Ten easy ways to start recycling

The older I get, the more horrified I am about the amount of waste we generate as a species.

Plastic wrapped is hygienically sealed, cleanliness assured…It is light weight, durable, see through and convenient… It is also man made and lasts nearly for ever.

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And we keep manufacturing it.

Any way – as a couple we have always tried to do the right thing- recycle newspapers and plastics, save water etc. I carried a Twisties packet containing the waste of a toddler out of the Lerderderg Gorge once, not wanting to litter. (You read that correctly. There were no conveniences at the bottom of the gorge…)

Over the years we have had timers on the shower, have changed over to a reduced flow shower head to conserve water and have been known to let it mellow if its yellow….

And now, I have two kidults who think much harder than I ever have before about what goes into their system and what to do with the waste. I’m sure you have read about the Veganism and Vegetarianism that has been visited upon this house!

Today I decided I would do my fortnightly shop being mindful of the amount of packaging I was purchasing. Well – I guess I did better than most –because we actually DO recycle. But there is a lot of room for improvement.

Come with me for a wander through my shopping cart and let’s see where we can start!

Here are my 10 easy peasy tips on where to reduce waste without really trying:

  1. Paper recycling

Have a look at this! When I walked into the supermarket I was gobsmacked when I truly LOOKed at the amount of packaging. On everything.  I was impressed when my DD told me her friend was doing a year with minimal packaging and had so far only had a twix wrapper and a muesli bar wrapper to dispose of. The friend must be living on fruit and vegetables to have no wastage at all…

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At first I was horrified – but at least most of the packaging is recyclable.
  1. Plastic recycling

Most plastic packaging is recyclable and can be picked up kerbside. Just look for the numbers. I’m about to move into the next phase now, of reducing the purchase of “bad“ plastics which generate toxins in the recycling process.  An even better plan is not to buy it in the first place – I’m going to look at how I purchase meat and poultry. Even buying in larger quantities would be an improvement.

  1. Glass recycling

Glass is recyclable kerbside. Leave the lids off! And rinsing them first reduces contamination. We keep a small basket under the kitchen sink and put all paper, plastics, glass and aluminium tins into it – and it all magically finds its way to the recycle bin outside each evening. Works for me…

  1. REDcycling

This is one of the best kept secrets but is such a great way of recycling that we need to shout it from the roof tops! Everyone know that the plastic bags from the super market can be kept and returned, right? Well the REDcycle bins that the bags are placed into can take even MORE! Check it out HERE .  All those plastics like cling wrap, the top of meat containers, chip packets, chocolate wrappers, biscuit wrappers and more– all into the REDcycle bin.

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The left hand pile goes into the kerbside recycling – the pile on the right is REDcycle plastics

We have a double bi17454991_1513735121970600_2121762150_on – rubbish on the right, REDcycle on the left. Easy. With REDcycle we have reduced our waste down to a bread bag size PER WEEK. That’s for two – twice as much when the kids are home because they chuck tissues in there too…

 

 

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5.  Other recycling – batteries, mobile phones, used light globes, polystyrene, toothpaste and coffee pods

Some things are a little more challenging but are worth researching.  We recently discovered our local recycling and refuse station takes polystyrene for recycling. You will be surprised what can be recycled – instead of creating more land fill.

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  1. Reusable bags

Surely everyone does this now? The Green Bags can be placed in the REDcycle bin when they come to the end of their life – not sure about the newer plastic coated bags, so be careful.

 

  1. Reusable produce bags

This is my new favorite find! I have long refused to take bags for many fruit and veg, because frankly they are just extra packaging. Why put a pumpkin in a bag? Or a head of broccoli? I bought 8 reusable and washable produce bags made from recycled plastics, which can be REDcycled if and when they go to God. Love them.

 

 

  1. Compost

Again – we have a small compost bin under the kitchen sink which ALSO magically empties itself into the compost bin (located somewhere in the garden) every day or so. My husband is a bit fussy about what can go in the compost or worm farm. Paper, hair, dust etc are all fine; vegetable and fruit peelings and outer leaves are all fine; so are seeds and apple cores and banana skins (the ones he doesn’t feed to the stag horns hanging outside). NO CITRUS, FRUIT PITS OR WOODY STALKS!  But there is a solution to that….

  1. Green waste

The Organics Bin (supplied by the council) is for garden waste – and all of the big chunky fruit and veg scraps!!17495978_1513735211970591_1868890610_n

  1. Shop smart

This is my homework for next week. The packet of 5 x snack sized chips for lunch treats are expensive and highly packaged. I will add a couple more plastic (PETE) boxes to my trolley and buy the larger packet… buy meat from the butcher,  bread from the baker, maybe with my own containers?

 

 

So – have I inspired you? It’s not that hard to get to this stage. Just a little bit of organisation! I still have a long way to go – and I wish I had started a long time ago.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to see a nearly empty bin each week – cheaper too: we have had a reduction in rates due to the reduction in bin size!! Now I want to see the recycle bin less chockers….

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After unpacking and recycling – this was the only true landfill rubbish generated from the shopping expedition.

Every little helps

I chopped the pumpkin into uniform sized pieces and put it into the oven to roast, looking forward to the mashed pumpkin with butter and pepper I would enjoy for dinner. I had decided to turn the leftovers into roast pumpkin soup for tomorrow’s lunch.

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No one would ever suspect this fifty something mother of two had obtained the pumpkin by alternative means!

Being a later starter in the motherhood stakes, my age means I have children in their early twenties. Both are clever, independent and have strong moral consciences.

Number one is immersed in Indonesian culture on Java. Loving the lifestyle, absorbing the language and living as the locals do. His experience has taught him how easy and rewarding it can be to “make do”.

Number two gave me the pumpkin.

I first heard the phrase “bin diving” from a friend, whose daughter was studying, living away from home and struggling to make ends meet. It sounded horrendous and I actually forgot all about it – until MY daughter began telling me tales of late night excursions to the local (closed) supermarkets.

I admit, your Honour – I have received “stolen” goods, which were repurposed, after being released from dumpsters which were destined for the tip. Not only food, either.

Apparently the legality of taking discarded items – let’s be clear, the stuff in these bins is unwanted by the businesses putting it there, and was intended to be dumped- is a grey area. In the locality my child carries out her nocturnal scavenging, the local constabulary seem to turn a blind eye to the activities. In some countries, it is illegal to dump usable food. France legislated on that in 2015 – read about it here.  It’s a conundrum.

So, I visited my child this week, was handed a pumpkin scone, and the story of how it came about was recounted. Later that evening, her flatmates arrived home after an evening “shopping” with packaged leeks, kilos of bananas, multiple bags of avocados, mangoes, just-past-use-by-dated flour, a head of broccoli, bags of potatoes. Their fridge looked far better stocked than my own – and the quality of the food obtained was fine. Sure the bananas were a little browner than I would choose – but the team peeled the browner ones and froze them for use in smoothies, and making banana bread/muffins. Nothing was taken that they couldn’t use. The spoils were divvied up and everyone was happy. Not a cent had been spent.

It is a society gone mad. I don’t begin to understand the logistics, but surely this wastage and the cost of dumping is driving supermarket prices up? Why are there children in our own country going hungry, let alone in the rest of the world, when we throw away a bag of perfectly useable fruit because one piece is bruised?

Some say litigation is the reason. I suppose there is the chance someone will become ill eating food obtained outside the usual channels. But surely there is a way around that?

It sits fine with me.

I try as best I can to stick to the “Recycle, reduce, reuse” ethos. We recycle paper, metals, plastics in the council recycle bin. We REDcycle soft plastics (this is fabulous – read more on it here ). We have an organics bin, and a compost bin, and a worm farm. We take used items to the local op shop and I love to find bargains for myself there as well!. Same as most, I use reusable shopping bags and try not to use plastic at all. I have recently learned about boomerang bags and am considering volunteering to make some (if not just for myself) nrunnersot only to reduce our reliance on the ubiquitous plastic bag, but because we have such a worldwide problem with discarded clothing – especially the cheaper, synthetic fabrics (read about that too ).

So here I am, an accessory after the fact. Eating delicious, free, mashed pumpkin. Happy in the knowledge that the pumpkin did not make its way to pumpkin hell at the tip. And wearing a pair of runners also liberated from a skip… too small for the daughter, but dumped by the store due to the fact that a box cutter slipped during unpacking and cut one of the shoe laces in two.  I kid you not.

How can I help you?

Not sure how to manage that wound? Concerned that perhaps you should head to the ED? Worried about your child’s temperature, rash, cough, behaviour? Scared that the chest pain you have might not be heartburn, but a heart attack? Think you have either food poisoning or the plague?

I’m your person. Call me. It’s what I do, and clichéd as it sounds – I care about everyone I speak to in the course of a work day, and I genuinely want to help.

…some days there are giggles and incredulity at the things I am asked…

Most calls are straightforward and frankly forgettable – I have answered literally thousands of questions about vomiting and diarrhoea, colds, coughs, rashes, abdominal pain, chest pains, sore throats, swallowed objects, medication errors and the like. I can’t tell you how often I have heard: “…my son’s friend’s sister has been at child care with a little girl who has just been diagnosed with Chickenpox – I am going to visit my uncle who is having chemo next week – will he be at risk of getting shingles?” Sometimes it is hard trying to work out the logistics –  “…I slept with my boyfriend and have been on the pill for 2 weeks – we slept together last month and I took the morning after pill then and have missed 2 pills this week – could I be pregnant?”   Ummm…..yes.

Some days, though – some days there are giggles and incredulity at the things I am asked.

Most recently I took a call from a mother whose child had a low grade fever, consistent with the cold she had. The mother spoke English well but with an accent. I was trying to understand what she was worried about, as the temperature was being well managed. She kept saying “Federal Convention”, so I thought maybe mum needed to leave the child and attend an interstate work function?thermom.jpg

Turned out the “Federal Convention” was a “febrile convulsion” the kid had suffered previously! Reassurance and information provided.

It is not uncommon for people to take the wrong medications – usually morning tablets instead of night time, or doubling up on tablets accidentally.

One that I remember is the elderly man who had carefully cut the foil sheet containing his antibiotics into individual doses, and placed them into a dosette box so he didn’t forget to take them. He told me he left them sealed in the foil and plastic to “keep them fresh”. He opened Monday night’s section, tipped his pills into his hand – and swallowed them, sharp corners of the foil pack and all. That resulted in a trip to Emergency for an xray to ensure he hadn’t cut his throat.

Another was the lady with vision impairment who asked was it alright that she had swallowed her Canesten pessary? You may know these are actually designed to be inserted vaginally….she had mistaken it for a panadol, but don’t think it did much for her headache!

And keep your jars of vitagummies away from the kids – they are still medicines, even if they do taste yummy! 

And keep your jars of vitagummies away from the kids – they are still medicines, even if they do taste yummy! Apparently according to three callers, if one is good, the whole bottle is better, at least according to their toddlers…

Most of you have heard the orange story – if not, it involves a man, a woman, an orange,  a mixture of too much time, a sense of adventure and a good imagination…and an emergency xray and retrieval…

A heartbreakingly sad call came from an animal activist and vegan. He had rescued a dying possum and had been savagely bitten by the animal 3 weeks before he rang for advice. The wound was horribly infected; purulent, smelly, with altered sensation,  reduced function, swelling and a raging fever. The caller was not making much sense; he seemed to be delirious. He was adamant that he did not want to see a doctor because he didn’t want any antibiotics; most are tested on animals and that was against his beliefs. The man was in his late twenties, passionate and educated. It is one of the calls I would like to have known the outcome. If he did not seek treatment, (I tried really hard to get him to at least consult with a pharmacist or GP) I have fears that he may not have survived the infection. He was certainly very unwell.

The usual mispronunciations are amusing – the man with strained “groinds”, the lady having a “canelloscopy”, the “prostrate” examinations, and the gentleman with problems peeing, whose GP was sending him to see a “numerologist” (urologist).

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She swallowed the pill

Saving face is important – I took a call from a 16yo who had tried to help her friend obtain the morning after pill. The girl who needed the medication was too shy to go to the chemist – so my caller went instead. All went well, until the pharmacist produced the pill and instructed his customer to swallow the pill in front of him. She took the pill!! After a bit of confusion, the girl needing the pill did get one – but my caller was worried about the effect of taking medications she didn’t need. A fair amount of education and advice went into that call!

 

Ice and boiling water account for a few queries.

A guy in the outback called when his radiator boiled over. He had opened his bonnet, loosened the radiator cap – at which point the water spilled over, out of the radiator and straight into his gum boots. When he managed to get the boots off, he had skin hanging off his legs and very little pain. Not a good sign. I reckon he had about 18% third degree burns. Luckily he knew where he was so I was able to get an ambulance to him.

A six year old boy was bored on school holidays and wondered what would happen if he put a hammer in the freezer and then touched it with his tongue?  Mum rang because the skin had started to tear, the hammer was still stuck firmly and the kid was freaking out – the nurse on the other end of the phone freaked out a bit too. It was one of my very first calls.

I took another call from someone who had placed her wet hand flat against the aluminium of her old fridge freezer, then pulled away.  It had taken the entire top layer of skin off. I never knew what actually happened next, because the caller was on her friend’s phone and the friend wanted it back so she could go shopping, so the phone line just went dead…

Never boring.

Sometimes, there are people who mistake us for those special phonelines – 1300TalkToVeryFriendlyOpenmindedandImaginativeLadies – but mostly the calls are from scared, concerned or ill people all over Australia.

This has been strangely cathartic! Not quite the same as the barbie doll up the back passage stories you may have heard elsewhere…except for the orange, of course….

A Modern Parable

I have had a pretty ordinary day (that is Aussie speak for “not very good, feeling miserable and there have certainly been better days than this one for me” – just to be clear, lol ), and decided that I might be able to cheer myself by writing. Unfortunately, I am very out of practice and nothing came together as I wanted it to.

I was just about to give up when I decided to re-read a few pieces I have written in the past. Lo and behold! This was the first one I read – I wrote it in a similar mind set to today – and it has given me the necessary kick up the pants to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with it.

Just by the way – in case it is too subtle (joking) – I am the woman – and the universe really did show me these three things.

The interpretation, though- that is all mine. Hope you enjoy it.

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A woman reluctantly left her home in the early hours of the morning to go for a walk.
While she loved walking as a rule, on this day she felt cheated.

“Why, the sky is not even blue!” she grumbled to herself. “How can I find any joy or satisfaction, if the day is not perfect before I begin?”

The woman ambled along, lost in her own thoughts.

On her way, she passed a street cleaning truck.
“Oh yes, that seems right!” she sneered to herself; “No peace and quiet while I walk – AND the sky is not blue!”

The woman continued on her way, absentmindedly listening to the birdcall around her.

Little by little, the woman began to notice the blossom on the trees, and the light, morning breeze on her face. Her mood began to lift, imperceptibly at first.

THE CHILD
On the final stretch of her journey, the woman noticed a small child standing on the side of the road with her grandfather. The little girl was bouncing up and down, barely able to contain her excitement.

And then it suddenly dawned on the woman that this child was waiting for the street cleaning truck!

The woman watched the child giggle and clap as the truck magically caused the rubbish and debris on the road to disappear. The child ran down the road a little, following the truck, exclaiming her amazement at the miracle she was watching.

“How wonderful to be so enchanted by the world!” the woman thought, marvelling at the pleasure such a small incident had given the child.

THE BIRD
Just then, a willy wagtail danced in front of the woman, puffing out his chest and landing on a beam beside her. He cocked his head, then flew away, swooping and darting to collect insects, shaking his tail as he went.

“What a magnificent creature!” thought the woman. “How focussed he seems to be on his daily tasks. ”

And then, the grumble monster raised its head again – “I bet birds don’t have to walk at this ungodly hour to stay healthy!”

THE BUTTERFLY
Instinctively, the woman banished the grumble monster-
“Begone! You misery guts!!” and carried on her walk.

Having observed such positive behaviour in the child and the bird, suddenly the task seemed less onerous; the grey skies offered a unique beauty to the morning, and her thoughts turned to how she could best use the hours in her day.

As if to reinforce her determination, there appeared on the path in front of her, a single, expired, perfect butterfly.

The woman saw the butterfly, and was open enough to receive the message her world was trying to convey.

“I SEE!!” the woman marvelled.
“The child has demonstrated that there is joy and happiness to be found in the smallest of moments. We just need to be looking for them!

The bird has shown me that to be fit and healthy will enable me to achieve all I wish in my day – and I will look great too!

And the butterfly has reminded me that life is short, and fleeting. It is important to live each day in the the best way possible, because sooner or later, it is over for us all.”

With renewed determination, the woman returned home to achieve some miracles of her own, and to share this story.

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Have a wonderful day everyone; and may you find the inspiration you need when you need it the most. xx

Boomerang kids

If I look in the mirror, I see my father.

All of his worst traits, like brown eyes- which will tend rheumy as I approach old age; puffiness underneath the eyes, thanks to years of wearing glasses (‘cos I’m too impatient to deal with contact lenses first thing in the morning, and not vain enough to persevere); drooping jowls where my plump youthful cheeks used to be;  a short neck which I always thought was because of my ”Welsh miner” heritage ( which is just ridiculous I know, but somewhere along the line I became convinced it was from ducking to enter mines!  At five foot nothing it is unlikely any relative had to duck to get in anywhere, anyway…and certainly not Dad -who was an accountant in his working life); a thickened waist ( I will forever remember Dad slapping his belly and saying he thought something was growing in there); fine, graying hair which thankfully my hairdresser tints and coifs to handsome middle aged woman, not the frizzy mess he dealt with; and a Cwymp head.

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a cwymp head -check out the shadow!

This last term (which I always thought was spelled Quimp!)  refers to my ancestors, who lived at Cwymp Mill, somewhere in North Wales, and had a peculiarly shaped head, apparently. Quite bulbous at the back, or so I’m told.

 

My family, though, will tell you that my brown eyes are kind and understanding. My glasses are trendy, as is my haircut and colour (thanks to the lovely Carole). My girth, height and chubby face give me quite a motherly appearance, and together with my soft and mellifluous voice I can inspire confidence and reassurance in both patients (yes I’m a nurse) and those around me.

So it’s not all bad.

I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, anyway – I’m either working, caring for my mum, running errands for the kids, grabbing some quality time with my husband or trying to catch up with friends.

I’m one of the sandwich generation.

http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/media-centre/article/?id=carers-caught-in-the-sandwich-generation

I came late to the mothering stakes – I like to tell the kids I had all my adventures BEFORE I had children! The truth is, I kissed a lot of frogs before I found the one who turned into my prince. I also travelled, went to Uni, changed my mind, went back, bombed out of Uni, worked at a number of jobs until I found one I liked with exciting hours and even more exciting activities (I might give you more on this on a  whole nother blog, lol). And it’s where I met my prince.

As  sensible twentynearlythirtysomethings, we made a plan to marry, completely changed my career, and decided that we would quite like children but if that didn’t happen by a certain age, we would forget the idea and blow the inheritance on a slap up second honeymoon in the Greek Islands. For, ooh, I don’t know, a year or so.

I was pregnant within a fortnight.

So, here I am. Managed to navigate my way through twenty three years of mothering two very nice young adults who are now mainly living away from home.  A whole new chapter of my life is about to unfold, and it’s pretty exciting- and challenging.

The Man and I long ago gave up the original idea of the Greek Islands Fling, but have always maintained that we would travel once we could. Now it seems that day is almost here…

However the plans we made may not happen quite as we thought.

We are both in fairly good health, but are not twentynearlythirtysomethings anymore. Camping on air mattresses in a tent doesn’t hold the same allure that it did a couple of decades ago;  getting up and down is still possible but distinctly more difficult and painful thanks to my inherited joint pain. Even The Man has cooled on the idea.

campsite2005Family holidays when the kids were young consisted of the four of us working as a well oiled team, erecting the Taj Mahal of tents, inflating mattresses and swatting away flies in the heat of an Aussie bush summer.  Each year we packed a trailer full of life’s little essentials -like totem tennis, bikes and inflatable boats- and escaped to spend time together and relax. Let me tell you I loved those holidays, but there is nothing relaxing about trying to create meals in the outdoors with no running water, a dodgy stove, lumps of rapidly thawing frozen meat and kids with picky appetites. There were lots of jaffles and marshmallows, packets of chips, mozzie encrusted vegemite toast and a fair number of experimental meals. A dip in the river was accepted as being equivalent to having showered, and bathers were optional. Late afternoon and evening saw us searching for twigs and sticks for a fire; at night we went looking for wildlife, fishing in the river, played crazy card games and lay on our backs spotting shooting stars, bats and satellites.

Yep, they were fabulous holidays – and now I am ready for a little more luxury while still enjoying the wonders of the great outdoors.

We are lucky enough to have a friend in the tourism industry, who offered us the opportunity to relocate a motor home in New Zealand a couple of years ago. At the time, offspring #1 was living away from home and offspring #2 was completing VCE. We escaped alone for 10 magical days and loved it all, even the cooler weather! Still as relaxed as a camping holiday – but sans the stress of digging ditches in the event of heavy rain…

Just like many of my generation, we are getting used to the revolving front door we have. Sometimes we are enthusiastic empty nesters; dinner out mid week, pictures if we feel like it, plenty of live shows and theatre. And sometimes we are hands on parents again-arranging late night pickups, advising on subject selection, counselling, providing TLC, sharing silly movies or family meals.  It can be a bit tricky finding the balance – we occasionally find ourselves asking our adult kids to make their beds or suggesting it is time for bed (I don’t need to tell you the response these can elicit).

Next week though.

Next week we have it beautifully worked out.

Next week we are going for a well earned rest in a resort in northern NSW. We are going alone.  I expect lots of walking, reading and sipping of wine -but you can be sure there will be no camping or cooking meals under duress. A proper, grown up holiday. The beginning of our travel adventures, maybe?

The revolving door is working in our favour too.

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Zoie (aka Lady NimbleToes) (L) and (R) Bella (aka Missy GobbleBottom)

 

The kidults will be managing the care of our two gorgeous but spoilt cats, making sure there is always someone there, morning and night, to love them, feed them and keep them safe. The cats are officially theirs, so I know that Lady NimbleToes and Missy GobbleBottom will be ok.

All I need to do is stock the fridge with tofu, avocadoes, soy milk and mushrooms.

Cheaper than 12 days for two moggies in a cattery!

I don’t wanna…

 

My back is hurting. I can’t concentrate when that happens. You know what it’s like.
I just don’t have the time. I mean, there is housework to do, and shopping to pick up…
OK, I will as soon as I finish doing this. And obviously after a cup of tea. And a lie down.
I can’t! I’m no good. I can never think of how to start!
There is no point. No one else looks at it, anyway. What’s the point?
I don’t feel like it today, that’s all.
I’d rather go for a walk. And clean the oven.
I haven’t got the inclination, alright?
I’m not making excuses, but what does it matter if I don’t do it today? No one will know, right?
Who do I think I am, thinking I can write stuff that others will want to read?
I know I’ve written some interesting things – but they were flukes. I’m really no good.
I never know how to end it!
I don’t even know if there is any point. I mean, really. Why do I do it?
I’ve got that thing I wrote the other day… now where is that thing…
I’m scared of sharing what I wrote. It’s like baring your soul! What will people think?
What if the people I’ ve used as inspiration recognise themselves? What if I upset someone?
I’m too tired tonight. I’ll do it tomorrow.
There was that idea… where did I put that paper…

The plump, smooth thighs rested one against another in the dappled sun. An early summer bush fly wandered idly and randomly over the delicious flesh, sliding imperceptibly in the oil which bathed it.
Two, four, eight legs arranged artfully on each platter, glistening in the sun. Perfectly presented chicken, along with plates of precision cut sandwiches and rows of yet to be claimed cups of tea; a backdrop for the murmuring voices and whispered confidences at his uncle’s last Command Performance.
All the required performers were there. The stage was set…

He’s baa-aack!

My son no longer lives here (although he is a frequent visitor on weekends for access to his local mates), and my husband and daughter have taken themselves off for an adventure in that wet, white and cold stuff people slide over and fall in, wearing little bits of wood bolted to their feet.

I politely declined their invitation to join them, knowing it would mean a whole day to catch up on some me time -and find something I lost a couple of months ago.

Well would you believe it? When I woke up this morning, I spotted my missing article, huddled in the corner of the room.

I didn’t acknowledge that I had seen it – that is a sure fire way to frighten it away!  These things need to be nurtured and captured swiftly, or you have lost your chance.

It looked smaller and less defined than I remembered. Nevertheless, I knew that I needed to harness its wonderful energy as soon as possible…

So… I went back to sleep. These little critters find lethargy, inactivity and indolence fascinating – they have no concept of the need for rest!

When I awoke, as I expected, it was sitting beside me, furiously pushing thoughts and ideas into my head – shopping lists, chores, reminders, memories, crafts to complete, goals to achieve, responsibilities, stories, plans….

I moved slowly and stealthily, and before you could say whatever fairytale cliché you prefer – I had the creature firmly encased in some gossamer like threads of determination, tethered firmly to my intent!

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have my Mojo back!

It is MUCH smaller than it used to be, and flabby. But it put me to work straight away – first it wrote a to do list -and then, small as it is, it has managed to chivvy me into activity and I have achieved more in the last hour than I have in weeks!

Mojo tells me that it has been here all the time, but I had lost the ability to see and hear it. Apparently it has something to do with wifi and noise – but if I sit quietly each day for only five minutes, he has promised I will not lose him again.

We need to find our rhythm again, of course – we were a beautiful duet for a long time, however we have both forgotten the music – but we are starting over and hope to write an even better melody this time…

Do you have one?

In Between

Depression and anxiety are words bandied around all the time these days.

Stress is a fact of056 life – there is medical opinion that we NEED some stress in our lives to develop resilience, to encourage us to strive for better and to give us contrast, really.

We all have days where we feel anxious or worried, even without experiencing the sadness of loss and feeling low. This is normal! Most of us manage to deal with these experiences in our own ways and bounce back fairly quickly.

Clinical anxiety and depression, on the other hand, is difficult to recover from without intervention. Anxiety has been described to me as a malfunction of the body’s normal coping strategies, resulting in over production of stress hormones and a prolonged episode of  “anticipation” in the body of an “external attack”. Exhausting. And depression? Described by sufferers alternately as “a black dog”;  lying at the bottom of a pool and not being able to summon the energy to rise to the surface, even if you wanted to; and trying to dig yourself out of a hole but falling further in, so in the end it is better to stop trying.

I am lucky. I am well, now.

But that doesn’t stop me from having episodes of life’s normal peaks and troughs, like anyone else! Sometimes, though,  just the fear of falling back into that hole causes stomach cramps, hyperventilation, vomiting and other symptoms of extreme anxiety.

I wrote this, months ago, with those stomach cramps starting to happen.

I don’t feel like this now!!

And that’s the point.

Sometimes, people won’t tell you when they are feeling ill….


IN BETWEEN

Today, I’m not happy.

But I’m not sad- I’m meh.

I have no energy, but I’m not completely comatose.

I have things to do, but I can’t be bothered.

I feel guilty that I’ve been slothful, but couldn’t care less.

I cooked a meal of sorts. Not great, but not bad either.

I made my bed. Before noon.

I talked with my son in Cambodia and smiled at his photos.

I played with the kitten and chased the cat around the back yard.

I can’t see without glasses or contacts. Well, I can;  but I can’t walk safely.

I wore my contacts today, but couldn’t read without my magnifiers.

I couldn’t find my pair of magnifying glasses, but managed to buy another set at a good price.

My eyes began to hurt after a couple of hours –I look tired in contact lenses, anyway, so it’s all good.

But I could have done without buying the magnifiers.

(Big sigh).

I’ve felt like this before.

I don’t want to feel like this again.

I also don’t think I can share this online just yet. It needs to be a retrospective; a post once I’m back and up and bubbly and kicking butt.

I m not brave enough to face the texts and phone calls and concern and worry this could generate. Just by posting how I’m feeling.

I’m not suicidal.

I’m not even really depressed.

I’m just…

Bleh.

SORRY!!

wp_apologiesSorry seems to be the hardest word – for some.

For me, it is an easy word to say. My daughter becomes enraged with me – she thinks I apologise too much, and for all the wrong reasons.

I beg to differ.

Sometimes, what the other person NEEDS to hear is an apology. And I have transformed it into an art form!  I am able to express my sorrow, sincerely, in any context, regardless of whether I have committed an offence or am simply feeling empathy.

I had a vigorous….difference of opinion…. with a person I know very well the other night. Totally accidentally, I had sustained an injury, which was caused by the other person, and I was seeking acknowledgement- and sympathy, I suppose.

“When you went to go past me, you scratched me on the arm, did you know?”

Ok.

So, if this were me, my response would be, “OH SORRY! I didn’t mean to do that! Are you OK?”

In the book of etiquette I have hardwired to my soul, the correct response to that would be,

“Yep, I’m fine! Don’t worry about it!”

Then, depending on whether there was a mark on the skin, there may be a slight escalation, such as,

“Would you like me to get you a band aid?”

“No, it’s nothing- I’ll be fine, really!”

…and the entire transgression and admission of culpability would be over and done with.

However, the response I actually got was, “No I didn’t!”

I was quite taken aback. Was I being called a liar? Was my sense of touch being brought to question? If I hadn’t been scratched, what was the mark and lingering pain on the back of my arm?

“Ummm……yes, (pause for effect)….you DID.  It’s ok though, I know you didn’t mean it…”, giving the other party the cue for the correct response to the statement.

Here is where things got a bit weird.

IT was rather like a scene from Monty Python – “No, I didn’t!” “Yes, you did!” etc…until I realised that the other person would not apologise because, being an accident…wait for it….

There. Was. No. Responsibility.

And for this person, there was therefore no need to say those magic words.

We agreed to disagree – even though I did try to raise an analogy-“ok, then if your son accidentally kicked a football at your daughter’s head and knocked her out, what would you expect him to say to her…” (The response covered things like woops, call an ambulance, why was she standing there, but sadly not the words I was looking for.)

To be honest, I think the ability to say the words “I AM SORRY,” and mean it, boils down to empathy for the other person.

I hate it when people are contrite because it is expected of them. That is not what this is about.

The words “I AM SORRY”, do, indeed mean,” I have wronged you and for that I apologise”. And I can understand that if that were the case, a responsibility is being taken for performing the wrongful act, and appropriate contrition for the act is demonstrated –sometimes with another act to rectify the situation. An example might be, if you deliberately scraped paint off someone’s car. You might ask for forgiveness, and then pay for the car to be repaired.

The words can mean so much more than that, though!

They might mean, “I am sad that you are upset”, “I can feel your hurt”, “I wish that I could change things”, “I am not able to help you and feel bad about that”, “I am sorry I have made you feel pain”, “I apologise if I have inadvertently cause you grief”.

I used to be much worse; I used to take responsibility for everything and say things like, I’m sorry the water is too cold, you didn’t enjoy the meal you chose at the restaurant, you caught a cold, you didn’t enjoy that book, and so on.

Now, before I say “I’m Sorry”, I ask myself what I am sorry for – so that I can be genuine in my words.

So these days, I may be sorry you feel sad, sorry you got the response you did, sorry you were hurt, sorry things didn’t work out, sorry you are disappointed. These phrases are intended to show that I am aware that you are affected and I wish to acknowledge your feelings.  They are not admissions of guilt or responsibility.

If I give that impression – I’m sorry about that….

What if…

I had a discussion with my son today. Not that unusual – I can remember having similar discussions with my father, about why the sky was blue, who was this God person anyway, what the belief systems were of the current government, what to buy mum for her birthday and whether I was going to be able to go on holidays with them again this year. We talked about the weather, the subjects I was studying, what I was studying, what my plans were, and given advice which I can’t remember. I don’t think he expected me to heed it anyway.

Today’s discussion skirted around many issues, and began in a loose discussion about evolution and religion.  We talked about Richard Dawkins and some of the bold opinions he holds; my son mentioned that although he agrees with many of Mr Dawkins’ premises, he sometimes winces at the way they are presented.

We talked, and disagreed, about the human body, a miraculous machine, an engineering masterpiece, with such complicated and complex feedback mechanisms that it seems to me a unlikely serendipitous coincidence to have occurred by chance.

We discussed, and had opposing views about, the existence of a higher power. We examined the popular and naive notion of a man with a long flowing white beard, the creator of all, and wondered where that idea had originated. Agnosticism and atheism, creationism and spiritualism were all considered albeit briefly.

We did not argue; there are no facts about which to argue.

We are. We exist.  Somehow.

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He is young and still developing his beliefs.

We chose for our children a Catholic education. It gave them, as my son would say, a moral compass – they learned how to treat others, a sense of right and wrong. It showed them the importance of considering the point of view of others, and promoted tolerance, shunning cruelty and bullying behaviours.

It does not make them believe anything; it offers a way to think – it is up to the individual whether to accept it or not.

I try not to visit my own beliefs on my kids – these opinions have been developing over more than 50 years and have been shaped by experiences, reading, innate knowledge and leaps of faith.

They are – beliefs.

That is all any of us have.

So, tell me again why someone’s belief in a Gods existence is less valid than a belief that it is untrue? And why is it that a belief in science trumps a belief in religion? And why must they be mutually exclusive?

Why is it hokum to believe that it is possible that there exists something after our life on earth? Is it any less ridiculous to believe in life on another planet in our universe?  What if we are truly reincarnated, as is believed in Hinduism?  What if our ancestors really do guide us, as Chinese Confucianism maintains? And what if we honestly don’t know what happens, but we have our own personal theory – must they be proven to have any validity?

I am an educated woman, with a science and health background. I have had a good moral upbringing, with access to religious instruction, yet I have difficulty with the colloquial understanding of a Christian God, and the way most churches encourage face value acceptance of scriptures written hundreds of years ago. I do not deny their truth; I just question their interpretation of it.

I wish we could all feel free to express ourselves, without fear of ridicule.

Life321

What a wonderful world to be able to say; I am Jewish, I meditate, I believe in ghosts, I am Muslim, I believe in Buddhism, in reincarnation, in faery, in God and Jesus, Mohammad, angels, Allah, I speak to my deceased father, I am a catholic priest, I go to church, I don’t go to church, I know the big bang occurred, I believe in saving life at all costs, I don’t believe in transfusions of blood , I believe in life after death, I believe there is nothing more…

Who knows. It is all speculation. The scientists try to prove their point of view, but they have more theories than proof.

And a theory is a belief which has yet to be proven.

At risk of ridicule, I offer the following, which have helped to fashion my personal beliefs:

As a small child, I used to jump from the top of the stairs to the ground in our home.  I was about 3, and there were about 8 stairs from top to bottom. I am unable to explain why my dress would billow around me, and I would “float” to the floor. But it did. Every time.

I had a light bulb moment about the same time, “realising” that my recently deceased Great Grandmother was looking at me out of the eyes of a new born child.

I have experienced otherworldly events. I know them to be truth. I know others who have had similar experiences and see no reason to disbelieve them.

My daughter sat on my knee when she had just begun to have conversations. This one began, “Mummy, do you remember when I was the mummy and you were the little girl?”

The same child used to wake with such certainty that she had spent the evening having a picnic with the fairies that I would wonder…

 

Perhaps there is a God. Perhaps not. Perhaps there is an ultimate power, or maybe that too is a fiction. The near death experience may well be the effect of chemical imbalances in the brain, or it may actually be a real event.

None of us know.

But before you ridicule someone else for their beliefs – whether they be mainstream, or more unusual and avant garde – ask yourself…

What if that were true…