illness for years now.
But she had been winning. She had been beating it, time and time again, and I really felt like her bubbly personality and upbeat attitude would actually kick its arse.
I really did. I thought she had.
I read her posts on facebook, and I also followed her journey, taking in eagerly her updates that she was getting better, she was part of the small percentage that was still alive since her original diagnosis, watching her face on the screen of my mobile, all happy and positive, the way I used to see her when we worked together.
Back in the party shop days, when we were both in uni. We’d usually work the same Friday night shift, 4pm-8pm, and she’d fill me in on her weekend plans, the clubs she would frequent, the friends she would go out with. She was so bubbly. So positive. I don’t think I ever saw her mad. EVER. Even when a sad or sore topic crossed her lips, all it did was lower her voice, make her eyes go distant for only a moment…
But then she’d be back. That happy girl we all knew.
Today on the phone, my old work friend cried. I just stared at my computer screen, my mind blank with shock. I told her I’d call her back to have a good chat… I was at work, and had to process it all. She urged me to check out the facebook page that confirmed the sad news.
We hung up, and I knew I shouldn’t have… not just because I was at work, but because my mind was already becoming a jumbled mess.
But I did. I looked up the facebook page and burst into tears.
Why? Why her? How? She was 2 years younger than me. She was 34 when she died, months ago, and we’d only found out now. My heart sobbed. I felt sad all over. I thought of her again and again, her fight, her courage, her strength…
I struggled to think of memories. They were from so long ago, over a decade now. But slowly they came back, more and more.
Her long nails that she kept immaculate, strong and healthy despite all the balloons we tied and dust we encountered.
I remembered her 21st birthday. It was in a huge hall and she had hundreds of people there. She was dating a guy she was rapt about at the time, but he ended up to be a bit of a douche. I have to say, I wasn’t surprised about him when she later told us.
But I was beyond floored to hear the news of her death today.
Why? How? How did this happen? She had a loving family. A wide circle of friends.
She was going places. She loved her job. She was motivated. Dedicated. hard-working. Fun and cheeky and hilarious.
How did this happen?
This afternoon, my thoughts went into a deep, dark place. I cried over my keyboard, and then Hubbie came home for lunch and I cried some more.
He just nodded. He understood.
I told him I was scared. “What’s the point of life… we’re all leading towards death, or heading towards watching all our loved ones die. I’m scared to love anyone.”
I struggled with these thoughts. To and fro I went, battling, thinking of her, thinking how life was scary, life was unfair… life didn’t ask you. Things happened.
Things just happened.
Nothing mattered anymore. All this coronavirus crap… seriously who cared?
We were alive! We were breathing. Hell even if I felt pain somewhere, it meant I was alive.
I was feeling. Breathing.
A few little things made me realise what was important in the second part of the day. I finished work, and instead of rushing off to do home-schooling, and start the whole routine of getting jobs done, I sat with baby girl. Watched her draw with some colouring pens she’d re-discovered.
We had our coffee break on the balcony.
I used my eyes to look at the water.
My hands to wave at the passing neighbour.
I smelt the coffee with my nose.
I felt the sunshine on my face.
I heard the wind breathing as it wrapped the warmth of Spring around us.
I was alive.
We took a walk around the block. I needed it. We looked at houses. We counted street signs. We laughed. Touched leaves. Ran.
At home, I read, on whim. I’ve been holding back, trying to not read as much in order to motivate myself to catch up on my Book Reviews for my blog… but it’s made my soul sad. My soul wants to read. I want to read.
So I read a chapter just before dinner.
Yes, if you looked at it deeply, darkly… we were all leading to inevitable death. Ours, or everyone around us.
And we didn’t know what would come first.
Bleak, yes. Not very glass half-full at all.
But we had this life to live… and to love, was to live. We had to spend our time on this earth making the most of it, enjoying the little moments, using our senses, experiencing them, and being grateful that we were granted time on this earth at all.
Doing what we wanted. What made us feel good, in our core. I realised I had really followed my heart today, because the news of our work friend passing was so upsetting, I had to do something to make myself feel better…
I am still so profoundly sad. I think of her and I feel like crying all over again. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe she’s not here anymore.
Despite everything, I spent my time doing something for me today. Something to make me smile through my sadness. Something to make me happy through my tears.
And it was made all the more meaningful tonight. Baby girl kept asking for kiss after kiss after hug after hug from us, as she lay in bed tonight. It became a joke to her, saying “one more,” every time we moved back.
I go from one hat, to another hat, to another hat.
ALL DAY LONG.
Work hat. Mum hat. Teacher hat. Cleaner hat. Chef hat. Pet owner hat. Wife hat. Washing hat. (Did I say cleaner hat?)
Emotional hat. Maintenance hat. Finance hat.
Where is my ‘me’ hat?
Sure we are in lockdown, but all it means for me is I’m doing everything from home now, instead of leaving the house for things that I used to.
It’s now the work and the home schooling, as well as trying to do all of the normal everyday tasks that keep the house running,
I jump from one thing to another thing to another thing, all without taking a breath.
Overwhelmed is an emotion I am all too familiar with.
I asked myself the other night “where is my ‘me time'”?
Sure, I do this at night. Everyone goes to sleep. I blog, I journal.
Other times I am so spent I watch my guilty pleasure Bold and the Beautiful on repeat, or just scroll aimlessly through social media.
But then, that other big question… the question that I’m sure A LOT of us has thought at one point or another during this lockdown…
What is it for?
What is the point? Where am I placing my valuable time, and is it leading me in the direction I want to go?
Or have I fallen into routine, and need to be reminded of that which makes my heart sing?
What about my book?
Yeah, MY BOOK. That thing I was working on ’til early this year, which I then left because ‘feedback overload!’ All well and good, but with so long a break, it was time to ask the question again.
‘What about my book?’
A new plan. A new decision. A new routine.
A new hat. A writinghat. 🙂
Wednesdays was now going to be my BOOK day.
It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) I spend working on my novel… but from now on, I’m going to be announcing to the house my intentions, and ordering them all to leave me alone for as long as they can muster!
Today it was about 80 minutes… not bad. It was baby steps. I first had to remind myself of where I was at, re-reading feedback from writing pals, and taking notes to ‘up the ante’ of my story.
Even if I do one line, each Wednesday…
I am doing something. I need to be easy on myself. I know how I work.
Life can get away from us. But if I can try stick to this new routine, all my Wednesdays will surely amount to something.
They will amount to much more, than doing nothing.
Okay, so it’s not MY beach. But when your friends visit you from across town and ask for a beach-playdate-destination-recommendation, you kinda feel like a part of you is being exposed, on show for all to see.
I was pleased, because it was a pretty perfect beach day.
Still, sunny, but with some cloud cover at times. The water was mild. The kids had shallow waters.
Us Mums were (mostly) happy. Kids make that sentence ‘mostly.’ 🤣
But it wasn’t just the fun and frivolity of being on sand, or wading on water that made today fun and totally chillax-worthy.
I felt there was a lot of meaning attached to the day. Sure we were on the beach and all, but I couldn’t help thinking of how we had come to the beach that day.
I was thinking of friends, and friendship, A LOT. It was two of my oldest friends that I was with today. They with their brood, me with mine. And it had nothing to do with watching the kids play, fight, argue over who had the body board next or lie in the water and float, things we used to imagine way back when in high school when we’d say to one another that our kids would be friends just as we were.
It was more about the ‘time.’ That all-too-important commodity that everyone argues they have little to none of. I was thinking of how we were all there on the beach, dedicated to the task of spending time together, our kids having fun together, while there were so many other things in our life distracting us, so many other things we could do, and so many other places we could be.
But we chose to be there.
It was humbling. It was heart-warming. When someone chooses you to be the place they spend their time with, it is something special. In a world where the word ‘busy’ flies out of our mouths all too often, it was a day where we chose each other, and in doing so made one of the best sacrifices of time and best decisions possible:
Because we made memories for not only us, but THEM. ❤🏖
A sombre post today. Still with some gratitude, but definitely, sombre.
I was at a funeral today. It’s that event on the other side of the spectrum that makes you think. The event on the opposite side? A birth. Something so wondrous and magical that it feels as if all of life’s blessings have fallen upon your lap.
But death. That which is inevitable but which we don’t speak of.
Although both birth and death make us reflect and think about life, nothing quite shakes our core and makes us think about how far we have come, like the end of someone’s days.
IT IS INEVITABLE. Yet we don’t think about it, we don’t talk about it. I stood there in the church today, staring at the great bright and glowing chandelier above our heads, underneath where I married Hubbie, and where years later we christened our baby girl… thinking deeply.
How would my funeral be? Where would I be? Would I want to be remembered there, in an Orthodox church, a place of many beautiful memories for me personally, or in a church that spoke of my Catholic roots?
The answer came to me easily and abruptly. Despite my deep respect for my husband and his traditions, I wanted to go back to where I came from.
I shared this with Hubbie in the car, on the way to the cemetery. He nodded.
“Fair enough.” But that wasn’t enough for me. I continued.
“Have you ever thought who will be at your funeral? Like, it’s going to be those younger than us, most likely.” I started rattling off names of those near and dear who were a generation younger than us. I got choked up thinking of others.
“What about my friends?” Who of them would be at mine… or would I be at theirs? It was too much to bear. Suddenly the tears were welling up in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks. “How will it be? Who will be there to remember me?”
Hubbie reached out his hand to hold mine. “Don’t talk like that.” If anyone had thought of death, and of how grief took hold of your body, it was Hubbie. “Don’t think about it.”
And that’s what we do, don’t we? We go back to not thinking about it… not talking about it.
But like I said, death makes us think. And so it should. It makes us take stock of things, do a life inventory as it were, to see what makes us happy, if we are using our time wisely, and who we are spending that hard-earned time on… all sage questions, and things we should consider more often.
It made me think of those around me. Was I surrounding myself with the best people possible? Those who had my best interests at heart and made me happy? Would I be happy, at who turned up at my funeral?
So today I used this time to think. To contemplate and reassess what is around me. Put things in perspective. To remember to stress less, and LIVE MORE.
Because I have time. If you are reading this, YOU have time too. Take the event of death of a loved one as a most humble and sobering reminder to wake up to the signs of life and make sure you are on the right track… every day is a chance to start anew… every day is a chance to make your days count… and every day is a chance to make your life worthy and satisfying.
Make your relationships with your loved ones count. Surround yourself with the best people possible. Not just because they might be at your funeral… but because they should already be in your life, too.
When you have 5 hours to spare after dropping off your child at kinder, Christmas shopping becomes a WHOLE lot easier.
That’s where I headed today after giving baby girl a hug and a kiss before doing the excited stroll out the kindergarten door. To be able to shop alone, is bliss. To be able to do Christmas shopping alone, is well…
It was great in that I was able to tick more items off my list, have good and long hard thinking processes about others without a certain 4 year-old taking up all my time and attention… oh, and then there was Kmart.
I had a few things to look at in there, and thought to myself casually when I first walked in ‘I shouldn’t need a basket.’
I shouldn’t need a basket. Like geez. The question should’ve rather been ‘do I need a trolley?’
Luckily for me common-sense and past experience prevailed, and I got a basket, which half an hour later looked like this:
I headed to the registers QUICKLY before I found something else I had to have, and have to convert to one of those pull-along baskets, when I saw something very, very important.
Only the day before was I talking about the Christmas Wishing Tree appeal with a group of women. As we spoke about how great of an idea it was, and how the presents went to less fortunate children and people, I realised that this year I would definitely do it. Each year I genuinely have wanted to, but opportunity and remembering to actually do it, as well as being near a Kmart about December-time, meant I never did.
I didn’t realise how soon the opportunity would present itself.
I bought a dress-up kit for a fellow 4 year old girl, and wrote that it was from my baby girl. I was actually teary as I headed over to the tree and placed the gift down, thinking
how fortunate are we to be able to buy presents for one another and give?
how sad is it that there are people out there that do not celebrate Christmas like we do?
It was a sobering and humbling thought. There are those who cannot afford gifts. They are in life situations, dire ones, that are out of their control, and that they have little power over, and all they can do is watch those around them celebrate the most joyous time of the year.
I always figure: if I can buy presents for those I love, and things for myself, surely I can spare $20 here or there to give to someone in need?
I do this throughout the year when I can, extending a charitable hand to various organisations. But the thread becomes prevalent at Christmas-time, where we pointedly send off letters to organisations that have struck a chord with us, or who are doing work in a field that we feel needs more help and support.
Some people think Christmas is about getting presents. The real meaning of Christmas is to give, and to give with your heart and soul, thankfully and humbly and with gratitude.
So today I am grateful. I am grateful that I was able to get some personal Christmas shopping done for my friends and family. But I am most grateful that someone I don’t know, whose face I won’t see on Christmas morning, will open up a dress-up set and smile gleefully, giving a silent thanks that somehow, through some way, despite all of life’s hardships, the true spirit of Christmas is still alive in their hearts.
Blue water for days. And days and days. A balmy night, splashing, laughter, music, baby girl showing off by blowing bubbles and retrieving rings, and very good company… in fact, the best.
Yep you guessed it. My sister and bro-in-law’s place.
It was meant to be a ‘quick visit’ because it is a weeknight.
It is NEVER a quick visit.
Hours later, baby girl is requesting mini marshmallow(s) upon mini marshmallow(s), then peanut butter on bread, then tim tams… all the while we are discussing Prince, Madonna, as well as a heady dose of ‘the true meaning of life,’ and then of course the guys take a photo before our nephew exceeds us all and takes lead in the height division.
Baby girl is not shy. She is a prankster.
Then it is 11pm, and I am looking forward to a measly 4 hours sleep before my work shift tomorrow.
But sometimes, for some people, losing sleep is so worth it.
You know that line Olaf says to Anna in Frozen? She tells the funny and lovable snowman to get away from stoking the fire for her. And he responds
With the school holidays still around for a few days more, the silly season has meant the addition of some extra events and festivities to keep the littlies amused… and one of them is the January Moorooduc to Mornington steam train.
I’m led to believe that the steam train runs the first 3 Sundays of each month, however with the school holiday season upon us, a few sessions were introduced each Wednesday in January, with the final day being today.
When I heard about the idea I knew it would be absolutely perfect for baby girl. She is a girly girl in some respects: she carries a bag around, likes to wear dresses, and will let me put bows in her hair; but on the other hand, she will throw and catch a mean ball, run you up and down until you are exhausted, and will play the hell out of her lego blocks and trains.
She LOVES trains.
We headed over to Moorooduc station for the departure at 11:45am today, with the approximately 15 minute train ride taking us to Mornington station, and then back again to Moorooduc, once the engine had come around and joined onto the other end of the train carriages.
We had as much fun as baby girl. Where she gained an immense amount of happiness and pure joy from the tooting of the train, the steam sound being released, and the side to side, back and forth rocking motion in the carriages, we gained a deep appreciation of the vehicle that had been used to transport people in the carriages, so, so many years ago. To think that people generations ago had been in the carriage we had sat in, and travelled to various places, had been doing various things, and had been living a totally different life to what we live now, is almost mind-boggling. We were in a train that was built in 1941! That in itself is incredible. It is humbling. At one point I turned to Hubbie and said “I feel like I’m in Back to the Future… part 3.”
My favourite moment of the trip came when I had my head out the window here:
It gave me such a sense of relaxation, freedom, and a whimsical remembrance of childhood and all the frivolity and fun it embodied, that I was brought to tears, in thinking of how lucky we were to be living and experiencing a beautiful part of our state, and appreciating life in a whole new way now.
The drive home afterwards was slightly unnerving, and as much as I love my car, being in a vehicle lacking all character, doing 100 on a highway, felt alien. I had felt alive on the steam train, connected with life and nature and being, and I wanted to go back to that moment. I thought of all the things I wanted to do on the Peninsula, and which I had already done but wanted to revisit – Arthur’s Seat chairlift; wineries; coastal walks; beach days – and realised this was something my soul was yearning. I had to connect to the world, to nature, to life, to a general sense of honesty, and my trip in the steam train this morning had certainly woken me up to that.
We had a truly terrific day today, even following our steam train ride, and although much of the later part was spent doing groceries and house jobs, I felt so happy and invigorated, that really, I believe our steam train ride put us in the right frame of mind this morning.
Gratitude has to be mentioned prominently. Well of course, it is a gratitude blog. But more so, it was certainly felt deeply today, and it was by chance that it was so poignant on my number 3oo post.
It was chaotic today – let’s just say that much. No, we’ll say more. We’ll say that baby girl wanted to potty train, which meant I was bargaining with her, which meant she skipped her nap, which meant I kept an eagle eye on her as I made my annual gingerbread men bikkies to take to work tomorrow…
and then I had my MIL arriving, I had to do dinner, I dropped a metal bar on my foot (part of the bargaining, set up an outdoor playset for baby girl) my nephew called me mid-dinner prep to talk Angel (I could not by any chance refuse THAT call) and it just went on and onand on.
I was exhausted. My foot was sore. Baby girl was playing up big time, due to no nap. And the end of the night felt so far away. I couldn’t wait for it.
And then my sister called. And she sounded concerned, which naturally, made me concerned. She basically told me that my youngest nephew’s teacher has been diagnosed with a pretty grave condition – hearing it made my heart sink. I listened to her and she read something out to me that she wanted to get my thoughts on, something she wanted to send to this teacher to lift her spirits. I hid in my closet listening and talking until baby girl found me. I was rushed. There was yelling in the house. The kitchen was a pig-sty, from dinner prep and earlier baking. I was mentally and physically exhausted. But suddenly, EVERYTHING was put in perspective.
I was happy to have all those little annoyances in my day. I won’t even call them problems.
So happy to have food to mess up my kitchen.
So happy to have a daughter that is responding to potty training, and happy to have a daughter, full stop.
So happy to have a workplace to bring gingerbread men to.
So happy to have a steel rod that sets up my daughter’s outdoor table set, even if it does give me a bruise for days to come.
All of these things make my life beautiful. Let’s not forget during this busy Christmas period, that there are people who are sad, lonely, and suffering. Let’s spare a prayer, a thought, a wish for them.
And when you are rushed off your feet this Christmas season, just be aware.