New Year

Some of us had flipping fantastic 2017s. Relationship milestones and celebrations, career successes, contentment or happiness in different ways and areas of our lives.

Others of us had flipping *insert appropriate phrase* shocking years. Deep loss, relationship difficulties or breakdowns, feelings of going backwards or failing or being stuck in a rut. Of “oh no, another year”.

Some will look to 2018 with excitement and anticipation. Some will look to 2018 with despair, disinterest, or even fear.

I don’t have any great words of wisdom, or reflections, but looking at my 2017 – I’m grateful for the people that made me smile, that helped me, those that made up the laughs and good moments. I’m also glad to have made it through some of the hard parts, the weariness, the difficulties.

I’m confident that 2018 will have moments of great joy, and moments of intense difficulty and doubt.

But we just keep moving forwards, trying again, hoping, celebrating the good and acknowledging the bad.

Farewell, 2017. Hello 2018.

Onwards.

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Weightless

There is something about being in water that feels natural and safe.

I’ve watched my fair share of horror water stories, Titanic and Poseidon and Jaws, so I’m no idealist.

But floating, looking up, feeling that weightlessness.

It makes me wonder if this is what it is like to be in the womb;

Floating

Muted sounds

Rushing of water

Fluid movements

Nothing else going on

Calm

We can’t survive underwater, and yet it draws us in. Life becomes simpler. Arms and legs gliding slowly back and forth. Stillness. Breathing.

And I’ve forgotten everything I’m supposed to be thinking about, and I’m just thinking about how nice it is to be weightless, floating away.

Advent: Calendars and Countdowns

This morning I had an amazing revelation. It was December the 2nd. The 2nd! This made me extraordinarily happy. Why, you might ask?

Well, because I had forgotten to start my chocolate advent calendar the day before, meaning two chocolates for me today! Double excitement.

It might seem insignificant, but I love my chocolate advent calendar. I love opening the window each day and eating the chocolate inside, and counting down to Christmas Day.

A couple of years ago I accidentally-on-purpose ate the whole calendar before we even reached the first of December, but I was pregnant at the time and I bought another one for December, so: no harm, no foul.

There is something about countdowns that I enjoy almost as much as the promise of a little Christmas themed chocolate each day. Counting down to something important or exciting gives it an extra layer. It allows you to enjoy it just that little bit more, knowing it’s coming.

Christmas is family and a bauble-covered tree and presents carefully wrapped and my Dad taking such pride in his roast turkey. It’s silly coloured paper hats and bon-bons and my Mum’s overly-alcoholic sherry trifle. It’s coffee and mini homemade mince pies. It’s Carols by Candlelight and baby Jesus in the manger, under the star.

And that is what I will look forward to every day as I eat my chocolate (and sometimes my husband’s chocolate) and countdown the days. 23 to go!

How to have a cheap holiday 101

Short version:

Don’t go anywhere.

Extended version:

Free accomodation! What could be better. Stay at home, but do whatever you usually do on holidays.

Example:

Today we drove down to the beach, played in the sand, swam, got burnt, got sand everywhere, did an awkward beach change with a towel that kept slipping down and my husband whispering “there’s people coming!”

Takeaway burgers for lunch, running around in the park trying to convince the little one that it was much more fun playing in the shade than in the 34 degrees celsius sun.

Takeaway Indian food for dinner, sitting on the couch sipping drinks and watching Star Wars Episode VI, my husband having to re-explain the plot up to this point as I hadn’t bothered to remember. Something about I Am Your Father and a Death Star and being in love with your sister.

But the best part was that our little daughter was snoozing away magnificently, in her own bed.

You’re welcome.

My Boring Life

I got married at 23. Bought a house. Had my first kid at 26. Currently a stay at home mum.

And there’s this thing out there that says I’ve got the boring life. That I’m missing out on the excitement of being young. Of the bright lights and long nights and career achievements and travelling the world.

There are definitely things I’ve missed out on. But that’s true of everyone. Every choice we make limits us in some way, cuts off another path we could have taken. Choosing bright lights and long nights means missing out on something different to that.

I won’t pretend my life is perfect, I’ve got depression and there have been some pretty shitty moments along the way.

But let me tell you a little about my quiet boring life.

I am married to a man who is everything I most deeply wanted as an unhappy teenager searching for what real love was.

The type of love that knows you fully, all of you, and still thinks you’re incredible.
The type of love that lights up your soul because it is fun, and deep, and sexy all at the same time.

I have found journals I wrote as a 17 year old, lamenting that this sort of love might in fact not exist.

But I have it.
My boring life.

I jumped out of a plane when I was 25, despite my intense fear of heights and death, because this man gave me confidence that I could do it, that I could be that person, if I wanted to be. He had bungee jumped the day before.

You jump, I jump Jack.
My boring life.

Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t all about him, but he has helped me find the confidence to be who I want to be, to try things. I have a best friend, for life.

Our house might not be huge, but why is it we think we need more? This house is full of memories, we took an old dilapidated shell and made it a home. Paint and sweat. Handpicked benches. Love. Time.

My boring life.

I was scared that having a child might create a replica of me; a little one with spiralling thoughts and uncertainties, inabilities to cope. But my man pointed out the positive traits that I could pass on to a child. Our child is cheeky and curious and determined and delightful. I didn’t sleep for most of her first year, and it was horrendous. But now I have a little shadow toddling around after me, showing me the world in a different light. A simpler light. There are screams of laughter and lying on the floor crying and celebrating the little achievements.

My boring life.

Maybe I missed out. Maybe there are things I could be doing right now that would make me happy in different ways. Of course there are.

But you know what?

This life has given me some of my most precious moments. I have a deep sense of home, and family, and love.

My boring life.

Opposing Narratives

Opposing narratives first came up at University when I was studying the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Israelis and Palestinians both believed themselves to be the victim, and in the right, seeing the other as the aggressor, the problem, the threat.

Their common history was all seen through this lens. Attacks were seen as defence. Defence was seen as attack.

Wherever I look at the moment I see this, disagreements between opposing narratives.

Conflict between the U.S and North Korea – the U.S sees North Korea as a terrible threat to world stability and peace who needs to be kept in check. North Korea sees America as a bully, interfering, a terrible threat to their very existence, ready to invade at any moment.

In America conservatives see black NFL players not standing for the national anthem as disrespectful to the country, the military, rejecting America. The liberals see it as peaceful protest against ingrained unacknowledged racial injustice in their country.

Guns are the problem. Guns are the solution. It goes on and on.

In Australia at the moment, liberals see marriage equality as liberating for the LGBTI community, moving the country forward with equality for all. Some conservatives see same-sex marriage as a potential threat to freedom of speech, or to rights of parents. They do not see it as an issue of equality at all.

We are simply not on the same page. We are seeing the same thing through two different narrative lenses.

When you can only see through your own narrative, you are missing the bigger picture. You don’t have to agree with someone else’s perspective, but as the old saying goes “walk a mile in their shoes before you judge them”.

I’m not saying all narratives are equal either, some are twisted and self-interested, and wrong. But where did this narrative come from? What beliefs or experiences has this person had that have contributed towards their view?

How can you have a conversation with someone if you can’t even address the narrative that motivates their point of view?

People’s minds aren’t changed by arguing or insulting. Things change when people come together and try to understand why someone disagrees with them.

Rebellious Acts Of Little Significance

“Nup. Not a big deal” I said to myself. “Totally fine.”

And yet the good rule-abiding girl inside me was nervous. “Technically this is against the rules” she says, getting all uptight. “If they notice they will be silently judging you or worse openly telling you off!”
“Nup. All good” I tell myself.

I counted then recounted my items as I stood in the 12 items or less line.

13 at first count.
Close enough, right?
Oh no, there are two jars of jam hiding under the corn chips.
15 large items.

At what point is “close enough” NOT close enough? Is 13 or 14 ok, but 15 too much? Where is the line?
I suppose it does say 12 items or LESS. Pretty explicit. Not really open to interpretation. 12 or less.

And I have 15.

I’m doubting my decision, but confidence takes the day.
I smile at the cashier and pretend I have 12 items or less, or that I’m bad at counting, even as I see the tiny words on the bottom of the screen that tell us both I have 15 items.

She doesn’t bat an eyelid. I don’t bat an eyelid. She will not be able to recall this transaction. But I shall keep thinking about it.

12 or LESS!
15.