Saturday, January 13, 2018

No body is perfect

For perhaps two decades now, I have heard it said that for women, your thirties are a time when you become comfortable in your own skin.  A time when you embrace those quirks and imperfections and care much less about the opinions of those who have invested very little in your life.  

Part of me agrees with this.  I am certainly at a place where I am so comfortable being me, perhaps even more so than at any other point in my life.  I am also in my thirties, so I guess if I put the two together the statement does ring true.

The other part of me believes this is the case because of the people I have chosen to surround myself with, the values and support instilled in me growing up, the love I am shown constantly by my husband, sons, and family and friends, and the challenges I have been able to experience. 

I love this place in my life because I am completely aware that social media provides a very limited snapshot into people's lives where you only see what people let you see.  For this reason, I don't post a lot of photos on my Facebook page.  If I were to post photos regularly, they would include photos of my cleaning my hair off the bathroom floor, off the bath, out of the sink, and pretty much everywhere else in the house.  It would show photos of me sweeping the floor and muttering to myself.  Me washing the dishes and then stopping mid-way and forgetting about them, leaving a sink full of dishes in stone cold water.  Me lying in bed playing solitaire when I know I should get up but am feeling lazy.  This would be the honest shots of me.  True, real, photos of me.  I am all for honesty, but this would be boring for anyone who I am friends with on social media, so instead of manufacturing glamorous, but far from genuine, photos to post on a regular basis; I just live my life and forget to post photos.  And it's actually very liberating.  I still go on Facebook daily, but I appreciate the understanding that everything I see has been carefully selected for public viewing.

Along with this I have taken greater effort in surrounding myself with people who put a bounce in my step.  People who don't make me feel like I need to tidy up my house before I would be comfortable with them coming over.  If I don't have to make "the fake house" for you, I want you in my life.  I will still apologise for the mess, but I'm ok with you seeing it because you can appreciate that I have a life, and children, and this means things get messy despite my daily tidying up.  These are the people I choose to surround myself with because they make me feel like being me isn't just "good enough", it's exactly who I should be. 

I was brought up feeling like being who you are shouldn't feel like hard work.  We should always strive to try and improve in areas that we want to improve, but there was also that acceptance that no one is perfect and the acknowledgment and acceptance of flaws is realistic and perfectly ok. I was never told by my parents that I should "watch my weight" or "exercise more" or anything like that.  I was already aware of what the world deemed a "good body" by the time I was 11, but I didn't feel the pressure to try and become that.  I have never been on a diet.  
I have also found a man who tells me every single day that I am beautiful.  It doesn’t matter if I am in my pj’s or dressed in my Sunday best, he sees beauty in me and he tells me so.  

For these reasons and many more, I am l am comfortable in my own skin.  My physical body is far from perfect, but boy am I proud of what it has achieved.  It has endured great pain, it has been broken over and over and it manages to repair itself the best it can, it has grown two human beings and then was cut open to bring them into my arms, and it continues to function every day despite the pain.  Some days it functions better than others, but I am proud of my body because it works hard and has given me this life that I am so thankful for.

Enough with all the body hate and shame - I don’t have a perfect body at all, but I am proud.  I am proud to be who I am.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fickle and proud of it

Sometimes Anthony makes me cranky.  He leaves socks about our room and forgets to put them in the wash basket.  He snores ridiculously loud.  He can't multitask for the life of him, so I often end up talking to myself thinking he is listening, completely forgetting he can't read and listen at the same time.....unlike his talented, multitasking wife.
But these things are very easy to forget.  It's easy because he has made me so happy the last 14 years I have known him.

I was watching a cheesy love story type of movie a few weeks ago on an iPad while I cooked dinner.  It was one of those "love-at-first-sight" movies where their eyes met they both knew they wanted to be together.  The kind of movie I scoff at but sort of love all the same.

I scoff because I have never bought into the whole "love-at-first-sight" thing.  It seems completely fickle to me, thinking you love someone based upon appearance without truly getting to know that individual.  How can you love a person without actually knowing them.

I sat today in church watching Anthony.  He was up on the stand helping run the meeting while I was with our boys.  It reminded me of nearly 14 years ago when I first moved to Sydney and Anthony had just moved back to Sydney after 2 years in Brisbane.  Aside from my own immediate family, everyone around me was a stranger. As we went to church that Sunday, I knew no one, but I quickly noticed, sitting on the stand, a young man who caught my attention.  Within a few minutes of watching him, I could sense his quiet dignity.  I was drawn to him from the get go.  I hadn't even heard him speak a word, but I had already decided I liked him.   Of course I didn't admit this to anyone because I knew it made me sound like a big Ol' floozy!

Before I ever laid eyes on my two baby boys, I loved them.  I loved them for months before they took their first breaths.  There is a bond there that is so strong, we were linked for life without so much as a touch of the hand.

So as I sat in church today watching my Anthony, I realised I have felt some form of "love-at-first-sight".  I sat with contentment knowing I'm very lucky. I have felt it 3 times over and it might make me fickle or cheesy,  but I'm all good with that.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cracking it

Anthony and I come from big families. I loved growing up in a big family and even though we were both provided with all we needed, part of being in a big family often means it's more challenging to spoil your children.  There is just less to go around and more people to divide everything amongst.

Having only two children, I am conscious of not wanting to spoil our boys.  You don't need a lot to spoil only two children.  There is this weird balance of loving to seeing them enjoy life and getting to experience things they love but also not wanting them to take for granted the things we are blessed to be able to provide them with.

One of our ways of approaching this was getting our boys their pamphlet delivery job young so they learn to earn money through work.  We were reluctant to pay them for doing everyday chores (like making their beds or cleaning their rooms) because they too live in our house and should be helping care for our house too.  We signed them up for a little job that we help with, and at first they enjoyed it, but it has been 2 years and the novelty has definitely worn off.  We have discussed it and decided we don't want them to quit though because they enjoy having their own spending money, and also because we want them to learn that work is a part of life.  

The problem is they haven't yet learnt that complaining isn't a part of being a good worker.  Most adults know that complaining about going to work is fine, complaining to family and friends about your job is even okay, but spending every moment at work whining is a sure-fire way to get fired!  Tony and Carter haven't figured this out yet.  I tried to teach them this by telling them if you complain at work, you get fired and get no money, so if they complain they would lost their pay, but still have to complete their job.  This KIND OF worked, but also made them resent their job.

Instead, trying to have a more positive attitude about their job seemed like a good path.  The whole setting-a-good-example path.  

Today was a delivery day and I took Tony with me to deliver the catalogues as Tarts and Anthony were a bit under the weather.  From the moment we left the house, Tony was complaining.   We got about a third of the way in and he had complained non-stop, despite me telling him to stop, that it was annoying, and to just get over it.

Finally, I cracked it!

In the middle of the street, I marched across the road, snatched the bag out his hand and told him to just walk to the car because I was over it and was taking him home because I would rather do the whole job myself than deal with an hour of whining and moaning.

Despite him telling me how much he didn't want to be working, as soon as I told him I am sending him home, Tony tells me he wants to do the job.  This is how kids work, they push and push and then you crack it and tell you they WANT to do they very thing they have been saying they don't want to do.  IT IS INSANE.

We get in the car and Tony insists he wants to finish his job. a moment I am not proud of, I lost it!  I pulled the car over in a most dramatic fashion and ranted and raved for a good 3 minutes (even though Tony will tell you it felt like much longer).  I didn't swear (we aren't a swearing family), but I did use a word that Tony said he has never heard me say before and for which I apologised after.  I went on and on about how I was trying to be positive but he was being such a misery guts and it was making the whole thing miserable for me.

After realising his mother was a lunatic, Tony wisened up and told me he was willing to change his attitude and he wanted to stay and finish his job.

So we played a game while we worked and the next hour was fun.

As we got in the car to go home, I did what all parents do and pointed out how my crazy had a purpose.  Actually, I apologised for losing it and then said;

"So Tony, can you see that after you decided to change your attitude, the work we had to do stayed the same, the bags were just as heavy, we had to walk just as far, but it was better.  The only thing that changed and made it more pleasant was your attitude.  Changing your attitude about things can change the whole experience."

I thought it was a good lesson.  But in hindsight, I missed the part of the lesson that was meant for me.  Tony did change his attitude, but I also made an effort to make it more fun and came up with a simple game to play as we walked.  I needed to change my attitude too.

As we drove home, Tony patted my hand and said;

"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you said a bad word.  Some things just aren't necessary to tell everyone."

I did tell him however, that we as parents make mistakes all the time and although I regret my behaviour, I want to show our boys we can move on from mistakes and won't hide them.

I'm fairly certain that moment of my bad behaviour will be stored up and used against me at some point in the future though.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Boring...but so happy to be boring

Thirty two years old! I remember my Mum turning thirty well and I would have been about Carter's age, which weirds me out a bit but there it is.

I like where I am so far I my thirties though. It's a place I can only describe as content.  It's not perfect, and there is still lots of room for improvement, but I'm ok with that right now, hence the contentment.  

One of my greatest self discoveries in life has been that you can be happy in almost any situation. That happy isn't always joyful, singing from the rooftops - that would be annoying! But there is a kind of quiet inner happiness I have found that everything will be alright.....somehow, and to try and choose happiness in the mean time.  
And that it what I feel right now.  

I know I have the gift of being loved.  I have my darling husband, my boys, and my family who love me.  
Anthony has loved me for thirteen years now.  I knew he loved me then, but boy do I know he loves me now!  It's that fierce kind of love that I know he truly knows my heart and I know my heart is safe with him.  He drives me nuts at times and I'm proud to say I give as good as I get, but even the crazy is livable.

I also have the gift of having people to love.  I love having 'my people'.  I must admit that my social circle has shrunk somewhat of late with the changes my health, and just life in general, has brought.  It hasn't changed my feelings towards these people, just that for now it's hard to do the 'have to's'  at times let alone the 'want to's'.  I'm ok with this for now though because how things are now might not always be this way, and I want to be happy in the now. 

I find a lot of satisfaction is the quiet life I have had served to me on a platter with my back pain and epilepsy.  I actual am reveling in it.  I knew I was on the quiet side, but at thirty two I now realise I am an introvert.  No, not a shut-it, but a genuine introvert.  I don't gain energy from socialising in a busy way, even if I enjoy myself socially.  I can be out and have a great time, but have this innate need to come home and tuck myself away for a bit because I feel drained and recharge when I am in my home - nice and quiet.   I always just thought I got tired easily, but the more mature me has seen something new.  I feel excited by a quiet schedule with lots of time to just quietly 'be' and think.  It's not boring to me, it's fulfilling.  I especially enjoy hanging out with friends just one-on-one.  Getting to just have a simple chat and a good laugh is one of my favourite things - particularly when food is involved!

So thirty two year old me is still the same old Jo, just a version that knows myself better and is happier for it.  I guess you can say I am all grown up now 😉

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Crime Scene

As I have mentioned in the past, one of Carter's struggles is his fine motor skills.  I know many children enjoy drawing and colouring in, but due to it being so difficult for Carter, it has been something he has avoided.  He has a lot of other interests, but this is one area that I feel he is missing out.  For this reason, I encourage him to draw pretty much whatever he wants just because I am so thrilled to see him drawing.

Yesterday we went to church.  The first hour consists of families all together with classes specifically for children later on.  During this first hour, we encourage our boys to listen or do a quiet activity such as reading or drawing.  Carter usually opts for just listening or reading books about flags while Tony reads or draws.

Yesterday was different though.

For about 15 minutes Carter was intently focussed on a drawing.  He sat there quietly drawing, except for one moment where he asked me how to spell 'Neville Chamberlain'.  When he was finally finished he proudly showed me what he had drawn.  Needless to say I was surprised.

Our exchange went like this: 
Me: "Wow Carter - what a cool picture.  What is it?"
Carter: "It's a crime scene Mum.  The guy here (pointing to the upper left) shot the lady with  a gun,  He has a bag pipe in his mouth because he is pretending to be Scottish when he is really American so the police wont catch him."
Me: "Ok, I see.  What is the red?"
Carter; "That's all the blood Mum.  See there is no blood on her face though -  that is so the detectives can ID the body."
Me: "Right.  That makes sense.  So why does it say Neville Chamberlain up the top here?"
Carter; "Because he is the Chief of Police Mum.  He was the British Prime Minister in World War Two until Winston Churchill took over so I made him the Chief of Police instead."
Me"Well that is a very interesting picture Carter."

Yes, I was impressed at the effort he went to, but seriously, a blood covered crime scene?  During church?? 
Love my Tarts!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The secret

I had an early morning doctors appointment Saturday morning.  I booked an appointment with the first available on a whim, as I get scalp psoriasis sometimes and it has been bugging me.  My regular GP takes 3 weeks to get into so for minor things I just see whoever suits my schedule.

When I arrived, I waited a short time and was called in.  I had never seen this doctor before, but he seemed pleasant and professional so I didn't waste much time in telling him why I was there and that I was interested in seeing if treatment options for psoriasis have changed/improved over the last few years.

My psoriasis is annoying and has spread as of late, but in the past the treatments were more of a hassle than the actual condition so I have tolerated it whilst it stayed relatively stable.

The doctor explained the treatments he thought would be worth trying and before filling out a prescription he asked if I am taking and medications, in case they would interfere with the treatment.

I listed the 6 medications I take.  I explained some are dependent on symptom severity (nerve pain killers) and others are round the clock.

Due to some of them being very strong medications that I need two doctors to approve them every 3 months as well as approval from Canberra, he asked me what I was taking each medication for.

After trying to give the shortened version of why I take them, he shook his head and said;

"Wow!  You have certainly got a lot on your plate.  It's rare I see someone your age with such health problems, yet you look healthy in the outside."

I politely laughed because there isn't really a response to that comment. I don't feel like my health leaves me with "a lot on my plate", it's just my normal.  I really can't remember it being any different.He went on typing and after a few minutes of silence passed he paused and turned to me.  With a serious look on his face he said;

"I'm sorry, I know this is a bit of a strange thing to ask, but you just seem so calm and happy but I know you would have to be in a lot of pain right now and I know what else you are dealing with....but how is it that you are happy with your situation?  I just really want to know what is your secret?"

Now I get this comment every now and again with people commenting that I seem happy despite being in pain and having seizures etc, but I just laugh it off or say I must be nuts, but this doctor was looking at me like he really wanted a serious answer so an awkward laugh wouldn't have cut it.

Instead, I opened my mouth and said the first thing that came out;

"My secret, is time.  Time heals things that medicine can't sometimes I guess."

He nodded and kept staring so I added on;

 "Not that I'm physically better at all, I'm sore every minute of every day, but what seemed like the hardest thing in the world a while ago is actually not so hard now because I have had time to adjust, but more so because I am stronger mentally now."

He nodded and went on writing and wished me well, but before I left the room he apologised for not being able to do more for me.

I wish now I could have explained myself better. I wish I could have said that there is no secret.  Time really changes your perspective if you let it.  I seem happy and calm because I truly feel happy and calm with my lot in life.  I have my days and moments of course and I'm not saying it's not difficult, but in many ways I have all I could have hoped for.  It is truly hard to be down about the things that haven't turned out how I would have liked when I also have so much to be grateful for.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pogo parents

Every Sunday we go to church.  There is time dedicated to kids activities and classes, but the first hour is for families all together and it's very quiet so we can listen to the speakers.  
Before I had children of my own, I envisioned that each week for that one hour, MY children would sit quietly and listen, or read, or draw, but they would remain in their seats and not make a big fuss.  I have 4 younger siblings and was good with children so I was confident I could make this "happen" when my turn rolled around.  
Fast forward a decade and it appeared we were on a pogo stick with the amount of getting up and down to take Carter out that was going on.  He was loud, restless, wanting to entertain those around him, and NEVER sitting in his seat.  Despite our best efforts, I got to the point where I truly believed that the two of us may never be able to stay in church for the whole hour because of Mr Tarts.
But we have persisted.  The expectations have remained the same, even if they weren't reached, we figured it was better to keep the goal rather than giving up:  
Some time has passed since those days and today I looked at our boys and realised that for a good year or so now, we get to stay in church.  There might be a toilet break, but other than that they are quiet (enough) and in their seats. They may read, or draw with a pen, but that's about it and it's enough for them.  The goal was finally achieved, not by lowering the bar, but by sticking at it, week after week, year after year.
It's not perfect, but that saying "this too shall pass" rings true, provided you add a little something on the end:
"This too shall pass, with a bit of effort and patience".