School Holidays – Day 3

Four things have defined these holidays so far:

1) The Decision to re-shuffle the boy’s bookshelf. As in, move 300 books off the floor into sustainable housing. Three days later the carnage is still visible in the lounge, the hallway, the parent’s bedroom and in the boy’s room. It is so bad that the boy is being sent to his grandmother’s tomorrow so his mother can somehow piece the house together again. On an upside, the boy has enjoyed reading the volumes that had been lost under the bed.

2) The boy’s unceasing attention of Dottus. Dot is looking forward to the end of school holidays. This is a photo of the boy with his one true love. Dot, as you can see, could quite happily misplace the boy as she eagerly looks to the door for freedom. (The bookshelves behind them are dedicated to cookbooks…. Now I think about it, we have a lot of bookshelves. Hmmm….)

3) A Paper Plane Fixation. He is making them out of anything and everything. Perhaps not quite so pleasingly, he has taken to writing messages on them. Today’s disturbing note: “I do not like you not even a little bit”. One can be pleased that he is improving his creative writing skills.

We left the house today and ventured into the Inner City today to hang with friends and partake in hot chocolate and some very yummy Haloumi Wraps. Good company on cold days is completely invaluable! Here’s to busy school holidays!


Creativity + self esteem = ?

There’s a link between creativity and self esteem, I’m not entirely sure what it is. I know a fair few creative entities and I have found that many “creative types” struggle with their self esteem. What an artist does is so filled with themselves, that if it is not popular or remains unsold then they frequently suffer pangs of low self worth. That’s one theory. Another theory is that for whatever reason those with low self esteem become artists and then don’t feel that they should charge what they are worth, that their work is terrible, yada, yada, yada. I know people in both camps.

There are no easy ways to change this thinking! I think, ultimately, that one needs to stop looking for external approval and be comfortable in one’s own skin. For example, a client books you for a session, you show them your proofs, they don’t buy any of them. I know people that would go “they didn’t like them. I thought they were my best work ever. I mustn’t be very good if they didn’t buy them” and things spiral out of control. A more healthy way to approach it would be “They didn’t buy them, I liked them – next client!” We don’t know why people do or don’t do things as we cannot read people’s minds (unless, of course, you are Sookie Stackhouse).

(This is my perspective of this moment. You don’t have to like it)

Not everyone will see things from our perspective – there is an emphasis on the word “OUR”. Sometimes we need to consider other people’s perspectives (you know, walk a mile in another person’s shoes and all that) and other times we just don’t. When creating art, cutting out that voice of “I wonder how many people will like this, if the client likes this, if it will make Flickr explore, if someone will buy this” is almost essential. Rather than listening to the moment, what is in front of you around you, you are focussing on something so far away and un real that you are going to stop thinking creatively. The way to cut out that voice is really simple, to be almost difficult:

You have to choose to stop thinking in that way.

Easy, yes?



When these intrusive thoughts pop in, sharply close them. Focus on something in front of you. Focus on your viewfinder crosshairs. Take a deep breath, repeat your mantra (I can do this & I am good at this feature prominently in mine) and most importantly SMILE. When we smile, there is a thing called the “facial feedback hypothesis” and our brain thinks we like doing something. If we start saying positive things about ourselves in difficult circumstances and smiling, our habits are on the way to changing.

My favourite author for the past few years has been the incredible Paul Arden (the world lost an incredible creative the day he left us) and I’ll leave you with a little bit of a quote from his amazing book “Whatever you think, think the opposite“:

When you look back there will be things you regret.

You made the wrong decision.

Wrong. You made the right decision.

Life is about decisions…

Whatever decision you make is the only one you could make.

Otherwise you would make a different one. Everything we do we choose.

So what is there to regret?

You are the person you chose to be.

Choose greatness, Choose yourself.

Ack. I love being able to do some of the things I do.

#16 on my 27 things I learned at 27 was – “That experiences are worth more than things”

So I keep jumping into gigs faster than I can blink. And theatre. And Dance. And. And. And.

Last night we went and saw Hope Sandoval play at the Tivoli. It was like anaesthetic for the soul. I walked out feeling amazing. Mick Turner of the Dirty Three was the act just before her – he played 4 songs in a 45 minute set and spoke about a sentence. It was transcendent. I laughingly said to the spouse that the real reason that it was an 18+ gig is because they felt the over 18’s could cope a little better with the anaesthetic effect. It was so deep. Beautiful music with beautiful images behind the artists… just time for the mind to wander, explore and enjoy.

We had great seats, then decided to play musical chairs, hanging out in general admission for a while and lounging on the balcony. These people stood up at the front of the balcony area and walked over to us and offered us their fabulous seats – the girl was explaining and then cut off mid sentence:


“Hi Michelle, how are you?”

It was a girl I went to school with. The spouse was impressed that I remembered her name, bless him! She was auditioning at 9pm and missed the gig, but caught the first support act – Dirty Blue Gene a/k/a the Warm inventions. We discusssed this briefly, then she meandered and spousie and I had awesome seats… beside us the photogs were aiming their cameras on stage. We weren’t allowed to take Sunshine in with us as the band was persnickety about flash. Not happy!

And then Hope came on. She spoke 7 words. “Hello” “Should I come back later” and “Thank-you”. Um. amazing. I think her voice is incredible. Her live voice? Puts every recording to shame. She played “Suzanne” and my bones were buzzing with the high notes.  Amazingly beautiful experience.

In the car to school this morning, I was telling the boy that we’d seen Hope Sandoval last night, trying to figure out a way to jog his memory. “Can you remember the Chemical Brothers?” “Yeah, they play fast music”

“She’s worked with them. She sings on one of your favourite songs of theirs”

“Which one?” (I love the inference, there’s more than one!)

“I’ll play it for you when you get home.”

For the record? It’s this one:

(And his all time favourite chemical brothers track is the one that precedes it: The sunshine Underground. I love my son. This is him dancing earlier in the year (when his hair was short!):

Momentous Day

I feel I would be terribly neglectful if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that Australia has a new female Prime Minister – the Honourable Julia Gillard.

As a woman whose politics reside comfortably on the side of left, I should be leaping for joy, yes? Instead, I am so saddened by how this happened. Disgusted, disappointed -> far too many disses. I’m rooting for Julia, though, as my greatest fear is living in an Australia with the man who says that sometimes he lies when things get heated up as the leader. In fact, we may or may not be coming up with an escape plan. South East Asia always beckons.

Moving on from the grubbiness, I found this poem this morning and just about fell in love with it on the spot. It’s from 1900 and by Alice Meynall.


I MUST not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
I shun the love that lurks in all delight–
The love of thee–and in the blue heaven’s height,
And in the dearest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the sweetest thoughts that throng
This breast, the thought of thee waits hidden yet bright;
But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away,–
With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gather’d to thy heart.

And so with that, I go off to drama. I’m teaching this afternoon. And then I am aiming to have a romantic dinner with the boy who loves me best. And then we are going to see Hope Sandoval at a venue I have always wanted to go to.

How’s that for eclectic – moving from politics to country and western?

Dancing Son (on my soapbox)

Until I had my son, I had the rather naive view that it was society that forced boys and girls to be different, that ultimately, they were the same little beasties underneath. In my defence, I did say that I was naive!

What I encountered (terrifyingly enough!) was a child that would automatically make weapons out of sticks, blocks, cutlery (there’s a reason there are no knives in our kitchen drawer), vegetables – you name it, he was into it. The boy had an innate love of building, he would be overjoyed to bang on some timber with some nails, assist in any way possible. He also helped out in the kitchen, loved cooking, played with dolls and I even got to buy him a skirt once ’cause he wanted to wear skirts. His father and I did not care about any gender issues. If the boy had grown into a little person who thought he was a girl, he probably could not have picked more prepared parents for that role. We had role models all picked out, no matter what.

So it shocked both us to realise we had a boy’s boy on our hands. What to do? Just keep swimming has been our motto pretty much since he was two.

We have encouraged him to explore what is of interest to HIM, not his friends, not what we want him to do. It doesn’t always work. Prep saw him being teased for being a girl – we had stern words with him, not to the other kids. He needed to be able to shrug that off and appreciate that these little kids hadn’t had the same level of exposure to HIS normal. He’s been dancing since he was three – when he asked (demanded) that he learn how to dance.

The mothers at school have said before that we are “so brave” “letting” him dance because he might “turn gay” or that their husbands would never let their son dance as it is emasculating. To which I mentally think (but have never said) “What the HECK?” Seriously, dancing turns someone gay? Homophobia is still far too prevalent in our society.

What those mothers don’t see in this lesson is that the girls move their bodies so differently and have such a different awareness of their bodies that the boys struggle to do things in a similar way. What is easy for these (particular) girls looks awkward, uncoordinated and ungainly on these particular boys. They are constantly aiming to catch-up. Catch-up, catch-up, catch-up. And as a mother, nothing makes my heart sing more. As a feminist mama, I am overjoyed to see my son working hard to accomplish something that is challenging for his body and being shown by a phenomenal female teacher where the girls around him are his teachers, too. There is no rivalry in the class ( we got to sit and watch yesterday), just intense focus and support from everyone, they jostle each other into place and laugh when funny things happen. There is no laughter when the teacher takes you through steps you have difficulty with, just concentration as everyone else tries to see how to improve.  I could not be more pleased to have my son in that class.

(This is the boy doing Capoiera. I’m not allowed to take photos in his class)

He’s a fast runner, got great throwing ability, but dancing movements? He’s got a long way to go. And he’s come a long way. Yesterday he received an “encouragement award” from his teacher for how far he has come in two terms – I almost cried. He has cried during lessons for how hard the work is (he works at a level that is about 1 – 2 years higher than where he should be, for the boys to all be in one class) and wanted to leave dancing because of its difficulty. He looks around and the girls his age are astoundingly co-ordinated, so together. My boy is a perfectionist (I know the signs, I spent my childhood highly agitated as I tried to be perfect) and not being able to get things right the first time frustrates him. I have debated within myself whether or not encouraging him to finish the term is a good idea. I feel pushy, but then I observe him in class and he’s giggling, smiling as he dances and having a fabulous time. And I don’t feel that I am pushing him into dancing so much as pushing him to realise that he isn’t perfect.

On Saturday, in Target, amongst the women’s clothes on the way to the Lego, I asked him again if he wanted to dance again next term. He paused, considered it and answered “No thanks, Mum. I don’t think I will.”

So his father (who hadn’t been able to attend a dancing lesson the entire year but was working from home and took his lunch break to attend) and I trekked to his lesson yesterday, prepared to tell the reception staff that this was his last lesson. We got to actually sit in the classroom for the duration as it was “parent watching day” and we proudly sat, leaning against the mirrors, watching our beautiful son work through his movements. We treasured it as his last lesson and were a little sad as he’s been there for three years now and I see the studio as part of our support network. Our gorgeous son. So, so, so beautiful as he leaped from one end of the room to the other, his teacher gently correcting his footwork and him practising in between turns. Both of his parents were overjoyed and proud. Mother and Father, heart bursting with the joy of their little son taking on the world.

On walking out of his lesson yesterday, clutching his very special award, he said “Mum, I really need to get new dancing shoes. These ones aren’t comfy for dancing”

My son, the walking conundrum, is stepping into another term of dancing in a new pair of shoes – confidence.

What Love is (to me. Today).

Love, to me, is appreciating someone for whatever they are and whoever they are. When I say I love you, I mean I love you for who you are. I will try not to change you or make you into a version of what I want you to be. Letting go of that control, for me, is an act of love. Love is easy, when you are with the right person. If love has you curled up on the bathroom floor on an almost daily basis, that isn’t love. That’s masochism.

(Love is a warm cat on a cold night)

Love is sharing another person’s highlights and being genuinely glad when they have success. Sometimes sharing success can be hard (hel-lo envy), yet when you love someone, you find a way around it and accept that things are the way they are. Love is not a competition. Love is sharing your best and worst traits, finding strength in another person when you cannot walk another step by yourself.

And when things are bad for the person you love, you try to find ways to alleviate it. Sometimes not crying is the way, sometimes being quiet is, sometimes looking for a solution is the magic that your loved one needs. Sometimes, they just need you to find the cat and wrangle her into the bedroom. But, ultimately, Love is Love.

I love Love.

I love my friends (and tell them sometimes 🙂 and my family and my spousie and my son and my puppy and my kitty and my birdy (oh Big Bird, how I do love thee!).

I love my life.

Need, want, must. Whatever.

I have so much to say.

I have a finite amount of time, apparently.

So I try to balance what I want to do with what I must do and with what I need to do.

And that’s how I get my existence.

I went to the beach on the weekend with two of my greatest accomplices in mischief – The boy and the Spouse.

And we hung out with my other three chief mischief makers, the littlest of whom is a hell-raiser, to say the least.

I needed to do that.

(Mischief maker extraordinaire)

I’m struggling to maintain my equilibrium after a tough week at Uni and some serious questioning as to whether Psychology is the right thing for me. I think it is… I’m reasonably sure it is… but one never knows. I’m wondering about some financial things – about how to secure my whole family’s future and achieve the goals that the spouse and I have worked out that are important to us without me having to cross the line into full time work.

So I study, I think, I try to figure things out.

Like I said, there’s the things I need to do, want to do and must do. Just trying to find the balance between them all, trying to find my existence.

It’s possible.