Letters from long ago

beasmile

It's no secret that I'm a bit of sentimentalist. I used to be a hoarder, but I'm working on that. I have a box of cards from friends and family and a scrapbook my sister gave me for my birthday.

Today I was thinking about a card I found last week. When I worked at a bookshop with a super talented writer she and I shared a mutual love of great music. Her Dad is also a huge musicophile, and I would receive these parcels every few weeks of his current favourite CDs. I can't actually remember if I returned the favour, but given that I was in the throes of infertility woes and treatment I suspect I didn't. I did however give my friend my latest EP to pass on to her Dad as thanks for his kind packages that kept me somewhat sane.

I received this card in the post after he'd listened to my CD.

As I re-read it I was once again touched by his kindness. I'm pretty I've met Steve once, maybe twice. Yet the kindness with which he took the time to write me a card, put it in an envelope and post it still floors me.

It makes me tear up a little and miss my own Dad tremendously when I read the tenderness conveyed as he mentions driving down to see his special lady - his daughter, Kate. That special bond between a father and daughter is what every mother wants for her family, I'm sure.

I kept this letter because it made me feel happy to read someone saying nice things about my music, and taking the time to go out of their way to share their thoughts. It also made me feel like I borrowed Steve as my Dad for the five minutes it took me to read his card, as I'd like to imagine they're the things my own Dad would have said to me.

The lesson? Take the time and write a nice letter to someone. Call your supermarket and tell them about the great service you had, not just the crap service. Smile at strangers. Be a smile in someone's day. Five years later, they might just remember it and write a highly embarrassing blog post about it.

 

Happiness Is A Choice

happinessisachoice.jpg

For years when I struggled with anxiety and depression I used to write on my hand 'I am totally responsible for my life'. I had read it in a Susan Jeffers book and it resonated with me. Not matter what hype my brain was telling me, I just had to look at my hand and know that with the next deep breath, it was okay.

I no longer write it on my hand, but it is a phrase that floats around my head a lot. Some days feel hard. It could be that I haven't had enough sleep (usually) or my Three Things list feels way too long, but some days I just need to remember that I can choose to be happy.

This morning I made plans with Louise to pram walk our kids to a park, where we'd do a workout. To try and avoid the morning 'Can we watch Netfliiiixxxxx pleeeeease?' I had put on a podcast for us to listen to, however within minutes I couldn't hear a thing.

My 4 year old M was rolling around in a scattered deck of Uno cards and 2 year old P was singing Barbie songs at the top of her lungs.

'Uh, guys? Can you pack up the cards please?'
'MUUUMMMM, I'm a pig, rolling in mud.'
'P, can you use your indoor singing voice please?'
'Muuuuummmm I'm singing at the conceeeeeert.'

I need more coffee.

This had come after Senor Fitbit informed me that whilst I'd slept for 7hrs, I'd been awake 8 times and restless 22 times. I was visited by P at 2, 2.30, 3 and 4am, culminating in my giving her a bowl of two weetbix with milk at 4.15am, informing her that I was going to back to bed and she needed to do the same when she was done. 3am was M howling because I booted everyone bar Mr S out of my bed back to their OWN beds where their cold feet would be nowhere near my butt.

It's safe to say my pants were of the slightly grumpy I-just-cleaned-this-floor kind this morning.

Then I remembered my intention to be Happy In The Morning. Crap.

I pasted a smile on my dial, helped the piggy clean up her Uno card mud bath, helped everyone get dressed and out the door. Where it was raining, so we went to an indoor play centre instead.

By the time we left the house I was feeling much happier and light of heart. I found a way to choose my happiness. A lost night's sleep is really freaking annoying, but I also remembered that in a few short years no one will WANT to sleep in my bed, be a carefree pig rolling in a card game mud and I really will miss the endless princess Barbie songs.

In a recent episode of the podcast 'Happier With Gretchen Rubin' Gretchen mentioned her intention to use a lighter tone and find the humour in a situation. I thought of this and it made me laugh. The whole situation made me laugh. I'm trying to walk out the door and I've got a kid pretending she's a pig and another pretending she's on stage? To me, that's hilarious. I've got a huge grin on my face as I'm typing it.

My Dad, circa 1960-something. Bless.

My Dad, circa 1960-something. Bless.

Life doesn't need to be serious all the time. My Dad was the silliest man I knew, and whilst it was terribly embarrassing at times (ask my sister about the time he drove her to school at 15km/hr), in hindsight it was such a magical quality. He'd had a hard upbringing, a serious career (prison warden) and chose to deal with it with humour. Not a bad habit, eh?

How can you choose happiness today?

R U Ok?

R U Ok?

At various times in my life I’ve felt anxious. I’ve felt depressed. I’ve been unable to get out of bed. I’ve cried by myself and I’ve cried in the arms of those who love me. I’ve wondered fleetingly if it’s all worth it. (yes, it is. the answer is always yes.) Then, I open my eyes, I blow my nose, I push the doona covers back and I stand up. Sometimes on shaky legs, but I stand up and I find a kernel of sunshine in my day. This is now easier, as I don’t need to look very far to find a (kernel) 8kg fat roll of sunshine.

It seems fitting that as I sat down to write this I realised that next Thursday is

R U OK? day.

Since becoming a mother everything, EVERYTHING, touches me tenfold. We can no longer watch the news as we eat dinner as stories of starving children send us both dissolving into tears. I couldn’t watch a show on September 11 last night because all I could think about was what the people stuck in those towers were thinking… their families? What were they thinking?

Today I held someone close and whispered in her ear that she’s ALWAYS worth it. Always.

On my drive home to pick up my daughter from Play School today I couldn’t help but reinforce into my own head that along with all the responsibilities I’d realised already, there was another one. I will always be fundamentally ‘OK’ for Millie.

Following Millie’s birth I had times where I wasn’t okay and I wondered if I ever would be again. And the guilt following that. And the guilt of wondering why I was looking at the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen and not feeling much at all. Then one day she smiled at me, and I began to heal.

What has helped me exponentially in these times is being able to communicate with others who sometimes ask ‘Are you okay?’, and sometimes they don’t need to.

When I think about

RU OK?

day now, as a parent, I think it’s more important than ever. It breaks my heart into a million pieces to think that for every person that takes their life there is a parent wondering why. Because in every parent’s eyes their child is always a tiny newborn in their arms whom you need to guide and protect, and ask RU OK?

Whilst today’s hyper-connected society can be isolating it can also be wonderfully supportive. I have a brilliant Facebook mother’s group who hold my hand from time to time, and I hold theirs. I have an astonishingly wonderfully supportive bunch of Twitter friends (Twitterati) who are always there, and have been there in person as well. And when you live in the sticks and are a bit crowd shy like I do and am, this is super important and I am so grateful.

Friends, my point is to take some time on any given day and chat to someone who perhaps you couldn’t find the time to previously. You could make their day and help them find the light out of a dark place. And remember, you are always worth it. Always.

If you need to talk to someone call

Lifeline

24hrs/day on 13 11 14. You can also talk to someone at

Beyond Blue

 on 1300 22 46 36. And don’t forget to have a look at

RU OK?

. OK?

(this photo is taken at Taupo. When I’m feeling sad face, I go to my ‘happy place’, which is my NZ honeymoon last year. I miss the North Island so much.)

Winter




The first day of winter is here. Coinciding with Millie being ten weeks old today. This picture is taken from my bedroom and the white you see is fog. Fast forward an hour and the fog hasn’t lifted yet. It’s very chilly and Millie and I are snuggled up inside with Lucy supervising the fire. I confess winter makes me sad this year. I think I always struggle with the first few weeks because I get cold. As in on some level I refuse to believe it’s winter and therefore never wear enough clothes. It takes a few weeks for my body to sigh and come to grips with the cooler weather.

I yearn for springtime. To feel the warm air on my upper arms and my face, to feel a warm breeze and to see the garden bloom again. Is this a lesson in living in the now?

In springtime Millie will be almost 6 months old. And rolling, perhaps thinking about crawling. This morning Hubs and I sat in bed eating breakfast with Millie sitting up against the pillows between us. Ten weeks ago she was born and was a tiny, helpless being. Now she’s sitting up, still relatively helpless but chatting away, starting to intentionally move her hands and grinning like a demon. The passing of time is swift.

In these first really hard weeks there’s been a quote from Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘The Happiness Project’ that has stuck with me.


The days are long, but the years are short.


Indeedy.