Why Women Are So Complex.

looking after yourself

If a woman says “Do what you want!” 
Do not do what you want.
Stand still.
Do not blink.
Don’t even breathe.
Just play dead.

Looking after yourself

Never a truer word spoken really. Especially when said woman has raging and unstable hormones, feels fat, ugly and wants to eat a truck-load of chocolate in a dark room, whilst partaking in impulse internet buying.

I really don’t quite understand how this happens but sometimes, when I am in a certain womanly phase of the month, I will wake in the night, prepare myself a plate of scrambled eggs with fresh parsley, brush my teeth and trawl Amazon for hessian pineapple bunting, soft, squishy anti-stress peaches and fluffy white pillows.
From China.

Somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks later, I receive random boxes in the mail. Of which I have zero recollection of being actively involved in purchasing.
I mean, Amazon and Ebay finds can be so damn cheap!
This 
stuff, that someone buys at 3.24am about 48hours prior to ahem – that time of the month.

“Women are beautifully and uniquely created, not to serve men or our children or be a slave to our jobs or homes, but to make our mark on this world and shake it gently.”

Which lends itself to the point that women are deeply awe-inspiring creatures.
We can shop in our sleep, prepare food, uphold excellent hygiene practices, and support the Chinese internet market, very finely thank you.
Not-to-mention maintain our homes with the latest of decorative trends. Purely and utterly incredible.

Which is just as well really, because on some days we are golden goddesses, oozing sexuality, poise and glamor. And others pyjama-clad, scratchy, irritable, balls of confusion, with a slight whiff of halitosis breath.

Women are beautifully and uniquely created, not to serve men or our children or be a slave to our jobs or homes, but to make our mark on this world and shake it gently, as Gandhi so eloquently quoted.
Even though our minds can be like an internet browser, with at least 19 open at one time, 10 shopping carts full of wish-lists, three frozen and a distant rendition of ‘The Sound of Music’ coming from some random corner of our minds, we can keep those balls in the air for a very very long time.
All at once.

“Don’t be afraid when storms come your way.
Learn to sail your ship over the waves”.

why women are so complex 2

 

In the spirit of celebrating the awesomeness and complexity of women, I have created a quick, go-to, glance-at, pin-on-your-wall, manifesto/self-care reminder to nurture our hearts:

Why women are so complex 1

 

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Go Easy On Yourself and Breathe, My Friend.

Go Easy On Yourself and Breathe, My Friend

“Breathe, my friend.
You are not old, you are young.
You are not a mess, you are normal.
Extraordinary, perhaps.
In the blink of an eye your life will change.
And it will continue to change for decades to come.
Enjoy it. Embrace it…Be grateful for the ride.
You are not old, you are young.
And faith will get you everywhere.
Just you wait”.

Hmmmmm these words. So very soothing. 

Like a gentle balm on sunburnt shoulders after a long day in the sun.
That first cup of coffee in the morning when you are woolly-headed and can’t quite wrap your brain around what lies ahead for the day.
Jumping into a cool shower and wetting your hair, immersing yourself in the rush of the water, blocking out the world – just for a moment.

This is how I feel when I read this lovely quote. As though I have been given permission to breathe in the busyness and frantic spaces that is our world.
I am as young as I feel, not middle-aged, as my son politely informed me the other day.
There will be some days that I barely feel as though I have left my teenage years and yet others – I will feel every bit the 44 years I have lived on this earth.
My bones will ache and my movements labour.
And that is ok.

I am not a mess. I am a beautiful creation. One worthy of kindness and love and mercy.
Some days I will feel like I have smashed the day like a boss and excelled every single time, with every single thing. Other times I will fail.
My house will be a mess, my clothes crumpled and I will feel incapable of caring for myself, let alone others.
And that is ok.

There will be times that I feel utterly, extraordinary and precious. I will see my gifting’s and thank the Father for making me a perfect creation in His eyes.
I will create and nurture and show gentleness, compassion and tenderness.
Yet again, I can be scratchy and overtly sensitive and critical. I can be so quick to condemn. Yelling at a slow driver, clicking my tongue when someone is being difficult, quick to judge and even quicker to be unkind.
And I swear a lot in my head. Some days.
And that is ok.


I know that in the blink of an eye – mere seconds even – my life can change direction.
I may move house, move countries, lose friends, make mistakes, regret my actions. Deeply.
My husband may lose his job. I may lose mine.
My beloved family may suffer. Cancer may become our norm. Life will spin on its axis and I will feel like a stranger in my skin.
I will find a new normal again.
And that is ok.

There will be moments of pure joy. When my heart feels so full of happiness that I could burst.
I will look at my life and genuinely feel frightened at the perfectness of it. Afraid it will shatter into a thousand pieces.
I will want to hold on to happiness like a small child holds onto their parent’s hand. But as much as I tighten my grip, that feeling will disappear and I will feel sad at its departure.
But then I will embrace happy and smile at those golden moments.
I will be thankful for the wild ride that is life. And when the cloudy days threaten to spill over and stay awhile, I will know that this too will pass.
And it does. Just as I always knew it would.
And that is ok

I am as young as I choose.
And faith will always be my friend. My constant, my solid ground and measuring stick. I will return again and again and again to the truthful words of the Father.
And I will know that I am loved. Despite everything.
And that makes everything ok.

And I will wait. Because most of life feels like a wait sometimes.
Waiting for something to happen, waiting for something to change, waiting to be loved, waiting for the sunshine, for my children to be grown-ups, independent, happy and settled with a life of their own.
Waiting for my life to be a little easier.
And that, also, is ok.

Because, I am a work in progress. And guess what?
So are you.

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When Friendship Is Hard Work.

friendship hard work history

When Friendship Is Hard Work.


Why everyone needs a history friend….

My mama has dear friends whom she is in regular contact with, from her pre-school days. That’s over 60 years of friendships. She and her pals have all shared the lives of their children, marriage, divorce, death, mid-life crises and everything in between.  And their connection is as strong as it’s ever been.
They don’t rely on social media to connect, they will pick up the phone and have an actual conversation, or hop on a train, bus or plane to see each other in person. I truly believe it is this face-to-face interaction that has enabled these friendships to grow, change with the seasons and still flourish.

In this day of transient lives and on-line socialising (of which I partake in as well), sometimes it’s easier to write a text message or shoot off a comment on Facebook, than actually looking at someone’s face and conversing.  I think we all want to show our best sides and this has never been more appealing than in the era of Instagram grid highlights and tweets of happy moments. Even if those moments are only a few minutes long in a day.

But here is the thing about history – it means something. It’s so very special when you have it, like a rare gem.
New pals are wonderful and exciting and they can expose you to a whole new world of knowledge and wonder.
Old friends hold treasures in jars of clay that have weight and depth, that you cannot measure all in one sitting.

Sharing stories of “do you remember when?” or reminiscing about events and people. Catching up on the present, dreaming of the future, it’s like gold.
Hold onto that gold and don’t just chase the most current and shiniest new kid on the block.

History friend 1
Because your history friend knows you in a way that your new pal doesn’t.

Your history friend will call you out when you are behaving badly and set your feet upon sturdy ground. They know when you are lying or being cagey – because they know you. They are well-acquainted with your heart.

And whilst your new friend will revel in the shape of your hands, your old friend will know the exact imprint by heart. The curve of your palm and the rough edges that are still being refined.

Your new pal and you will be in the first lovely flush of connection and no doubt stroke your ego and hang off every word you speak. They will agree with everything you say and nod at all the right places.
Your history friend will not. And sometimes that can seem like hard work. As though the connection is stale and not worth the effort – the nitty gritty of friendship. You may tire of their ways, as they will yours, and the grass seems so much more appealing and greener with the newer model.

My advice? Do not run to the one who tells you what you want to hear.
Stick with your history friend who builds into your heart, as well as your soul. Allow them space to breathe and permit them much grace to trip and fall. But be the hand that is always available to welcome them back, into the fold of your heart and continued friendship.

I read an article recently by The Pool, written by Viv Groskop.  She explains that since they launched the ‘Dear Viv’ podcast (aka old-fashioned agony aunt), at The Pool just three years ago, they have literally received hundreds of emails and letters each week.  And the one subject that comes up all the time, the topic that is constantly a subject to be addressed, is friendships.
Often the most asked questions are “what is wrong with me?” and “why has this suddenly gone wrong?”

History Friend 2
And whilst I don’t have any easy answers for those friendship questions myself, I do believe that many friendships formed quickly and intensely, aren’t always the ones that last the distance.
We have all had those friends who want to spend every minute of every day with us. And those who will message us numerous times in a 24 hour period to check-in. Sometimes these connections can be stifling, albeit lovely at first, they can stale very quickly. And when that friendship breaks down, over a misunderstanding or a cross word, that can leave a stain on one’s heart. A hurt soul.
Oftentimes it is then that we realise those history friends are the ones that we can rely on and always return to.

I have a dear best friend who lives in Australia. We often say to each other that we are so fortunate to have met and formed such a strong bond. We have adapted to the changes in our lives, parented small children, supported each other through numerous heartbreaking life events, built a business together, laughed until our sides ached, and survived a long-distance connection across the world. We have argued and disagreed and cried and forgiven. Again and again.
We are each other’s greatest cheerleaders, fiercest advocates and true sisters in Christ. I will forever be grateful for her input into my life and her commitment to our friendship, as I am to her. I miss her every single day and long to be able to pop over for a cup of tea in my jammies and devour a block of chocolate together. And I love her with all my heart.

That said however, this friendship is one built on doing the tough yards. Of having those uncomfortable conversations, sitting in moments of silence when we are both unsure and confused about the other’s feelings or emotions. It’s still work on both sides of the ocean for us and remains a deep commitment. However, the rewards, my word, the rewards, are rich, as we both give each other portion after portion of grace and love amidst our own brokenness.
Best friends come with the privileged title of walking, not just in the sunshine, but also the valley.

These connections, these deeply moving friendships, are the keepers. And in this day of transient people and transient friends – your keeper friends are all the more precious for sticking by you.

Because you aren’t so lovely all the time either.

History Friend 3

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When Your Kid’s Are Worth The Fallout

When Your Kid’s Are Worth The Fallout


I read a quote today which made me think about the journey of parenting.

It says, “I don’t spend much time and emotional energy training my dogs.  Why?  Because honestly, I don’t care that much.  I like them, but they’re dogs.  I will spend endless time and emotional energy training my kids though, because I do care that much. They’re my kids!”

Now for those who are total animal-lovers, please don’t shoot me.  I love our pets as much as the next person.  But if I had to decide between my fur-babies and my children, of course I choose my children.

That said, our labradoodle, Queenie, is very loved and cherished, as I have spoken about here.  She just doesn’t receive the same sort of attention as the children do.  And here she is to show you how much a part of the family she is, basking in the sunshine at our family picnic!


The other day, my four children had been happily playing outside in the sunshine, bouncing on the trampoline.  I was sewing at the kitchen table and noticed that three of them slinked into the room, whispering to each other, obviously sharing some sort of secret, shifty move.
I instantly became suspicious and asked them what they were up to?
The answer was predictably, “nothing!”
I also noticed that their sister, Olive, had been left outside and immediately smelt a very stinky rat.  So I enquired as to why they had abandoned her?
Their answer was, “it’s just a joke and she won’t mind”.
Literally two seconds later, Olive, being the whirlwind that she is, flew inside crying and sobbed that her siblings had abandoned her and she had been waiting for them to return.


In essence, she felt rejected, and I, was cross and disappointed at the others.

Herein lies the dilemma that all parents face.  I had a choice to ignore their behaviour, putting it down to silly and childish games and preferring instead to smooth the situation over and give Olive a hug.
Or, I could butt heads with the children over it.

We all know that diligent parenting will bring conflict.  It’s messy, inconvenient and time-consuming, and honestly, some days it’s so tempting to avoid it at all costs.  Certainly there are some hills that are not worth dying on, but many are worth the battle, which deal with matters of the heart.

I love my children so much, that temporary uncomfortableness is worth these lessons of the heart.
And I want my children to know that I will engage with them, correct them and train them, when I am tired, and I will challenge their behaviour, when I truly don’t feel like it and would rather ignore their actions.
Because I am not their best friend, I am their mother and loving beyond measure is hard work.  I know that giving into the small things, will only lead to bigger problems further down the track – and a lot more heartache.

Even though our incident appeared to be a small issue, I knew it was a key training moment.
In terms of being respectful to their sister who was left outside and truthful to me when I asked them what was going on. There were a few issues at play that really needed to be dealt with and nipped in the bud.

Teaching respect to small children leads to having respectful tweens, teens and adults.  In our family, this is a total no-brainer.  I not only want to have lovely offspring in my home, I want them to be lovely in your home too.


Basically, I love my children enough to bump heads with them
.
And even though it’s so much easier to be the fun parent, the one who plays and laughs and doesn’t cause her children to feel upset or uncomfortable as a result of their actions, being that other parent takes effort.
Discipling is hard work and I would rather not do it, but daily I choose to be the parent who temporarily falls out with her children and set some rules.

According to Parenting.com “rules reassure kids, because no matter how often children act as if they want to be in control, having too much power is frightening.  They intuitively know that they need an adult to be in charge, and they count on their parents to guide their behaviour”.
In other words, children who have firm boundaries feel more secure than those who don’t really know where the fence lies, how long that fence is and where the gate locks.  It means that they are constantly testing the waters to see how far they can dip their toe in, which causes stress on their hearts and can be a nightmare for parents.

I promise my children that although there are so many times that I long to let things slide, I won’t.  I just won’t.
Because I care too much for their hearts and their futures, not to tighten and maintain that fence daily.  I love them beyond measure and can’t bear to think of them feeling insecure daily, dipping their toes in to see how deep that water is.

The fence is there and so am I.

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52 Things Your Mother Never Told You.

52 things

52 Things Your Mother Never Told You

Have you ever stopped and thought “why did my mother not tell me this?”.  I certainly have.
It was the day after our first child was born and I had to get up to use the toilet, located at the far end of a very long hospital corridor.
And the thing is, I couldn’t walk and could barely manage a wobble.  It felt as though all of my insides had been squeezed and then poked back into my body, all bruised and swollen.

Nobody told me that would happen, or that it would take weeks to be able to sit without ice.

I also was never enlightened to the fact that when a baby projectile vomits, it looks like a sheet of liquid and surprisingly can reach the other side of the room.  I guess that’s why they use the word projectile!

Or that I would feel so tired in those early weeks with a newborn, that I literally lost the capacity to form words and I would cry when I saw my bed because I was so desperate to be in it.

So in the spirit of learning by mistakes, here are some that you may recognise for yourself.  And if it happens to be all 52, you are in good company!

  1. If you knock on a door and it doesn’t open, try another one and keep going – until one opens before you even get there.
  2. Preheat the oven before baking a cake. It matters!
  3. Put sunscreen on your child during an overcast day.  Don’t let the hiding sun fool you.
  4. Buying a puppy on a whim because your kids beg you to – usually ends in disaster.  Puppies poop and wee in the house for a solid six months (pardon the pun).
  5. Wear a mask when flying.  Aeroplanes are germ infested petri-dishes.
  6. If you are flying with kids – good luck.
  7. Don’t miss the opportunity to travel. Often and in far-flung places.
  8. Don’t become bitter.  Ever.  It’s a slippery slope to becoming one of those shrivelled, grey nasty people who ooze contempt.  Plus it makes you ugly.
  9. Smile always. Laugh often. Hug your loves for at least 60 seconds each day.
  10. Hold your kid’s hands when in public.  Losing a child whilst shopping is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can ever face.
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Repeat as often as needed.  Daily.
  12. The grass is never greener on the other side.  Never.
  13. Take risks because you never know what is just around the corner – even if you can’t see it.
  14. Don’t shy away from difficult situations – they are the mortar that builds a house and make it strong.  Strength comes through adversity.
  15. When and if you become a parent, remember that your spouse was, and always will be, your first love.
  16. Don’t let your marriage go stale.  Invest in quality time together, even if it means hiding in a cupboard together so the kids don’t find you, drinking wine.
  17. Remember your kids are with you for a short time and your spouse forever.  Make your marriage a keeper.
  18. When the days are long – picture what your life will look like in ten years time.  Nothing stays the same.
  19. Teenage boys smell.  Invest in deodorant.
  20. Teenage girls will cry.  A lot. Be patient – at least once a month.  You were once that teenager.
  21. Embrace different cultures and don’t be pig-headed about your nationality being superior.
  22. Be prepared for storms to follow rainbows. The good news is, it’s generally a constant cycle of life  – so hang in there with the tough times.
  23. Relax – life is way too short to sweat the small stuff.
  24. Don’t give your kids too many choices. Remember they are little people and you are the adult.
  25. Don’t keep company with people who make you feel bad.  Toxic friends will pull you down.
  26. Don’t gossip.  It’s an unattractive trait.  No matter how tempting it may be to slander someone in the moment.  It always makes your heart feel black.
  27. Living a simple life is totally ok.  More than ok.  It’s paradise once you just let go
  28. Don’t chase money.  It’s like water and slips through your hands quicker than you can grasp it.
  29. Be content in the moment and stop striving for better.  Better is today.
  30. Don’t let your kids whine.  They will turn into obnoxious adults.
  31. If you allow your kids to answer you back, you are welcoming disrespect into your lives.  Guard your heart and theirs.
  32. Hamsters bite.  Get a rabbit instead.  Or a fish.  They don’t live very long.
  33. Invest in your kid’s hearts and not the stuff they want.
  34. Too many after-school activities can cause your kids to become exhausted. Protect their childhood.
  35. Let your kids play! Climb trees, skin their knees, ride bikes.  Fresh air is a child’s best friend.
  36. If your kids are bored – give them a high five and watch what happens.
  37. Competition with others makes your teeth grow fangs.  Think about it.  Fangs will repel people.
  38. Be content with what you have.
  39. Don’t over-analyse risks.  You won’t leave the house.
  40. Be kind.  Always.  To everyone.  One day that kindness will return to you tenfold.
  41. Having a small group of  ‘keeper friends’ is better than a gang of many, who make you feel lonely.
  42. You are your children’s greatest teachers.  Don’t underestimate the impact you have on their lives forever.
  43. Be still for at least 10 minutes a day.  Switch off and watch your heart rejuvenate.
  44. One day your kid’s will grow out of wetting the bed.  Grown adults don’t wet themselves, unless they are post-natal women and in that case, you may need to invest in Teena.
  45. Some days you will smash the world like a boss.  Other days you will put your keys in the fridge.
  46. Be happy.  It drives people crazy.
  47. Silence is the best reply to a fool.
  48. Don’t worry about the amount of vegetables your kids don’t eat – one day they will be steaming asparagus and eating raw broccoli.
  49. Surround yourself with people who get you.
  50. Know that you are a limited edition.  Love your soul.
  51. You may find you have nothing in common with people who wash, dry and put all their laundry away in the same day.  This is ok.  Welcome to the club of reality with kids.
  52. Dance in the rain.  It’s life-changing.

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