Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lunchtime meditation

I had a few minutes today by myself while sitting on the back door steps to eat my lunch.

I watched the breeze ruffle the sheets on the washing line, and that often gives me such a quiet sense of contentment. I noticed my own breathing, which felt one with the movement of the wind.

Then I followed the breeze over the neighbours' backyards, along train lines and through little creeks. I tugged on racy knickers and horses' manes and nudged empty trolleys in shopping centre carparks and kicked up some dirt off someone's newly dug grave and then I blew into the city and out to sea.

I thought of ships sailing on far-off seas, flurries of snow whirling over distant glaciers on the other side of the world, and me, held in the breath of the world. Then the kids found me.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What kids see

My daughter rushed up while I was sweeping the leaves from the front porch today, and I tried to shoo her away, thinking she was going to mess up my neat little pile. "No, mum," she said excitedly, "look, it's a heart!".
I don't know why these leaves are falling in spring. But I'm just so glad that warmer weather is here. Today was a balmy 31 degrees, and it ended with a thunderstorm. Instead of watching a DVD, the children watched for ages the rain and lightening from the living room window.
We spent last weekend entertaining friends, both Saturday night and Sunday. At the moment I'm in a nice state of having days which are fully occupied but which allow me to go at a reasonable pace.
I'm feeding and playing and reading with the children, taking care of the household needs; I don't have much work on, just finishing off a newsletter for L'Arche, keeping up with my weekly column and chasing up outstanding invoices. I have a few friends coming over on Thursday. I think I should be feeling relaxed but I actually feel restless.
Last week I reread the biography of Fr Chris Riley, the founder and head of Youth Off The Streets. He has devoted his life to helping street kids and other disadvantaged children, has the support of political, corporate and other leaders, and has been nominated for the Australian of the Year more than once.
His is an inspiring story, but basically it's a story about a person wanting to give their whole life for others, wanting to love people who otherwise would not be loved. Well, isn't family life like that too? Isn't that what marrying someone and then being a mother or a father to someone is all about?
Motherhood is not glamourous or particularly exciting most of the time, but I hope to keep seeing the heart of what I do every day. Especially when I have a broom in hand (which is often).

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Taking a break from the world

My life was pretty hectic last month and I felt that I just needed to go off the radar for a while in order to get back to the basics.

It was like a mental health day, I guess, except that it was extended for a couple of weeks!

I stopped work, apart from one job where I had a deadline (a perk of being self-employed). I had just joined twitter, but I had to drop it; I stopped going online on a daily basis. I didn't watch tv, read the paper, or listen to the radio.

I started going to bed before 11pm.

I played with the kids, instead of just throwing them into the backyard and leaving them to it.

I read books and made up additional silly stories for my daughters at bedtime. I sat with them until they fell asleep, instead of calling out from in front of the computer, "Go to sleep!".

I cooked a simple, tasty dinner every night, baked a chocolate cake, took my eldest daughter for a long walk, connected with my husband, and read a book.

I discovered a new periodical (new to me anyway) which is not as 'too-intellectual' for me as I had always thought.

I organised play dates for the kids, and invited some neighbours over for the first time, for afternoon tea. I spent time with one of my goddaughters.

I decluttered the house and got the car washed. (I know it was washed during the last 18 months, because I've done it since we've been in this house, I just don't know when exactly. Maybe 18 months ago!)

I've been trying to live in the moment. And I've been thinking. A lot of the time I assume that I am thinking, when what I am really doing is either fretting or fantasising.

I've been reflecting and praying for the wisdom to see what is really important in my life; what just needs a little re-jigging, and what might need a complete paradigm-shift.

I realised that I've just been adding lots of little things, and big things (ie. three gorgeous children, with my husband) to my life, in a fairly haphazard way.

With all the additions I'd lost sight of the beautiful and simple vision of life that my husband and I had when we married seven years ago; a happy family life, a warm, welcoming home where there are book-lined walls, and music, and great conversation. And a bit of overseas travel from time to time, some great furniture, an art collection. See? I keep slipping into fantasy again!

I've also been trying to do the supermum/career and family balance thing with little day-to-day help apart from my husband (who has his own demanding full time job). I have kept trying, even though I know, I know, that it just does not work. At least, not without someone losing out.

So in taking time to reflecting on all this, cutting out a lot of mental clutter in order to do so, I feel that I've gone some way to getting my house in order (literally and metaphysically).

I've still a lot to do, but I'm going to try to take my time and not feel that I have to 'get it right' all at once.

Now, enough about me for a while. I'm looking for people to interview on this blog. If you know of anyone with similar interests in simple living, living mindfully, or balancing family and personal aspirations (work/art/whatever), or if you would like to put your own hand up, please drop me a line.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009


Picture: Noel Zia Lee
I realised I couldn't spring clean until I got rid of some of the stuff that was covering all the surfaces that have to be cleaned.

It's not too hard to declutter our house. Still, it took me three days.I started on Monday afternoon, going through the house looking for anything broken that I wasn't going to fix - broken crayons, pens, toys, earrings without partners, cheap costume jewellery. In 15 mins I had about 30 objects to throw out.

Then I started looking for things in good condition that we hadn't used for ages, or just didn't want. That took ages for me to get around to every wardrobe, cupboard, storage box, bookshelf, and under beds and sofas.
I was pretty ruthless.
I finished today after taking half a car load of stuff to the Salvation Army. And I've got a box of winter clothes for the garage and a box of baby stuff to keep at my mum's. Just in case :)

It makes me feel so good to have done this. It takes time, but I reckon if I didn't have the kids around I could have done it in a day.
My next step is to sort out our paperwork and all our money stuff. Next week's job.

And in the meantime I'm working on decluttering my mind as well - but that needs a whole blog post of its own (at least!).

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spring cleaning


At last.

I'm spring cleaning. I'm starting with decluttering; my house, my mind, my heart and my time.

That's one reason I haven't written on this blog, or read anyone else's, for a while. The other reason is that I wrote what basically amounts to half a book in just two weeks, in preparation for leading a Catholic Engaged Encounter weekend.

I don't think I've ever worked so hard for that length of time before! It's our own fault of course (my husband's and mine), for leaving it all to the last two weeks.

So, back to the decluttering. We all have such limited hours in the day. I'm trying to revise how best to use mine, so that my time is offered in a way which is life-giving for me and for the people I love.

I'm not really sure if this blog will stay or go. I suspect it will stay, but it was interesting having almost two weeks' enforced break from the internet.

I suspect I had become addicted to having the damn thing there to look at all day long, whenever I passed the computer, which is a lot. After a bit of withdrawal, I am feeling a lot better.

So I am really keen to go very, very carefully. Perhaps there will be less blog posts but (hopefully) they will be greater quality. In the meantime, my house, my kids and my marriage need me more (not in that order of course!).

For my blog friends, I've caught up on your blogs tonight, don't have time to comment, but want to say 'hi!'

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