Holding On

It seems with the arrival of school holidays, somehow, incredibly, he has grown.

He is more than he was last week.

More bold, more brave, more silly, more tall, more talkative, more shy.

More.

And I find myself almost desperate to hold onto his littleness.

{stop, little one, please stop}

Holding on and squeezing, almost suffocating him. {Is this what my parent’s felt?}

And letting go. Again and again.

To wherever life takes him.

{We’ll always find a way, little one, always}

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On Wishing

I don’t believe in wishes.

There you go, I said it.

I believe in wanting things. I believe in working towards things and making things happen yourself.

I do not believe in passively sitting by and waiting for something to happen, just because you wish it to. Why should that thing that you’ve been wishing for happen? How can it if you are not working towards it?

By declaring that you want something to happen, things really start rolling. So this weekend, make something happen.

Declare it, own it, make it yours.

Believer

Inspired by Goldfrapp, today 🙂 It could be that I just am so excited about the Goldfrapp concert in 2 weeks and 1 day, but it could also be the fact that this is the song that I have in my head most of the day, for heaps of reasons:

  • The phrase “I’m a believer, in your love” – yes. I believe in the love of the people around me.
  • I believe that most people are inherently good
  • I believe that people can change
  • I believe that things go up and down and that you need to ride out the lows in order to find the highs again
  • I believe that by being the person you want to be, you can change your corner of the universe one conversation at a time
  • Sometimes, I even believe in myself

I am always reminded of the story that one parent goes to work, gets screamed at for whatever reason, comes home, screams at their spouse who then screams at the little kid and then the kid kicks the dog. Did anyone else have this picture of disturbia placed in their brain as a teenager?? I try to keep it in my mind when I have a rough day teaching or something crazy happens that I get cranky at. I try to restrict what I take it out on (and there is no point in bottling it up!) – whether going for a run is a good idea, talking it through with the spouse/friend/family member or doing some mild breathing exercises. Or chocolate…..

Hope you’re all having a good day and believing in yourself out in the blogoverse, Lxxx

What makes you happy?

What makes you happy?

If you could do it every day, would it still make you happy? Or would you become complacent about it?

Some of the things that make me happy include (but are not limited to):

– Listening to the boy dancing on our wooden floors

– Playing with silk satin (one of my favourite textures)

– Taking a photo and knowing that it looks the way I want it to

– Knowing that I have contributed to something getting better

– Sleeping beside the spouse

– Having a clutter free bedroom. The rest of the house can be upside down, but please give me a tidy sanctuary!

These are the things that I don’t think I could ever get complacent about, really. I smile every time I hear the boy dancing – it’s his happiness that makes me happy. Silk satin is always a shock to the skin when you touch it as the temperature is always different from your own – I don’t think it could let you ignore it. Taking photos I am happy with is always a struggle and you know the cliche about struggle – it does make success sweeter.

My Mother in Law (who is the most awesome mother in law in the world – seriously!) keeps telling me that life gets better as you get older and I keep seeing this in action. I am so much happier at the end of my 20’s than I was at the beginning and whilst I couldn’t really put into words who I am, I feel I know who I am a lot more. I still have those hideous days – but they are less…

…and I know that the little things in life go a long way to making me feel happy.

Life around here has been cah-razy this week and I have more than a few things that simply cannot go on-line…. so wish me luck as I don my snorkel to wade through the muck and just keep breathing….(I’ll be fine!).

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?

Maybe?

No?

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.

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.

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.