Focus on the Positive.

I’ll take an extra shot of sunshine with my coffee today!

The morning school-run is done. I am lucky enough to be out of lockdown and have a school-run to do!

The window is down, a fresh breeze ruffles my not-so-tidy morning hairstyle. The radio blasts out a beat while The DJs joke between themselves. It’s amazing how a good dose of sunshine and a little music can lift the spirits… In fact, for a moment they were soaring!

My thoughts were flooded with fond memories. Even one from my youngest childhood bubbled to the surface. A very special woman (Mrs Murphy), without warning, once pulled me to the side, looked deeply into my eyes and said “you are truly blessed“, and do you know what?… I believe she was right!

Even when life‘s road felt bumpy and the mountains ahead seemingly insurmountable, something – however random – reminded me to be grateful for what I already have.

Much later in life, thanks to my partner, I was given the gift of seeing Tony Robbins speak, and amongst all the wisdom he had to impart, one simple phrase spoke loudly to me… “What you focus on, you will move toward“… And that is so true! It is up to us whether we focus on the positive or negative, but think back and you will see it is so.

What will you focus on today?

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.

First Day Jitters

Many of us are at different points in our COVID-19 pandemic experience. After almost two months in lockdown, our children returned to school today. Although the temperatures are cooler, we woke to a bright blue and cloudless sky. Barely a breath of breeze jostled the leaves in the tall gums. The usual chorus of birdsong joined us in greeting the day. The only real difference this morning was a louder hum of traffic in the distance as more commuters returned to the office – my partner included.

My brood displayed the whole range of enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the return to school… My eldest was excited to rejoin her friends and was ready for school without a fuss. My youngest was a little reluctant, however cooperative, and we managed to arrive at school, if a little late. My classic middle child suffered a bad dose of the “first day jitters“ to the point where he became physically ill. I was forced to issue an ultimatum – off to school or bedrest (no devices or distractions) all day. Bedrest has been chosen and I’m hoping that boredom today will create a little more enthusiasm for tomorrow.

It is surprising how much our minds can influence our physical well being. For some it is easier than others to overcome unchecked emotions. It can be both difficult and frustrating, for those who genuinely want to help, to understand someone who struggles with their anxieties.

Some of us ventured out into the world, and our “new normal“ today, let’s hope that with a little understanding and a lot of support that we can all get a little closer to our “old normal“ tomorrow.

How was your return to school and working life? I’d love to hear…

Teamwork

It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new working- and learning-from-home week. As I make our coffee and note the coincidental combination of coffee cups that came from the cupboard this morning, it dawned on me how important and far-reaching the concept of teamwork has become. Our lives, more than ever, are a series of interlinking teams, much like a chain driving a series of mechanisms that need to work together smoothly in order for the machine – for life – to move forward.

In our household, our lives before COVID-19 were much more independent of each other. My partner would leave early each morning to deal with the chaos of traffic enroute to the office, and I would deal with the chaos of getting the children to school and organising the household. Then between after-school activities and my partner arriving home later in the evening, we were all so tired and frazzled that we remained relatively independent of each other through until bedtime.

Now we often enjoy a morning cup of coffee together, and sometimes a snack during the children’s break times. My partner is helping our highschooler with her work, as I supervise our primary school boys. The children also have to be mindful of their father in his office, so as not to disturb his work either.

We have all become members of each other’s teams without even realising it, and we are all working together surprisingly well – the machine is running smoothly and our life is moving forward.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented cooperation, and a deeper level of communication has been the key. I will miss this special team we’ve become when life gets back to “normal“.

Brain Drain.

It is late in the day, but this is my first opportunity to take a moment and “muse”.

Shadows are starting to lengthen, and instead of the excited twitter of birds in the morning, the lazy buzz of insects is the backdrop to the relaxed chatter of children playing in the yard, now that the school day is over.

For our family, this is Day One of homeschooling, and although I have not done my obligatory 10,000 steps, I feel quite exhausted!

With a huge demand for online resources, the anticipated structure of our day quickly fell apart as the primary website crashed. We all took a deep breath, and to buy a few moments of planning time we listened to a kids’ news podcast. Thankfully, they were immediately engaged and enjoyed doing the quiz at the end to see who was listening best. I think we might start every day that way – they keep up to date with current events and it stimulates further conversation and investigation, along with some fodder for writing and other projects.

We very loosely followed our regular school day schedule, and there weren’t too many complaints… In fact, my oldest son even exclaimed that “this day went so quickly!”

I quietly breathed a sigh of relief and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back for a job adequately done. I now feel qualified to describe myself as an “Educational Guide“ (most definitely not a “teacher”), and I’m looking forward – just a little more confidently – to our Day Two.

How is this new global experiment of homeschooling shaping up for you?

My World Is Still Normal

It is still early, and I’ve crept out into the garden to enjoy the cool fresh air and bright friendly sunshine. The chorus of birds this morning is more like a full orchestra – too many different calls to count. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and just like the day, I can feel myself slowly coming to life.

In this moment, my world is normal. It is the first official day of the school Easter break. The children are sleeping in a little, my partner is early in to the office as usual, and I am taking a moment of solitude to gather my thoughts and contemplate the day.

Only this particular day is quite different. I won’t be planning an outing for our first day of leisure. We will be planning an at home activity. We won’t go out for a picnic lunch, but perhaps will enjoy one in our own backyard. My partner won’t come home from the office this evening, the office is now at home.

As I contemplate my day, I am reminded that my world is not normal. No one’s world is “normal“ any more. We are in the midst of a pandemic, like nothing we’ve seen in 100 years. Our new “normal” is a world of restricted movement, limitations, trepidation and uncertainty.

In order to live with our new “normal“, I have just realised the importance of taking this moment to feel the old “normal”. While the sun rises, while the birds herald, while the day is still fresh and new… as it is every single day. While my partner goes to the office, just like any other weekday and the children sleep in a little just because they can. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and for this moment, my world is still normal.

I am so thankful that my partner can work from home, and that I have a garden to share with the children.

How are you managing your new “normal“?

New Beginnings

For myself and so many of my friends, this was a week of new beginnings… New beginnings for our children – either a new school year, or for some, the brave and vast leap into high school.

These few days are a transition from adrenaline, excitement and nerves into a new routine, and now a touch of overwhelm is beginning to settle in.

I was advised this morning by a kind woman of previous experience to expect this next week to be one of meltdowns – overwhelm and sheer exhaustion will set in for those of our children who are beginning their life in high school.

As I sit and sip on my morning coffee, I muse over these first couple of days. The sky is looking as moody as I feel… Fluffy lighter clouds above, ominous grey and threatening storm clouds on the horizon, with surprising flashes of brilliant blue. If this is how I am feeling, I can only begin to imagine how my almost-teenage daughter must be feeling!

I am taking ten minutes to reflect, gather my emotions and keep them in check so that I may be the rock solid, dependable person my daughter will need for support as she begins this next chapter in the storybook of her life.

How is your sky looking today?

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…