Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

I’m flattrd ;)

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could live in a world where we just get to blog about the stuff we love all day long, helping others along the way … and actually make ends meet doing that?

Flattr me: buy me a coffee (you know I need it ;))

Flattr me: buy me a coffee (you know I need it ;))

Well, the internet is a nifty ol’ place, full of grand schemes and interesting ideas. Flattr is one of these, and it lets people pay for stuff they like. If they want to. Or not. No pressure.

I just love that. So if you like what you see on this blog, why not buy me a coffee using Flattr? You know I could use the caffeine ;)

Just click on the Flattr icon in the “Share Me” options below this post. It looks like this: 

What Dad can do

Papa Bear does dishes

Papa Bear does dishes … sometimes ;)

When a stay-at-home/work-from-home mama (SAH/WFHM) is juggling a lot of balls (and she always is), it can be difficult to see how there’s space for teamwork. Often she’s so busy rushing from one thing to the next that her poor Papa Bear feels powerless to do anything more than watch. And you just know she’s too busy to ask for help.

To be honest, it probably doesn’t even occur to her to do. Her mantra is “This is my choice. I can do this. I MUST do this.” And, chanting that to herself as she gives the treadmill of her life what for, she soldiers on.

But just because she can do it all, that doesn’t mean she should. In fact, deeper inspection will probably reveal that she actually can’t do it all, and this is where the thoughtful Papa Bear comes into his own.

The first thing he can do is notice.

Be aware of all she does. Be cognitive and present. Be appreciative. You have no idea how far those 10 little words, “I really appreciate all that you do for our family” go in the heart of a frazzled Mama. What you don’t want to do here is be sarcastic, or in any way demeaning. Implying that the only reason she can do so much is because there’s something wrong with her (OCD, Control Freak, Maniac – these words come to mind) is counter-productive. She’s probably doing it all because she thinks she has to. Just say thank you.

The second thing he can do is innovate.

Our on-the-go Mama can’t see the wood for the trees. If you’re like the Papa Bears I know, you’re kind-of on the outside, looking in. That means you get to be objective. You might see ways to streamline operations: get the kids to help more. Take on some of the responsibility yourself. Hire a maid if you can. (It’s not a luxury when she’s homeschooling, breadwinning and getting just four hours of sleep a night. It’s a sanity saver). Helping to identify and implement practicable solutions – and see them through when she’s too tired to be consistent – will save your marriage. Seriously.

Finally, be reliable.

It’s no good saying you’ll be responsible for the laundry, then leaving it to pile up and fester around the house. It doesn’t help to identify creative solutions for managing the chores, then doing nothing to see things through. Just be there, do what you say you will, keep calm, and carry on. That’s what she needs most of all, and it’s really not that hard to do.

So go do it.

And let me know how it works out.

I’d like to help stay-at-home/work-from-home Mamas find balance and purpose in their busy lives. Let me know what I can write about to help you be the best version of yourself you can be.

The Rose

“Unforgiveness is a slow-acting, painful poison that we drink, in the vain hope that our enemy will perish.”

A young lady found herself wandering bare foot and carefree through a beautiful garden. It was well kept, neatly maintained. Predictable. As she ambled down the well manicured garden paths, idly contemplating each twist and turn that lay ahead, she enjoyed the comfort of knowing that nothing in that beautiful space could hurt her or take her by surprise.

Her favourite part of the garden was undoubtedly the roses. The colours lined up neatly, in a breathtaking gradient from the deepest reds – so dark they almost looked black – past delicious ice-cream pinks, and ending neatly in the crispest white she’d ever seen.

She dutifully stopped to smell each and every bloom. How could she resist? They all seemed to hold their own secret scent, meant for her dainty nose alone.

we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

However, she hadn’t gone far when her amble was brought up short with a piercing stab of pain. She’d stepped on a thorn, and it had lodged itself deeply in the soft skin where her toes met her foot.

She cried out in agony and limped awkwardly back to the house to see what could be done. Her suffering was severe. It wasn’t just the physical pain of having a barb lodged inside her. She felt betrayed. Her beautiful, safe afternoon had been shattered, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever have the courage to walk through that garden barefoot again. How could she be sure there wasn’t another concealed prickle out there, waiting to ensnare her, to hobble her?

When she found help, they tried to pull the spike out of her foot, but to their surprise, she resisted.

“This is MY thorn,” she retorted. “It’s my pain, and I will choose when, how and IF I let it go. Until then, that thorn is staying just where it is. I want to make sure that whenever I see that stupid, ugly rose garden, it knows what it did to me – how it’s ruined my life!”

And so it was that every day, this stubborn, crippled young woman would hobble out to the garden (well shod!) and admire all the lovely flowers that grew there, and the orderly paths arranged around them. But she turned her head, and raised her nose in the air, and (sniffing timorously as she held back the tears over what she had lost) she would stalk past the roses and stoically avoid their gaze, allowing them just enough view of her to see the damage they had done.

The roses, for their part, gave out their beautiful scent, and filled the garden with their sumptuous colours, and rustled among themselves as the days cooled into Autumn. They spared no thought for our invalid.

As Spring bloomed into pulsing Summer, then cooled into the mellow sleepiness of Fall, still our young protagonist allowed no one to remove the shrapnel she wore in her foot, a badge of honour announcing the roses’ betrayal to any who would listen. Finally, however, the thorn began to fester. Her foot swelled up. The pain was excruciating. The smell was unbearable, and the foot’s dewy fresh tint faded to sickly green.

At last she no longer had a choice. It was time to lose her leg, or lose her life. The surgery was painful, and the recovery time seemed interminable. Her crippled state ceased to be a personal choice, a mark of pride worn to signify a long-held grudge. Now it was permanent, as were the crutches she needed to visit her garden.

Notwithstanding, she bravely soldiered on, visiting the flowers, breathing in their heady scent. She looked longingly at the rose garden, missing the pleasure these blooms had once given her. Even now, however, with one foot securely locked in a boot up to her knees, and the other foot gone altogether, she still lacked the confidence to face her old enemies and admire their loveliness.

Then she saw it. A thorn detached itself lazily from its rosy branch and sidled to the floor, clearly waiting for an unwary foot to chance upon it. She watched in anticipation to see what the roses would do. Surely they would get rid of the thorn? Surely, after all her suffering, they’d realise what they’d done, and make amends? Surely!

But the roses kept doing what roses do. They didn’t care. They didn’t know. They couldn’t change. That’s how it is with roses.

The pain of compassion

Goldilocks

My darling.

Poor baby.

You feel so deeply

Comprehend so much …

and understand so little.

Why does it hurt?

Why do I care?

Why does no one else?

Ah, baby girl.

Your heart glistens in tear-stained shards on the carpet of my room

so beautiful

little stars twinkling in the grooves of synthetic pile

where we callously walk like it’s everyday

blind

deaf

Oblivious.

You feel the bitter sting of rejection,

the deep heartache of abandonment

so keenly, the pain could be your own.

And you and me, we lack the tools

to tease out the strands

of what is yours,

and what simply comes to you

with all that evanescent, excruciating

empathy.

I'm fine

We don’t always tell the truth

(I have a secret:

we all feel rejected

insecure

unworthy

alone

sometimes.

We don our masks

and paint our smiles

and say we’re fine.)

We’re not fine.

Not always.

 

If we could only bare our souls

as completely

as you do;

standing naked

and raw

in the truth of our personal darkness …

if we could all be so honest,

and look at one another

and say

 

“I see you.”

“I hear you.”

“I accept you.”

“I love you.”

“You are not alone.”

“You are worthy.”

Perhaps we could shine a ray of love into the darkness we share -

the darkness we hide so valiantly -

and let in the light.

Brave girl.

 

 

 

 

Friends and being the change

Kuzco says, "No judgey!"

Kuzco says, “No judgey!”

I have a pact with my best girlfriends, and it goes something like this: you can unload on me. Any time. Any place. Any subject. (Well, okay, not ANY place. If I’m in a meeting, homeschooling my kids, or reconnecting with my husband, I’m not taking your call … unless it’s urgent. Or involves chocolate coffee. I totally meant coffee).

I digress. (Me? No! Surely not).

Anyhoo, the pact is that you can unload on me about any subject. I will listen. I will invest. I will care and I will do whatever it takes to understand. I will not evaluate. I will not judge.

If at all possible (and only if you ask me to), I will try to help you put the pieces back together of whatever has fallen apart. No guarantees, although so far my track record is pretty good.

And I imagine yours is, too.

And if you sort things out with your fella or decide to stay at the job you just said you hated or turn down the opportunity of a lifetime or jump on a boat to Bali, I’ll be there, supporting you. Believing in you. Truly wanting what’ll make you happy.

Why?

Well, it’s really simple: I need to believe in a world where I can safely unload, be heard and understood (not judged), and then be supported when it’s all better. That world starts with me, I guess, or I have no right to wish for it.

I am abundantly wealthy.

This is part one of my daily mantra. The idea is to manifest wealth by daily affirming that I already have it. Or something like that. Don’t get me wrong: I’m committed to making the most of this little shoestring, but I wouldn’t mind if it were just a little longer. And encompassed a few more shoes. Like Converse All Stars. In a range of colours …

But I digress. I am focusing on being positive and affirming the truth I want for my life. And it actually looks like it’s starting to work! #FingersCrossed.

The second part of the mantra goes like this:

I have everything that I need.

This is truly true already. The problem is that I forget it and I get caught up in the stress and panic of lack, rather than the creative thinking that allows me to identify and implement a solution.

So, apparently, at the moment, what I need is a hairdresser. I say this because I suddenly seem to have a whole lot of them in my life. It’s weird, really.

Abundant hair

Abundant living starts with abundant hair … apparently

The thing is, when it comes to hair … I’m kind of a DIY girl. I have wild(ish) curly hair that I style by just letting it loose (with the aid of some really yummy curling cream). And my fringe (aka bangs) is just an annoying flap of hair I drag to the side (or clip up) to “soften my features”. (In other words, I look like some weird butch hippy without it.)

So even though it drives me to distaction and makes me tilt my head to the side all the time, I keep it for appearances’ sake. Can you believe it? #SellOut

I guess it’s all a case of “be careful what you wish for”!

As I write this, my darling daughters are 9 and 12 years old. It’s a great age for one very special reason: chores. More specifically: incentivised chores.

We have reached an agreement: for every month in which the girls put away the clean, dry dishes every morning before breakfast and every evening before dinner, without being asked, they earn one month’s membership of Animal Jam. So far, it’s working very well (just one week in).

It’s something of a relief to walk into a kitchen and NOT have to put away the dishes. Maybe it’s just me.

As long as I make sure I stay on top of the dish washing chore, the kitchen always looks fresh and ready for action. And seriously, washing a load of dishes takes no more than a minute or two. Really. I timed it. (I know). It doesn’t even take as long as heating something up in the microwave. (If you’re thinking, “I’ll bet she’s heating up another cup of coffee”, you’d be on the money ;). Keeps me sane.)

I have a simple trick for this: I never, EVER, fill the sink with warm soapy water and wash acres of greasy dishes. I run the hot tap, squirt some dish liquid on a scouring sponge, and wash dishes like I’ve got a full bladder and just can’t stick around that long. (Often this is actually true. I try to aggregate all my standing-up-from-the-desk activities into one efficient time slot ;).) The reason this works is because it feels like yo’re just quickly taking care of one or two small items for a friend while you’re on holiday in some fancy-pants resort, rather than actually doing a chore. Genius! You’re welcome.

So that’s my simple life hack: do the dishes as you go, whenever there are a few in the sink, I look the other way, say I won’t do them, then sneakily sneak up on myself and wash the whole lot before my coffee’s even warm enough to drink. Voilà! And the next time I turn around, the Dish Fairies have tidied the results of my efforts away, and everything looks all Stepfordy and ready for use. *Bliss*

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