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24.1.12

The daily drive


Back in the day LOML and I rarely used our car. Our first car (for both of us) was a little turquoise manual Ford Festiva. A super-small car that's easy to park in the cramped inner-city, but LOML and I are 'big people' so I imagine many people thought we were driving by on our way to the circus.

We traded up a size to a silver Subaru Impreza hatchback when Maxi came along. Then a year later we had to upgrade again to a blue Subaru Outback because we couldn't fit the 'big rig' double pram in the back of the Impreza. Yeah, I know, the sensible thing would have been to rethink the pram, but hey, we were sleep-deprived.

Two years after that* we got the black seven-seater Ford Terror to accommodate three car seats across the back and all the assorted prams, scooters, bikes and friends that a family rolls with these days. We've had the Terror for three years now and we still have the Outback. The Outback Terror of it all.

Before we moved out to live amongst the sticks, we never drove a lot. Now we have two cars and we have to drive one or both of those cars most days to go anywhere. I've never properly adjusted to that. The fact that we need not just one but two cars, most days. A little while ago we had a few weeks where we loaned the Outback to LOML's sister and it was a really complicated, inconvenient few weeks indeed.

We rely on our cars. Eeek.

I miss being able to walk out our front door and go somewhere. We still do a big walk up to the shops or over to a friend's place or down to the park, but it's not the same. It's an excursion to walk anywhere these days, rather than just the way we get around. I used to walk to the city for work from our old place, now it involves a car ride, a train ride and a walk.

It's the only thing I don't like about our entirely likeable home. The fact that it's not close to anything at all. Impossible to change that, but who has hours and hours free to walk places?

How many cars do you have? 
Do you still get to walk a lot?

*  Looking back on that list now, I realise that LOML and I do seem to lack forward planning skills. Heh, heh, does that make us inefficient 'family planners'?


[Image via weheartit - please let me know if it is yours!]

23.1.12

Red rag to a bullshit

Some people are just so outrageously different to ourselves that it's somehow personally offensive. Even though they aren't really affecting us in any way - they are technically just getting on with their lives and we with ours - we feel the need to say something to them, to somehow get involved.

I'm not certain why that is.

There must be a fundamental part of us that is born to rally. To state our case, to defend our beliefs, to rise against the tide. The older we get, the more likely we are to defend what we know and question what we don't. But it's a red rag to a bull, isn't it? Even though we want to go gently, we're going to have to take on the might of the bull at some stage with only our wits and our little red rag to defend ourselves.

I think it's important to keep going, though. As long as you have an open and curious mind and continually seek to question and investigate your own beliefs, I support anyone who is willing to hold up that red rag and say 'enough'. Even if I don't believe in what you believe in, even if I question your reasons for needing to defend them, even then.

Because what's the alternative? Getting mauled by the bull anyway, that's what. So many people see that little person out there in the centre of the ring and say, "she's wasting her time, she'll never win" and they look away. But they are the herd, not the bull fighter. Time spent standing up for yourself is never a waste of time.

I say, don't be afraid. To question things you don't understand. To suggest alternatives. To ask for things to change. To stand up and be counted and, in the gentlest, most kindest way possible, to take on the bullies, the selfish, the arrogant and the cruel. Fight the bullshit, whatever it takes, even if you don't think you can win, even if you're a lone figure and people question your motives and maybe your sanity. Even if you question them yourself. Because at the end of the day, our fight is all we've really got. The trick is to know when you've won.

Do you stand up for yourself?
Do you believe in anything enough to take on the world?


This post is dedicated to Melissa. Belief alone is peace, my friend.

[Image by Cassia Beck]

20.1.12

52 weeks of grateful: Inspiration


Yikes, this is the first post I've written using Blogger's 'new look' interface. I know the new look has been around for ages, but I clung like a barnacle to the 'old look'. I'm no good at having to learn new things. That's why eventually Blogger just kicked me over to the new look without so much as a 'guess what'... it's best just to spring new things on people like me. Ahem.

A (somewhat laboured) segue into my post this week... inspiration. Can you be a creative, inspiring soul when you are adverse to change? Is a barnacle inspirational? I think not.

I am such a creature of habit that if it wasn't for my need to express myself creatively, I would be very barnacle-boring my whole life. But to stay inspired, we need change, we need diversity, we need adventure. We need to shed our inhibitions and throw ourselves naked into the stream of consciousness that is all around us. Life is better when you're inspired to express it as uniquely and creatively as you can.

What inspires you most?


Don't forget to visit me at Kidspot and join in with this week's 52 Weeks of Grateful project. It's a fun one! I'll post on Kidspot usually on Wednesdays and here on Maxabella loves... on Fridays at 9pm. Sorry for mixing it up so much lately while I get settled. Bear with me, lovelies!

So, what's making you smile today? Add your post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is a Grateful one and not just a random) and pretty-please add a link back to this linky or to Kidspot. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. 

The link is open all week.


[Image by Shannon Blue]

18.1.12

Dealing with Difficult People: The Return

Yes, it's true. I've missed my light-hearted look at a very heavy-hearted subject. So, you know, I thought I'd bring back the series they tried to ban.*

Previously we've covered:

# 1 The Newborn
# 2 The Competitive Parent
# 3 Negative Nelly
# 4 Snooty Salespeople
# 5 The Toddler
# 6 Bullies
# 7 Yummy Mummies
# 8 Aggressive Drivers
# 9 The Desperate Newcomer
# 10 Rude Bastards

Clearly, we have barely scratched the surface. There is no end of difficult people to deal with out there. The passive-aggressive, the control freak, the bossy boss, the fitness freak, the corporate wanker, the mother-in-law, the lollipop lady... oh, I could go on.

Yes, I'm going to offend someone, maybe lots of someones. There are an amazing number of people out there who cannot laugh at themselves or others. My aim is not to offend, but rather to offer a lilypad through the mud of human relationships.

For we are all Difficult People at heart.

Who would you like to add to my list?
Would you like to contribute a Difficult People post of your own?

* Dramatic license may or may not have been used in this sentence.


If you're part of our 52 Weeks of Grateful community (and I really, really hope you are), just letting you know that I'm going back to posting at 9pm on Fridays, with the Kidspot posts going up earlier in the week. Last week was too weird, huh?  It's a weekend leisurely thing for me! See you tomorrow. x

[Image: Of course, Difficult People would not be the same without the amazing talents of at Suse Bauer at Revoluzzza. I thank you, my friend.]

17.1.12

Through the Instagram: little peek at December


Here's what Instagram reminds me that I did in December. December? Wasn't that, like, a year ago???


December begins with a quick work trip to Melbourne for a shoot.


Which beats the rest of my working life, which generally looks like this. Oh, another meeting, what a surprise.


But it's Christmas all around, so how can we be anything but joyous? 
Admiring DJs and a random store window...


One of the many festive gatherings we... gathered at was an early Christmas lunch at my in-laws. 
Buon Natale!



And then it's holidays and we're off down the coast to Gran and Pop's place.
The local skate park gets a work out. 
I highly recommend using the skate ramp as a slippery dip. 
Outta my way tough skatey kids, my trike is coming through!


No doubt about it, kids are never happier than when they're in water...


... or lounging in their homemade cubby.


Christmas day was a cracker. My whole family was together - nine grandchildren (aged seven and under) and nine adults (aged under seventy). I mainly used my 'real' camera, so Instagram only captured the tiniest peek.

Aside from Christmas, the biggest news going in December was a certain haircut. Hello face, I missed you!

I won't even ask you how your December was... how can I possibly expect you to remember back that far!

16.1.12

Unlocking the cage

I know the thought of working outside the home terrifies some mothers, but the thought of not working terrifies me more.

I've had a job of one kind or another since I was 13 years old and working for someone defines me in so many ways. After twenty years, the rhythm and jolt of corporate life is as much a part of me as anything else. I may rally daily against the bitter politics, the needless to-ing and fro-ing and the egos (oh, the egos!), but I work hard and smart and... it suits me.

Despite appearances, I am a low-risk, security-craving kind of a person and although many people encourage me to get out there and work for myself, that is surely the most terrifying thing of all. To be honest, after so many years in corporate life, in my heart I simply believe I have nowhere else to go.

But, I'm 'better' this year, remember? I'm better. And for many years I've craved... something more. I've felt wasted and I've wanted to get out of big corporate life and do... something else. What and how and where and when, I do not know. But this year I'm at least going to find the courage to think about the possibilities and explore some options.

Thinking can't shake me too much, can it? So what have I got to lose? Oh, please, don't answer that!

Have you ever felt trapped in a cage that only you hold the key to?

15.1.12

The most annoying mother in the world



Last week I took the Tsunamis to Taronga Zoo. Fresh air, giraffes, water play, family time, education, picnics and views. What more do you need for a brilliant day out?

Of course, there are the crowds, the heat, the stairs, the hills, the smells and the ‘big day out’ melt-downs to contend with. The zoo is not so much an outing as an expedition. Previous zoo visits have resulted in trying to convince the staff that the three over-stimulated, over-tired children they see before them do not actually belong in the monkey enclosure.

Not last Wednesday. Last Wednesday, I was the most annoying mother in the world. Not to the kids, but to the other mothers.

I took the three on my own and it was the best day ever. The Tsunamis were beautifully behaved, mostly because their mother was calm, patient and organised. Of course, I had to manoeuvre my way out of a few Badoo At Large moments, but she soon bought into our perfect-family-moment.

I remembered the wet wipes. That pretty much sums up how annoying I was. Especially when I insisted on handing one across to the mum whose child was absolutely covered in ice cream. She was equal-parts relieved and horrified.

While other parents screeched at their kids to stop getting so wet in the water play trench, I called out, “I’ve bought your swimmers, children. Do you want to go in?” The mum with the saturated child shot me a look that could kill. I handed her a towel.

The snaking line for the hotdog stand involved a very hot wait, but we sat at our shady picnic table (of course we got a picnic table) and ate our sambos and fruit and crackers. A mother jungle fowl (only at the zoo) stopped by to show us her three babies and, in a moment that I commissioned Disney to script, we fed them with crumbs from our sandwiches. A mum in the hot dog stand line curled her lip at me.

At day’s end, the line for the Sky Safari was long and involved and I thought our perfect day must surely come to an end. All around us children melted-down and complained of boredom and dehydration. My three played i-spy and complained that the water from our insulated bag was too cold. The mum behind us was very grateful when we offered to fill one of her bottles, but I know that she secretly wanted to stab me.

As we winged our way over the zoo in our little Sky Safari pod - after a quick flip to fold up the stroller (envious stares from the mum next to us with the gigantic three-wheeler) - I looked over at my three beaming children neatly on board  and I thought to myself, “I am surely the most annoying mother in the world”.

And I liked it.

Would you have killed me?
Do you, like me, notice those ‘perfect’ families wherever you go?

[Image found on weheartit - please let me know if it belongs to you!]

12.1.12

52 weeks of grateful: family



* With apologies to my treasured 'regulars', in all the excitement, I forgot to mention last week that I'll be posting my Gratefuls on Thursdays from this week onwards...  join in at any time, of course! *


We had a little trip to the zoo on Wednesday, just me and my three Tsunamis. I'll write a big post about that next week (there is much to tell), but beforehand I wanted to share one of those little moments we sometimes capture that make everything worthwhile.


A brother's arm placed gently on his little sister's shoulder.


That's what family means to me. Support, just because.


What's making you smile this week? Add your post to the link at Kidspot (you can also add it below this week until we get used to the whole thing!) and come join us as we celebrate all the little things that make up such a big thing. I've posted more on family at my Kidspot post this week.


Have you captured a little moment like mine? 
Did you just want to burst into tears at the sight like me?




11.1.12

Goodbye sweet holidays


I'm back to work tomorrow. A bit of a groan, a bit of a sigh. Actually, a big groan and sigh. Mainly because I know how much hard work is waiting for me after an extended break. And life gets a lot more complicated when I'm at work. You can't really win, can you?

I have so enjoyed these past three weeks. Being able to kick back and just hang out with the Tsunamis has been wonderful. They are growing up, my little people. I am no longer 'that mother' with three children under 5 and it's amazing how much easier our life has become. That said, as much as I love our 'usual' lifestyle, there is not a lot of room for just sitting and being. I need to make more space for that. When life slows down, the little things get a moment to shine and grow.

Key for being 'better' this year, is being better at slowing down. We will finally get those chickens, I'm planting   vegetables and giving some fruit trees a red-hot (watered) go. All extra work, of course, but of the best and most satisfying kind. Most importantly, I'm going to try to be a lot better at not worrying so much about how tidy my bloody house is. What a waste of concern that is. My aim is to keep this relaxed holiday vibe alive throughout the year and appreciate the stillness at the heart of each day.

What's your number one tip for slowing down?

PS - Clock The Badoo's haircut up there! The best little cut ever. She was all hair and now she's all cute. 

10.1.12

When real is really scary



I have offered my blog as a safe-haven for a writer to write something out...


Firstly thank you to Maxabella for offering to me to write this post. It is the hardest thing I have ever written. It makes it real, for so long it has felt safe in my head, a story, a fictional life, but it isn’t. Life is not as dark as it may seem in this post, this is a mere slither, generally life is full of wonder, beauty and things to be grateful for and again thank you to Maxabella for reminding me of this. Oh yeah, and sorry it is really long!


When Maxabella emailed me earlier this week concerned that she couldn’t find my blog I didn’t know what to tell her. Part of me wanted to reply with some fluffy reason and another part of me wanted, needed to be honest.


You see late last week I all but deleted myself from the online world. Here is why.


Growing up all I wanted was a sister. Someone to play with, hold hands with, feel safe with and someone to share life with. But I already had a sister, an older sister, just not the one I wanted.


Schizophrenia is such a broadly used term these days but in the 70’s it was still a taboo subject. She, (I will call her she), has a mental illness, loosely diagnosed as schizophrenia but it is more than that. She is paranoid, angry, and worst of all violent. When she is triggered she is the scariest thing I have ever seen. Throw in a mass of illegal substances and really, you don’t want to even think about it.


This was my reality growing up. Thankfully not constantly, she would come and go and my parents protected me from the worst of it. Generally, I had a happy childhood, apart from these instances where she would again blow in to our lives.


When she was fine she was what I always wanted and still to this day part of me wishes she was. Another part of me, a larger part of me wishes she would expire from this earth.


I often question why there is so much tragedy in life. Innocent children with terminal illness, parents and children separated by tragic accidents, when people like her, seem to be invincible. Untouched by anything including the pain, hurt and fear to their victims.


In violent rages she has attempted the worst, family members including children have been exposed to this. I have too, in an incident that is my clearest memory, sadly, even moreso than the birth of my children. I remember breaking free in a split second of chance and running. I never knew I could run so fast. If only I was running toward something. I can’t articulate the feeling, or maybe I just don’t want to. Then a few years later in one violent eruption of rage she did the worst. A member of my family.


Finally, after so many years she was taken away. The relief I thought I felt wasn’t there. It intensified, for I knew how it would play out. Just as it had in the past. A master at manipulation and even with all of her history she would deceive her way out all too soon. Forever would have been too soon.


It is hard to explain what it is to live your life in fear. It isn’t a constant fear, which I know some sadly live with every day. God, I couldn’t even imagine. It is just a fear that is deep down in a pit deep in your stomach. Your senses are more acute, you feel the tingle of your adrenaline on the verge, ready to fight or flight, and it will instantly when needed. It may be walking down the street and you feel you have to look over your shoulder. A shadow out of the corner of your eye. It may be coming home and entering an empty house. It may be the strange noise in the middle of the night, or even in the middle of the day. The fear can be gripping, paralysing. My mind will race 1000 miles an hour playing out all the scenarios. Where I will hide, where I will run. I am never ready, but always preparing.


Many years have passed with nothing to be heard of. I have kept my profile low and getting married, the first thing I thought about wasn’t the joy of new beginnings with the love of my life, it was the relief of no longer carrying my family name. I couldn’t sign those papers quick enough.


But all this lead to complacency. Not a total lack of fear, but the feeling of what it is to lead a normal life. I started to do things I loved doing using my name. The online world beckoned and I began business. Along came social media and out there I was. Then I discovered blogging. Hesitant at first I again became complacent. It was liberating to feel free to write about my life, my family, the ups and downs, sharing funny and happy moments. A part of me was still careful of disclosing everything, but it did feel wonderful to relax a little.


Until now.


In a flash it all returned.


It only took me about an hour to wipe myself from the online world, although I am sure not completely, (is that even possible?) but enough for me to feel safe. Safe enough.


Now I am in limbo. Going from wanting to change my name, wanting to disappear myself, wanting to crawl in the corner of my wardrobe for as long as it takes for this storm to pass....again. But then, in the same moment, I want to be strong. To keep going on with life as it is. To be grown up. To stand up. But that is harder to play out than in my head.


I miss my blog. I miss sharing my thoughts. Perhaps it is what kept me sane all these years. My journals, my diaries, my writing, and then my blogging. The blog posts still run through my head continually. Maybe they will stop one day. Maybe not. After all I am a writer and it isn’t something you can just switch off, it is just now I have to do it just for me.


I have considered reinventing my blog under a pseudonym or anonymously but I can’t get my head around doing this. I want to be authentic, I want to be real. I don’t want to have to hide. But the world is a dangerous place, generally. There are people out there who can’t believe their lucky stars at what people share on line. We are today, the most accessible we have ever been.


For me, for now, as I said, I will write privately. This will pass. I think I will return in some anonymous state. I have a lot to share and perhaps I can share more that way. Perhaps in fact anonymously I can be free without caution, without the fear. For once.


One day life will be good. All the time. One day the fear will leave. I only dare to dream of that feeling, I know it feels good. I close my eyes tight, the tears well. Imagine. One day.


You never really know what is going on in a person's life at any given moment. The hidden pain, the sorrow, the fear. My dear friend, you are a brave soul and your blog is much missed.

You need to do what is right for you, but I do think you can be totally anonymous and still be 'real'. I am sure many reading this would agree.

Do you think you can?

[Image via weheartit]

8.1.12

Hello 2012: One word



Again I say it: happy, happy new year. The year is kinda new every day when you think about it. We can achieve our goals, create possibilities and keep that uplifting feeling of 'maybe' for as long as we want. Encouraging when I look back at all the broken 'new year' resolutions I've made. There is still time.

I don't really do them, resolutions I mean. Instead, I focus on a word for the year. Generally I come up with some lame play on words for the year (this was last year's feeble attempt and the year before that was two thousand and zen, god love me). But I'm having none of that this year, and not just because twelve is, like, really, really hard to work with. Twelve basically rhymes with nothing useful and with one short syllable I was venturing into territory even more rocky than last year's two thousand health-heaven. No, I'm having none of that silly word play business. It's... distracting.

This year, my word is going to be...

Better.

Everything I do, I want to question whether I could be doing it better. Am I using my resources as well as I can? Am I focusing on the task at hand enough? Are there other ways to tackle a problem? Am I being present enough? Can I save more, do more, be more and give more?

Can I be better?

I think it's essentially a year of mindfulness and purposefulness and many other important nesses. I just want to make sure I'm that kid in the front row of the class with my hand stretching into the air so bloody earnestly that you can see most of my pants and my face is red and contorted with the effort of getting that hand up there and I'm waving and screeching 'pick me, pick me'. That's the kind of year I want to have. I want to be better.

What's your word for 2012?



[Image by Sopranda Alegria]

6.1.12

52 weeks of Grateful


Bang, crackle, pop, fizz, whirl! Happy shiny, sparkly, bubbling, bursting, brilliant, blooming year!

Too late? Are you over the new year thing yet? I'm just getting started, baby!

Oh, so happy to be back for our Grateful linkymajig. Late last year when I had my extended blogdrop* the thing I missed the most was this Grateful community. Our little gang of earnest, striving souls who just want to be better, do better and, most importantly, notice better. For the rest of the year I wondered how I could make something more of our Grateful community.

Then Kidspot gave me a call and... we're in! We're moving over there, lovelies. I hope you don't mind. Our Grateful linky will be part of the Kidspot 52 Weeks of Grateful project that I am proudly kicking off for them. This week the linky is still on my page, but from next week (if we can sort out all the technical glitches!) it will be over at Kidspot. It will work exactly the same as it works on my blog and I'll still be on the other end, looking forward to your posts and encouraging you to stay with it. I'm really proud to be given the opportunity to, I don't know, 'blog for non-bloggers'... do you know what I mean? Being in the blog gang is so special, but encouraging others who may never otherwise get the opportunity to write and open up is something even more special.

So, each week, keep being grateful for the little things, the big things and the mundane medium things (medium is always mundane, really). I'll be doing my own regular 'This week I'm grateful for...' post from next week and linking up along with you. Join the 52 Weeks of Grateful project too - I have a great year planned with little ideas to open the gates on the flood of gratefulness that regularly threatens to drown us all in, well, schmultz. I wouldn't have it any other way!

What do you think? 
Are you pleased we're off to Kidspot next week? 
Are you comfy, or do you feel like things will be different?


Oh, don't forget to join me tomorrow for our ' One Word ' link up. One word that sums up the year you plan to have in 2012. Bang, crackle, pop, fizz, whirl, indeed!



* Blogdrop: (n.) Blogger over self. Blog languishing. Return uncertain.


[Image by FatMumSlim for Kidspot]