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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

First of the Month Fiction - July

I'm shutting up shop for the holidays, which is good as apparently my laptop has decided to die just in time for the end of financial year...oh, yay!. Anywho, have a fab couple of weeks and I'll be around on Insta and Twitter, less so on FB (if that's even possible). But all back to business round the 18th. Drive safe and have fun to those also on hols, enjoy the cessation of after school activities for those with kids and write a story for here, everybody else. You have until the 18th, so plenty of time to join in.

Either less than 30 words or 100 words exactly - pop it in the comments and then link your blog if so inclined.

Mine was prompted by a FB post by the Flashpacker Family - out of the mouths of babes and all that:
Hazel (aged 2): I have to go... Bye!
Me: Where are you going?
Hazel: ...Hong Kong! *runs off*

My story is of the 100 words variety.


They were fighting again. Shrill shrieks pierced the air and her back stiffened. She looked at the mess and the children in the centre of it, pulling at the same princess dress. She walked silently to her room, grabbed her passport and the novel off the bedside table, checking she had her credit card in her purse as she passed the fracas on her way to the door.
She looked at her husband and stated “I don’t have time for this anymore. I’m going to Hong Kong”

Bewildered, a silence fell on the room as everyone pondered the closing door.




Monday, 27 June 2016

Little things


I had put aside the day to write a rather important post on the little things, however, as seems to be the story of my life at the moment, I was rushed off to sit in the hospital with one child while tests were run and hours wasted away. So forgive the rush job for the first Conversation over Coffee, I promise next month to be more eloquent and poetic.

I've written in the past that happiness is made up of lots of little things but by the same token, it's the little things that can destroy a relationship or happiness. They can pile up and become a weight on the shoulders that eventually becomes too much to carry around. Those little chips at self esteem, those joking comments that are little more than insults delivered with laughter, the actions that neglect.

I'm watching wave upon wave of divorce announcements wash over many of our friends who've successfully sustained a marriage for twenty years. Sometimes it's because of big infidelity but usually, it seems, one person wakes up and decides they're tired of being an afterthought in their life. They want a partner, someone actually sharing their hopes and dreams, not just sharing the dinner table. They want someone building them up, not tearing them down. They're tired of putting their own bucket list on hold while facilitating the desires of everyone else in the family. They want to come first from time to time, not always last.

Ultimately, they're just tired. Tired of not mattering, tired of not feeling attractive or interesting, tired of silent nights in front of the tv.

One little slight is piled upon another and the resentment grows until a careless joke on Facebook feels like a humiliating insult. It's from little things, big things grow.

I never see these announcements coming. They're not couples that you think 'well, yes, that was only a matter of time'. Never any cracks that show prior to the news of the split. Which makes me think it's no ones fault, but over time we become complacent. We forget the little things we worked so hard on in the beginning.

What was more special than when someone looked into your eyes and told you they thought you were beautiful?
When you planned some alone time because it was what you wanted more than anything?
When you listened to their woes without checking your phone or changing the subject, because you wanted to make them feel better?
Remember delighting in finding them the perfect gift? In organising a surprise party for them?
Whatever those things you did when you started courting, why'd you stop? Did your partner become less important? Do you know if they FEEL like they are less important now? If you aren't doing those things anymore, maybe it's time to start again.

Kids get in the way, as does work, as does life in general but they're only little things. Very tiny things that cost no money. They cost a little time, and they cost a little effort, and they cost giving a little more of  your attention to someone who many years ago you thought deserved it.

Maybe it's time to turn back the clock. Think of the other person and what they might be needing to hear or feel more than anything in the world at this moment. Spend a little more time every day investing in your partner and your life together. Maybe it's not enough, maybe I don't really know the ins and outs of these failing marriages and it's something else entirely. It may not make a difference, but they're only little things, so there's no harm in paying a little more attention to your spouse. Words cost nothing, listening isn't difficult, taking an interest is mere politeness, so why not?

The little things mean a lot. When you add up all the little things, they make a big difference.

(For the record, I'm glad the trip to the hospital turned into a complete waste of time, just a little thing that once checked out, can be ignored...)

Linking with the very last #WorthCasing





Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Chasing rainbows

                                       




I was done and dusted with VIVID for another year when on the last night, we were invited on a yacht for one last hurrah. Needless to say it was super fab! However, as I assume I've bored you as much as I've bored my children with VIVID, I'll talk about something else equally colourful.



I'm devoting this week's lovin' life to simpler fare. I've discovered, all of a sudden, rainbows keep appearing in different parts of the apartment. I delight in them. Whenever I'm surprised by the arrival of another one, I can't help grinning. It's nice that while the whole world seems to be unraveling in a hysteria of demented hate and selfishness, such little things can still bring pleasure.

What's making you love life this week?

Lining with #PhotoFriday Unknown Mami



“The view changes from where you are standing." Neil Gaiman

I was driving my teen back to school after an appointment (emergency orthodontist, but more on that later) and I saw these kids in mufti clothes going into a takeaway and asked "Are they from your school?" The teen looked at me, as only teens can, and said "Mum, they're like 30!". I countered 'No, they're not. 20 at the oldest!'. 'One of them was wrinkly' was the reply. 30 year olds are apparently considered wrinkly to a fresh young teen and 30 year olds are as youthful as schoolkids to an antiquated old broad like myself. Same people, two completely different perceptions.

We had three trips to the orthodontist in a week - the practice is 45 minutes from our house (don't ask). I'd been feeling very sorry for myself, all that driving, all that time wasted to repair something that had just been checked a few days before. However, I overheard this snippet of conversation and immediately realised my good fortune. 
"I can't believe you lost your plate in less than a week. You haven't even paid for it yet"
As I've discussed before, sometimes the secret to happiness is as simple as being in the right chair. Same scenario for us, but the view changes when put in a different perspective. Ours was just a hassle, and lost time (and $50). Theirs, a scary amount of money blown in less than a week.

It is worth remembering that we never really see the same thing as each other, because we are seeing it with different eyes. More importantly, sometimes we need to reframe how we see things in the first place.

Linking with #OpenSlather









Monday, 20 June 2016

Never look backwards or you'll fall down the stairs. Rudyard Kipling

As I mentioned, I've taken up the exercise of running up the fire stairs, and can I say, I'm loving it. Most of all, because it's quick! I can have a full workout in less than 20 mins, and at the moment, when I'm time poor, I'm getting more exercise in a week than I have in ages.

I was talking to a fireman who does the Sydney Tower challenge and he mentioned it was 1500 stairs. I didn't think that sounded correct, as I was already doing over 1000, so I googled and discovered he was right, but more importantly, that I could do it too. So I roped a friend into it and the two of us will set off on August 21st. It's a charity event raising money for Giant Steps, a school children for Autism in Sydney, so if any kind readers or corporations care to sponsor us with a donation, please do. Money is going to a good cause, and will make some #SmokinOldBroads feel good about themselves.

As training, I'm considering doing the Climb and Dine. It's the morning after a big party so I'm still deciding. If any other bloggers are doing it, let me know as I'd like to crash your dining part.

I've added the Tower Climb to the Torschlusspanik list because I'm slightly worried I've deluded myself on my fitness level (quite probable), that I'll have lost interest in this stair thing in a week or so (equally probable), and I'm just too old for this kind of lark.

So the dusty and neglected list stands at 20:

Torshlusspanik List:


1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (check)
9. Invent something
10. Cooking Masterclass (check)
11. Master a Masterclass (check)
12. Perform a rap song (check)
13. Trampoline adventure (check)
14. BMX Riding (check)
15. Do a cart wheel (check)
16. Ride an Electric Bike (check)

17. Astonish Myself
18. Write a book*.
19. Participate in a distance event (check)
20. Climb Sydney Tower

Linking with #AllMumSaid 




Friday, 17 June 2016

What freaks me out...

I'm pretty good with most creepy crawlies and even things that go bump in the night but like the Hatter, I have a great issues of time. I've written about my fear of missing out and I even created the Torshlusspanik list to force myself to try a few new things.

As an existentialist, the saying 'Don't squander time for it's the stuff that life is made of' is a lesson that carries a certain foreboding. What freaks me out is that I won't have enough time. Enough time to do all I want and see all I hope to see. Enough time with those I love.

Even if I live to 150, it won't ever really be enough. Who has ever really had enough of this wonderful gift of life? Even in the terrible times, there is promise of a better future.

Rather than throw myself into a panic (la nausee as Sartre would say), which used to plague me as a child before I even knew what an existentialist was, I now focus on what I have now. I'm celebrating each day in it's minutiae while still planning the next big thing in the future. My facebook feed reads as a 'who wants to do this?' with links to future fun. There is great comfort in celebrating the present, while 'knowing' what's round the corner (at least in anticipation).

So if you freak out about the issues of life and aging like me, remember the wisdom of Norton Juster: "Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ”

Always be asking what will you do with your one wild and precious life?

Linking with #IMustConfess



Wednesday, 15 June 2016

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary - Aaron Rose




On Monday night I'd planned for the family to see the VIVID in the gardens but everyone, including my partner declined. Apparently my enjoyment of VIVID is insatiable. So I headed in solo. It was easier to walk quickly and move through the people without my entourage. On Monday, the city was celebrating 200 years to the day, of the birth of Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. I'd been there for the Bicentenary celebrations. We were married in the Rose Garden. I'd spent many a day at performances, parties and picnics there. Even the preschooler playgroup, the Dandy Lions, had been part of my kids life growing up. When each child turned 4, we'd head off and follow the footsteps of the fabulous Pamela Allen's wayward little duck in Alexander's Outing. It felt fitting that I'd returned again for their special day. It's funny how much a part of the backdrop the gardens have played in my life.

We are lucky to have such a beautiful location accessible to all the people of Sydney.



The charm of this city makes it hard not to love life!












Monday, 13 June 2016

Pushing through concrete (Part 2)

I've been dealing with some issues for the last two years and as discussed here in Part 1, I suddenly ran out of fuel. I just lost my ability to reset and move on. My usual escapes weren't working, and I was losing the ability to manage it all.

My resilience had eroded completely. I literally had no energy left to deal with anything, especially myself.

Then I saw a meme on Instagram that said 'You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first' and I instantly recognised the truth in those words. I'd been giving so many pieces of me away in support of others, and what needed to be done, that I'd slowly dissolved my own levels of everything.

So I started running up the firestairs and yesterday while I was doing so, I remembered the fabulous Always Josefa had written an eloquent post called Pushing through Concrete. I couldn't remember what she'd said, but I remember I had given her a pep talk and she'd liked it. I decided I probably needed to hear her advice and my own chastising response.

I sought out the post, read it, read my response. It helped. It worked almost immediately. I had 'reset' again. Just like that. I needed her words, and mine, to reframe all my troubles and my role in them. 'Past me' travelled through time to tell 'current me' to see the situation clearer.

The lessons:

1. Bloggers, when you share those difficult posts, you help people. I know the risks are great for you, but know that if you help just one person, it is most definitely worthwhile.

2. One of the upsides of blogging, and comments, is that you meet people that help you in ways you may not even understand at the time.

3. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others - sometimes you can't even see it until you read words you said to someone else when they were in a position you find yourself in now.

4. If you are pushing through concrete, know that you aren't alone, and it will pass.

I left a comment for AJ to let her know I'd revisited the post and it had helped me, and to my surprise, she then wrote this on her FB page. "This beautiful comment felt like the pop-up cheer squad I didn't even know I needed! Thank you Lydia, one day we will meet and I will tell you how important this post is. For the rest of us, keep your face to the light, fear and doubt will claw at you, but you must keep moving forward - one step at a time, even when and especially when it feels like you are pushing through concrete " Words and support come from unexpected places. (We are now in a thank you loop but that's another story!)
💛
The best bit of all, she has decided to reboot Conversations over Coffee so I am very excited about that. All you need is enough of the happy little pleasures to be able to recharge and take on the bigger things. Especially when it feels like you are pushing through concrete.

Linking with #mg


Sunday, 12 June 2016

What I learnt from Finding Dory (no spoilers)



Digital Parents and Subway organised a screening of Pixar's Finding Dory to promote the Subway Kidspak. Two lessons came home with me that day:

1. It is easier if you just forget about things. There are a lot of problems in the world, and some of them are just too difficult and inconvenient to take on. You can live a merry existence without hanging onto hurts and problems.

2. Sometimes, however, it will eat at you if you don't try to do something about it. As insurmountable a problem may seem, there's always another way.

Next time I'm pondering the impossible, I'll ask, what would Dory do? Maybe it's as simple as that.

Linking with #MummyMondays

Domestic Disasters

I know too many cooks spoil the broth.
I know I have a kitchen because it came with the house.
I know I got too bored to even find a meaningful quote about kitchens or cooking.
I know I just gave away almost all our recipe books and that they had never been opened.
I know you can jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, but it's not advisable.

I wasn't even going to join in this week until I almost burnt the apartment block down while trying to cook the kids dinner, so I took it as a sign from the universe.
We have the world's smallest kitchen with no bench space, so I had put the dishes in the drying rack next to the gas top.
I start frying the whatever, and suddenly smell burning. Then see smoke. Fortunately then cottoned on that I was about to set the house ablaze (Jam fans, you're welcome if you now have an earworm). Note it actually took me a while to deduce all that.


I know it's in the interest and the safety of others that I stay out of the kitchen.
I know this quote pretty much sums me up:
I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself "well, that's not going to happen” ― Rita Rudner




Friday, 10 June 2016

Still Lovin a Vivid Life


 

Two of our five had plans, so rather than sit around on a Friday night, I dragged the youngest two off to VIVID again. This was only deemed acceptable with the promise of pizza at Assembly. Apparently I 'need to get over VIVID. It's just a bunch of lights'.

So with the enthusiastic entourage, we had our fabulous pizza at the ridiculous time of 5.30, and by 6 were ordering the puffer fish next door at the opening of Zero Degrees. The kids were so excited by it, I didn't bother to mention there were red beans in the cone...heh heh. (For those of you not in the know, Regent Place is where it's at!)

We shot through Galleries - I liked the installation there, with that frenetic visual that made me not sure where to look. The kids made gifs and got their photos taken (oh, the excitement of getting a printed copy!).


Then down Pitt Street Mall to Martin Place. Once they saw the giant Pong, it was happy days. For me the highlight was Geometrics - but you must stand inside it for the effect. It helps that everyone steps in and ooohs and aaaahs (literally) as the penny drops on what the visual is.


As we strolled back to the train station, the elder child announced "Okay, that was actually pretty good". I'll wait until Monday to announce that we're off to the Botanic Gardens for that part of VIVID.



The best part of where we live, is that we can do all of VIVID in bite sized visits - we were home by 7.30, so again a very easy solo parent trip, without the hassle of crowds.

The thing I love about VIVID is the big city becomes a small friendly community. The people are more conscious of sharing their experience with their fellow citizens, chatting idly on the art with strangers, making space for families to view the work or bringing
a true social aspect to social media. It gets people off their couches and away from the television.

The city really becomes a social playground for all ages.

Linking with #WWOT


 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Pushing through concrete (Part 1)

Two years ago, I wrote about the shifting sands I was navigating, and two years on, the weight of those problems is heavier than ever before, more fragile and falling though my finger tips. I just have to prepare myself for what will come. I've been doing the heavy lifting on a daily basis and been oppressed by all the other demands of family life. Trying not to drop the balls of others when focused on one or two. Unfortunately I feel I'm failing in one of the issues. I don't know how to do it right, I keep trying new tactics but we all end up back in the same place - our medical system is very frustrating, and the cost is too great for me to get it wrong. And sadly it's not actually up to me. I can be there, but I don't seem to be able to actually help them enough. That's the part that's slowly destroying me, that I'm failing them, and I can't afford to do that.

Friday I hit the wall. For two years I've been able to 'reset', to quickly lift my spirits and move in a new direction but this time I couldn't. There was no fuel left in the tank. What happened on Friday wasn't worse than anything before, I'd just depleted all my energy. I couldn't seek joy anywhere, using any of my previous little tricks. 

The wild stormy weather didn't help, as we were stuck inside. I was sinking lower in the mire and no one seemed to be able to throw me a line. Least of all me. I felt so alone with no way to escape.

My shoulder and neck seemed to have taken some strain after two sleepless nights and as I was physically agitated, it dawned on me I needed to get some exercise. It occurred to me I have a carpark and the firestairs at my disposal. 

So I started running through concrete. The combination of endorphins and the humorous embarrassment of explaining to the workmen who busted me that I was running up and down the 5 stories of stairs for exercise worked a charm. So much so that I did it again yesterday, increasing my stair count. I'm even considering doing it today, though the sun is out and maybe I need the sun on my face a little more.

This strange and unexpected activity was enough to kick start the motor, Not completely, but a little. Part 2 is what really made the difference, but you'll have to read more for that. It may not be logical, but I'll leave you with this:

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And if you're pushing though concrete, you may as well run through it.

I've now signed up for this so set up a fund raising page if anyone is interested in helping Giant Steps (a school for autism in Sydney) https://sydney-tower-2016.everydayhero.com/au/lydia-c-lee




It's the little things...

I was walking back from the supermarket to the car, making a list of the many things I needed to get done, reading emails on my phone as I walked down the street when I noticed this:



It literally stopped me in my tracks. It brought a smile to my face. It made me feel good about myself. It made me present in my surroundings (no mean feat at the moment). I know it's technically grafitti but because it caused an emotional reaction, for me it's art. Literally street art.

It's funny how inconsequential things can take on meaning, because it's just what you needed to hear, see or do.

So to any of you that haven't heard those words in a while, this is my gift to you. I hope it puts the same spring in your step as it did for me.

Linking with #OpenSlather


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Winter




I'm not so much a winter person, but I don't mind when it does hit, rugging up and strolling around in the nippy air. I often plan a few school holiday overnight trips to do just that, in the mountains or snow festivals, and get the kids outdoors and exercising. For Sydneysiders, it means three weeks of VIVID, so that has to be the best thing about winter for me, for the last eight years.



I do love Melbourne in the winter, but that's mainly for the footy season, rather than the cold.

On the other hand, ask me about snow! There's something so magical about snow. It's like being transported to another world, even if only after a brief dusting.

But the damaging storms yesterday, that I could do without. Whether they were winter related or our newly changed climate, I'm not sure. I hope all of you managed to escape flooding and have your power. I hope there was not too much damage.

However, winter can cause an already fragile mood to swiftly descend into melancholy, so get your exercise, and take good care of yourself. Maybe try to show a little more kindness to others, as you don't know where on the precipice they might be standing. As the Japanese proverb says 'One kind word can warm three winter months'.


Linking with #MummyMondays


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

VIVID Sydney - Lovin' Life


Day time I'm still snowed under and overwhelmed but night time, I'm out and about and loving life! VIVID showcases our beautiful city in a way that gets people on the streets, happy and with a sense of community. The light shows combine animation, art and music, and the kids will love it as much as the adults...while I've crossed off two venues, I have 2 more weeks to make the most of the other locations. I just need this weather to hold out!



My favs so far have been the wings and the music cubes at Central Park (could have made beats for hours!) and the stomach lurching 'roller coaster drop' at Cadmans Cottage.




For three weeks in Sydney, it's impossible not to love life!

Linkking with #MummyMondays and WWOT



Linking with #PhotoFriday