Be Prepared

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week… I also know it has always been staring me in the face.

As we know, removing a family member from the mix changes the dynamic, and this week I have worked hard to keep our hectic morning rush to school as calm and light-hearted as possible. The results have been great – we’ve arrived on or before time, and the kids have enjoyed a chat with their friends or a game of handball before class.

This morning, one of the children asked me if we could do this every day? I laughed and said “that is entirely up to you!”

Just now, as I muse over my morning coffee, I realise and admit that it is also very much up to me. We are all a team and we all play a part. My part is the trigger for all that follows…

My advice to myself – don’t hit that snooze button, get up and get organised straight away. Make sure I get myself a coffee (or whatever it is that gets you going). Take a moment to draw breath and know where you are at.

I’ve always thought I needed to get the kids up earlier, and that they were always the ones dragging their feet as I madly tried to get them to school on time – but that’s not the case. I have been getting them up later than usual (but not too late) and we have made it to school early every day. The key – as all those amazing parents who are already organised well know – is being prepared.

Not necessarily physically prepared with lunches already done and breakfast laid out. As my friends who know me well enough, will chuckle to themselves because they know that I am never that well prepared, I am simply talking about being mentally prepared for the day. I am talking about being calm and light-hearted within.

With all that being said, let’s hope I can practise what I preach into next week, when I have all the team back together! Stay tuned…

Love Takes Up Space

It’s funny isn’t it?… In a family there are always squabbles, arguments, difficult moments, crazy busyness and chaotic messiness… But even when we don’t notice it, there is always love.

I didn’t realise until driving in the car this morning, that love actually takes up space. One child is away on an adventure, and the other two are missing her so much. They said the car felt strange without her in it, like there was an empty space that should have been filled.

It is amazing how when you remove a child, the family dynamic changes. Things tend to run more smoothly – which can be momentary relief – but at the same time, disconcerting. Routines are completed a little more quickly, but family chores take a little longer. The bathroom is a little less messy, but I am missing the scattered skincare and hair ties – crazy isn’t it?

Her room remains dark and quiet, and a little more tidy than usual. It’s quite obvious that the space taken up by messiness is also the space occupied with love.

There is an empty seat at the dinner table, a little more food left over, a few less crumbs to clean up… Love takes up space.

There was no jostling for the prime position at the breakfast bench this morning. In fact, that seat was left vacant. No waiting for what seems like an eternity for the kids to finish their breakfast and drag their feet to the car – usually one shoe on, and one shoe off!

She will be home in a few days – the squabbling will begin again, the messiness will be amplified, the chaos will return, there will be less food leftover and more crumbs at the table. We will probably run late for school… but there will be more laughter, more hugs, no vacant seat at the dinner table, at the breakfast bar, or in the car… Love definitely takes up space!

***

I have written these words from the viewpoint of a mother whose child is away for a short while, but depending on your perspective, these sentiments can apply to anyone in any situation… My heartfelt sympathies to those who are living with a permanent absence.

Inhale, exhale… Fresh air, positivity!

Your day may have begun with a blur of the spray from the shower, a flurry of clothes as you dressed, followed by a liquid caffeine breakfast, then a mad scramble to make it to work or school… but once you are where you need to be, then stop and take a breath…

We all stop for a coffee, a fruit snack, a short break at some time during our morning. We usually take about ten minutes for ourselves before resuming our daily obligations. Make that ten minutes count! Make it REALLY a “ME break”!

A ten minute walk is ideal – a breath of fresh air if you can get outside, and something that most of us – regardless of fitness level – can do without too much discomfort.

Take that time to reflect, to “muse”, if you like. Take your morning coffee with you while you walk. Empty your mind and open your eyes to your surroundings, whether it be within your building, your neighbourhood or your own backyard. It is amazing what you notice for the first time when you lift your eyes from that phone (or other distraction) and enjoy the moment.

If you have a like minded colleague or friend, invite them along. A friendly ten minute chat about nothing in particular, or something that is playing on your mind can be very therapeutic, or simply uplifting.

A short walk with a friend (or my favourite coffee) can make a world of difference to the outcome of my day, to my productivity, and I like to think, perhaps even to those I come in contact with.

Lately I have been more focused on what I should be doing, rather than what I need to be doing… And that is taking a ten minute walk (or “ME break)… This morning I took that break, and my whole outlook on the day improved.

“Inhale… 2… 3, exhale… 2… 3…

Fresh air… 2… 3, positivity… 2… 3…”

The Simple Things In Life

As I sink into my soft old battered outdoor armchair and inhale the fresh scent of the garden washed clean of dust by a random storm that has just passed through, I notice how much I appreciate the little things… We don’t always realise it, and we often think we want so much more, but as I gaze out at the fresh clean green of the plants, stark against a grey sky, like the garden, I feel refreshed.

I cast my gaze downward, and a single bloom grabs my attention – it is literally ablaze with colour – fiery red highlighted with sparks of bright yellow. It is so incredibly vibrant, so striking.

After a busy week of running around, trying to keep everyone else happy, this is my moment to let the dust settle in my mind and regain some clarity through the simplicity of this setting.

I sip on my coffee and allow the aroma to seep through my psyche. The caffeine elevates my senses and motivates me move on with the rest of my day.

I am ready to move forward… How about you?

Calm in the Chaos

I must admit, these past few weeks I have found it a struggle to find calm in our chaos. Don’t get me wrong, it has been happy chaos – with international arrivals and interstate visitors, families and friends… But I have missed my moments of musing. I have missed my headspace.

Although I know there are many things to be done, I have escaped for a moment to allow the wind of the Bay to clear my head. Watching it dance through the leaves in the uppermost reaches of the gums has an almost hypnotic way of calming the soul. When it drops I can hear the birds twittering merrily, but as it’s velocity increases, the rushing sound reminds me of the roar of the ocean, and like the ocean the wind can carry away so much… Including our cares (at least for a moment).

I look down into the warmth of my favourite coffee. As it infuses me with energy, thoughts of my daily schedule and obligations creep back to the fore of my mind. I am fighting to keep my head clear, just for a few moments longer.

As I again cast my gaze toward the bending branches in the sky, I am transported toward the light white clouds dancing on high. It is a freedom that is hard to describe, but one that I imagine the birds might know well. The freedom that I remember as a child, just lying on the grass staring upwards, chasing my imagination towards the outer reaches of our atmosphere. What a wonderful feeling that was, and what wonderful days they were…

Musing Over A Mimosa

I’m on holiday, so I’ve switched the coffee for a Mimosa! A few days escape and a change of scenery over the Easter break…

Today I am gazing out over blue water at low tide. The fresh salty breeze ripples the waveless bay as families fish from the clean white sand beach. A scruffy little dog leaps for a frisbee in the distance and the florescent rainbow of kite-surfers dart across the horizon offshore.

I feel the cobwebs of everyday life clearing and drifting away on the cool air. I so enjoy the luxury of thoughts – more like observations – fluttering through my mind… Fleeting mental commentary on others passing by, or more lingering deliberation about the lives of those who settle in to enjoy the foreshore as I am.

I suddenly find myself with a new friend – she is quite stout and groans a little with the effort as she settles down beside me. She seems easily distracted by the young children playing nearby and I can see she’d love to join them. The greying of her muzzle and the milkiness in her eyes give away her age, but the inner puppy prevails when a balls goes whizzing by!

I struggle to remember the hubbub that we left only two hours’ drive down the road, and that I know I must go back to in just a day’s time.

I choose to enjoy the moment. To allow life to happen. Isn’t that what a holiday – no matter how short or long – is all about?

What is your escape?

And The Days Go By…

I sneak away in the hope of a moment’s peace amongst the happy chaos of holidays and visitors. I need to gather my thoughts and muse a little… I’ve found it is good for the soul.

This morning is fine. The sky a pale clear blue brushed with light white wisps of cloud. The garden is lush, nourished with recent rain. Birds are chattering busily in the treetops. I love listening to Nature’s “white noise”.

I inhale the rich warm aroma of my coffee and feel the distillation of my thoughts begin…

My large black dog pads quietly to my side and drops onto my feet. A calm comforting presence. I breathe deeply.

Just as words begin bubbling to the surface, they are prematurely popped with the raspy mechanical rattling of a hedge trimmer followed by the shrill excited exclamations of the young boy shadowing his father as they clear away the new growth that has partially obscured my view of our garden. They know I love to be able to take in as much of our green space as possible.

My moment of musing is replaced with the appreciation of the noise and chaos that comes with a loving family.