Bron from Maxabella Loves came up with 10 questions to see out 2014 and bring in the New Year. Here is my reply.

1. What word do you think best summed up 2014?

Busy. I think that word sums up all my years. I’m in a perpetual state of motion, a freight train if you will. Be more, do more. It’s a crock. A bad habit.

2. What did I do for the first time this year?

Became a mother to two children. That’s a first. I also went dragon boating. The dragon boating was easier. I also began to gradually let go of the things that make my life heavy. Mostly ideas about how things should be done. Near enough is good enough. That’s my new slogan, because perfectionism is bullshit.

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3. What is one thing that happened that will have lasting consequences?

I accepted that I can not be all and do all. I also realised that time to myself is a necessity, not a luxury. This year, I will swim, I will walk, I will read, I will talk and I will do all of these things because I cannot be happy without it.

4. Was there anything you wished you had done differently? Why and how?

I don’t like this question. I could say yes, or I could ask myself what I learnt from the decisions I made. I learnt that parenting is hard. I learnt that periods of adjustment are just that, periods. I learnt that it is ok to have moments of weakness. I learnt that it is ok to ask for help. I learnt to forgive myself for giving less than my best and to share my worst to give others permission to do the same.

5. Do I have a favourite moment from the year? What made it special.

I had a baby. From his first breath to now. Joy! But perhaps the greatest joy is watching a sibling relationship unfold. A big brother proud of his baby brother, a baby enamored by his big brother. I hope they become the greatest of friends.

Day five

6. What lessons has 2014 taught you about yourself and about others.

I am a good mother. Not a perfect mother. A good mother.

I am a good wife. Not a perfect wife. A good wife.

I can not be all things, to all people, all of the time.

I can not have it all. At least not all at once.

I can live to a minimal standard and be selective about excellence.

I need my friends.

7. How will the lessons from the past year change the way you approach the New Year?

This year less is more and near enough is good enough. I want to be more respectful of my time. Rather than flogging it for all its worth I want to enjoy it for what it is.

8. What do you most want to change about yourself? The world?

I want to be a calm and energetic parent. Both of these things are a challenge for me. As for the world, it’s becoming too big, too much. I’m shrinking it down. My world is my family, my friends and my community. I can act on that. I can change that for the better.

9. What do I most want to do in 2015.

Go camping! We’ve got all the gear and we’re ready to go. All you campers out there throw your camping hacks my way and recommend some wonderful places!

10. What one word do you hope will sum up what you want to achieve in 2015?

ENERGY. I plan to find more and expend what I have wisely.

Happy New Year!

It’s 5am and like a stealth ninja I pulled myself from a sleeping baby and slinked through the bedroom door. I walked past the toddlers room, held my breath and pulled his door until the moment before it clicked. I tip toed to the kitchen, boiled the kettle, plunged a strong coffee and risked the sound of pulling my favourite cup from the dishwasher. A moment of solitude is within my grasp and it deserves fine china.

I’m now sitting in my messy office, the window is open a cool breeze is coming in, the birds are singing and the trees are still*.

She did

Everybody needs moments of peace. Moments of time alone, to sit and be or do things that make them feel alive and well. Motherhood and marriage are a grand joy but they are also a grand restriction. 95% of the time that restriction is fine. 5% of the time it is not. In my experience, the absence of the 5% can determine the mental health and well being of an entire family.

The reality is the 5% is easily pushed aside by the needs and demands of others and we allow it because they are LOUD, because it seems the easier thing to do. But it’s not sustainable and its damaging to all involved.

I am not motherhood. Motherhood is a role I play. Before motherhood I was spontaneous, I traveled, I played sport, I learnt new things, I studied things that interested me, I read books more than two pages at a time, I gave to my community, I cared for my friends, my family and I nurtured my relationship with my husband. Many of these things have been pressed out of my life, others I do haphazardly and poorly.

Here’s the rub, those passions never went away. They are still there. I have not changed. But my life has. And you know what? I grieve for my old self. I do. I grieve for the things that made me interesting, for the things my husband most likely fell in love with, the things that made me vibrant. I am a shadow of that self.

It goes without saying that my children bring me the greatest joy, I look at their faces and they make my heart sing. But as every mother will tell you they are demanding, constant, relentless and frustrating little feckers at times! They are 24 / 7. Sleep for me is broken an average of 7 times a night at present. So yeah, I mean 24 / 7. Which is fine, but give me 5%.

5% can mean a lot of things. 5% can mean a trip to the grocery store without children (equivalent to a tropical island retreat); 5% can mean time for a 30 minute walk; 5% can mean an occasional coffee at a coffee shop sans children; 5% can mean a 30 minute swim at the pool; 5% can mean participating in an organised sport; 5% can mean an opportunity to mow the lawn or potter in the garden uninterrupted or occasionally being taken out to do something nice without having to organise it yourself.

That 5% is something to hold on to, something to look forward to. It is allocated time to breath and remember who you are. That 5% is really not negotiable.

This week I claimed it. I did not ask permission. I took it. I went to my first dragon boat training session and I loved it. I planned my 5% and I got it and guess what? No one died, no one suffered much more than inconvenience and while the muscles in my back are now sore, my head is good. I once again feel I have something to give.

2015 will be the year of 5% for me. Because it has to be.

*My solitude ended at this point. I got 17 minutes. Not that I was counting.

Jump

1. I started ballet when I was four. I remember my first exam like it was yesterday. I wore a yellow exam leotard with a pretty skirt. I thought it as marvelous as a princess gown. I was terrified! We were led into the exam room where we took our position at the bar. The examiner sat in front. She was old and unsmiling. The pianist sat at the back. I had never danced to live music before. She went too fast. I was so caught in my nerves, I forgot most of the exercises and had to copy the girl in front. Her name was Hannah and I thought she was beautiful. I don’t remember the car ride home because when it was over, I promptly fainted. I remember waking on the floor of the lounge room with a fan blowing me wondering how I got there. It was all too much for four year old me.

2. I did piano lessons for two years. I never really wanted to play, I just wanted to dance, but my parents thought it was a good idea. I attended lessons in an old post-war house. The front room on the left was for lessons, the room on the right was a leather work shop. The house smelt of leather and cigarette smoke. My teachers name was Maureen. Maureen’s boyfriend owned the leather work shop. His skin looked like rough hide. It would have made a nice pair of shoes.

3. I had braces as a child. I hated them. I was supposed to wear bands at the back constantly but they hurt and I found them irritating so I often took them off. This meant the amount of time I wore braces was prolonged. My friend had clear braces and would often have the glue colour changed so it was multi-coloured. I thought hers were cooler then mine, but I was too shy to ask the orthodontist to make mine the same. On the day they took them off, my mother told me I came out of the room beaming. Apparently, my mouth was covered in blood but she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want to spoil the moment.

4. When we were growing up, we sat at the dinner table for every meal. In the mornings the table was fully laid with placements, plates, cutlery and a silver toast holder. One of my four sisters had the job of making everyone a cup of tea. I hated tea. I never drank the tea, but every day the tea appeared and each day it was tipped down the sink. No one ever seemed to notice. I still hate tea.

5. When I was at Uni, my friends and I made a terrible tradition of playing practical jokes. We faked a robbery, filled shower heads with dye, faked active break-in’s, filled people’s beds with cutlery, hung people’s stuffed teddies off fans to die and posted fake garage sale ads in the newspaper. It occurred to us there might one day be a real crisis and we would not believe one another so we created a secret code. The code was only to be used if we were in real trouble. The code was: “The chicken is in the oven“.

6. I was so outraged by the beginning of the Iraq war, I jumped on a bus by myself and drove 10 hours to Canberra to protest the arrival of George Bush at Parliament House. At one point during the march we sat under an overpass. A group of drummers had joined the protest and the sound of drums reverberated off the giant tunnel. It was one of most enlivening moments of my life. We changed nothing, but we felt compassionately powerful.

7. I met my husband on New Years Eve in the Top Pub of our school town. He was in my sisters year at school but back then, we never met. I dreamt about him a number of times before this meeting, I recognised him by his hair. I kissed him within 15 minutes. I’ve been kissing him ever since. He probably wishes I would kiss him more.

8. I have a tattoo of a Christian fish on my inner right ankle. The ink is blue. It is my reminder to live compassionately and love wastefully. I got the tattoo in Melbourne at a tattoo parlour called Smokey Demons. My little boy thinks it’s a rocket. My mother is concerned that if I find myself in a holy war they will cut off my foot. My friend Sharon thinks I should have a boat with a fisherman tattooed above the fish with the phrase “Hooked on Jesus”. She laughed a lot when she said that.

9. When I was at school, I would sometimes disappear into out of bounds areas at lunch time and sit by myself. I would read a book, eat my lunch and day dream. Teachers who found me, never asked me to leave. They let me be. They were perceptive.

10. I was caught walking naked across my lounge room by the postman. When I saw him I jumped back and squealed, so did he saying “I didn’t see anything!” “You did so, or you wouldn’t have jumped back!” Every time I get a parcel, I die a little on the inside. I die.

I’m tagging Em from Have a Laugh on Me, Vicki from Knocked Up and Abroad, Anne from Domesblissity and Rebecca from Wholly Listening to tell us ten random things about them!

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