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Emily Writes, ‘Rants in the Dark’

Ok, well firstly I haven’t attempted to do a book review since it was a school requirement so don’t expect literary genius from me here and as advanced warning I am probably totally not following whatever is the appropriate ‘book review’ template requirements, but anyway…

I got the chance to go to Emily Writes book launch earlier this week for her new release, ‘Rants in the Dark’. When I got home with my copy finally in my hands, I thought I would just flick through it briefly…

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I lost a few hours of time in the end and made that terrible mistake of staying up way to late to cope with kids concepts of morning time because I read it into the wee hours without realising it.

I have been known to ‘binge read’ if I get really keen on a book I may just hide and keep reading it until its over if I can! And that is exactly what happened with this book.

When I was at the launch, I not only bought myself a copy but an extra one which I got Emily to sign so I could give it away to another ‘tired mama’ out there and so I knew I wanted to write something about it and share the awesomeness with you all too.

In what I thought at the time was an inspired moment of genius I thought, “I know, I’ll book mark my favourite ‘one liners’, bits, the ‘gems’ I like most…” This was no help at all as it turns out and actually achieved not much more than using up a whole packet of book tabs and making it harder for me to work out what I wanted to say!

 

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Just a sea of book tabs of highlights… 

 

So what are my many favorite rants?

The ‘Day 3’ post birth piece, ‘Before I was a mum’ which is about that smug wisdom many of us have about how we might parent before we actually have our own kids, the ‘how to get your baby to sleep’ and ‘is your baby going through a sleep regression’ parts had me literally laughing out loud.

The In-My-Day Committee meeting minutes were also hilarious. The ‘Happy Mothers Day’ rant which suggests that one way we could celebrate this day is just end all the annoying things said to mothers, the ‘this isn’t indulgent’ part about by being responsive to our babies needs, the rant about the pressures we all feel of the evils of ‘screen time’, the ‘how not to be a jerk’ bit which featured one of my top two lines – “How about you get off my tits?” only topped by “get out of my uterus”.

It is not hard to see what has resonated in Emily’s writing. Far too much of parenting now days can feel like barrages of often conflicting advice or pressure – if only on ourselves from ourselves sometimes, to do the best we can as parents.

Emily takes a fresh, humorous and enlightened approach to relating to these real aspects without the bullshit of how to fix it. More so than that, it is uplifting, compelling and a relatable, real story of her experiences in parenting that many would enjoy.

Check out more from Emily Writes here – http://www.emilywrites.co.nz/

You can find the competition to win yourself this signed copy on my Facebook page here – Babywearing with Jess 

 

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Everyone is entitled to their opinion but do they need to express it?

 

Do you know what one of our main focuses as a society is at the moment? Comparison.

Opinions on stuff that’s got nothing to do with us, things like Facebook have a whole bunch of us focusing on other people’s grass.

And do you know where the grass is greenest?

Where you water it.

 

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I was going to write a post about self-love. About body image. About accepting yourself. Your whole self, imperfections as well.

Because as women we do that badly on the whole. We could blame societal expectations about returning to some ‘pre baby state’ and there is those – I’m not discrediting that, but really it is often us who are our own worst enemies.

Often we are the harshest critics of ourselves.

But it strikes me that it’s maybe not even our bodies we do this to worst – it’s our hearts and minds.

Evident to me every time I delve ever so much more sceptically into my Facebook feed.

This person is getting trolled about that. Another person getting hateful or hurtful comments about this. That event occurs, something horrible happens and the first thing those people affected by it have to deal with is other, random, unrelated people’s opinions on their choices and decisions.

This is so amplified when you add children to the mix. Everyone has an opinion.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. It’s like our right as people.

Even if we didn’t have freedom of speech or live in a democratic society, you are still entitled to an opinion.

The problem is not with the opinions-the problem is when we focus on everyone else, well firstly our opinions are based on things we know limited information about and beyond that, many times it’s not even relevant to us.

And we express them all over the show. Cause it’s our right, right?

But why is there so much negativity, hate, judgement and insensitivity when we express these opinions online?

Well there is actually lots of science around it. The accessibility, the convenience, the lack of seeing the impact of our words on the other person… All manner of things.

But obviously with fractured ribs, I’ve had maybe even more reflection time on this that I would have ever been able too otherwise at such a hectic time in my life. And for the universe I thank for that, painful and difficult as it has been.

The one thing observing and reflecting on all this did was resolve my ambitions and values and goals that I can look at some serious heavy issues that face many of us and use the voice and platform I have been blessed with to fight for change positively. To do it my own way.

In my attempts to write about the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves and our body image as women, the amazing campaigners like fellow kiwi Gala Darling and her radical self-love movement, the many other TED Talks I have watched lately like Cameron Russell’s “Looks aren’t everything. Trust me, I’m a model” (a whole bunch included for you at the bottom of this post) and of course the Queen herself, Constance Hall, I realised not only these ladies but other inspirational speakers had some really common themes.

Ones we know so well as a society they are even colloquial sayings… Why do we keep focusing on the negative and why as a society are we not learning from our mistakes?

So what were the common themes?

 

Be Kind

Ideas like practise compassion for yourself and others. This idea again of self-love. Why do we all struggle with this so bad? For the record, I’m not excluding myself from the collective “we” by the way by any means. But this idea about not only being kind to other but compassionate to ourselves is vital I think.

 

“Turns out, we can’t practise compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly first”

Brene Brown – TED Talk on Vulnerability

 

Maybe this is what is somewhat contributing to hatefulness online? Is it that we struggle so badly to accept ourselves, flaws and all and love ourselves that we look for outlets like ‘clickbait’ headlines or memes online to express our judgement and bitterness at the world? Like not even considering that may have an impact or influence on someone else? Just because of the nature of the technology even?

Anyway, kindness was a common theme. I feel like I have talked the shit out of kindness so if you want more of my version of this one see the ‘Be Kind Online’ post.

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Ok none of them used that quote, but again it was a really strong theme. Media of any form, be it “social” online, printed mass media like magazines or mainstream TV media- ANY OF IT – it’s all a construction. It’s not real life.

Comparing ourselves to others only focuses on what we don’t have. It’s watering the wrong grass people!

Maybe it is easier for us to forget the constructed, shiny highlight nature of social media because it feels more realistic, because it’s our friends or people we know..? But regardless it’s still constructed, its only one aspect of a greater story.

The mum who uploads the beautiful basket of freshly baked muffins her and her kids made together, with a baby on her back- looks a bit like super mum sometimes right?

 

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Do you know why we took this photo outside? Because the kitchen was literally covered in flour because the “baby” on my back got into the “child proof lid” of our 10kg flour tub, tipped it over and his big brother threw handfuls of it in the air screaming “it’s snowing! It’s snowing!” while I lost my shit screaming for James to come out of his office, stop his work and “FUCK HELP ME PLEASE”…

Needless to say I didn’t include that in the photo description at the time as I was trying to convince myself not anyone else that baking with my kids, a passion of mine, that sharing that with them was still worth the torture of having to spend the next three hours cleaning ten kilograms of flour out of my kitchen as the kids tipped out every, fucking, vessel we filled over and over again.

Fun times… hahah well it is funny now. There was certainly a lot of cursing at the time but my point was, this picture-it only tells one little aspect of that story. It’s a construction. It’s not real life.

Comparing yourself or your situation or your choices or your decisions or anything to others, well, there is a limited amount of positive that can come from that. Compare yourself to you. It’s the only version of yourself you get in this life time and that’s special cause that means there is only one of you.

That goes for family and parenting decisions big time too. I way to often hear about or read judgment or criticism from or towards others simply for making different choices to the person expressing them. I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again; as parents we are all trying to do the best we can for our kids with the resources we have available to us. And different things work at different times for different people and different reasons. That is ok.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself. Focus on being the best version of you. Water your own grass.

 

Be Grateful

Again a hugely common theme. Summing it up I guess, if you can’t appreciate what you do have you can’t see the joy in life.

If you focus on what you hate, that’s what you will see. The exact same can be said for if you focus on what you love, that in turn is what you will see.

That statement stands true be it your body image, your self-image, your mental health, your life, your kids – everything…

If you focus on the bad only, all you are going to do is rob yourself of joy.

Another great Brene Brown quote exert here I thought was amazing advice and particularly poignant as I rewatched one of her videos with James last night was, “in those moments of terror, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, just stop and say, I am so grateful because to feel this venerable means I am truly alive” ( I paraphrased a bit there, sorry Brene!)

Practising gratitude in your life in any capacity works to trick you into having a positive perspective, even if your conscience mind doesn’t want to have one 😉

 

Worthiness

You deserve it. You are worthy. You are enough. This message was repeated over and over and over again. To say it was a common theme is actually an understatement.

 

“The relationship you have with yourself is the longest relationship you are going to have. It’s not selfish to care for and love yourself, it’s your responsibility.”

Jenny Schatzle, TED Talk, ‘Rewiring how you look at yourself’

 

This concept of worthiness, like the other three points largely comes down to self talk as well – how we speak to ourselves in our heads.

I also appreciated the no bull shit solution Jenny had for that, “talk positively to yourself, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, you are who you say you are, change the statements you say to yourself” (again paraphrased a bit there, sorry Jenny).

 

“People go on to say how radically different our world could be if every child was raised with unconditional love and support and I agree. But see I don’t think we need to wait until we raise a whole generation of children, I think we can start right now by making the decision to accept ourselves without any reservation.”

Micheller Charfen, TED Talk – Unconditional Positive Regard

 

We have this thing in Kiwi culture about being humble and this thing we call “Tall Poppy Syndrome” but I loved how Caroline McHugh put it in her TED Talk, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking about yourself less”.

Which would lead me to think, if we truly want to be humble then those tenants of kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, not comparing ourselves with others, being grateful and feeling worthy could actually be more likely to help us achieve that.

 

Slow Down

This is such a huge one for me personally. So much so, in my rush to ‘finish’ this piece of writing I missed it off. When I checked my TED Talk notes from all these common themes again and asked myself, “is it really that important?” It was like someone grabbed a giant highlighter and started illuminating the term ‘slow down’ in my notes. Well that was eye opening…

It not only appears in every one of them on some level but in many of them it appeared many times in the one speech. It is truly that important and until I remembered to slow down myself enough to move beyond the “argh I thought I had finished that! Do I really need it? This is going to be heaps long already! Does it add value?” thoughts that it dawned on me – its actually pretty key. In fact it could potentially maybe even have been better placed as the first common point (but fuck rewriting the whole thing now!!)

The modern world we live in was fast paced enough even before we started seeing real life evidence that the internet is literally starting to change the way we think. It’s quicker – we skip steps sometimes, it makes the desire for instant gratification worse.

Not only that but we are all so god damn time poor we try to do a million things at once. We rush from one thing to the next. It’s tiring. And it spreads our attention thin. No one of those million things have your full attention and presence.

It goes for all of the above points too. If we can’t try to slow down, both our bodies and minds, there is no place to be kind to ourselves, there is no time for practising gratitude, there is no thought space for us to tell ourselves we are worthy and there is no opportunity for us to consider WHY we are comparing (when we compare ourselves to others it is an opportunity for insight into what we feel we are missing or needing or judging ourselves for).

 

Loving ourselves, being comfortable with being imperfect, accepting ourselves mistakes and all, being grateful and slowing down. Maybe doing some more of those things in our lives and remembering that the internet is a place that promotes hate and misunderstanding, maybe that could filter through?

Maybe just a little bit? Or maybe just make everyone a little happier and more whole generally?

Maybe if more of us are genuinely happy and focused on being better, whole versions of ourselves, then maybe the tones of the opinions being expressed could change?

Or maybe not….

 

Maybe this post could have just been, if you feel like being an arsehole online, just remember, those words are heard and felt by someone else. And, just, like don’t. Stop it.

Please try to stop the pack mentality. Please be kind in your words. Please don’t judge things you don’t know everything about. Please remember that we don’t all have to agree on everything, if we did the world would be boring.

And remember there is this really real thing called a “vengeful angel”, don’t fight hate with hate. Miserable people thrive on it.

 

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Kindness, compassion not comparison, gratefulness, worthiness and slowing down.. That’s what we could really all benefit from remembering before we interact with each other online particularly I think… ❤

 

 

 

 

 


 

FURTHER CONTENT & VIDEOS

Here is some of the great TED Talks I have been watching and recommend on this topic:

 

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown- https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o

 

Radical Self Love: Gala Darling at TEDxCMU 2012- https://youtu.be/GFXHYtY9ag8

Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model – Cameron Russell- https://youtu.be/ks1FEtWlzTU

 

Rewiring how you look at yourself | Jenny Schatzle | TEDxOaksChristianSchool 2016 – https://youtu.be/6DNqKig7Xis

 

How do you define yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez | TEDxAustinWomen2014 – https://youtu.be/QzPbY9ufnQY

 

 

Plus-size? More Like My Size | Ashley Graham | TEDxBerkleeValencia – YouTube

Unconditional positive regard — the power of self acceptance | Michelle Charfen | TEDxRedondoBeach 2014 –https://youtu.be/4tkkL9w2pw8

 

Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro

 

A journey to self-acceptance | Ekaterina Karabasheva | TEDxDonauinsel 2014 – https://youtu.be/vEQs3z8Sydg

 


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Grief, Loss & Acceptance

Grief is a heavy topic to cover, I get that.

And we all have different ways of perceiving the process, rituals and ongoing emotions associated with death, loss and grief. Not to mention different fundamental ideals and understandings about what “life after death” or even “what the point” of life is all about.

But grief and loss is something as people, we can’t avoid.

It is one of the fundamentals of life, you are born and you will die.

Sorry, again, I know that concept alone freaks some people out.

But it does happen to all of us.

And furthermore, someone doesn’t even actually have to die for you to feel grief or loss over something. As people we can feel loss at a failed project, we can feel grief over at the end of a relationship breakdown, fuck we all often feel grief over losing hopes and dreams of ideas or concepts of the ways you wish or expected things might have been.

And given this is something we will all face most of us will experience grief and loss in some form or another many, many times in our lives, but we are terrible as a social cohort about talking about it.

I’m not even talking about actually talking about death, don’t even get me started there, that’s a whole different post in itself. But just grief and loss alone.

I post about my Dad and other members of my life who are no longer with us because it keeps their stories and their memories relevant in my life.

If I don’t talk about them, create stories about them for the generation that never knew them, well, its like a fate worse than death, its like banishment. It’s like they didn’t exist.

And there had been stacks of research on how social media and other online formats can be really helpful for grief and how one might process it on an individual level.

But being vulnerable and sharing stories of grief and loss online isn’t me NOT coping, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

 

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There is ultimate beauty in imperfection…

 

Being vulnerable in life, having the openness and courage to be truly ok experiencing and living through (as well as talking about) the lows, gives us this ultimate opportunity to actually experience the amazing joys and happiness and euphoric fun and all the highs at different times as well.

Me talking about the biggest losses in my life, omg of course there are going to be parts of that which are sad. If there weren’t they wouldn’t be the “greatest losses of my life” would they…

But does that mean me and my soul are at that moment I press “Publish” or “Post” are sitting there crying into a pillow in sorrow. No, no, no, no…. not even remotely.

I mean I write from my heart, not from my head in these posts often. In academia and research and business it was always written from my head, but in this form, well you get raw writing from my heart sometimes. People probably don’t even realise, most of my blog posts now, are actually first written by hand. Then I type it… it’s more like selected bits of journal entry if you like…

But there is a key difference – you don’t get it AT the time.

I don’t post something I am feeling vulnerable about when I am still vulnerable about it because, well, because- the internet is mean.

People aren’t nice online.

This isn’t like a surprise or shock to me at all. There are scientific reasons for it.

Psychologists now, unlike in 2011 when we were campaigning about taking these issues seriously (Be Kind Online post) have many different studies and methods and models of why and how the internet does what it does to us.

Not only that they have stacks and stacks and stacks of case studies and stories, of people, and of the real damaging effects these issues have had on them and models and strategies about how to treat some of those.

This is something that despite people being more aware of it, has only got worse in recent years.

But the thing about vulnerability is it makes us uncomfortable because it allows us to truly connect with others.

To me, talking about grief gives it a greater opportunity to transform itself into growth.

Hiding or numbing or running from the very darkest parts of our own experiences means we do the same for the flip side of the coin.

I’m not going to start hypothesising about life after death or varying perceptions or ideas of that here but one thing I do know is that “love is a form of energy that swirls all around us, their love for you has not left this world, it is still inside your heart and is reborn as new love” (like that one? Kid’s cartoon, linked it below, its actually pretty awesome).

But the stories and the characters of the people we no longer have with us, they can only live on through us.

There are my boys and Eden particularly I think of in these kinds of things. I want them to know stories about these people. For my boys their grandfather, for Eden, its her father.

I am fortunate and grateful that I had my whole childhood with an amazing active and involved father as a role model and I know not everybody gets that. Not only death or absence can rob us of those. But as much as I am grateful, it’s also ok to be sad at times.

And it is easy to be bitter. At times before in my life I have definitely been bitter at the hand dealt to me for sure. Not just about my dad or death, but life in general. I was a rather bitter teenagers in retrospect haha. But bitterness gets you nowhere.

 

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Paper boats, butterflies, bubbles, stories… they are ways for me to try channel my grief positively..

 

I don’t tell stories about those no longer with us or write letters to them FOR THEM…

I write them for myself and for those other who are still here missing them too. As a way to both process my grief into growth and to share my vulnerability as a way to connect but also to show others its ok to be vulnerable too.

When a little girl looks up to you mid blowing bubbles at her fathers funeral (your friends funeral) and says, “your daddy is dead like mine, hey?” and I can manage to blow another REALLY deep breathe of bubbles out, tears silently streaming down my face, look at her and smile, “yeah… yeah he is hunny..” and then scoot her in a bit closer to me as we continue to blow bubbles and marvel at them together, that’s both grief and growth.

During that moment I realised something, the person who helped me most when I was in Eden’s shoes, even if I was twenty years older, was another little girl, not much older than Eden at the time.

And the wise little girl who sat with me when it was my Dad I couldn’t get my head around losing had death with her own unfair share of death already in her life journey even at that tender age. She was the one who reminded me his “love is still all around us, when people die we just have to tell more stories about them so others don’t forget about them and their love. That’s all. OMG, look at that HUUUUUUGE bubble!!!”

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Bubbles are magic.

Children are beautiful and wise beyond what many of us give them credit for.

And stories are legacies.

I talk about the people that I’ve “lost” in this lifetime lots because I love them and I don’t want others (including the kids) to forget about them or they love they are swirling around all of us.

Hahah I feel like I should sign off “Namaste” 😛

I’ll leave ya with this instead… Its only ten minutes, watch it, its awesome…

CARTOON EXPLAINING CONCEPT OF CHAKRAS

It’s from a kids cartoon explanation about chakras, its actually really cool but pre warning, maybe a bit scary for little kids, I wouldn’t show my boys right now… But Josh is maybe more sensitive to “scary” stuff in show cause we don’t watch TV but use your discretion…


 

 


 

If you haven’t seen this video which is a TED Talk by Brene Brown about vulnerability its also very much worth watching…

 


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New Year’s Giveaway – in memory of my Nana Maysie

I have had some amazing leaders and teachers in my life. One I dearly miss whose birthday would have been the 1st of Jan, is my Nana, my Dads mum.

It was in her memory and honour I decided to list this competition and the stories and messages shared there had me overwhelmed about just how to honour that, and you, and her and her memory.

She was born on 1st January 1933 and died just a few years ago at 81 on the 6th of Jan, 2014.

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Listed on my Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/babywearingwithjess/photos/a.615547578588220.1073741828.600756476733997/829527297190246/?

I remember calling her for her birthday, that last one she had and when I got off the phone, I just burst into tears.

“Is she ok?” James asked.

“She said so, but she always says so. But it didn’t sound like her. It didn’t sound like Nana.” I cried into his arms.

We were staying at my Mums house and she and James sat me down with a glass of wine over lunch and talked me through it. “She’s old Jess, she’s been unwell. I know you are close to her but you need to prepare yourself for the inevitable…”

I mean Nan had been ‘preparing’ herself for years. Every visit back she had sold or given away yet another piece of furniture or something and downgraded it. She told me, my sister and my cousin it was so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting rid of it later.

My Nana was an amazing lady. She was so well loved and admired. She put up with shit most of us would never dream off. And even with us kids even at our most trying, the worst she would say is “go fly a kite”. It was her version of “I am so fucking frustrated right now and want to scream at you but instead I am going to breathe deeply and tell you to go away nicely”.

 

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My Nana’s 60th birthday on New Years Day in Canberra, (from L-R) Kate (my sister), Dad, Mum, Me & Nana – Kate & I were so hung over we missed the first flight to the party haha

 

I haven’t yet mastered that one but she told me once, “I think we make better grandparents than we do even as parents in life” so I am holding out hope for myself yet!

She and my grandfather were a formidable pair who did so much for the communities around them by working together (much like my own parents and the World of Difference award but that’s a separate story in itself, I did put a video link here though if you are keen to see below which mum downplays her role in for the record). But it is my grandparents I have been thinking about lately…

 

When Nana died we all went down to clear her house and prepare for the funeral and such (a process I know too well as apparently I just know a lot of people who have died) and found a few small folders of my grandfather’s stories she had kept. Actually I knew exactly where she kept it as I had regularly made her pull it out on all my visits.

It wasn’t’ stories he had written himself but a collection of varied stories from all over the world, different religious texts and some colloquial ones or stories of different cultures. He was a story teller my grandfather, but I knew him as a Unity Church minister and my Nana as a nurse and heavily involved with many different charities and organisations, one of them including the Unity Church.

When I asked my Aunty Sue for more details, well the list of just how many groups my Nana was involved with right up until her death speaks for itself really. But she started he life working on her Dads farm and it was when she started her nursing training that she meet my grandfather. She really wanted her Dad to walk her down the aisle (who doesn’t, my sister and I missed out on that one too) but he was very ill and it did look like he would last till she finished her training for when they had planned their wedding.

Her and my grandfather moved their wedding forward by eight months or so (my Nana’s dad actually died just six weeks later) and so she had to drop out of college as that’s how things worked at the time. My grandfather was still finishing his theology studies and was also told he couldn’t get married while studying as well. His dean of college said it would be too distracting to be married (meaning because they could have sex and wouldn’t be living in sin and all that) and my Pa told him it was far more distracting waiting.

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So they married, I think in March of 1958 and it was my grandfather who took charge of setting up the reception venue because my grandmother had to help her dad finish the sheep dipping before the wedding.

After they got married they became missionaries in a small New South Wales town called Hay, where my Dad was born. It was a role called “Inland Missionaries”, they were waiting for my grandfather’s registration as a Minister for the NSW Methodist church. He was refused and so they set off to South Australia where he better fit the entry requirements.

As soon as he was qualified in SA and was assigned his first post, my Nana always ran the women’s fellowship meetings and supported my grandfather in his support role for the local community as well as focusing on raising my Dad, his sister and their brother (thanks again to my dad’s little sister, my Aunty Sue for filling in some gaps here and digging up some photos for me).

 

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My Dad as a baby in 1959

 

All of my elders have been progressive and ahead of their times, my Nana was the committee secretary for a group recognising gay rights in the church (this was a long time ago-it had a name that had something about justice?). She was also a strong supporter of groups helping refugees settling in Australia. She ALWAYS donated to world vision. Her and my grandfather and another couple they were close friends with set up Lifeline in Broken Hill.

In her later years she volunteered with a different kind of call centre support which called people who lived alone or were elderly or otherwise at risk and just made sure they were ok. She was always involved with services like Meals on Wheels, in fact I can remember doing a few support runs with my mum and grandmother for that cause as a young kid myself. She worked with and supported the Kidney foundation and Motor Neuron Disease Association visiting, talking and supporting people.

I spent time with them when they where living in Taiwan working for big companies like DuPount as a developer or coach in the area of social/cultural models. This is all stuff I am only just beginning to learn about now! I had no idea what they were up to in Taiwan..

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Which is funny cause I spent like a two months living with them there at the time while my parents traveled Asia, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention to that kind of thing and its was like the late 80’s so… this was me at the time…

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When her and my grandfather were posted in Stirling they worked hard together to support bush fire relief efforts. They even bought a few caravans to help rehome people – but they didn’t make it common knowledge, it wasn’t something done for praise or recognition. My Aunty Sue shared a gem that Nan had told her when she asked why they didn’t tell anyone, my Nana said, “That isn’t the point. The doing is for someone else, the telling is for you-you need to work our why you are doing your good deed, for you or for others”.

She was also a nurse despite never formally finishing her training (rules were different back then!) and she also took five years off her age for her whole professional career! She was a matron of a nursing home and worked in aged care, even just supporting and nursing those in the wee retirement village established to support life members of the church like her, right up until her death.

I was always very close with my Nana, even when I was a young girl. I have many, many fond memories but in a bitter sweet tragic way – we got to share something more than a lot of people I know may have had a chance to do with their grandparents.

In 2010, my dad died. Her son.

She had not only buried two husbands but now she was having to do the same for her son.

 

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Nana and Dad in 2002

This, like lots of us, totally took her by surprise and left her heartbroken. I remember in her grief her saying to me, “sure you might have to bury husbands and friends, that’s hard but that’s life, but it’s not fair to bury your child.”

It was near the end of 2011 and I had been throwing myself into work, almost trying to escape the loss of my dad. At least desperately trying to search like a mad man for the “silver lining”.

I was copying (well kind of) with my Dad not being around but I wasn’t ‘dealing’ with it. I wasn’t processing my loss. I was feeling lost and made myself sick in such a state and got to the point where I was like, “I just want to go to Nana’s!”

And so I did. As a 26 year old. I just went and stayed at my Nans for over a month. We tried to heal together. We relived things, she told me stories about Dad and Pa. She took me on road trips to places they had lived and worked before. I learned so much from her in that time.

We bonded so much in that time. There is something to be said about the intensity of a shared experience that isn’t comfortable or “normal” that brings a deeper closeness to that relationship.

Anyway as I have mentioned before, anniversaries and rituals are something we have really thought about and discussed for our family as we are aware it will shape our children’s understanding and experiences of these things, as well as our own.

And unfortunately for me, I have quite a list of loved ones that did/do (I’m never sure of the appropriate tense in these settings) but they mean the world to me, just like my kids do and while I was lucky to introduce Josh, my eldest son, to my Nana once before she passed, she will just like my Dad and grandfather, only ever be a story or character to my kids, not someone they will have the chance to know in the current physical realm.

 

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Nana Maysie & Josh (almost one year old) end of 2013

 

 

So when it comes to anniversaries for my grandfather, I share some of his stories by reading them aloud, in his eccentric, largely exaggerated gesture style to the boys and James, geez anyone who will listen, or just aloud to myself. It’s not too hard to get an audience though, many of his stories where very kid friendly, we as his grandchildren has the same ones read to us by him at the age my kids are now…

Like this, The Little Dog… (don’t laugh at my poor attempt at telling this, my grandfather was much better at it than me! My Aunty assures me its because I haven’t added the characters to it right yet :P) – listen here at you’re own peril hahaha – https://soundcloud.com/user-520072466/sets/stories 

For my Dad, I know he would want us to share the element of fun and adventure, remember him but not dwell on the loss of him. So we make paper boats and send them out to sea in various water ways while we talk about all the cool and crazy adventures I had with him as a kid and what he would have loved to experience with the boys now.

 

 

Paper boats for Grahame Maher 3 years on, before his grandsons first birthday celebrations! from Jess Maher on Vimeo.

 

 

I want to try and maintain a positive aspect to loss, not just for myself but my kids. The stories are the only way they will know their ancestors.

But when it comes to my Nana, well I don’t know I really had a “her way” to celebrate and remember her for those ‘hard dates’ and I wanted to think of something that captured her spirit and essence and what she would want me to establish as the way we remember her.

And of course, it had to be something about helping others. When my Aunty Sue said “Mums big thing was always to look out for others and to relieve their pain/suffering or hard work” well that really summed it up for me.

But I’ve been struggling to “draw a winner” for this New Year’s Giveaway in her honour and now I know it’s because that style, of like “announcing one” just wouldn’t be her thing.

She would want me to help as many people as I could but she would also not want to make a fuss about it. “Consider why you’re doing the good deed”…

So also because I have fractured several ribs and am on some seriously kick arse pain meds so my brain is fuzzy – I’m going to take my time getting in touch with “winners”. And I am going to do it via PM, so there won’t be an “announcement” here and my contact might not even be immediate…

And I know there are at least one or two other awesome people and brand that want to help me make some new years wishes come true so I will keep you posted and make sure I give a big ups and shout out to them, but yep, this was is being drawn in different styles for a change 😛 so if there are more awesome people who want to help me out, keep the PM’s coming 😉

In an ideal world I would hope to talk to all of those people nominated and who posted there as I was very moved and touched by your stories. But even if I can’t get to you all, I hope you do realise you already brought a wee bit of a positive boost to the start of 2017 for both you and the person you nominated (if applicable) because you acknowledged the hard shit from 2016 and validates the struggle then put it out to the universe that you hoped 2017 would be more positive.

So I hope it is, for all of us!

Happy New Year,

Jess x


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Comparisons to child birth- is it the same as a kick in the nuts…?

 

There is this fascination to comparing levels of pain to childbirth.

“Does it hurt more than giving birth??” I was asked yesterday…. Ummm…

 

Look this concept is a little bit fuct to me in the first place as for my last labour I put a lot of time and effort into concepts of hypnobirthing and replacing words like “pain” to “intensity” in my mind, much like I did “wave” or “tightening” in lieu of “contraction”, so for me, the overwhelming memories of my last labour weren’t ones overly focused on being painful at all.

 

Sure it was fucken intense. There were definitely moments of pain and discomfort (mainly the bumps on the drive to the hospital and the nurse making me sit still to put in the line for a blood transfusion in case I needed it as a pre-emptive move as I haemorrhaged post birth with Josh). But mainly it was just intense.

 

But like when you have an ecstasy pill at some party in your twenties and you don’t really know what to do with all the energy and intensity going through your body. And it’s overwhelming as fuck and you need someone to rub your back and tell you “it’s ok. It’s all ok”. And give you water and take you away from the dance party to somewhere more quiet and chilled…

 

Except maybe in the birth example, the shower & some essential oils or whatever your happy place is and some gas and air is probably more appropriate…

 

And when I hear the comparison to being kicked in the nuts, well I’m not sure it’s even the same “centre” of intensity… I’m hypothesising here and obviously I could never truly know as I don’t have testicles. But, I’ve been thinking about pain and injury and “intensity” and how that is effected by which chakra it occurs closest to.

 

So in the case of the birth example, again I am just hypothesising based off my own experience, but when I think of the “chakra of intensity” it was located around my womb, as it was largely for the most part of my labour the womb itself “contracting” or “tightening” if you will.. To me, that seems to be located more around the sacral chakra.

 

When I read in this book that the element for this chakra was water that totally made sense to me. All of my visualisations for birth revolved around water, most of Jai’s labour was spent in the bath or shower.

 

Also the connection of this chakra to the adrenals as the endocrine gland associated made sense to me in terms of what I know to be key to the birthing process in terms of hormones and stress impacts and all that jazz.

 

My point is, despite not having “nuts”, I would assume “pain” or “intensity” in that area could be more likely to be located in the base chakra, where the endocrine gland is the testes/ovaries…

 

But that is just a guess and me pondering anyhow…

 

What I do know is that I was thinking about this concept and considering reading and learning more about chakras for a while now. Long before I munted my ribs in this accident..

 

It was actually open for some reason on the laptop screen in the kitchen on day a few weeks back, just the Wikipedia page for chakras which had the picture that depicted seven points indicated by light.

 

 

Josh asked, “what’s that a picture of?”

 

I was engrossed in another activity when I heard James reply, “oh that’s a picture about chakras, I don’t really know much about them… I know they have different names… hmmm” as he was quickly trying to skim read the Wikipedia page trying to find a way to sum up extensive ancient teaching and wisdom in a way that made it still potentially interesting to a curious four year old.

 

In our house we don’t prescribe to a particular faith or religion but we are almost the opposite to what many people think of when that statement is made. In a way, we prescribe to all of them but just a little bit, but I guess the bush, nature, that’s our temple.

 

Anyway, we’ve always been open to many different takes on faith and interpretations on the way the world works.

 

When I heard Josh and James mention chakras I instinctively turned around and said, “well I don’t really remember the names for them but this one at the bottom is about this…” and ran through my “idiots guide” which probably butchered all proper and through meaning but surprised even myself that I had some concept of all of them.

 

And when I got to the last one, I justified it with a, “ummm, at least, I THINK that’s what they all mean…” and went back to what I was doing.

 

James stood a little wide eyed for a few moments and said, “Wow babe, I had no idea you knew so much about chakras! Where do you know all that from?”

 

“Um, maybe an xbox game I had about meditation years ago? Hahaha I dunno!”

 

But the experience set my resolve again to explore this concept more. My interest grew again.

 

And then I fuct my ribs. I was saying to my friend, “it feels like I’ve hurt myself properly, like right in the heart chakra, you know..?”

 

And being the open minded, wise beyond her years, lived through more than her fair share of stuff self, she didn’t bat an eyelid. She was like, “yep, and now you have to heal all of it for six weeks.”

 

“Ohh, well, pfht, do you have a book about chakras then?!” I replied.

 

And she pulled out this.

 

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The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.

 

I read it for half an hour, had tagged and bookmarked everywhere and truly do think there is something to this whole concept of focusing on the chakra close to the “hurt” or “intensity” when healing…

 

Fuck it probably even has some new age term or name – if it does,  I don’t know it, but why would I? I only just started reading this one book about chakras now?! Hahaha

 

It’s a belief shaped through thousands of years with history from numerous cultures and religions which I am just starting to learn about…

 

But in answer to the question, does giving birth even remotely resemble being kicked in the nuts, or even smashing several ribs for that matter?

 

Not even remotely if you ask me.

 

Again I can’t talk for the nuts situation but this pain in my ribs is heaps worse than childbirth. And there isn’t the awesome hormone roller coaster to ride or the little person at the end of it.

 

Just pain and discomfort, popping when I breathe and feeling incapable of supporting my husband to care for our kids. Thank god for support networks and all our generous and loving friends who have stepped up to offer us help.

 

Not quite the way I planned to “launch myself into the New Year” but feeling grateful never the less.

And again No, being kicked in the nuts is not comparable to birthing a baby.. Just in case you missed that part 😉

 

 

 

 


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Screw New Year’s Resolutions

 

Resolutions.

This concept of let’s make a “rule” for ourselves for the next whole year.

Even in the example when I googled it for a dictionary definition has a negative connation.

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The whole concept makes my skin crawl if I’m honest. Not because I don’t like reflection or goal setting but just this pressure we put around it. The whole ritual of “new year’s resolutions” is just something I don’t do.

But that’s because I was taught and modelled the approach to reflection and forward thinking about the year coming VERY differently long before I realised that’s not how others did it.

So I’m not sure there was ever a name for it, but let’s just call it the “New Year’s Eve Challenge” 😉

I’ve been doing this with the people around me at New Year’s Eve parties for as long as I can remember. Anyone who has been at one of these parties with me probably knows exactly what I am talking about.

In fact it was one of these dear friends of mine who asked me to make sure I wrote about ut and shared it with you guys.

So what you do- instead of sharing a “rule” you’ve made up for yourself for the whole next year that you will probably be a dick to yourself about breaking potentially only a few weeks into the next year. You first share something you are really proud of yourself for achieving.

That’s the first thing that “resolutions” as a ritual doesn’t honour.

Reflection on the year gone, especially if it’s been like 2016 and a bit shit in parts for lots of people, can be really negative. Depressing even, dare I say it.

Don’t get me wrong, that aspect of reflection is important too. Validate yourself for the hard parts and shit bits for sure. Share them with your loved ones.

Bitch away. I’m not discrediting that part. But balance it.

Think about the good too.

You’re still here right? So you managed to get through the rough patches.

If nothing else, give yourself props for that. Share that too so others can give you props.

I know it is this real kiwi mentality of being humble, but you can be humble and kind to yourself.

You can be proud of yourself for your achievements and not be an arrogant dick. That is possible.

So that’s last year and reflection covered right… then we consider the next one coming.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to looking ahead and setting goals. In fact, I love it.

In our version, we don’t share just one but three.

But they are goals. Things you hope to achieve. Things you are looking forward to.

Not rules for yourself.

It’s kinder and more beneficial.

And sharing cool ideas with loved ones is awesome. And hearing about what your loved ones have achieved and are looking forward to is awesome.

And having the opportunity to build up your loved ones confidence and resolve to do cool and awesome things is fantastic.

To have the opportunity for them to do the same for you is amazing.

So give it a try…

Screw New Year’s resolutions, try taking the “new year’s eve challenge” instead ❤

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The Magic of Christmas…

So Christmas magic is a big thing in my family…

My mum absolutely LOVES Christmas… That’s is no exaggeration at all. It is her favourite time of the whole year.

She went hard core when we were kids… Like super hard core…

Even if the boys or other kids aren’t around her it doesn’t matter.

My Mum and Josh getting buckets to leave out for the reindeer Christmas 2015- even more important as mum lives in country town Australia, its hot! Like 45 degrees Celsius hot…

I am as much my mothers daughter as I am my fathers one (I get told “you are your fathers daughter” often for the record…)

But my mum and I, well we are a lot alike too.

We are social creatures to say the least.

A party is a good place to be for us. Throwing parties, even better…

Christmas and entertaining go hand in hand. Everybody wants to catch up. There are parties left right and centre with all kinds of different gatherings and people and places and such…

I get why it is her favourite time of year.

I love it a little bit too… Not like her for the record.

This is my Mum’s house at Christmas.

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She never has one tree but actually several… with one LARGE feature tree of sorts…

This is last years with Josh in the Santa’s helper outfit she got for him. The hat indeed moved and made sound even… :/

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This is the extent of our Christmas Tree for example.

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Its a Dawn Red Wood for 2016  the record, last year it was  Kōwhai, the year before a Pōhutukawa, the first one of Josh’s Christmas’ when he was only 6 weeks old, it was a Monterey Pine, what one may classically think of as a Christmas tree.

Trees are also our jam for the record, this is our family hobby business project – Williamson’s Exotics on Facebook or Instagram 😉

Most of our minimal tree decorations are hand made…

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The boys painting some decorations the day we brought the tree inside

We have a few traditions in my wee family that we made up when Josh was born and it was at a SPACE session that one of the wise “been there before you” mamas and leaders highlighted that we had a choice when our babies were so wee and it was the beginnings of “what Christmas meant” to them and for us in our own lives.

We could either think about it a bit and maybe talk with our partners to consciously create rituals and traditions for our kids to grow up with; we could adopted what our parents and society before now has lead us as adults to believe about Christmas and what that meant; or we could just leave the room and think nothing more off it..

No biggie, no pressure, just here’s a thought…

One of my favourite things about the whole SPACE program was this approach, and the families I did it with who are still great friends years later, in fact some of them are coming over for our annual Christmas BBQ get together here on the weekend!

And so James and I sat down and talked about it. We loved this idea, “it can be whatever you want it to be for your children”…

That sounds ridiculous maybe but its empowering, hugely.

James was born in the UK, things like turkey are important to him. I was born in Australia, things like prawns are what I remember as being key at Christmas. Then we are raising Kiwi kids, so of course you have to chuck a Pavlova in there right?! (see don’t hate me I am Australian here guys, I do know NZ created the Pavlova!)

And that’s just the food. Hahaha

So we made some choices around what we wanted Christmas to be like for our kids.

This is not to suggest what I am saying are “our” traditions are not also someone else’s, or that someone else should adopt them if they didn’t like them… The point is, you get to choose…

Really, you can do that… Especially if they are little, they won’t know it being any other way…

So for us, Christmas is about the magic.

I didn’t hate my mum nor did I perceive it to be lying when I found out she have been the one in the night that had gnawed bits of a carrot we left out for the reindeer’s.

I was stuck with how much she loved us and this time of year to go to that effort.

But, this concept I grew up with as a kid where everyone is forced to sit on some random dude’s leg so they get lollies even when they don’t want to is messed up.

That part of Christmas grates me.

In terms of Christmas photos specifically. We have always gone as a family and all sat with Santa for a photo.

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One uber keen kid, the other, not so much hahaha this was our trip to Snowplanet and Santa’s castle last year 2015

It makes it less weird to our kids. They are more comfortable talking to some random dude knowing we are there to support them and we get the family photo for the year done at the same time.

One of our kids loves it, the other, nope not at all keen. So that’s cool. One sits on Santa’s knee, the other on mine next to Santa.

It’s still a Santa photo.

No one is uncomfortable and we are not telling them its ok if a random dude you don’t want to touch forces you to do something with your body you don’t want to in exchange for lollies.

Consent is a big thing for me in terms of lessons I think are really key for me to drill in now for my boys, especially driven by my life experiences and journey as a girl too, but that is a whole different post.

Key message, unless it hygiene related (like I need to brush your teeth, I don’t care how much you hate it!!) or medical (I am sorry but you have to open your mouth for the doctor to look in your throat, I know that isn’t fun but it is necessary) I encourage and reiterate often that they have control over who can and can’t do what to their bodies, just like everybody else does.

This year we have had lots of talk of avatars as our clever four year old has noticed the discrepancies in the facial appearance of different versions of Santa’s he has seen despite them all having the same suit.

We have had lots of talk of magic and rituals and traditions.

And Christmas for us actually comes in two different forms.

One “on year” where we mission it to Australia and see all the family and do an epic full on Christmas for like two weeks…

Omg I just got a bit tired writing that! It’s beautiful and special and some AMAZING memories are made for our family but fucking hot and stressful traveling with kids..

Thankfully that was last Christmas for us…

And one “off year” where we lay low at home, catch up with friends around the holiday period, host quite a few BBQs usually but then on Christmas day, we spend it chilled out, just the four of us (well actually this will be the first time we get to do it this way with four of us!)

And our “quiet Kiwi Christmas” includes the following key rituals in our house:

  • We pick a tree together (a living like in a pot one from the garden centre) which we then plant somewhere on New Years day as a family.
  • We don’t have that many Christmas decorations. Well obviously I have lots of hand me downs from my mum so I get the cardboard box out the shed, let the kids do what they like with it and string up some lights on the deck if I don’t lose my shit trying to unravel them in the process..
  • Santa brings a “big” present for all four of us… Then each of us do or make or get something small for the others (obviously, Jai is a bit little still but maybe some paintings he’s done at Playcentre or something – ahem, Hannah, you may have to help with that… :P)
  • Presents aren’t the focus. I do love the note writing and surprise elements but that is like first thing when we wake up. All done before we finish our morning coffees. We leave presents from other family sent or given to us for later in the day or another time, it’s too much to have it all at once we find. They just don’t appreciate it all the same when its handed over too quickly!
  • We play with our Santa presents. All of us hahaha
  • We have prawn cocktails (it’s like prawns on a bed of lettuce with fancy sauce my great grandmother used to make for the record not some gross drink..) for an early lunch that I make. We have turkey as a later lunch that James makes. We eat Pavlova and fruit for dinner!

Santa as a concept is there. He is a big part of the magic but he is NOT the magic of Christmas.

The magic of Christmas is like love and togetherness and celebrations and joy and all that shit.

If sitting on some random dudes knee to have a photo fucks with that, then drop it from your traditions if you want…

Or if you have Christmas crazy family who NEED a photo with Santa each year, why don’t you all jump in too?

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From my family to yours, Merry Christmas xx Snowplanet 2016 (today!) x

Jess x