Resolution With Reason

It’s a new year… I have a fresh coffee. The gentle breeze cools my skin, a bird twitters lazily on a nearby branch, and I muse over the year that was… but more importantly, I plan a positive start to the year ahead.

We all make “New Year’s resolutions” – some on a grander scale, while others remain a little more private. Most of us resolve to make the new year one of greater health and wealth. More exercise, less indulgent food, and perhaps a career change or pay rise. They are all great goals, but are they specific enough to achieve?

This year I’ve decided to get down to grassroots and create some achieveable new habits… A short walk with my daughter each day – not a marathon, just time to reconnect with my tech-distracted teen, and I will switch my lunchtime sandwich to a bowl of salad more often – always healthier to “eat the rainbow“. I also plan to enroll in a course that will equip me to use my writing skills to supplement our income, and a better opportunity to feed my passion for the written word. There you go… That’s it, “health and wealth” addressed!

It wasn’t until the night before last, as I settled my almost 9-year-old son to bed, that I stumbled across my most important resolution…

He asked me ‘what was something that I thought made me the best person I can be?’ I replied to say that I hoped it might be my caring nature and consideration for others that make me a good person. He was quiet for a moment and then his small voice quietly whispered into the darkness, “If you be a bit more selfish and look after yourself more, then you might be an even better person than you already are“. His wise words and perception, well beyond his years, left my heart full and my mouth speechless.

I now have my most important reason for a resolution – perhaps for all of us, given the life changing events of the past year – and that is to take better care of myself, so that I may better care for those I love.

Cheers to your New Year!

A Merry Christmas Musing

Christmas is something different to everyone. I wonder what it is for you?

As I sit, sip and soak up the summertime scent of my surrounds, I reflect upon Christmases past.

One of my favourite childhood memories is lying on the ground gazing upwards at the tree my father had brought home. It was real, and the heat of the day was drawing out the magnificent Christmas aroma of the essential oils in the foliage, disseminated throughout the living room by the fan as it cast a cooling breeze across our swimsuit-clad bodies. Cottonwool snow softly falling to the floor, jostled from the branches by the fan. I remember feasting on cold juicy watermelon, and the smell of my mother’s Christmas cake cooking in the oven drifted through from the kitchen, reminding us that family members would soon be gathering to celebrate with us.

Our present day Christmas – like those throughout the world – paints a very different picture. Extended family festivities and crowded Christmas parties are simply not an option. Gatherings are minimal and I am lucky enough to be able to choose open air venue for family celebration, as we must distance ourselves a little from those we love in order to protect them from this invisible enemy, the coronavirus.

I try to imagine how Christmas will look for us in the future? Will large family gatherings be a thing of the past? Will our Christmases become more private and reflective? Or will we triumph over COVID-19 and celebrate the season on a grander scale than ever?

For now, I will savour my coffee – laced with a little Christmas cheer – and appreciate my family, grieve for the multitudes who have lost some of their dearest this year, and hope for a brighter and more positive future for humanity to celebrate in the years to come.

Merry Christmas 2020!

Enjoying my coffee from last year’s lovingly decorated & well-used mug.

Return To Work – A Resumé Revelation

I sit myself at the table, strong cup of coffee in hand, gaze at my ancient resumé, and wonder who that person was… Who have I become?

I thought the fresh spring air, carrying a hint of jasmine, and the calm morning twitter of small birds in the shady trees against the backdrop of a deep and brilliant blue sky, might help to clarify my mind and reveal the person I thought might be me.

For once, I am lost for words. Having a partner with a specialised long-term career has given me the opportunity to choose to be a full-time parent to young children, but over the course of those years, many of my interests and pursuits have been put on the shelf in favour of (happily) supporting my partner and family. It is only now, as they move through primary (or elementary) school toward high school, in this ‘year of COVID-19’ that I find the time has come for me to once again move back into the workforce.

And, as I stare at that gaping black hole in my employment history, I feel that into it has disappeared much of who I was before.

Perhaps those skills I once boasted of are a little rusty. Perhaps I may not be able to list my interests as “current”… but if I stare long enough and deeply enough, I hope I might find someone with a whole new set of enhanced skills…Someone ready to find new interests. And, as my partner says, I need to give credit to what that new person may be capable of.

The World, At Arm’s-Length

I settle carefully back into the reasonably comfortable, but not quite cuddly armchair. I gaze upward, out the window. Through the thin white veil of venetian blinds, I see a broken, horizontally pixelated view of a beautiful blue sky with billowing clouds gathering in the west. The tops of the gumtrees are still. Every now and then they sway a little, just to remind me this is not a photograph.

It looks warm outside. I think it looks warm. My climate controlled environment tends to mask the reality.

An unexpected visit to hospital has given me yet another perspective on this COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are in full lockdown, that means absolutely no visitors at all. And while I am not well enough to go outside, my only connection to humanity is the doctors, nurses and hospital support staff.

In “ordinary” times, this world at arm’s-length was still within reach when family and friends were allowed in. When flowers and care packages were easily delivered. When a familiar face could say, yes it is beautiful and warm outside, in spite of the air-conditioned chill within my four small walls.

I am very fortunate to have a bed near a large window. Even with the blinds, I can enjoy watching as the day begins. The sky brightens from a star studded ink black through charcoal into the grey blue of dawn. The bright azure of midday bordered along the base with the grey-green of eucalyptus leaves warms into a glaringly bright rectangle as the afternoon sun stares fiercely through the glass, eventually fading into a golden glow as it dips below the horizon, backlighting the trees as the shadows march across my room to finally envelope the world outside once again in the comfort of a sparkling night sky.

I never thought I would appreciate quite so much, the world at arm’s-length.

Just Play!

Ironically, as I compose this piece on my device, I am about to say “put down your devices“…

I have been reminded these last couple of days how important good old-fashioned outdoor playing is for children (of all ages). My children got to run around like crazy kids in the backyard with some friends they had not all seen together for almost seven years – but they laughed, and ran, and jumped, and played like it was just yesterday. No devices, no schoolyard politics, just some fresh air and a good patch of lawn.

Peals of laughter and squeals of excitement were the backdrop to relaxed adult conversation. I was reminded of my own childhood where we would get together with other families (long before the era of smart devices) and children would be children, while adults chatted around the table. I remember feeling happy, safe and secure with not a care in the world. I think and hope that is how all the children would have felt last night as they climbed – justifiably exhausted – into their beds after a “busy” day.

Good morning sunshine!

This morning when I awoke, I was greeted with warm sunshine tempered by a cool breeze. A few charcoal tinged puffy white clouds floated through the sky… The perfect day to be out and about. Fortified by the warmth of my morning coffee, I am inspired to take my boys to a nearby beach for a spot of fun fishing. Why not take advantage of the opportunity for more outdoor play when it presents itself? Not only is it good for the kids, but a breath of fresh air with warm sun on my back, soft white sand in front with gentle waves lapping the shoreline can’t be anything but a good thing for me too.

Organisation, Flexibility and Resilience

As I sit down to drink my coffee and muse for a moment, the breeze has dropped, a light smattering of clouds white wash the sky just enough to allow the sun‘s rays to penetrate through and warm my back, as the traffic hums in the distance and the birds make music in the treetops around me. After a rather hectic start to the day, I feel a sense of peace creeping in… This is my “me“ moment.

My “me” moment.

Sometimes, no matter how organised we might be, plans don’t always go as expected. My morning has not gone to plan, but with some good communication and a little flexibility, I will get back on track.

During my life, I have participated in numerous courses addressing the issue of time management. As my friends and family all know (and will probably chuckle as they read this), it is a constant struggle for me, but thanks to the necessities of parenthood and finally some of that life experience kicking in, I feel I am making headway in this area. For those of us who tend to be perfectionists and people-pleasers, time management becomes a never ending battle.

A diary will always be an organised person‘s best friend, and now thanks to the age of technology, we not only have the old-fashioned paper style available to us, but countless digital versions are at our fingertips – literally – on our smart devices. It is so easy to make use of them and to schedule “on the run“. We can even share our appointments on a “need to know“ basis at the touch of a button. These days, I would be totally lost without my iPhone calendar. My life is virtually mapped out on that device. I am not completely sure I like that fact, but nevertheless it makes my days run more smoothly, and my tasks more likely to be completed.

Ironically, I am trying to pass on this wisdom as our children progress into high school. They have so much more to remember now – more information, more responsibility, more independent activities, and definitely more homework… How do I impress upon them, given my historic disorganisation, the importance of a diary to ensure the smooth-running of their days?

A last-minute rescheduling of appointments has slightly rearranged our day, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it can be a good thing – learning how to “roll with the punches“ can contribute to resilience – a quality becoming increasingly valuable in our world right now.

What are your tips for getting organised?

Life Is A Delicate Balancing Act

The damp chill of a few rainy days gives way to the comforting warmth of the sunshine as it breaks through the heavy cloud cover, burning it off to bring in a clear sunny, freshly washed afternoon. My coffee offers soothing warmth from within as the bright light radiates surprising heat upon my skin.

Upward the sky becomes more blue than grey. The breeze jostles the last few clouds upon their way across the horizon while rustling the treetops in a dance of appreciation – both for the life-giving rain, and now the clearer sunny weather. The garden around me is almost an iridescent green punctuated by a rainbow myriad of flowers… not a still life painting, but rather an idyllic real life backdrop to soften the less than idyllic realities of our every day.

Trying to juggle a home and work life. Trying to prioritise between family and money. Trying to find a way of managing that limbo between the end of the school day, and the end of an average work day.

To those parents who successfully manage that difficult time of day, I take my hat off to you. Quite often the cost of that after-school care can negate the cost of working longer hours, but not utilising that option can also – understandably – cost your employment.

Now that I’ve made that statement, I think I’ve clarified my own solution… this global pandemic of COVID-19 has forced upon us an unprecedented situation in which we are being forced to re-evaluate, juggle and re-balance our entire lives. Some income is better than no income in a time where one might easily become the other.

Returning to Work

Today, I contemplate my future. Maybe you are contemplating yours…

Looking forward…

Many of us take a break from our regular work or career for a myriad of reasons. Maybe before further studies, you have taken a “gap year“. Perhaps a young mother returning to work after maternity leave. Perhaps an older parent returning to work after spending time at home as the primary carer for young children. Maybe you’ve taken a sabbatical – some extended leave – from your regular employment and are now returning to a new environment or even considering a career change. Or as is the case with so many now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps as restrictions ease, you are looking for a new job – any job!

I find myself fitting into a few categories. I am an older parent returning to work as my young children are now well ensconced in school life. In fact, I am older than many parents of children in primary (or elementary) school, so I am also in the group who may have taken extended leave from their usual career. And thanks to COVID-19 and it’s effect on the world economy, I am now searching for employment (and an income) that will fit into my current lifestyle, requiring flexibility and restricted hours.

I am discovering a whole new world of jobseeking sites. I am so pleased to see agencies actively marketing job opportunities for people returning to work and looking for a balance with business and personal life.

One of a number of options – working from home – allows the flexibility to look after family, and in the current world situation, the ability to continue working without as much interruption as for those in a more face-to-face and physical industry. A great thing – not only for our own financial well-being, but for our economy.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, then I will be happy to update you from time to time over a “morning coffee musing”, if you like, on the resources and opportunities that I find.

Physical Distancing versus Social Distancing

It’s funny, as I chatted with a friend this morning, we talked about “social distancing” and its effects on COVID-19, ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues and the general population.

We are really being asked to physically distance, because there are many other ways we express ourselves socially these days. Social contact is not limited to physical situations. Social (and related) media play a huge part – especially for younger people – in the way we interact. Yet, as the human species, physical social interaction is so important to who we are and our mental well-being.

We are rediscovering the importance and strength of family and social groups. Physical restrictions brought upon us by the pandemic have made us acutely aware of the value of those family members and friends we can no longer hug or comfort. Those who live alone have become truly isolated from our basic human need for physical contact.

Thankfully, we are now able to socialise on a “virtual“ level. These unprecedented times have encouraged individual families – whose members through busy lives – had become almost strangers at times, to reconnect. Facebook groups and the like have helped bring us together in ways that were never before possible. I am able to share everyday news with my whole family at one time… Not quite, but almost like being around the table together.

I know that we will have to learn to live with COVID-19 and all the lifestyle complications and restrictions that come with it. I am thankful for today’s technology – that it allows us to connect socially and visually with those we care about – but I so very much look forward to the day when we can again embrace those people with our arms as well.

A Misty Morning Musing

Barely a breath of breeze. Barely a ripple on the water. As I gaze outward the only sounds that break the peaceful silence are the rhythmic dripping of dew from the rooftop onto the awning below and the haunting call of a water bird echoing through the passage. The rising sun is burning off the mist as it drifts lazily along the surface.

I feel my spirit lifting. All thoughts of what hasn’t been done, what needs to be done, what should be done, dissipate along with the mist.

A few days away reconnecting with old friends. Children building sandcastles on the beach, playing with total abandon. Finding some yabbies and baiting a hook in the hope of catching dinner for the family. Playing games together around the dinner table and easy conversation until late in the evening.

I was reminded of a recent “getaway“ we had at home, also catching up with old friends. An impromptu “sleepover”, children laughing, adults chatting, followed the next morning by a lazy breakfast.

We were lucky enough to leave our regular reality for this idyllic place, but I realised as I sat and sipped my morning coffee that although the change of location was a bonus, the “human ingredients” were what made the perfect recipe for a perfect getaway.