Brave, One Little Word – February 2015

When I first posted back in January that I was participating in Ali Edwards’ online workshop One Little Word (you can read my initial post here) I had no real idea about what I was getting myself in to. I mean, I’d seen some lovely quotes, some beautiful art journals and scrapbooks, but did I really know where this would leave? Not a clue.

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I’ve spent the month completing Ali’s prompts, and focusing on my one little word, Brave. In creating my binder I’ve got something tangible to hang on to… and to look through when I need a reminder of what I want from this year. I’ve built on to the prompts and included photos, quotes, project life cards, movie tickets… things that are meaningful to my focus on bravery, and in a big picture sense, what I want from life.

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I’ve been surprised, challenged, sad, angry… such a range of emotions. It’s hard to be honest with yourself, when there is no one else around, about exactly where you are and then where you want to be. But doing that is exactly what I need. In recording the things that I want invite into my life, searching for definitions, quotes, and images that reflect my word, I’ve identified my elephant in the room.

FEAR.

I realise that much of what I’m doing – the way I’m living, loving, just simply being, is founded on fear. I’ve been afraid of consequences and mistakes, of looking foolish or unpopular, of just doing the wrong thing. But most of all, of being hurt. And so there is procrastination, avoidance, laughing off the serious stuff or shrugging and changing the subject. I guess that this isn’t a huge epiphany for many – but I definitely feel like I’m looking at a reality that I want to change.

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If I get nothing else from this year (and believe me, I plan on doing a lot more) this kind of awareness is REALLY huge in my little world. Yes it’s all in my head right now. No I don’t expect that I will be eloquently expressing my emotions or tackling my dreams next week. It’s all in the journey. And I’m really loving it.

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The pictures included in this post are from my One Little Word binder. I had one vision in my mind, then I walked into my local scrapbooking store, saw the gold binder and suddenly went in a completely different direction. I’m not usually a gold girl, but I’m loving this binder, loving all the bits and bobs that I’ve found to decorate it, and most especially, loving the process of sitting down in the peace and quiet and adding to it. I’ve even started on a project life journey, but that’s a post for another day.

Catherine xxx

Go the %$#&%# to sleep!

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My children could win an Olympic medal for excuses offered at bedtime. This week I’ve spent roughly an hour and a half each night getting them off to sleep, and I’m reminded once again why the book ‘Go the F%^$ to Sleep’ was written by Adam Mansbach. Haven’t heard of it? You can pop over here and listen to Morgan Freeman read it. (In case you haven’t already worked it out, there is some coarse language in the story, so be warned). It’s hilarious, and reflects absolutely my internal monologue whilst getting my little people to sleep.

Every night we have the same routine. It starts with talking, then singing. Loudly. Then I hear the rustling sheets, then the little foot steps.

I need a drink. PLEASE.

OK. Let’s get you one.

I need to go to the toilet.

Ok.

I need XYZ toy.

Right! To be specific, this is actually any toy other than the five kagillion toys already in their room, or the ten I have already offered in the last half hour.

Once I’ve finally gotten then message through about not getting out of bed, that’s when the the calling out starts…

I need to go to the toilet again.

There are too many toys in my bed.

I don’t like these pajamas.

My arm / foot / leg / head / entire body is stuck between the bed and the wall / under the bed / under the mattress / in this toy.

I haven’t done all my homework / prepared my news item / made a card for someone I don’t ever talk about, play with or even like, but it is essential it be done now.

I have an itch / sore / pain that has miraculously appeared from absolutely no where. No I will not take a dose of Panadol to help it.

I need another drink.

But I just wanted to tell you that I love you Mummy.

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s at this point almost comical, and I do try not to laugh when I hear ‘but I miss you’, said with outstretched arms and a heart felt sob. But honestly, I’m not buying it. AND I try not to lose my cool when all I really want is an hour or so of quiet before I go to bed.

I do love these little people, they make me smile and I wouldn’t ever be without them. Except when it’s 10.30pm and someone is still not going to bed. And then I’m ready to run screaming.

Please tell me I’m not the only person who has this going to bed nightmare! Does this happen at your place? What do you do to get your little ones to go to sleep?

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My Word for 2015

Over the years I’ve read loads of blog posts and articles about choosing one word as a guide for the year, something to focus on, to find solace in, something to help you find the right path. It can be a challenge, an affirmation, a goal; it’s a single word that describes the what, where, when, how and why for you during the year ahead.

I’ve toyed with participating, but never committed… actually that in itself is part of the reason for my choice. But what I know is that I need to take some time and space for myself this year to decide what I want, and then the courage to move forward.

And so here is my word for 2015.

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It means a lot of things.  It’s getting out of the shadows. Doing things I wouldn’t normally do. Doing the things I’ve been dreaming about but never actually taking that first step.

It means painting beautiful furniture and making bold choices with colour, pattern and style.

It means really looking at my health and habits. Oh lord… this is a big scary, ugly one.

And it means making difficult and uncomfortable decisions, even when I don’t want to.

Each month I will challenge myself to share a ‘brave’ post with you. Something that has taken me out of my comfort zone, been a step forward for me, or in some way shows how ‘brave’ is impacting on my life. I’m scared, and I’m running through all the excuses not to do write it down here so that I don’t have to. But that’s fear right? I will do it. I will be brave.

If you’d like to find out more you can check out Ali Edwards website here, who started sharing her process in 2006. Ali explains the idea beautifully, and even offers workshops to support you through the year. I’ve signed up for her year long workshop and will share my thoughts as I go along.

My word popped into my head almost immediately, and if this happens for you, fantastic! If it doesn’t, take a few days to think about it. Go about your usual day, maybe spend a few minutes at the end of each day thinking about your day and the things that you loved and loathed. You can try meditation, journaling, flicking through your favourite book or listening to a favourite song… whatever gets your mind working. A word, feeling or idea will start to form. Then try it out, think about all the ways it applies to your life. Check a thesaurus for variations if you need to! I promise you will know it when you find it.

If you’d like some inspiration, here are some great posts from others who’ve shared their word for 2015…

  • Sarah at Sarah’s Heart Writes word for the year is Health. She is a beautiful writer, sharing personal stories and insights. You can check out her post here.
  • Janelle at The Janelle Wind Collection has chosen Happy for 2015. Janelle is actually the blogger / creative inspiration that first introduced me to the idea of choosing a word rather than making a resolution. You can read her post here.
  • Tash at Little Bit of Thyme has chosen Simplify. She also very kindly made all her facebook followers a lovely little poster to record their word…
  • Clare from Girl Fifteen chose Lambent… which I’d never even heard of before! If you haven’t either you should go check it out here!!
  • Lisa from Lisa Berson is focused on Growth for 2015, and has a two other words she’s using to put that into context. You can read more here.
  • Julie from Eunice and the Sparrow has chosen Untold, which I really love. Check her post out here.
  • Last but not least, Sarah at ZincMoon has chosen Fun! A perfectly light hearted, bright word to end up on, you can read about it here.

I’d love to hear about your word if you’ve chosen one! If you’ve shared it online, please leave a link.

Catherine xxx

2014 – Finding the right path…

Oh, the year that has been. Good lord I’d not wish it on anyone. Until you know that pain, with children in tow, you simply have no idea. None. But I’m still here. And there are still a multitude of things to be grateful for. I may not be on the right path yet, but I’m still looking, and I know I’ll find it.

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I’ve hugged my children, danced with them to Taylor Swift, and shared hot chips and ice cream on the beach.

I’ve laughed with old friends, made new ones, and been grateful for my family.

I’ve discovered new things about myself, remembered things I’d forgotten, and had moments of absolute happiness.

I’ve seen in the mirror things I like, and things I don’t, and have tried very hard to work with what I have.

I’ve spent hours doing things I love, with those I love, and alone, and enjoyed both.

I’ve been inspired, by big sweeping gestures and tiny moments of kindness, and curled them up into a ball and stowed them away to remember for always.

I’ve been lonely, sad and at times I admit, desperate. I’ve been angry, jealous, spiteful, bitter. Yes, there were grey sky’s…. but then there were blue ones. With shades of pale aqua, or brilliant blue. With puffy white clouds and a bursting sun.

I’m so very grateful for everyone who has visited my blog, bought something from me or commissioned me to paint their furniture. I love every minute of this thing that is Paisley Vintage. I’d like to wish you and your family much love for the holidays; lots of warm hugs, big smiles and loads of laughter!

Until next year

Catherine xxxx

On the kindness of boys….

After the events that have taken place today in Sydney, Australia, I wanted to share a good story. Something to  remind myself and anyone reading that there is good, even in small things. There will always be good.

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One of the principles or values at Emma’s primary school is developing ‘people who are nice to know’. When I first heard it I thought it sounded so dorky, and completely underwhelming. I’m interested in achieving together, doing your best and being the best you you can be, even academic excellence, but being somebody who is nice to know just really didn’t resonate.

But now I get it.

Everyday Harry comes with me when I drop off and pick up Emma from school. Being in kindergarten means that most mornings we all get out of the car and walk Emma to her class, though more and more Emma is asking to do it all on her own (But that’s another story!). Coinciding with Emma starting school we noticed that Harry’s speech wasn’t developing as we had expected… we sought help and he was assessed as having a severe speech impediment. As he has gotten older Harry has become more aware of the issue, and as a result Harry has lacked the confidence to speak to unfamiliar people, more inclined to wave or smile than say hello.

About mid way though the year Harry met Darcy. I don’t know how, but all of a sudden Darcy was in our life. Darcy is in sixth class at Emma’s school (so about 11 years old) and had spent some time in Emma’s classroom, and so I’m guessing that Harry decided that if Emma’s teacher thought he was OK, then he did too. I don’t know him, or his family, outside of him knowing Harry.

Since then, Harry has sought out Darcy every single morning and every single afternoon. He talks about him on the way to and from school. He even said his name when he was coming out of the anesthetic after having his adenoids and grommets done. If Darcy is away, or we have to rush off before they can connect, Harry is so disappointed, often to the point of tears.

And Darcy has been amazing. Never once in all this time has he told Harry he is too busy to play with him. He’s never gotten cranky when Harry stood in the middle of his handball game. Never ignored him because his friends were around. On a couple of occasions he’s had a ball ready to roll or throw or kick with Harry, and he has spent countless mornings chasing Harry from one side of the COLA to the other as it’s Harry’s favorite game.

Let me say again that we don’t know Darcy. He has nothing at all to gain from befriending Harry in the playground, playing with him as his mother watches on. And yet Darcy has been immeasurably kind to a little boy who has lacked confidence to speak to others for fear of getting it wrong. He has never had that fear with Darcy. He has never had Darcy laugh at him or say he couldn’t be understood. Darcy has introduced Harry to his friends, and to a whole raft of other children in the school. Whenever we enter or leave there is a chorus of greetings specially for Harry. And he feels special. He feels welcome in the school and part of its community. Harry has gained so much from the friendship, his confidence has grown and he is comfortable in a big school that will soon be his own.

And when its time to go, when I’m scanning the playground for Harry, I see Darcy telling Harry goodbye and that he needs to go back to his Mum. He points to me so that Harry knows where to go, and he waves till Harry stops waving.

In a world that needs more kindness, Darcy has been so very kind that I couldn’t help but share. This boy is without question ‘somebody who is nice to know’ and I’m grateful that he has given Harry such a wonderful introduction to primary school. He, his family, and his school should be so very proud. I feel grateful that we’ve had this lovely boy come into our life, into Harry’s life, and made him smile.

I realise there will be some that say that this is nothing special, no heroic feat or amazing achievement. But for me it’s these small acts of kindness, the everyday smiles and gestures that make all the difference.

Where there is darkness let’s shine a light.

Catherine xxx

My Gorgeous Girl

Emma turned six last week and graduated from Kindergarten yesterday. 6! Goodness I can hardly believe it. I’m so unbelievably proud of her, and so thankful we’re on this journey together. I remember that tiny baby, the little hand in mine, first steps and words, and starting school. As she grows I learn more about her, and find to love about her.

I’m challenged everyday to do the best job I can in supporting, caring for, and loving this amazing little person. The words below have been running through my mind over the last week or so, and I thought I would share them here…

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My gorgeous girl, when you read this one day I hope you’ll see in my carefully chosen words the desire to show you with each of them how much I love you. They are not perfect, not especially eloquent. But still I’ve written them for you. And although my words won’t necessarily make any sense at all today, I hope that they remain in your heart till you need them.

I am absolutely certain you were made specially for me, and that I was made specially to be your Mum. You are quirky, crazy and individual. Imaginative and creative. You are passionate and interested and love to learn. You my dearest girl are all of these things and a million things more. And I love you for every one them. That quirky sense of humor, imagination and kindness shine out and make you YOU.

You are inherently and immeasurably valuable and you bring a sunshine that no other person can ever replicate. Please don’t  build your self worth around what others think of you or allow others to dictate what you can and can’t achieve. Learn to know your strengths, skills and abilities, and if you ever loose sight of them, come home to me and I will remind you.

Go ahead and make wishes, dream big, and build castles in the sky. But always know that you have the strength and character to make all of those things a reality. And when you’re uncertain, when it doesn’t work or you can’t see the next step to take, know that you have a family who will be there to help you climb that mountain whenever you need.

In years to come there will inevitably be times where we don’t see eye to eye, when you think I don’t understand and in actual fact maybe I don’t. But please know that there will never be an action or thought or issue that will stop me from loving you. If there is someone in your life or mine who tells you that I will not love you because of something you or they have done, that there is something you can’t tell me because I will be terribly disappointed, angry or upset, or that you simply cannot ever tell me, know that this is NEVER true. I will ALWAYS love you. And I will love you for telling me the truth, even when it hurts, and is heartbreaking, and is excruciatingly hard to do so. The love between Mother and daughter is never ever so easily broken.

I’m proud of you. I love you. Everyday. And I always will.

Mummy xxxxx

 

 

 

 

Finding Balance

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Do you ever wish for a different life? A slower pace or a more creative space? Do you ever feel like something is missing, or that something is slightly askew, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, let alone make the changes necessary to really feel like you’ve transformed?

It’s been on my mind recently; the rush of daily life and the focus on things that just don’t hold real value. It’s getting through the day rather than enjoying the day, stringing together moments that just get me from A to B, or to the next meal, or to bed time. I feel like I’ve been stumbling forward, haphazardly, and I know it’s in part due to the year that’s been, but I feel like I’m missing the bigger picture some how.

I admit I don’t know exactly what or how to change, or where to find focus. I’m wrapped up in getting the kids to school on time, getting to work on time, getting loads of washing done and the dog fed. I think it’s something about mindfulness and choices, but I don’t know. And I’ll admit that my brain is foggy with stress and sadness, and I’m weary, so working it out is taking some time. I’ve thought a lot about blogging recently but been distracted and unsure, and then procrastinated my way back to the couch.

I’m looking for that spark, that moment of clarity that breaks open a doorway. Or even a window… I’m not picky. I have in mind that I’d like to challenge myself to read something for my soul; it’s been so long since I’ve read something, though I’ve always loved reading. I want something really thoughtful and considered, that connects and lights a spark. It’s about small steps, and the coming holiday season makes me think I could do this one thing to get started.

So I’m on the hunt for some reading, something for my heart and mind. If you have a suggestion, I’m all ears.

Catherine xx

Returning to Work

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Once upon a time, job seeking was never a daunting task. In my old life I traded jobs often, moving companies whenever I wanted, looking for a new challenge and a new focus. But that was before. In 2010 I left employment to look after Emma and Harry full time (a different kind of employment it’s true) and though I sometimes reminisced about how much easier one job was over another, I was happy to have left that corporate world behind.

When I first mentioned I was returning to work and how nervous I was about it, friends reminded me how much I had to offer. And I believed them, thinking that were I sitting in that interviewers chair I would recognise the years of work experience, plus the years of life experience. That the things I’d learned over the years hadn’t disappeared, and my ability to contribute hadn’t diminished. We talked about transferable skills, maturity and responsibility. The desire (and almost desperation) to work and make a meaningful contribution was there.

How naive I was.

Instead I’m finding a very different landscape. I’ve been met with a million different responses all with the same message; you’ve been out of the game too long. ‘When was the last time you worked?’ ‘What have you been doing?’ and my favourite ‘Why would you want to return to work?’ And those are just the ones I actually hear from. I’ve been amazed at the number of job ads that simply state that only progressing applicants will be contacted. Maybe it’s the harsh reality of job seeking today, but it’s a sad indictment that the effort a job seeker puts in to applying for a job can’t at least be acknowledged by a return email.

And don’t get me started on what passes as part time, family friendly work hours! There was one job with great hours with a large organisation, that required seven weeks full time training in Sydney to get started (involving a 3 and a half hour commute each day). Or the one that was 32 hours a week… I think it’s pretty fair to assume that they are squashing a full time job into four days! Or ads stating that they are school hours friendly, but start at 7am! What school allows you to drop children off at 7am!! A whole section of our community is completely marginalised because we can’t think creatively and realistically about experience, aptitude and working hours. It’s absolutely mind boggling!

With hindsight I realise that just like generations of women before me, when I gave away my employment I gave away a level of independence, and following on from that, a life line. I had no way of knowing where five years would bring me, however were I able to step back now I’d warn myself not to give away that job so quickly. I gained so much by being able to stay home with Emma and Harry. Now I’m finding out what I lost.

I was going to go on to write that I’m in no way deterred, and that I’ll keep looking. That I will find something that is perfect for me and that it will just take some time. And an employer who values it’s people for more than what they can put down on paper.

And then this week I got a job offer!!!!!

After six months I found a business that actually offers part time, meaningful work that is honestly family friendly. I’m over the moon. It’s another step in the journey; I’m nervous about starting back at work but excited too. And can’t wait to share it with you 🙂

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On Resilience

A friend shared a quote on Facebook recently that really resonated.

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I was reminded of an incident at Emma’s school where an educator raised their voice at a kindy kid who was talking during assembly. And when I say raised their voice I mean they screamed and publicly humiliated that child. I was mortified. And the more I think about it the more it really upsets me. I have no doubt that the child was doing the wrong thing. Equally I know that if it were my child she would have been a quivering mess after such an encounter. And I also know the response I’d get – she must be more resilient.

As parents we are bombarded with scripts and checklists and how to’s, that translate into parent shaming and parent guilt, and I’m not about to add to that. I’m so far from the perfect parent we wouldn’t recognise each other! But as I keep thinking about the quote above, I can’t help but think there’s a path here that I don’t want to take. We talk about building ‘resilience’ and yet is seems to be translating into something else.

I want my children to be strong. When something doesn’t go their way, or when something truly hurts, I hope that they will be able to tap into a sense of self, a sense of courage and of love, and to draw on their family and friends to deal with the situation. To feel those feelings of sadness and anger and whatever comes along with them, and know that there is always a light to balance them. What I don’t want is for them to harden their heart, to build an armour that prevents all things from entering. Even the good stuff.

Last week Harry was crying about something inconsequential, something little boys or girls get upset about, but not something that was life changing. Regardless, his little heart was broken and he was crying. As I stood there, trying to lift him up from the floor Emma turned to him and said ‘Be resilient Harry and get over it’. Not a hint of sarcasm or anger, just offered as instruction. Something she’s heard before I realise, extolled as though it’s the ultimate virtue. But it seemed to me she was being toughened to the heartache of others, that being resilient meant distancing herself from her emotion and that of others. Emma and I have chatted about it on and off since.

My daughter is quirky. Amazing. Interesting. Curious. Beautiful. My son is cheeky and loving and funny and kind. Both a million different things. Tough, resilient or hardy are not amongst the first labels that jump to mind when I think of my children, nor do I want them to be. Confidence and character are important, but so are kindness, compassion and empathy. I don’t want to toughen them against the dark, but help them to contribute to the light.

This of course is my view, and my reading of the events I’ve mentioned and the quote I’ve shared. I don’t profess to be some great parenting expert, just a Mummy who paints furniture 😉 I’d love to know what you think to – how do you feel about resilience?

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Thoughts on Mental Health

I’ve been stuck in my thoughts this week. Skimming quickly over and over the same things, not looking too closely but not stopping the process either. Like running your fingers back and forward across water, dipping in ever so slightly but not getting too deep.

It’s been six months since I separated.

This week I lied to someone, told them I would be taking the kids to Sydney rather than tell them that we couldn’t come to a birthday party because it wasn’t my turn to have the kids. I wasn’t sure of them, or of myself, so I rattled off a random excuse and looked away. A few minutes later I shared that truth with others I was a little more sure of; again I was afraid but laughed my way through it… the more I laugh the worse it really is.

I’ve been shocked into thinking about my own mental health, about how I’m living this new life, in part by the tragic death of Robin Williams. It seems many people have. It’s excruciating and enlightening in equal measure. I’ve thought about the future too, the way my mind works and how and what I focus on. Different articles have varying suggestions about dealing with the dark moments – take solace in the little things, tell people how you’re feeling. I can’t imagine. In the dark spaces of depression, anxiety, self doubt and guilt also reside. Who would you tell if you were certain that you were worthless, that anyone who heard your words would cringe and step back? If you were unsure of how others really felt about you, would you really tell them your truth?

In my own mind there is a storage shed, full of archive boxes with tightly sealed lids. Clearly I don’t have answers. But I must resoundingly agree with calls that mental health has to be discussed more openly and more freely for there to be any hope. And so not to be a hypocrite, here I am. Telling you I’m having bad days, and good. And that I know resoundingly that there is no shame in saying so.

If you need help reach out and call Lifeline on 13 11 44.

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Copyright © Catherine KIng 2013
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