Exhausted, with Aprons…

94012710940847678f8Moqz90c

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” 
~ Albert Einstein

 

What a lovely weekend I’ve had. Our friends and their children visited the farm, and to my delight I found that these particular children had a great love of rambling walks in the countryside, board games, stories, an exceptional fondness for fairies and pirates, and a deep appreciation of yummy food, all of which are among my favourite things! 🙂

Ten-year-old Hannah was also very keen to strap on an apron and help in the kitchen, and so we practiced knife skills, invented crazy salads, decorated desserts with strawberries and made endless delicious treats, including Blueberry Crumble Slice, which was a huge success with her blueberry-addicted brother, Mitchell.

Blueberry Crumble SLice

Today, I’m going to catch up on all that energy I expended. The dogs are equally exhausted after all that fun so we’re going to stay snuggled up on this rain-sweetened frosty morning, drink tea, and write. Well, I’ll be writing, and the dogs shall be lending moral support, bless their furry paws!

Tomorrow, after I am caught up on sleep, I shall share a particularly delectable recipe for Nutella Cheesecake, which was the dessert we enjoyed on Saturday night. I promise it’s both easy and divine. 🙂 Mmmmm, cheesecake…

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

image from www.weheartit.com

image from www.weheartit.com

“There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.”~ Albert Ellis

 

It’s Mother’s Day in Australia today. It’s a day when so many families will get together with their Mothers, give heartfelt gifts of appreciation, share meals and practice love and gratitude. Love and gratitude is a beautiful thing. Togetherness and belonging is the foundation of so much that is good in our society.

No doubt there will be a flood of feel-good sentiment in our media, and on facebook and twitter. But this Mother’s Day I want to acknowledge a different reality.

Today’s also a hard day for many people. I want my post to stand for you.  I want you to have a space to put your feelings. I want you to know that you are heard.

This is a post for all of the children, some long grown, whose Mothers failed to love them, protect them and nurture them.  Not everyone had a happy shiny family.  Not everyone has the love and support of a wise and kind Mother, as a child or as an adult.

This is a post for all of the women who gave up their children, who lost them to accident or illness, who had them torn away by war or foul play or relationship breakdown. Today, some Mothers will know great pain, as their mothering goes wasted, as their arms stay empty of a child to hug.

This is a post for the women whose wombs could never bear fruit. The women who know the pain of infertility, of miscarriage and of stillbirth. The women, whom through circumstance, have not become Mothers. Or who are unacknowledged in their identify as a Mother because there is no surviving child for others to see.  The women who wonder, each Mother’s Day, how their life might have been different…

This is a post for the children who have lost their Mothers early, or who have never known them, and for those abandoned or deserted by their Mothers.

This image from www.favim.com

This image from www.favim.com

This is a post for all of you who loved your Mothers and Grandmothers, and who won’t have them at your table this year. Perhaps they are ill, or passed on. Perhaps distance separates you, or misunderstanding. Perhaps they are living in the shady halls of memory where they no longer recognise you, or the love you have for them, or they for you.

This is a post for the blended families, for the difficulties of mothering children who are not your own, and who may not accept you.  This is for those of you whose Father chose someone other than your Mother, and where you still feel the pain of the loss of that sense of family and of all you had held dear. This is a post for the children who became second best or didn’t rate at all, once the family structure shifted.

This is for the Mothers whose children will be in your ex-partner’s home, and with that side of the family today, while you sit at home alone. Perhaps for you a phone call.  But no hugs. No day of sharing. Not this year.

This is for the Mothers who are not accepted, loved or acknowledged by their Mother-In-Laws. For the families who know friction and tension, but who still make an effort to keep up relationships and appearances.

This is for all of the Grandmothers who don’t see their grandchildren because of relationship breakdowns or sheer distance and the life choices of their own children.

This post acknowledges all of the women so busy working, or looking after the children of other people, that they never had the time or the privilege to be the Mother they would have liked to have been for their own children.

This is for all the Mothers who made mistakes that they regret, who made bad choices, or who wish now that they had done things differently.

This is for the single Mothers, who long for support and company and someone to share the load, but who are doing the best they can.

This is for the Mothers who do not like their children, and the children who do not like their Mothers.

Life can be a strange, hard and sometimes cruel journey. Mothering and the love of a Mother is not a given and it is certainly not a right.

But we all need love, and at times we all need to be Mothered. This Mother’s Day, you can start by being kind to yourself. By recognising that we receive Mothering energy from many, and give it ourselves, although it may not be to our own children. By letting it be okay that today might be bittersweet, or downright difficult. Life is not a Disney Movie.

This Mother’s Day it’s okay to feel pain, to cry and to wish things could be different.

This Mother’s Day, above all else, I want you to know that I see you, I honour you, and I am sending you love. I’m thinking of you today.  Bless ♥ xoxo

Mummy told me to talk to the Angels…

Image from google.com

Image from google.com

“The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us.”  ~Jean Paul Richter

*NB – The names have been changed to protect the identities of the family involved in the following post but I have permission to share their story.

On the morning of December 29 my husband and I went down to Byron Bay for an early swim and coffee in a favourite cafe.  The power was out from a storm the night before, and I’d cancelled a day of work.  We had just said goodbye to the last of our Christmas guests and were looking forward to a day on our own.  We felt relaxed and happy.  The surf was gentle, we bumped into friends and shared laughter and news, and we wound our way home through the hills singing along to the radio.

But as I sat under a tree in the back yard I began to feel uncomfortable. Something was wrong, although there was nothing I could think of to make me feel that way.

Out of the blue I thought of Mandy, a student of mine I have not seen for years. The last I’d heard of her she had two small boys. The skin of my arms was covered in goosebumps, and I felt sweaty and anxious. Something was not right with her husband. Something was not right about her kids.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, I couldn’t get a clear picture. I just knew I had to call her.

I ripped through my database until I found her details. The landline was disconnected, but finally I found a cell phone number for her. She picked it up on the third ring.

Of course she was surprised to hear from me, and I made it all the more awkward by blurting out, “How’s Wayne?”

“Oh,” she paused for a moment, a catch in her voice, “we separated just before Christmas. I’ve moved back home with Mum and Dad til we work things out.  Wayne’s changed so much in the past six months, Nic. So depressed and unmotivated, when life is going well for us finally.  I don’t get it! He just isn’t who I married any more. I still love him but I didn’t know what else to do…”

“Is Wayne with you right now?” I asked her.

“No, he picked up the boys for a sleepover early this morning. Why?”

Why?  I didn’t know why. All I knew was something wasn’t right.

Before I could say anything, Mandy continued. “He’s got a place just around the corner.”

“Go. Get your Dad and go there now. Call me when you get there!”

“Why? Is something wrong?” I heard the panic in her voice.

“I don’t know.  I hope not.  Just hurry.”

She hung up and I sat in my backyard with a desperate anxiety. It took three hours before she called me back.

They’d found her husband and three small boys in the family car, the engine running in the enclosed garage, semi-conscious from exhaust fumes. Ambulances took them to hospital. Their two older sons stayed in overnight, their toddler a few nights longer, and her husband is still there.

By some kind of miracle, a tragedy was averted.

Mandy called me again today, and we had a long talk. Two things emerged.

Firstly, one of her sons, Blake, who is five, told her roughly what had happened.  Daddy had put them all in the car and said they were going on a trip.  But Daddy wouldn’t stop crying. Blake hadn’t known what to do, but then he remembered his mum telling him that he could always talk to his Guardian Angel. So Blake said to his Angel, “Please help Daddy. Please stop Daddy crying.  Please help us find out what is making Daddy so sad.”

Blake fell asleep, and he had nice dreams about a kind lady.

Secondly, as part of a routine set of tests, it was discovered that Wayne had a serious thyroid problem. Serious enough to have created the mood swings, fatigue and depression that had led to him growing away from Mandy. Serious enough that he’d gotten to a place where he felt life was hopeless.

He’s getting the medical help he needs.  Doctors are convinced that it is the thyroid issue that created this sudden change in Wayne’s personality.  And the family is going to get counselling.

Wayne and Mandy wanted to share their story. They wanted to reach out to others suffering from depression and ask them to seek help.  Speak with your family doctor.  Get a health check-up, including a thyroid work-up. And reach out to loved ones, friends or a help line and let them know you’re struggling. There is help out there. You don’t have to battle this alone.

In Australia you can contact Beyond Blue or Lifeline, and for people outside Australia you can find help here.

I-believe-in-angelsThe-kind-that-heaven-sendsI-am-surrounded-by-angelsBut-I-call-them-friendsAuthor-Unknown

And as for Blake, I am sure that his childlike faith and certainty helped change the outcome for him and his family.  How can I not believe in Angels?

Failure is a winning strategy!

Image from thomasvan.com

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. ~ Michael Jordan

As I ate breakfast at a local cafe the other day, a little boy pulled out one of his homework books to show his father. “Look, Dad,” he said, “I came third in maths.”  His dad gave him a big hug and replied, “well done, I am SO proud of you.”

Image by managedmoms.com

While the father went inside to place his order the little boy said to me, “I will never beat Alison.  She’s the best in the whole school at maths, but maths used to be my worst subject and now I’m good at it.”

Then he smiled shyly and said, “Alison’s dreamy.”

When I drove home, I listened to the radio.  A well-known motivational speaker was being interviewed.  He said “I won’t accept failure. Failure is for losers.  Winning is everything.  If you want to succeed get that fixed in your head. Winning. Is. Everything.  It’s the only thing that matters. Second place is all about being the first loser. Everything after first is irrelevant.”

Hey, something inside me screamed in objection.  What about kindness?  What about ethics and values?  What about friendship, and doing the right thing? And trying your best? Are they less important than winning at all costs?

As I went about my day, I kept thinking about this person and the message they were putting out into the world, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to champion failure.

I was no stranger to failure as a child.  Worst of all I would dread school sports days. As I doggedly ran along in my lane, other kids would streak past me, and I was almost always resoundingly, shamefully, embarrasingly last.

Image by entkent.com

What did that teach me? A few things actually.

  1. I am not a good runner.
  2. I might not be a good runner, but I can still be a team player.  Every runner earned a point for their house, though the first, second and third place getters amassed many more. Still, a point is a point, and I could do something to help my team.
  3. I learned courage and perseverance.  I hated running, I hated being last, but I didn’t quit, and that still counted.  Hey, I even got cheered for finishing! (Sad but true.)
  4. No matter how hard I tried I never got any better at running. I learned to be a gracious loser, and to appreciate those with greater skills and talents than me.
  5. Losing made me look for things where I might be able to excel, and eventually I found out that I could swim!

By Thomas Edison’s definition, failure is actually a road to eventual success if you keep sticking at something, learning from each failure as you go.

And what else does failure teach us? We learn that life isn’t always fair.  We learn that we don’t always get what we want. We learn the value of trying our best. We begin to find resilience, and backbone.  We find humour and the ability to problem solve, and to ask for help. We learn to get back up when life has knocked us down.  We learn self respect and courage. We learn to risk and to move outside our comfort zone.  We learn that there are things in life we need to walk away from, and other things where we need to stick with it, and believe in ourselves and our dreams.

We learn not to quit when something really matters to us, and to use failure to propel us on to success. And if we encounter failure early, we are not so frightened or overwhelmed by it as we become older.

Image from rochestersage.org

Failure prepares us for life.  Success is always built upon failure – it is our greatest teacher.

So the question we really need to ask ourselves is not whether we are prepared to fail, but, after having failed, are we prepared to get back up and try again?

In Defence of Fairies

The Forest Fairy – Image by Josephine Wall

Nothing can be truer than fairy wisdom.  It is as true as sunbeams.  ~Douglas Jerrold

Those of you who know me will also know that I believe in fairies.  In fact, you’ll know that I count a fairy as one of my dearest friends.

I found myself in an odd position on the weekend. I’m writing a novel with fairies as some of the main characters. And someone I hold in esteem told me that writing about fairies was not only unimaginative, but that children were no longer interested in such things.

Hmmm, I thought to myself.  I know I’m not a child but I’m interested in fairies.  And many of my friends and clients are too.  In fact, whenever I write about fairies I get flooded with enquiries about them, and how people might get to know one or attract one into their garden.

As this learned person talked to me, I felt myself becoming sadder and sadder.  Not only because they were so disparaging of fairies and all things magical (which is of course, the world I live in, although they did not know that), but because I believe fairies deserve to be known, and appreciated, and dare I say it, loved…

Not that fairies care.  They shall go on happily, regardless of us.  But we, we are the poorer for not knowing of them and the work they do in the natural world.

And if there is no room for magic in our lives, and for the ability to believe in things we cannot understand, if there is no room for wonder, well then, what is the point of life?

Image from paganspace.net