Gin & Tonic
Sometimes, it is the really simple little pleasures that make life great.
A cuddle from a child who adores you.
A splendid late blooming autumn rose.
A kiss from your beloved.
A cup of tea in bed.
A good book.
The little things. Sometimes they make me come unstuck. Sometimes they make life worth living.
This week I am grateful for the little things. Like a perfect gin & tonic. Plenty of ice. Plenty of fizz in the tonic. Lemon slice. A nice fine rimmed glass with a heavy base. Served with warm company and a broad smile.
Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He wrote a series of Meditations, or thoughts addressed to himself, for his own self improvement.
Wisdom comes in many forms
One of the aphorisms contained within these writings is translated as:
‘if you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment’.
What I am grateful for this week is having imposed upon myself the mental discipline to remain silent. I have revoked the permission I had given to certain situations and recent injustices to cause me pain. I refused them access to me and to my family. In short, I controlled how I responded by not rising to met these challenges with anger or upset or distress. I met them with a cold, dignified silence. I did not respond.
What interests me is the reaction of others to this. When expecting a certain response from another, to not get it is far more unsettling than getting it. Consider how you feel when someone doesn’t laugh at one of your jokes. In a scenario involving heightened emotion, controlling your response tightly so that it is calm and non-reactive is immensely powerful.
In the face of some potentially uncomfortable and infuriating situations this week, I was cool. I was calm. I was courageously silent. It was powerful.
This week I am grateful to the Stoics. You can only control how you respond. Be calm.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
You may have read about my return to work. You may also have read my Massive Rant about Consumer Goods. Today I am grateful that my return to the workplace will be *ah hem* a well supported one. I have just returned from one of Canberra’s finest retail establishments, laden down with new underwear. Read More
Last night was date-night! We went to see an average film, but afterward went for a drink at a close by restaurant that has a bar. It might be a bar with a restaurant. Maybe it doesn’t know what it is. We ordered a glass of fizz and some food and were sitting talking about how to manage my return to work and our lives. The more things change, the more they change at present.
Then while we were making ourselves heard over the very loud music (yes I am not sure why we chose this place either but moving on) a song came on. Well not a song actually; a remixed sample of an old song – Ride on Time – remember? Black Box.
It has been a big week. A huge week. A bigger than Ben Hur week.
It was my birthday. I had my lovely amazing surprise dinner and then my lovely three course extravaganza birthday dinner. I had coffee dates, play dates, bookclub and more socialising than I knew what to do with. And I am grateful for all of it. For the delicious food, for the sparkling company, for my little boy. For the French champagne. Are you still with me or have you drifted off into the land of trite??? Because that what it felt like when I tried to write (more) about it. Trite pappy gratitude. Read More
This week I watched Life at 5. The synopsis from the ABC website offers this:
The LIFE series aims to unlock the secrets of child development to find out what gives a child the best chance at life. As these 11 young Australians grow up we’ll witness their lives, we’ll test their progress and discover what makes us who we are. Join us for the beginning of an extraordinary and groundbreaking journey.
I watched fascinated, and for most of the time with a heavy heart, as several sad tales were told of the 11 children and their families. Some of the families have broken up, some of the children have suffered great hardship. The first thirty minutes in particular were really hard to watch as the film makers summarised the past two years of these childrens’ stories.
Then suddenly, among all the pain and anguish, there was a little bright ray of hope. Read More
This week I couldn’t work out what was the matter with me. This week was supposed to be great. I was supposed to be enjoying myself on my two days off, doing interesting things, being alone! Instead I walked past every single person with a child in tow thinking, oh what a lovely kid, or oh look at that poor mother trying to drink her coffee, or look at that dad with three (!) kids hanging off him. All the while all these people who I passed, and was rudely staring at, were thinking, my god, I hope that deranged woman doesn’t come and steal my children. Because, of course, none of them would know I had a child who I had just left at childcare. None of them know that I usually drag my toddler around just as they were doing. I wasn’t wearing a sign saying – yes I am a mother too. I was just me. With regular clothes on and a regular handbag – no nappy bag, no chuck down my back, no snot on my sleeve. Just me. Read More
2010 has been one of the longest and most difficult years of my life. It is, without doubt, the year I have had the least sleep. I am tired to the bone. Tired in a way that a week of solid nights’ of sleep will only partly remedy. I read the lovely Kerri Sackville’s blog post The Never Ending Weary. I was nodding furiously and wishing I could be in bed while reading it. Kerri has carefully categorised her tiredness. My tiredness is just the kind you have in the first year of your child’s life, with the added extra of one or two other complications life throws at you, simultaneously. Read More
Whimsy, books and parity with the US dollar
This week I received a lovely parcel. It contained the following wonderful books; The Finkler Question (Howard Jacobson), Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie), Sir Vidia’s Shadow (Paul Theroux), and Room (Emma Donoghue). All of these books I have looked forward to reading. I have been searching for copies of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and Sir Vidia’s Shadow, in Australia for well over a year. Now maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places or maybe I was distracted, but parity with the Australian dollar and the search for music by Elizabeth Mitchell threw me into the giddy world of Amazon.
On a whim I searched for all the books from the list in my notebook. The notebook that goes everywhere I go. It is full of dreams, notes, little reminders. It has lists of books I want to read – to remind me to look for them. Two of the books in the parcel where on the list, but I couldn’t find them. So I searched Amazon for all the books on the list and I found them all. And they were cheap. A completely beautiful hardback of the Balzac for less than I would have paid for a paperback here. Also 2010 Man Booker Prize winner, The Finkler Question for $5.99. Ridiculously cheap.
So I am grateful for books and online shopping this week. I look forward to plowing my way through them. I finally feel like I have a little bit of time for reading. I feel too, that my maternity leave (seems ridiculous to call it that now that the baby is nearly a year old – maternity seems a lifetime ago) is slipping away. I need to start to think about re-entering real life. Working life. But it will never be the same. I am already starting to look for options, for ways out!
I am grateful that my books were so cheap. I am grateful for having found Elizabeth Mitchell and her music which my boy just loves. And I grateful for a few more afternoons after 2pm where I might be able to snatch a few precious moments to read and enjoy some books.
Sleep is for the weak
This post is about sleep. I need sleep. I need about eight hours solid. I prefer ten but I haven’t achieved that since my early twenties. I have been short on sleep for a really long time. It shows. This week we have made significance progress towards getting back to eight hours of sleep a night for me. This Friday I am grateful that Benedict is finally ‘sleeping through’ the night. This means I can get into bed and then not get out of it until the morning. The proper morning; not 3am or 4am or 5am but more like 7am.
My gratitude is directed toward the few sources of soul soothing I have found in a difficult week with little sleep, lots of drama and not a lot of peace and quiet.
1. My mama friends (yes again!)
This week I have had so much love and support as well as practical help from my mama friends I can never really thank them enough.
2. Tizzie Hall
I never wanted to be on the sleep routine bus. Until I couldn’t take the night waking any more. We are in the early days but Save Our Sleep seems to be working. Fingers crossed I’ll be getting a regular eight hours soon. Bless you Tizzie with your calm advice – ‘never give in while your baby is yelling at you’. I think I will have that made into a poster. We won’t be missing the 7pm sleep bus ever.
Has saved me this week. That’s all.
4. Classic FM and the 100 countdown.
Some very aptly timed music that has provided a blissful few minutes interlude this week.
5. Meeting Robert.
Three years ago this week I met Robert. You can read about why I am grateful for him here – Three years and counting – open letter to my child about his father.