Caterpillar Contemplations

"What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly." Lao Tzu


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Something recent that made me do a happy/victory dance!

My first response to my sister’s above prompt was to get all … “didn’t you read my last post about being overwhelmed – where’s the happy victory dance in that I ask you?” …
but then I consciously decided NOT to be all doom and gloom.

 

 

 

 

(I’ve helpfully included this image of what doom and gloom may look like from a window if you were feeling particularly moody)

And I thought really long and hard about it.  And THEN I slapped myself a few times and took a good look in the proverbial mirror.  What I found was that I had a superbly wonderful happy / victory dance just recently.

It was the night of May 30th and all through the house,
I skipped and I whistled – not at all like a mouse.
I danced near a table and spun onto a chair,
because I knew May 31st soon would be there.

My 7 year anniversary with my gorgeous boyfriend.  Seven fantastic ( and sometimes overwhelming – can’t forget that) years!  Wow.  I was joyful. I was excited for the date we had planned – which was AmAzInG.

You know … I love that when I read his text messages I can  hear his voice and so often it makes me laugh out loud.  And I love that when I text him, he understands what :)? means and it makes him laugh.  So that was the second happy dance. When I got out of the car after checking my mobile and seeing his reply “you made me laugh out loud” … I did another happy jig step shuffle as I walked toward the house.

And because there are no clearly defined rules or contracts signed when we started this #blogjune deal – I’ll lovingly bounce back the topic to you as per requested sweet sister.  Tell me, what’s your recent happy/victory dance?

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Spin off from any other #blogjune posts that inspire you (me).

My sister gave me a well considered prompt I think … one, that if time allowed, I think I would enjoy immensely.  Reminds me of an assessment task in VCE (a long time ago now), doing English Literature and writing a creative piece based on the books / poems / plays that we were reading.  I like that sort of assignment. Gives me parameters to work with.

However, when I clicked on my sister’s link I felt completely overwhelmed.  Did I have to read them all?  Which one do I choose?  None of the first lines really pulled me in … What if I didn’t find any I liked? Should I just pick one at random and go for it?

It’s the sort of request I’d like to spend time considering and reading and indulging in the blog community – perhaps even scoring a new blog to follow – but that feeling of being overwhelmed often occurs when I already have so much on my plate.  I decided that, I should instead use the list of blogs to be my inspiration.  My inspiration is … “being overwhelmed” – I want to say overwhelment (but it’s not a word … yet!).

Being overwhelmed is only something I’ve had any experience with since moving back ‘home’ to study.  Juggling motherhood, study, work, relationships and friends has been a bit of a battle for me.  My life up until I was 28 had a lot of enforced structure. I went to school, I came home, I did some homework – then relaxed. Or I went to work, did my job, came home and relaxed.  Or I was always at home with my son and I did the housework – then relaxed.  There is an ongoing pattern yes?

But in the last six years that pattern has drastically altered. I work some days, some nights. I have studied some things online and some things on campus. I am often in Ballarat one day, Melbourne another day and Gippsland the next.  My study is a home office and much of my ‘work’ is done at home, but also my ‘play’ (as I’m a huge game nerd).  Defining boundaries of what is work, what is study, what is play gets very blurred.  I have developed a strategy over the years, involving a paper organiser that has allowed me to cope better with my vagrant lifestyle.  I colour code activities or responsibilities. I can see a month at a time, nothing sneaks up on me now – a week at a time meant things could hide two weeks from now and I wouldn’t know till I flipped the page. But nonetheless I still get overwhelmed.

I tell my students to piece-meal their scripts. To learn one or two or three lines a day – not try to read and learn a script in one sitting.  Break it into consumable, doable pieces.  Like so many pieces of advice, it’s often easier to give than it is to enact.  At least, I know it does work and because I’m talking the talk often enough, my brain’s tape recorder (it’s still a tape recorder in my head, not a CD) plays the recording and I listen and sometimes respond to my own advice.

So I guess these means that I should go back to the prompt page my sister gave me and I should look at one, perhaps two of those listed blogs, read them and decide which one to respond to … but I think … this blog may just do the trick!

I’m fascinated with goal setting, but rarely do it … I think I feel so all over the place that it is hard to nail down some solid ideas of what I ‘want’.  But, I think my sister could do a better job:
Sis your prompt is – In five years time I’d like to be …


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What is June to you? #blogjune

Thanks sis!  An easy one!

What is June to me …

 

June is brisk mornings in fragile sunshine.
It is putting on multiple layers so that I can strip them off again in overheated rooms.
June is hot chocolates, red wine, stews and soups.
It is good books in hot baths with bubbles and visits from my boyfriend saying “can I get you anything?”
June is long conversations in front of open fires, or movie nights, or board games.
It is frost that paints the gardens white and rain that releases tensions and washes away the grime.
June is long boots and long skirts.
It is phrases like “winter is here now” and “it was so cold last night” and “shut the door!”
June is … tax … time.
And it is blissfully the end of term!

 

Well dear sis, what’s in store for you?  How about:

Masks!

 


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Letting Go

My second #blogjune challenge topic is “Letting Go” – ever since I got the topic that damn song has been playing in my head.  You know the one, but just in case it doesn’t leap to mind I won’t mentioned it until the end … so at the very least you can read my blog without it distracting you.

From the moment you go into labor, motherhood is all letting go!

A woman from the breastfeeding association (ABA) mentioned that … I don’t know if she got it from somewhere or made it up herself. It has been true for me as a mother … but also as a teacher, as a writer, as a collaborator and as someone who has encountered grief.  The act of letting go is a skill that needs to be developed like cooking or public speaking.  It is a skill that I have learnt through necessity more so than through active application but, now that I am aware of it, I have strategies in place to assist with the process.

So often I feel overly invested in what I do, or an idea that I have, or a piece of literature that I’m working with a student – I’m so invested that I forget to relinquish control and allow others to take over or assist.  However, when I do let go, I often notice that the creative process improves and accelerates.  I release the stress of having to get it right on my own, of having to produce something that is sensational.  It gives me permission to play and workshop and even scrap ideas completely – which is very empowering.

I have found that acknowledging what is important to me has assisted with letting go of extra work or responsibilities that impinge on the time that I have with my family and friends.  I revisit this thought process frequently for many reasons – but in relation to letting go I think it is fitting to mention that sometimes a major creative project, although beneficial for furthering my skill set, may not be beneficial for my relationships or my own need for time and space. I’m learning that it is okay for me to instigate an idea, or be a driving force and then, hand over the reins.

I find ‘relaxing’ difficult … letting go of the things that need to be done, the planning that needs to happen for life to be okay … so … I procrastinate and distract myself rather than giving myself the space to ‘let go’.  It’s something I’d like to work on …

I realise I’ve addressed the topic of ‘letting go’ quite broadly … but I couldn’t really settle on one area of interest.  Although I DID consider doing a review of Frozen, for which the song “Let it go” has made unduly famous. I decided to go with a less inflammatory path (I told my 8 – 10 year old musical theatre kids that I didn’t like the movie and boy was I unpopular). I wonder what my sister’s topic will be for me tomorrow … I’m actually quite excited.  Her topic for today is “Time for Tea”.

Enough about me though, I’m curious:

How do you let go?

 


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Blog June Challenge

First Blog for June Challenge

I’ve never been one for peer pressure, being able to resist the friendship pull to do things that don’t interest me or involve me staying awake when I should be sleeping … but I’m a sucker for jumping on bandwagons. Got some crazy idea that we can do a two hour walk before sunrise – if you do it, I’ll do it*.  Want to bake a different cookie every day for the month of March – sure why not*!  Want me to cut out carrots and eggs from my diet for three weeks – I’ll give it a go*. So … when I arrived to pick up my son from my sisters house, her idea of attempting the #blogjune challenge piqued my interest, but it was her suggestion of giving each other topics each day that really sealed the deal.

Her ‘topic’ for me today is:

The pros and cons, hopes and nightmares, dark and light of our #blogjune idea.

A well thought out prompt.  Much better than my gift to her:

Babies born with the help of science are NOT miracles.

Not that I articulated it that well to her. I think I rambled something about the overuse of the word ‘miracle’ and how it annoyed me because they weren’t miracles, it was the advances of science and medicine that made so many ‘miracles’ possible.  Anyway … it’s not my topic anymore.  Ha!

 

CON: There is a strong possibility that my darling sister will give me a curly topic or two during the month.  A topic that I will have little knowledge of or will need to research which will be a strain on my time.
PRO: I respond well to enforced ideas.
CON: I tell myself that I am time poor but really I’m just exceptionally good at distracting myself from working consistently and utilizing my time efficiently.
PRO: I WANT to write regularly but I don’t write regularly. I’m a pick myself up and brush myself off type of girl who knows that multiple attempts are needed to form new, life changing habits. Could this be the one?
CON: I’ll have to think of cool topics for my sister … and I often feel drained by coming up with new ideas all the time for my work.

I sincerely hope that this challenge will give me direction, creative release, stimulate my writing muscle and open up doorways of communication between myself, my friends and my sister. I hope that it will potentially lower my stress levels and introduce me to new ways to source information, network and brainstorm my ideas / lesson plans / recipes / relationships.  But I fear that, like many of my projects and habits – evident on this blog (Project 365 & my 365 days of gratitude) or in my life (Weight Watchers, exercise, writing, getting off the computer at 10pm, taking fish oil every day) – that I will fail!  I know I just gotta keep on trying, new habits weren’t built in a day – although it certainly feels that way sometimes with the bad habits.

There will hopefully be dark humor, dark chocolate, dark wintry nights with dark themes of dark horses and dark carriages trundling along a dark track in a dark, dark forest.  The light will appear at the end of June, when I make it through each blog day – or perhaps when I reflect on how amazing the experience has been and how, it really wasn’t so difficult after all!

 

 

* I’ve never actually agreed or attempted to do any of these things … but the cookie one sounds good … if I had the time I’d be tempted to give it a go. Fortunately March is SO far away and no one will a) remember or b) want to do it with me – so I’m safe!


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I didn’t say goodbye …

I didn’t say goodbye when I kissed you on the cheek …

I said “See-ya”.
And I will.
I’ll see you in the swirl of smoke from a pipe.
I’ll see you in tubs of Creme Caramel and blocks of Old Gold.
I’ll see you in Acquire, British Rails and Risk.
I’ll see you when I pass a bowling club or see the old smoke stack from the wool mills.
I’ll see you when I drive into Portland.
I’ll see you when I finally write a novel.
I’ll see you when I look at my index finger and my son’s index finger which looks exactly like yours.
I’ll see you when I cook steak and make an omelette; and whether you like it or not, I’ll see you when I smell onion and garlic.
I’ll see you when I talk to my sisters.
I’ll see you every time I watch a magpie and think ‘boy or girl?’
I’ll see you when I feel my temper rise.
I’ll see you when I stir my sugar into a long black (before I add a touch of milk).
I’ll see you when I run my fingers over my first piano.
I’ll see you when I race someone down the street and start laughing – why I laugh nobody knows, but it’s fun!
I’ll see you every time I load Civilization or talk about green screen computers with Apple Panic and Loadrunner – they don’t make games like they used to.
I’ll see you in vests with sheep’s wool lining.
I’ll see you each time I use your old army duffel bag.
I’ll see you in my aunts and uncles.
I’ll see you at Christmas, handing out presents from under the tree.
And when I really need to, I’ll see you at Shelly Beach.
Enjoy the journey, mon père.
I’ll see-ya!
Ferdinand Karel Johanna Maria Meerbach
17.06.1942 – 04.11.11


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The Snow Globe

I filter through the memories.

Before sixteen we had … something – you and I.
We had trades to make, risks to take and shares to buy.
Then time moves on, it slugs through mires. And each time I look, each time I struggle to grasp onto a fragment of your presence standing by, I’m lost. The question I keep asking is, where were you?
So now. As you play your own tune, not a tune that sounds free and true and unique, but one that sounds like a broken record. As you play your tune … I’m no longer drawn. I feel no connection.
I think before, I used to hold up a bowl of memories -like a snow globe, the truth in the middle- and I would shake it. I let the fluffy white recollections dance around me. I would repeat the same story over and over so that I believed … in you. And there were people that would tap on the snow globe, they’d tap harder and harder and I’d just put on a pair of ear muffs and shout against the glass -I can’t hear you.
I told my story. And it would’ve been alright if it were true. If, at the end of the tale, the man I thought you were -was really you.
It only took a few words here to chip the shell and a few words there to form a crack. It only took one night for everything I saw before, for my truth about you, to dissolve. The water seeped away and the dancing snow feels cold around my feet.
The picture is painted so clearly now. The records are set straight. There are no misplaced affections lingering at the edges of my reality.
I know where I stand.
And it’s not beside your bed. It’s not holding your hand.
I would have, I could have.
But now, you’ve let your feelings be known, in ways – only you know how – that speak of ‘who you’ are in more eloquent words than I can explain. Because “… they had their chance.” tells us what we need to know.
And I’ve been there. Where sickness starts and death ends. I’ve stood there and looked it square in the eye and I know that I can stand the test of time. Not that you’d know. Not that you’d care to know.
So now, as you face it. I won’t be there. Because, now I know – more clearly than before – that I mean nothing. That my existence is but a blink in your eye.
All of us were … and in a blink – we are gone.