Dirt; our natural habitat

My little daughter is so happy in the dirt. It is one of her favourite places; sitting in the garden bed shoveling dirt into empty flower pots, pushing her little hands through the dirt.

She doesn’t mind getting dirty, doesn’t mind the ‘elements’. She finds joy in flowers and trees and grass and wind and rocks and sticks and rain and leaves and dirt.

She gravitates more to these things than to toys or even the television. “Shoes on? Shoes on?” is one of the most common requests she makes.

Meanwhile, I sit in a chair, on concrete, a good three metres from the dirt. I think of picnic rugs before I think of sitting on grass. I look for bugs and spiders and reasons the great outdoors is too messy and too difficult.

Western society has become accustomed to the indoors, and yet there can be so much more value outdoors. The air is fresh. I can hear all different bird noises and wind rustling in the trees. I can hear the far-off sounds of cars on the main road, a truck’s reverse beep. The nearby tap-tap-tap of my daughter’s shovel as she tips dirt into the pots. Even the creaks of my house.

I think it says something that I was initially surprised a few years ago to hear that there are health benefits of being around dirt. Yes it strengthens the immune system, but dirt and the outdoors also apparently benefit mood and mental health.

I have played outdoor soccer for a number of years now, and I think there is definitely something to be said both for exercising outdoors and also the proximity to dirt.

Even as much as I sit here hoping there aren’t any creepy crawlies anywhere near us, I am enjoying the fresh air, the smell of the dirt, the calming bird songs. And I know I need to be out here more, in my natural habitat.

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Strangers in a Row

Every day people walk past us on the street. We don’t know who they are. We may never see them again. We frequently don’t give them a second thought, unless they cause us some sort of inconvenience.

You just never know what these strangers around you might be going through.

This morning I had to have a routine blood test for my pregnancy that required me to have three blood tests across two hours, and sit at the pathology and wait in between.

So I sat, with a row of strangers, for two hours, as they waited their turns to have their blood taken.

Some were elderly; there was a woman with a walker and very curly grey hair who cheerfully refused the chair offered to her, gesturing to her built-in chair as she lowered herself to sit.

There were middle-aged people; there was a man who had his wife with him, reminding him of the things he had forgotten to do, which unfortunately included taking a ticket number from the pathology when he arrived, setting them back at least five people in the queue.

There were younger people; other pregnant women waiting for their tests, a younger couple who had thought ahead and brought a book for the wait.

Today the pathology only had one nurse working, and they were absolutely swamped. The waiting time was hours long, the people waiting sighing and looking at their watches. And then talking to one another.

In that row there were at least three cases of cancer, among a host of other conditions. Some were in treatment currently, thus the blood test. One had a child that had suffered from cancer in past years, in and out of different hospitals.

They were all strangers to me, and I would never have guessed from looking at them that these were their stories. They could be the person sitting next to you on the train, or at the movies. They could be the person sitting at the next table in that cafe. They could be your friend’s aunt, or your brother’s old maths teacher, or the woman that lives at the end of the road and complains when the bins aren’t emptied on time.

Though it is a skewed sample, there were so many stories of significant illness and difficulty. I was one of the lucky few, just there for a routine test.

These are the people all around us, walking past us, serving us, working alongside us. Strangers. I am reminded again of the importance of treating everyone kindly, because we do not know where those feet have walked and what those eyes have seen.

My Hidden Talent

First of all, that title is wildly misleading. It should really be titled “my hidden competency”, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.

The hidden part is accurate though, as I don’t believe many of my friends or acquaintances would have any idea of my total competence at:

Sewing.

I do not look like a sewing person, whatever they look like. I envisage sewing people as having glasses and curly hair and better dress sense and being very into colours and buttons. I look more like I should be on a basketball court, which frequently I have been.

To me, sewing also conjures up visions of 1950s housewives and Jane Austen novels and having 5 or 6 children.

I have no intention of having any more than the 1.5 children I’ve already got, but none the less, I can sew. I’m definitely not talented at it, but very competent. I have been known to do cross stitch, but mostly I use my hidden competency for fixing things; I’m a fixer.

Fixed the tear in my husband’s work pants. Fixed the tear in my maternity jeans in time for round two. Fixed a few tops, bits and bobs. And then this week, my crowning glory. This week I replaced a full length zip in my toddlers sleeping bag. It was mildly daunting, but I was up to the challenge. Unpicking and looking at how the zip was sewn in, then re-sewing in the new zip.

It is a great sleeping bag and I haven’t found another one like it to replace it. For the low, low price of $5.95 I have a rejuvenated sleeping bag!

On this glorious occasion I’d just like to thank my primary school art teacher. I don’t know if it was in the curriculum or if she just liked teaching it, but all of us had to have a go at stitching. We learnt how to thread a needle, a few different types of stitches, and voila! Here I am 17 years later. Overly proud of myself and feeling very domesticated. Thank you, thank you very much.

Cheating Australian Cricketers

Cameron Bancroft of the Australian cricket team was caught on camera tampering with the game ball during the test match in South Africa yesterday.

Bancroft and captain Steve Smith fronted up to a media conference, admitted in detail how they had planned to and then executed their plan to cheat, then spoke of “moving on” and it not “happening again”.

The Australian sporting public, and indeed the International Cricket community, are livid.

What is it in us that has reacted so strongly, to something that at the end of the day, is just a game?

The entire basis of sporting competition is to put your best foot forward, and those who perform at the highest level are rewarded by being deemed winners. Talent isn’t fair. Life dishes it out differently to all of us. But within the confines of a game that has clearly defined rules and boundaries, everyone is given a shot to do the best that they can with the talent they have been given.

Not so when rules are broken, on purpose, with the intent to make the contest unfair.

The ball is not to be tampered with. The bowlers are to try to do the best that they can in the way that they bowl the ball, not in changing the ball itself.

We have a national team captain in Smith openly admitting (when caught) to blatant cheating.

Smith sitting there in a media conference, explaining to us exactly how it happened, and then expecting that to be the end of the matter.

We cheated, we know we shouldn’t have, sorry about that. All ok now, right?

Anyone who watched Dean and Tracey on Married At First Sight last week can answer that question: no, it’s not all ok now. Saying sorry quickly afterwards doesn’t change the fact that you cheated. Something has shifted. As in relationships, so too in sport.

It doesn’t matter if you think other teams are doing it too. They too are in the wrong. Others doing something wrong has never been a good defence for why you decided to do the same.

The essence of sport falls down when people cheat. The integrity of sport is what makes sport worthwhile, and what gives audiences enjoyment.

A national sporting team holds up the values of the country. We do not want to be known as a country of cheaters, and yet that is what is reflected today.

My husband is a cricket lover and said tonight “I would rather we lose the Ashes many times over playing fairly than win a game because we cheated”.

Cheating makes sport empty and soulless. Don’t do that to us. And Steve Smith, let me borrow sentiment from Tracey on behalf of Australia: you don’t deserve us.

Buzz and Babies

There are two flies buzzing around my lounge room

Like it’s an Olympic race

Buzz buzz buzz

And my feet are up and my chair reclined

And I can hear the buzzing and nothing else

Silence

And that’s because my small child is not here

She is playing over at the next door neighbours’

On a whim!

And my whole body is relaxing into the couch and maybe even my eyes shutting

And this must be what it’s like to have a child instead of a baby

It’s very nice

It’s very quiet

Except for the buzz

But of course I’m growing a new baby

A fresh baby, a number two baby

So it’s a tiny little fragment of a glimpse

Into child parenting

Before we begin all over again

With a baby

A fresh baby

Buzz buzz buzz

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.

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.