Archives for the month of: May, 2011

You would think that the Right to be Happy is such an obvious human right, but it’s not. I think it’s harder to be happy than unhappy and miserable. Like right  now I’m feeling quite miserable that my darling, sweet hubbie is running on the treadmill at 6pm which is exactly when the kids have to be put to bed. I’m too pooped to do it myself. And so I find myself swearing inwardly and okay a little bit outwardly as well. (I did hear today that research says that people who swear have lower chronic diseases – you have to let your anger out somewhere.) And I’m sitting at a crossroads of choice. I can lie on the couch and write my blog with a rock in my stomach or I can choose to take deep breaths and let go of the fact that the kids aren’t in bed and leave the chaos to my husband when he stops walking.

I’m choosing to do the latter – at least trying. It’s so much easier to hold onto the resentment and anger. Let’s just say that it’s my comfort zone. I’ve been reading a book by Gay Hendricks called ‘The Big Leap’. And it describes how we all have a glass ceiling of happiness that we’re comfortable in. If we go beyond that comfort zone we self sabotage so that we can go back into that oh so cushy zone. So for example if you go on a date and are having a wonderful time you may begin an argument with your partner, because it’s all too good and you’re not coping with all the positivity, and can return to your comfort zone.

Sound crazy? I agree but we all do it. Why do you think powerful men ruin their careers and families with criminal acts and sordid affairs. Here are ways we self sabotage:

Critical thoughts

Worrying

Getting sick

Arguing/picking fights

A case in point is my birthday. I had a lovely birthday day planned by my darling, sweet husband (you see he really is darling and sweet) and my two very amazing sister in laws. Unbelievably I woke up Friday morning with a headache. I always wake up fresh but here was my self sabotaging in action and as I think back to all my birthdays I’ve realised that I’m always sick on my birthday. Usually with the flu.

So what did I do? Because I had read this book I realised what was happening. (Although I really couldn’t believe it was really happening.) I began to extend my glass ceiling slowly but surely by saying affirmations. ‘I am loved’ ‘I deserve and accept the best of everything’ ‘All is well in my world’. If you’re cringing maybe it’s because like me you don’t believe you deserve these things. But you do and I do. And my headache went away and my sore throat and I had the best birthday ever.

Hocus pocus – no. Our thoughts create our reality. Our mind frame attracts our reality and to be quite honest I’ve had enough of my miserable issues. Not that I’ve thought them away yet. But my birthday was a perfect opportunity to shoot up my glass ceiling and change my set point of happiness to ‘I deserve to be happy’. And the funny thing is as soon as I say that I also realise that everyone deserves to be happy.

And another thing I’ve realised is that I’m in charge of my own happiness. No one can raise my glass ceiling for me. I can only learn to receive and create happiness for myself. And it’s not dependent on external factors. Such as publishing a book, or receiving presents, being a size 10 or taming my curls. (Although I welcome all of that of course.) It’s all about my capacity to feel love and happiness. How much I allow myself to savour positive experiences and bank them as part of my deserving, sacred self.

From a sunset, to white clouds moving in the blue sky, to reading a book with the Princes, and of course a nice cup of tea. Having a chat with a friend. Gracious just having friends. It’s all such a blessing. And I spent so much of my twenties agonising over what I didn’t have, what I wasn’t, that I didn’t see what I did have and who I really was. I didn’t appreciate the simple joys, my good points, and all the love that has surrounded me the whole time.

It’s humbling.

Which isn’t a bad thing. To be humbled is to face reality and thank God my reality is blessed and good. And even admitting that makes me feel rather anxious. But it’s true. And we all have blessed lives, with challenges of course. But the blessing is there if we choose to see it – if we raise our glass ceilings high enough. If we sky-rocket through and just break them like Mr Wonka’s glass elevator, then we can truly reach the moon and more. Because it’s with that big, wide, light feeling of self love that we can really walk our own path of freedom.

And I sincerely want to thank everyone who’s accompanied me on that journey! And I’ll keep asking myself that question when I have critical thoughts, start worrying, begin arguing on date night or get sick, ‘What positive experience am I trying to block?’

Do the same and see how much happier your life will be. I’ve had such a good week just savouring the good things, and even now my sweet, darling hubbie has put the Princes to sleep. All is quiet, all is well, and my feet are up.

I’m sitting here clacking away with freshly painted red finger nails. Yes the occasion that I actually paint my nails red is few and far between. Last time was when I went to LA for my cousin’s wedding. This time. Well I’m turning 30. Yes the big 30 is looming just a couple of days away and I expect to wake up and be transformed, different, arrived on that big 30 day. NOT.

I’ve learnt that nothing changes dramatically overnight. (Unless I ever get a big book deal – but even for that I need to finish writing my book.)  When I was younger I thought that by twenty I’d be a sophisticated woman of the world. Of course by the time I was twenty I changed that to thirty. Now I’m thirty!?!?! I’m a sophisticated mother of the world. A woman of the world? Well if that includes toddler development, how to change a nappy in thirty seconds and the in’s and out’s of remedial education then I can sign up, otherwise no.

The nice thing about thirty is that it’s when you face reality. At least I am. In my mind thirty is when I won’t faff around anymore. I’ll outline my visions and goals and do them!!! I’m finally  beginning to understand the Law of Growing Up.

What’s that? It’s a new law that I’ve just made up. (Although I’m sure it’s been articulated before.) One event that does change our lives dramatically so that it will never ever be the same is childbirth. One day you are an independent person who can wake up whenever you want and the next day you are at the beck and call of the cutest, most demanding, bundle of joy and unmade burps in the world. And then this little one grows day by day exponentially at the beginning, bit by bit. Nothing that dramatic that you yell and shout, ‘Great Scott! The thing really is growing!’ as Aunt Sponge from James and the Giant Peach does. (Yes, I’m reading James and the Giant Peach to the Princes and we’re loving it.) A child’s growth is so stealthy and slow that one day you wake up and declare as I’m doing these days, ‘My word Prince No. 1 is turning eight this year and is sleeping over at friends, and my sweet baby is already three (and needs to stop being treated like such a baby. Note to self: Get rid of dummy somehow!)’

The Law of Growing Up is that everything grows and it’s a slow growth. A day by day clocking in of doing the right things. Like exercising, eating healthy consistently! And maybe you need to grow up to realise this. We grow up slowly and the little things we do form us, even if we and our parents don’t realise it. As I speak the Princes keep growing. And even though I’m all ‘grown up’ I’m also still growing – inside. Cells are renewing. Todays thoughts and actions are forming who I am tomorrow. And they’re nothing dramatically big. Just small, putting clothes in the cupboard to have a neat room, kind of thing.

That’s the sobering news of 30. It’s the small things that count. We all know this and it can be applied in a thousand ways. The words we speak to our children, our daily actions which either build or stagnate us. Nothing glamorous, nothing that extraordinary. But you need the ordinary to get to the extra part. And of course red nails make the whole ‘ordinary’ part that much more fun!

So yes it’s almost over. I’ll be 30 and you won’t have to hear about it anymore. Until I turn 31, which by then I will realise, as my dear friend kindly pointed out, is nothing like a 3 with a crutch. It’s like a sword really. A sword of strength and power. In fact I almost wish I was already 31 just for that!

Anyway last words of a 29er – here’s to being ordinary and making those goals and moreover doing them so that I can creep into extraordinary!!! And maybe even become an extraordinary mum. And so say all of us 😉

I’m addicted. It’s official. I should be going to sleep now but I can’t because I’ve begun writing this blog in my head. I’m having blog withdrawal symptoms having not written this week. And there’s so much to talk about… there’s always something going on. From teachers calling about Princes who aren’t behaving in class (does this only happen to me? Proof that I’m not a perfect mom. Am I still qualified to write a blog on mothering then? Maybe I’m more qualified considering my kids and my parenting aren’t perfect. We’re works in progress.) Ahem excuse the thoughtful digression. Back to lots happening…

My parents from Australia were here for 6 days. A distraction from writing a blog if there ever was one. I learnt a lot in 6 days. More than I ever thought I would, and that visit deserves its own blog. I’m still digesting the whole me being a child to parents thing. (Although it all relates to how we are parents ourselves. But the heartrending blog or article needs to be written.)

Kate and William are now married. (I borrowed my neighbour’s daughter to watch the ceremony, because let’s face it my Princes weren’t the slightest bit interested.)

And yes it’s official Prince No. 2 has a serious Oedipal complex. He gave me a ring on Mother’s Day. (How was all your Mother’s Days by the way? Do do share your stories.) Admittedly he found it on the floor. But what really worries me is that he drew a picture for his ‘weekend news’ at school and when I asked him about the figures he pointed to the two big figures and said, ‘This is me and you.’ And when I asked about the small figure next to us he said, ‘That’s Dad.’ Right Oedipal. I’m going to have to speak to someone about this.

Which brings me to today’s deigned Right. The Right to Ask for Help. I think a lot of people find it challenging to ask for help when they need it. Underneath it is a feeling that they don’t deserve help. Okay, okay let me own it. Big sigh. I think in my twenties (yes that lovely big 30 is almost here and I can look back and nostalgically say, ‘In my twenties’, with that accompanying sigh.) I didn’t know how to say what I needed. Hell I wasn’t even aware of what I needed, and because of that I certainly didn’t know how to ask for help when I really needed it. I was ‘miss can do it all.’ Super mom, super cook, super immigrant.

In fact it was so bad that I think I even birthed that way. Mind you I was twenty-two with the first Prince. I barely knew that I had a right to call the midwife to come check me when I was in labour. And as I laboured I worried about conserving energy so I tried to sleep through it. And I worried about my lovely hubbie’s energy through what will be a long labour (or so I thought) so I certainly didn’t wake him up. Needless to say that by the time I was in enough pain to call the midwife, she came and after checking me announced that I was 9 cm dilated and in transition labour and we’d better get to the hospital pronto. We made it just in time. I kid you not.

So that’s the extreme of being ‘undemanding’ as my midwife called me. But I think we all do it to some extent or other. And now I’m turning 30 and am so much wiser (all 40 year olds reading this turn a blind eye now and don’t laugh at my obvious naiveté and lack of smarts. I’m not up to 40 wisdom yet, so have patience.) I would say ‘ASK FOR HELP – you have every right!’ and the most amazing thing of all as I’ve put this into practice is – people love to help. Family is only too willing to step in. It makes them feel important in your life. And the truth is I probably have not engendered much love by being so self-reliant. In fact a lot of love was even lost because receiving is also part of being in a relationship. So not only do you have a right but it’s a must.

True when you ask it’s wise to make your request simple and direct, especially for your better halves. And it’s not so simple I know. Sometimes we ask for things and they’re not given. They’re either forgotten (like my birthday card/present last year by my hubbie, and that was after I made it reealllyy easy for him with a whole list of possible pressies. Don’t worry he’s making up for it this year. He’s in charge of everything to do with me turning 30. ‘Ten birthdays rolled into one’ I told him.) or said ‘NO’ to. No always hurts a bit especially after summoning the courage to ask, especially if you’re undemanding. But who said life’s simple. I’m good at asking questions. The answers I don’t always know. I do know that it’s worth discussing with your loved ones and if I was to be asked by Oprah, what I know for sure, I’d say, ‘It’s not worth suffering in silence. If you need help seek it. Life doesn’t have to be miserable.’ And that help can come from loved ones, friends, support groups and yes you can always go pay a therapist (but please, please make sure it’s a good one – you can and should shop around – although admittedly it’s not as easy as a Woolworths shop).

A lot can be said for the subject. And any of you with small babies at home, which can get lonely, go seek company, love and support. You deserve it. And yes those of us with bigger children and bigger problems, definitely get support, even if it’s a chat with a good friend on the phone or over Facebook. We should never be too busy, or feel too undeserving to seek a kind, listening ear. Don’t wait until you’re 30 like me. (And yes, yes I say that tongue in cheek because I’m well aware that most of my friends are above 30. Humour me 🙂 )

And for those who read this just for the recipes. Here’s the yummy, healthy, nutritious Sweet Potato soup I made for the ‘Letting Go’ event which everyone loved. It’s a Patrick Holford recipe from his ‘Your 9-Day Live-Detox’ book. (I’ve since learnt that maybe it’s not the best idea to follow detoxes from a book. It’s better to get a personalised detox from a nutritionist or dietician.)

Patrick’s Primordial Soup

(It has a whole intro in the book explaining that it’s a health tonic, but don’t worry it certainly doesn’t taste like one!)

Serves 2-3

1 tbsp coconut oil or medium (not virgin) olive oil

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 large carrot or 2 small-medium ones, not peeled, chopped

1 large sweet potato, or 2 small-medium ones, not peeled, chopped to the same size as the carrot to ensure even cooking (to be honest we peel ours)

1 heaped tsp grated fresh root ginger

1/4 tsp Marigold Reduced Salt Vegetable Bouillon powder  (I leave this out)

1/2 red pepper diced

75 ml (2 1/2 fl oz) coconut milk

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they start to soften but do not turn brown.

2. Add the carrot, sweet potato, ginger, tumeric and bouillon powder. Just cover with boiling water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

3. Add the red pepper and coconut milk, then blend until smooth and thick.

And enjoy on these cold winter evenings. The kids also love it by the way.

This isn’t much fun. Yes the fact that school starts tomorrow – I dread it more than I did when I was the one going to school. (Yes, yes my bright-eyed cousin in LA, YAY for free mornings again) But also my new epiphany which is going to seem very, very obvious to all the rest of you whose heads don’t live quite as high in the clouds as mine.

It is: LIFE IS TOUGH!

There it is.

No don’t just sit there and stare and think, ‘She’s finally, finally lost her rocker.’ No my friends, this is a very important insight which I’m trying desperately to hold on to as I face the practical demands of every day life. Something I so happily forgot on holiday as I munched my Kosher for Pesach Burekas and drank fantastic Israeli coffee.

Who copes well with everyday jobs, lift schemes, house hold chores, which in the big scheme of things are necessary but don’t make the history books (or any other kind of book for that matter)? Well I’m one of those who don’t. I abhor them. I ignore my shoes on the floor, the mess in the cupboards and the outdated books on my shelves (yes, even if they’re library ones – boy do I have a fine to pay). Yes I’m washing my dirty washing in public here – the truth that I don’t like the practical at all! And the more I focus on how much I don’t like them the worse it gets to the point of paralysis.

Those jobs, according to me, are the reason why married women according to ‘Committed’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, die earlier than single women, earn less than single women and surprise, surprise tend to be more depressed than single women. And that’s not even mentioning the children. (So with the children??? Can you imagine what the stats are.) Why is this? Most of the jobs married women do aren’t for themselves, but in service of the greater good of their family. Very praiseworthy, yes, but why does it take so much out of us???

Yes we all know the problem. I’ve gone over it so many times. And well it takes a different consciousness than the one that caused the problem to solve a problem (Elizabeth Lesser, ‘Broken Open’). I never understood what this meant exactly but I’m starting to. By me fighting my jobs I perpetuate the terribleness, the humungous time hole that they are. So much of my energy goes into dreading my days filled with them. And I can’t continue that way. So I’ve kind of stepped out of that victim mentality of mine which is, ‘I should not have to do any jobs. Why do jobs keep happening to me?’ and have high stepped into a new thought, ‘This is life.’

You read that correctly. Three kids, three different lifts – ‘This is life’. A house with lots breaking down (the irrigation again!!!) – ‘This is life’. Bits and pieces to put away (socks, papers, books, more socks, underwear and yes soggy towels) – ‘This is life’. Moreover THIS IS MY LIFE and it’s about time I owned it. No it’s not perfect and there are glitches all the time. Tonsilitis and an infected finger on holiday – ‘This is Life’. Things don’t go perfectly, not for me, not for nobody. The difference is the way we respond.

I’m hoping that as I respond with, ‘This is life – life is messy, tough and not perfect’, it will give me the strength to face it head on without complaint (most of the time) and just live it with equanimity, grace and gratitude. (And boy is there a lot to be grateful about. Ironically it’s exactly what I complain about, Three boys, a house and socks and underwear to pick up ie. a husband.)

Can I ask more from life?

So today I lost my cellphone and was sure I had caught the Joburg germ – ‘stolen cellphone pick pocketed at Pick n Pay’. My attitude was – ‘Okay, I’ll get a new one from insurance, this time white.’ (To replace my coveted white one that I lost last year). Yes it involves more jobs ie. Police station, docket numbers, waiting for a new phone etc etc. But Cest La Vie – This is Life’ (The French did get something right). And then… David found it in his pocket switched off . How? Why? I don’t know, but boy was I glad not to have the extra jobs, and boy was I glad I didn’t expend a lot of energy bemoaning what I thought was my lost cell phone fate.

Easy to say ‘cest la vie’ for an insured cell phone let’s see how I do in real life. Lift scheme to lift scheme. I do however know that this is the way to go. Another version of ‘acceptance’ but this time verbalised, ‘This is Life’ and who can fight LIFE? Who wants to? It’s like Eckhart Tolle said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘Life is the dancer and we are the dance’ not the other way around as I always thought. So dance Life dance, and I only pray that the dance I am is one of light and blessing, good and happiness and as for the jobs, please not too many. But if they have to be then cest la vie.