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Reading, Watching, Listening.

Watching:

13 Reasons: I’ve debated for a while about watching this but intrigue finally got the better me. There’s been much conversation and debate about this show that’s based on the story of a teenager who commits suicide. I’ve decided to watch it so that I can make up my own mind. I’m five episodes into the thirteen episodes so I’ll let you know what I think when I get to the end…I hear that the final episode is especially confronting. Have you watched?

This is us: Who’s hooked? I am. This show had me right from that brilliant twist in the very first episode. I feel like it’s all building to something, and of course we all want to know how Jack died (I still can’t believe he’s going to die). Any theories?

Reading:

Small Great Things: Last month I finally found the time to sit down and read ‘Small Great Things’ by Jodi Picoult. Jodi is one of my all time favourite authors so I always have high hopes whenever she releases a new book. Jodi is renowed for always have some kind of big twist towards the ending and I have to say that was probably my only real disappointment in this book. For me, the ‘big twist’ lacked the usual punch and shock factor, maybe even seemed a little too neat, with everything tied up in a neat little bow at the end. But, having said that, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and it held me captive right the way through.

Work Strife Balance: I’m going to be brutally honest and say I’ve never been a big fan of Mia Freedman (she seems to be the woman that other woman love to hate) but I didn’t really know why exactly. I don’t think I’ve ever actually even read anything on Mamamia before (not that I can remember anyway) but I do love her podcast No Filter; though I think that’s more about the subjects she interviews than Mia herself. Anyway, I decided I didn’t really know enough about Mia to judge so I picked up this book, a little intrigued to find out more. And you know what? I actually really, really enjoyed the book. There were funny bits and touching bits and even some uncomfortable bits. There were bits I couldn’t relate to and bits I couldn’t. But overall, I enjoyed it and I definitely feel like I know Mia a lot better now (as much as a total stranger can!) At the end of the day, she just another woman, another mum, trying to do the best she can, stuffing up a lot along the way; something which she openly admits. Have you read Mia’s book?

Listening:

The Well: One of my favourite podcasts is finally back after a long break! I’ve talked about The Well here before; Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Bailey talk all things motherhood, friendship and life. And they’re back with a bang with the “when life pulls the rug out from under you” episode. Get on it people.

S- Town: Oh man, I could devote an entire blog post to this podcast (and I might just do that one day). Just seven episodes long I binged listened to the whole thing in a week. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I recommended it to a friend who I knew would enjoy it as much as I did so I had someone to talk to about it. If you haven’t listened to S-Town it’s hard to explain in too much detail without giving anything away. I can say this; it is quite unlike anything I’ve ever come across before. As my friend so perfectly put it in a late night text message after he’d finished listening “clocks, mercury and gold. A story about nothing and everything”. The story begins with a man contacting a journalist, Brian Reed (the creator and narrator of the podcast) informing him there had been a murder in his small town that had been covered up and asked him to investigate. In the end, that’s not really story at all….and that’s all I’m going to say. A little like Sarah Koenig’s commentary in Serial, you find yourself mesmerised by Brian’s voice and left wanting to hear more. Lucky for me I will be as my friend and I scored tickets to this event in Melbourne next month where we’ll get to hear Brian talk.

So, what have you been reading, watching and listening to lately?

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So yes, I’m writing a book…

Have you ever heard the one that goes a little something like this:

There once was a man who used to pray to God every night that he would win tattslotto. He would get down on his knees, look up at the sky and beg God, please God please, let me win tattslotto. And then one night God answered. His big voice boomed down a reply from the heavens above and do you know what he said? Help me out here man, buy a ticket. Ha!

I’ve realised recently that I’ve had exactly the same attitude towards becoming writing a book. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write a book and have that book published. But you see, to make that happen, I would first actually have to write a book. Seems obvious right? Well yes, it is, yet it’s something that I have yet to do, or even give a go really. I mean there was that one (rather feeble) attempt last year for NaNoWriMo but apart from that, my book has been nothing more than an idea, a dream, for many, many years.

So last week, I decided I’ve had enough of waiting, enough of the excuses (enough of praying to God if you will) it was finally time to take action and write the damn book. I announced it on social media; not because I wanted people to pat me on the back, say well done or offer any type of congratulations (though I did get that, which was lovely). No, I actually posted it for accountability. Because I know now that I’ve put it out there people might just ask me from time to time ‘hey, how’s that book of yours going?’ and I want to be able to give an answer that doesn’t entail me looking down at my feet, shrugging and offering some lame excuse as to why I have done anything about it.

Anyone who has read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert would know of her theory about creative ideas having a life of their own. The concept being that ideas find their way and attach themselves to people and if you don’t do anything with those ideas they will move on to someone else. She provides a (quite amazing) story about this great idea for a book she once had that she began to research but then gave up on and never wrote. Years later, another author wrote that book. The exact same story she had planned to write. The concept of the book was very specific, very unique and Liz had never shared the idea; there was no way this other writer could’ve have ‘stolen’ or copied the idea. The thought of that happening to me and my book idea actually scares the crap out of me (wouldn’t I just kick myself if that happened) and has been the final motivation I needed to get started.

So yes, I’m writing a book and it turns out it’s nothing like the book I have always thought I might write. It’s a young adult (YA) fantasy/sci fi…I don’t even really read sci fi, it’s never particularly been my thing, yet there it is. I think I’ve tried for many ideas to ‘come up’ with an idea for a great book and it’s always felt a bit forced. But this one? Well it’s just like Elizabeth Gilbert says; it seems to have a life of its own and has just come to me, out of nowhere and it just keeps coming, shifting and shaping…and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

So yes, I’m writing a book.

What have you been up to lately? Ever attempted to write a book? Ever wanted to?

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Less than perfect

So, as most of you would know, our little man started school this year and with that, I’ve been thrown into a whole new world (of course he has too, but let’s focus on me for a minute, it is my blog after all ha!) I’ve had to learn all about readers and golden words and assemblies and canteen ordering….and the list goes on. It appears school has changed a lot since I was there!

Anyway, I digress, what I really wanted to talk about today was a certain certificate that the lil man was recently awarded at school. ‘Perfect attendance for Term 1’ it read. He was also given a little badge to wear on his chest along with all the other kids in school that managed to show up to school each and every day of term one. Normally I’d be super proud of any award my son wins, but this one just doesn’t quite sit right with me. I get it’s intention, I get that many schools are struggling with poor attendance and some children have parents that just don’t seem to understand the importance of regular school attendance. But what about all those other kids? Those kids that maybe had a day or two off because they were genuinely sick? I feel as though they’re kinda being punished for that; they’re being told they’re less than perfect. Sure, they’re not coping the strap or anything drastic like that but I’ll bet they felt left out when the other kids their class got an award and they didn’t. It’s like saying they did something wrong just by being sick.

I don’t think my son really got it; he was rapt he got an award sure, but I’m not sure he fully understood what it was for. But he’ll eventually get to the age that he will and I hope that he doesn’t feel any pressure to go to school when he’s not feeling well just because he’ll miss out on a certificate (because I’m pretty sure there will be some kids out there who would do just that). And it’s not even just about sickness; what about holidays? Yes, kids get school holidays but not all parents do (case in point- my hubby and I). The reality is, we probably will choose to take our son on a holiday away from school holiday times because it’s ridiculously more expensive! Yep, I totally get school is important but I also think life experience and travel is just as important.

So, an award for perfect attendance…hmm, I’m just not sure about this one. I don’t know what the answer is and how we can encourage those families whose lack of school attendance is negatively effecting their kids, I just think it’s a more complex issue….or maybe I’m just over thinking the whole damn thing, who knows! I would really love to hear your thoughts on this one.

 

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I’m OK

“I get worried when I don’t see you writing” That’s what my beautiful friend said to me last week. It’s been a few months since I last wrote here. It wasn’t planned, I didn’t ‘decide’ to take a break, it just happened. Life. I’ve been busy. With going back to work, the little man starting school, adjusting to new routines and getting back into the groove of old ones..it’s been busy.

Of course we all know that busyness is most often just an excuse. Because if something really means that much you will always make time for it. So the truth is, I just haven’t really felt like writing; ok that’s kind of a lie, I have felt like writing, just not here. I’ve written countless blog posts in my head; only to realise that I can’t really share them here. Why? Because some things just shouldn’t and don’t need to be shared here. And I didn’t want to be one of those people who is all cryptic and elusive and says things like ‘oh there’s so much going on but I just can’t tell you any of it’ because that’s just annoying right? And so I’ve chosen to not write anything at all… at least not here anyway. Because the real truth is I have been writing. I wrote a post that I felt I really needed to write and then gave it to a friend to read; she’ll probably be the only one who every reads it. And I’ve been writing little snippets of a book, two books in fact, on the notes in my phone whilst I sit beside my sons bed as he drifts off to sleep each night. I write everyday in my job; both of my jobs. And I wrote a letter to my son on his first day of school; because I want to remember it and I want him to remember it when he gets older but I don’t need to share that with the whole world; because that’s his story and I’ve always tried to be respectful of him and the older he gets, the more aware of it I become.

And so, perhaps if I’m honest, I’m struggling a little bit with what this space is now and what it will be. I’ve taken the pressure of myself to write here once a week, every week and I have to say that’s been a bit of a relief; there was no one holding me to that except myself. The pressure is off. But that’s not to say I don’t still want or need this space. My writing has always come in ebbs and flows, a little like my reading. Sometimes I will read every day, at every chance I can get, devouring several books in as many weeks. And then sometimes I can go for months, with a stack of books on my bedside table that haven’t been opened or even touched. It comes and goes and I’ve learnt that’s ok. Just like I’ve learnt that it’s ok if I don’t blog every week or if the bed doesn’t get made everyday or if we have takeaway on a weeknight…that’s just the reality of working mum life and that’s ok. It’s just where I’m at right now and I’m going with it, no pressure ‘to do’ and trying my best to remember my word for this year, ‘be’.
So yeah, I’m busy ‘being’ and for now that’s ok… Im ok. I hope you’re doing ok too.

’til next time….

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Reading, Watching, Listening.

When it comes to finding new books to read, shows to watch and podcasts to listen t,o I often base my choices on recommendations from others. So this week I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to lately…check it out, you might just find something you like.

Reading: Over our summer break down the beach I finally got to read Me Before You by Jo Jo moyes. I devoured it over a few days and really enjoyed it. There is a sequel book, After You, but I’m yet to decide if I want to read it. I feel like the story finished as it should and wonder what more there is to say. I’m not sure if the sequel will be too depressing? If you’ve read it I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’ve also got the movie sitting at home ready to watch, I’ve been told to have the tissues ready.

I also recently finished reading Motherhood and Creativity: The Divided Heart by Rachel Power. I won a copy from the beautiful Lauren (aka- Me and My Girl.) She told me I’d love it and I certainly did! In the book, Rachel interviews a number of well known professional creatives (from actors and writers to painters and musicians) about how they juggle motherhood and their creative pursuits and how one affects the other. Whilst I am by no means a ‘professional’ creative I could certainly still relate to much of what was said. It was a really interesting read and I discovered so many common themes threaded throughout. If you are a mother and a creative soul you, this book is a must read.

Watching: Last week hubby was away overnight for work and so with the little man sleeping soundly next to me I finally got to sit down and watch The Minimalism Documentary on Netflix. I’ll be completely honest and say that whilst I’ve heard a lot about The Minimalists I’ve never actually read or listened to any of their stuff, so I thought I’d start here. I loved it and fell in love with Josh and Ryan (how could you not love them?) And I’ve since starting listening to their podcast. Whilst I don’t think I could ever be as hardcore minimalist as these guys I can certainly relate and agree with a lot of what they have to say.

Listening: To podcasts, all the podcasts! Here are some of my favourite episodes that I’ve listened to lately:

No Filter- Mia Freedman interviews Jodi Picoult: Rather than listen to the No Filter podcast in order, I just pick out the episodes that I’m interested in. So of course when I saw that Mia had interviewed my all time favourite author, Jodi Picoult, it was at the top of my list and it didn’t disappoint. I also loved her interview with Kasey Chambers and Rebecca Sparrow.

Conversations with Richard Fuller: with Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. I’ve had Jon’s book on my ‘must read’ list for quite a while now (I really must get to it) and after listening to this podcast episode I want to read it even more! In this interview, Jon talks about some of the most famous cases from his book and gives a really interesting insight into not only the real stories behind them but also what happened to those people after they were so publicly shamed on social media. It’s quite sad how one small moment or action can literally ruin people’s lives. It’s certainly mad me rethink what I choose to share my social media pages.

The Well: The Grief Episode. I listened to every episode of The Well last year, except this one. I wasn’t sure if I could listen to it, I knew it would be a tough one but eventually, alone in the car one day not long after Christmas, I finally did. Listening to Robin and Rebecca talk is like listening in on a conversation with friends and this episode was both touching and insightful.

What have you been reading, watching and listening to lately? Got any good recommendations for me?

 

 

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Ready

We’re on the home stretch everyone, the end of school holidays is in sight! Oh I don’t mean to be one of ‘those’ parents that can’t wait for their kids to get back to school but I must admit this past week (or two) I’ve felt very ready. Ready for the little man to start school (well, as ready as I’ll ever be) and ready to go back to work. But more than that I’m just ready for a bit of routine and normalcy to come back into our lives. The past week has involved me driving in and out of the city to visit my dear friend in hospital every few days. Thankyou for all of your kind thoughts and messages after my brief mention of her in my last post; all of our prayers were answered and I’m so so happy to say that after coming far too close to loosing her, she’s on the road to recovery.

Our little man also seems to be going through an anxious time which he is expressing in the form of never letting me out of his sight…like literally. If I get up and walk into another room in the house he follows, if he needs to go to the toilet I have to go with him. It’s become a daily battle just to get him to let me have a shower and even then, half the time he ends up getting in with me. He’s been asked on play dates and sleepovers but refuses to go. “I just want to be near you always” he tells me. Sweet? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. As an introvert I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m craving my own space at the moment but I’m trying to be patient. I’m not entirely sure but I feel that the start of school looming may be the cause. A few other parents have suggested that might be it. We’ve been trying to down play the whole school thing but he’s a pretty smart kid and with everyone constantly asking him if he’s excited about going to school (of course no malice intended, it’s just because they’re excited for him) and the fact that mummy is soon going back to work, well, maybe he knows our time together is going to be limited. I’ve tried to talk to him about it of course, but I don’t really get any answers and so I just continue to try to be patient and reassure him that I’m not going anywhere.

And on top of all that, I’m readying myself to go back to work after a year of long service leave (has it really been a year?!) People ask me if I’m looking forward to going back and the honest answer is yes, yes I am. I have always enjoyed working, I like my job, I like the people I work with and I like to keep my mind busy. And, oh yeah, I like the extra income too 😜

So, with just one week left until school starts and another week after that work, I’m busy ticking off to do lists, buying school supplies and filling out calendars. Because in the midst of change, planning and being organised is what makes me feel calm…and ready.

How are you feeling about the return to school? Any first time school parents out there? And for all those parents who have done it all before…any advice for keeping my shit together would be greatly appreciated!

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Summer Holiday Memories

A little over two years ago we purchased an onsite caravan in a quiet little coastal town on the Bellarine Penninsula in Victoria. We wanted a getaway place for our family, somewhere we could escape to whenever we wanted or needed. We had hoped it would be a place where we could make many happy memories with our son; a part of his childhood that he would look back on fondly when he is a grown man. It’s proven to be one of the best decisions we ever made. We’ve just spent two glorious weeks at our little home away from home. Sometimes it was just the three of us, others times our caravan was filled with friends or family who came to visit and stay a night or two. We loved it all. When I think about our Summer holidays at our caravan here’s what I will remember:

– Watching our son make new friends, ride his bike and play outside every day until after dark.
– Slow mornings and snuggles in bed.
– The smell of sunscreen, insect repellent, the beach and BBQs.
– Taking the time to read a book..or two.
– Kevin, the old guy a few caravans down, telling us war stories from Vietnam.
– Drinking cider in the sunshine.
– The walk from the caravan to the toilet block, made many many times each day.
– John, the caravan park caretaker, doing his daily rounds, telling the kids to slow down, put their helmets on and stop jumping in the pool.
– The view of the ocean as you drive into town.                                                                – The day trips we took.                                  – Long chats with good friends.
– The donuts from the donut van at the pier; the best I’ve ever had.
– The clear night sky, filled with stars and the sound of silence (often experienced during an early morning dash to the toilet)
– Riding dogems cars at the local carnival.
– Swimming in the ocean.
– Family bike rides after dinner.
– Hunting for shells and skipping rocks on the shore.

We came home from our holiday a couple of days earlier than planned after getting some bad news about a dear friend. At the moment, we are still waiting for more news. I don’t mean to be vague; it’s just not my place to say anymore about that in this space but I also felt it was something I needed to acknowledged here. You see, we are currently in a state of limbo and it’s a strange thing that when terrible stuff happens life still goes on around it. And so it does; life goes on as we wait and those happy memories we made on our Summer holiday still remain, even with a tainted ending. Thankyou to everyone who has sent kind messages and well wishes, they are greatly appreciated.

What have you been up to these Summer holiday? Have you managed to get away?

 

 

 

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One Word

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and hopefully managed some time with your family and friends, away from the daily grind. I’m currently down the beach with my boys, enjoying a nice two week holiday.

It’s tradition at the start of a new year to make resolutions; promises to ourselves that we either will or won’t do something in the coming year. I’ve never been one for new years resolutions, it’s just not really my thing. But I know hat many other people choose a word, just one word, that they want to represent that coming year for them. I think this sounds kinda nice so I thought that this year, I would do that instead.

My word for 2017? Be.

Last year, I discovered I find it really hard to ‘just be’. I’m forever thinking ahead, planning, worrying, preparing for the next thing. That’s not always a bad thing of course; it’s good to have goals and things to look forward to but not when it’s to the detriment of enjoying the present moment. As my son starts school this year I have this overwhelming desire to just press pause on life. I just want to be.

Be still. Be present. Be in the moment.

Be happy. Be sad. Be excited.

Be curious. Be kind. Be myself.

Let it be.

Just be….

And so that is my word for 2017, just two little letters. BE.

Have you made any new years resolutions? If you had to choose one word for 2017 what would it be?

 

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True Friendship

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They say there are three types of friends in life; friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime. Growing up I always had friends. I wouldn’t have ever called myself popular but I always had friends, at least the type of friends one has when they’re young; friendships that are fickle. One day your ‘best friends forever’ and the next day you’re not. I’ve had many friends come and go over the years.

During my teenage years I had a close circle of girlfriends, we’d have sleepovers and pass notes to each other in class. Towards the end of high school I moved to a new town and changed schools and it left me in no mans land. I tried hard to stay close with my friends at my old school but always felt a bit out of the loop. I tried to make friends at my new school but never felt like I really fitted in.

Friendships in my twenties consisted of my then boyfriend (now husbands) friends and the people I worked with. Conversation basically revolved around what had happened on the night out before or work; even outside of work. But then we grew up. People broke up. Others finished their uni degrees and moved on to different work. To this day I remain in contact with a few of those original work friends, and one in particular has gone on to be one of my closest friends…we still bitch about work but our friendship these days is based on so much more than that.

Now I’m in my thirties (and a parent) and I feel like I’ve finally hit the golden years of friendship. It’s the years when you discover your best friends really are your husband, your mum and your sister. It’s the years where you figure out who you are, walk away from toxic friendships and have no time for people who only ever call when they want something. I’m surrounded by good people, good friends. There are those friends that I may not see that often but know if ever I need them, they’d be there in a second. We can go for months without seeing each other and it’s like time never passed.

Then there are those friends that I see more often, on a weekly or sometimes even daily basis. These friends have been my saving grace these past few months.
My bestie (who I’ve written about here before), she’s the one who waits for me in the car park everyday at kinder because for me, just knowing she is there if I have a panic attack is enough to make me not have one. She’s also the one I called the day I had a massive panic attack at the check out at the supermarket and I had to walk out leaving my trolley full of shopping behind. She was there within five minutes to pay for and collect my shopping. No judgement. Ever.

Then there’s the new friend I’ve made this year (who also happens to now be my boss) but who I feel like I’ve been friends with forever. She’s the one who’s reintroduced me to the art of the telephone conversation. When I first started working with her I would email her (having worked in local government for over a decade, that’s just the way we communicate) and then she would call me. I would text her and then she would call me. I pretty quickly figured out she liked talking on the phone, a rarity these days and so it was a weird for me to start with. But now? I love those daily (sometimes three or more times daily) phone conversations. We get each other, without need for explanation and that’s a really nice thing to have.

I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and I know the people who are in my life are meant to be here, right now, for a reason (and hopefully a lifetime). I now know exactly what true friendship is and I’m lucky to have an abundance of it in my life.

Are you surrounded by true friends?

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NaNoWriMo- What I Learnt

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As many of you would know, this year I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) for the very first time. The goal? To write a 50,000 word manuscript during the month of November. I managed 12,227 words. Now, for me it was never really about the words, I said that right from the beginning, it was more about the experience. I have never written a book before, I’ve never even tried, so I was really interested to see how I would find it. NaNoWriMo was something I was using to hold myself accountable, to at the very least, make a start. I started off great, managing to keep up the first week or so but then it all got pushed to the side when my mental health took a nose dive. Then, the most important thing for me became that. The story went out of my head, the characters left because my mind was focused elsewhere, it needed to be. And that’s ok, life happens. I learnt so much in just that one week and 12,227 words that I certainly don’t regret signing up and I am far from feeling a failure. Instead I’m thinking about all the things I learnt and how they will help me become a better writer in the future.

Here’s what I learnt: 

I learnt about the gap. If you’re not aware of what the gap is, let me explain. The gap refers to that space between the story in your head and the story on paper. It goes like this: you think up this story is your head and it’s amazing. The characters are so real, the story is captivating. And then you go to write it and it just doesn’t come out the way you picture it. You can’t find the right words, the right description, it just doesn’t seem…right. Writers hate the gap. It’s our goal to close the gap. And for me, I discovered the gap was large. I had/have the story in my head, the characters are all there, major plot points etc but when it comes to actually getting that out…it all came out a bit wrong. Closing the gap is something I really need to work on.

I learnt writing a book is hard. I mean of course I knew that, if it was that easy everyone would write an award winning novel and get it published straight away. But as I was writing I was really wondering how people do it; like literally. Not only does it take time and talent but also a lot of patience and perseverance. I’m not sure that I will ever have that type dedication. I mean writing a draft is one thing but then reworking and rewriting that draft, pulling it to bits and then having others pull it to bits, sometimes often for years, well, I just don’t know that I’d have that in me. It just makes me admire my favourite authors even more.

I learnt the need to put perfectionism aside. Particularly when writing a first draft. At the beginning it was slow going, I kept rereading over what is written, fixing up parts, trying to get the words just right. Then I realised if I ever wanted to finish I just couldn’t do that. It’s like Shannon Hale said “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” I like that.

I learnt I need to work on my creative writing. Everyday writing, blog posts, opinion pieces, social media, that all comes quite easily to me. Creative writing? Not so much. When I was a kid and into my teenage years it was the only way I would write. But it’s been years. Maybe I’ve lost that, or maybe I just need to find it again. Maybe I need to do some short courses, polish my skills or maybe, just maybe creative writing just isn’t my thing. Time will tell I guess.

I learnt there is always time for writing. Even if your life is busy, you work,  you have kids, whatever; you can always make time for writing if you really want to. Simple as that.

And so, that’s what I learnt. If you joined in NaNoWriMo this year I’d love to hear how you found it. What did you learn?

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