Forget Tomorrow! Appreciate All-The-Little-Things Today!

Child painting black & whiteAre we are so preoccupied with the next milestone for our children that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate how far they’ve come?

Recently I watched a class of 4 year olds perform their first assembly item ever! Assembly items are dear to the hearts of many Australians, but if you’re not familiar with the concept, let me explain.

Assembly Items

Which 2 words bring a teacher out in a cold sweat?

Which 2 words fill a parent’s heart with joy?

Which 2 words fill children with either love or loathing?

ASSEMBLY ITEMS!

Primary school children around Australia are made given the opportunity to perform an ‘Item’ in assembly once a year. They take to the stage for about 20 minutes to sing, share their learning and generally entertain their peers and parents. During the week of an assembly item the classroom is transformed into a production line of painting, sticking and rehearsing.

You know it’s the morning of an assembly item when:

  • Children are seen in the playground with furry ears and tails
  • Teachers develop twitches and can be heard humming ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ obsessively
  • Parents with large cameras are spotted jostling for pole position in the assembly area
  • Girls get very giggly and let out high pitched squeals
  • Boys take to meeting in the toilets to avoid their Mum’s attempts to wipe their faces or flatten their hair (again)

The Moment of Glory

The anticipation is high as your child takes to the stage. He walks (slowly) towards the microphone with a face serious enough to deliver the SBS News and declares:

I’m Travis and I like hot chips.

Your camera is snapping like mad, Dad’s got the video rolling, capturing every doleful syllable for eternity. This is Travis’ moment of glory, to be replayed at his 18th, 21st, 40th, and 60th! If only he knew!

Proud Mummy Moment

My children’s assembly items have all been adorable Proud-Mummy-Moments that I treasure, but they are equally hilarious for their droll delivery and absolutely un-smiling faces!

But on this occasion I was not watching my own children, so didn’t have the distraction of taking photos, or competing for the best view.

I just sat back and enjoyed the show.

From ABC To Algebra

It was somewhere between the shapes song and the alphabet recital that I had a light-bulb moment!

It was only 6 years ago that Berry had been that small…how had I forgotten so quickly?

Only 6 years ago Berry had just learned to name a square, count to 20, and remember the letters of the alphabet. How amazing is it that now he’s learned to calculate the square root of a number and is using his ABC in equations!

Am I so busy looking ahead to the Next-Big-Thing

that I’ve forgotten to appreciate All-The-Little-Things?

All The Little Things

As a Mum of an emerging teen I am more conscious than ever of the speed at which time is passing. And I don’t want to miss a minute.

I want to appreciate my children and all they’ve become every. single. day.

Today I’m opening my eyes with new wonder on All-The-Little-Things:

  • How he ties his own shoe-laces
  • Makes his own lunch
  • Says please and thank you
  • Can ride a bike
  • Asks how my day was
  • Hugs me in the morning
  • And sleeps through the night!

So close your eyes and open them afresh today and see,

YOUR AMAZING CHILD.

 

Beyond the Bunny

256px-The_Velveteen_Rabbit_pg_25Is There More To Easter Than Chocolate?

 

Shiny pink foil, glittering around a perfect oval shape. It’s appealing. Tearing the foil and cracking open the smooth surface of the egg reveals…nothing. It’s empty.

 

So what’s the message here? Aren’t eggs the promise of new life, new beginnings? The excitement of all that packaging only to find nothing at the centre of it all. Disappointing.

 

So what’s my point?  If you celebrate a secular Easter (as we do), what’s the message you’re sending to the kids?  Is there more to Easter than chocolate?

 

Beyond the Bunny

 

Now it’s always struck me as a strange accident of interbreeding that Bunnies deliver eggs, but I’m not going there today. I’m diving into the heart of why my Easter message has been different this year.

 

For one thing, my kids are no longer BELIEVERS – that is, they know that I hide their eggs and they are outsmarting me with their detective skills in finding them! This means that the Easter Egg Hunt is now a family tradition a bit like playing a boring lengthy game of Monopoly! It demands ruthless skill, unrivalled treachery and old-fashioned luck!

 

For another thing, one of my kids is on a health kick the other is chocoholic! So I agreed to a ‘trade back’ on eggs, because the choice not to eat chocolate for health has to be ENCOURAGED!! I traded eggs at $5 a piece even when I only paid $2!! (Now you can see why I’m such a failure at Monopoly!)

 

And finally, this Easter my kids can see that you CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS; another chocolate bunny might sweeten your life for a moment but it can’t fill an empty space in your heart.

 

Ripples in a Pond

 

This Easter my children are learning about loss.

They are witnessing first hand the pain of losing a parent. It’s not one of their parents, but it’s close enough.  Close enough to witness the ripples in the pond as their friends, family and school communities grieve.

Close enough to remind them that nothing is forever.

So this Easter my message has been about being REAL. To stop getting distracted by the sparkly packaging of life and to concentrate on the REAL stuff that matters.

The things we can’t live without.

Once you have witnessed the pain of living without the one you love, it’s easy to see what is real:

  • love
  • laughter
  • cuddles
  • warm touch
  • shared emotion
  • family

I read The Velveteen Rabbit again today and this is an extract from it:

 “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. “it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time…”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

 

The Velveteen Rabbit was a book that my Mum used to read to me, and I remember loving it, but we both felt a bit choked towards the end. I tried reading it to my kids but got too emotional to finish so I left the story for another day.

And another day has come.

TODAY.

This is the message I’m sending to my kids this Easter:

Love without heed of appearance, for those that love you will always see your beauty.

Love without fear of loss, because love will transform your life.

Love because you can, all things will pass and fade, but you can be made new through love.

We are all toys in the nursery of life, some of us are sharp and pointy, some of us boastful, but love can transform us all.

 

It’s Funny How Things Begin…

DSC05639

Find your open road and just go wherever it takes you!

Comfort zones, what wonderful things they are! Warm, soft and safe, you know just what to expect and nothing ever changes. I enjoy being in a comfort zone, but it doesn’t take me long to feel the need to stretch my wings and push the limits of that space.

It often begins with a luxurious feeling of contentment, rolling in like ocean waves on a calm day.  I relax, breathe and enjoy it.

My comfort zone.

But it isn’t long before I feel fidgety here. My fingertips begin to tingle, my mind starts to look beyond the present and I start to imagine something more.

That’s why I’m here today. Pushing myself out of the comfort zone of my once-a-week blogging, and into this awesome link-up Friday Reflections. Leading the way are two amazing women who open my eyes to new possibilities and encourage me to raise the bar, Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville.

When I think about why I started blogging, I can’t help but think about those comfort zones.

Last year my family and I decided to travel Australia off-road for 3 months in a camper trailer, I quit my job and started blogging! I left behind 3 of my bread-and-butter comfort zones for challenge, adventure and freedom.

This was not gentle shift …I went ‘cold turkey’ overnight!!

  • I loved my job, finding it totally absorbing as a full-time primary school teacher, considering the 30 children in my class like my extended family. Although I left them as their teacher in July, they didn’t leave me until September! I dreamt about them and constantly thought about things I should have passed on to their new teacher!

 

  • Leaving the house and working from a camper trailer was not so hard, I love roughing it without electricity or showers, but leaving my phone reception behind was painful!  Because we had such limited internet access and opportunities for phone calls were scarce I starting to write about our travels in my blog Speedykniebe.

 

  • The blog was a way to keep friends and family updated and I thought my children would enjoy writing posts for it too. It’s funny how things begin, they don’t always lead where you expect! I should have known that writing is not considered pleasurable by many teenage boys, especially when there are campfires to be built and fish to be caught! So I took on the job of the blog.

 

Just Writing

I just wrote whenever the laptop had charge (which wasn’t that often), jotting down exciting new discoveries, unexpected break downs (mechanical and emotional) and stories about crazy characters who spoke to crows. I found that I was starting to look forward to writing, and prioritized it above other things, such as washing clothes or feeding the family!

But there is one moment I remember that particularly stands out as a turning point for me.

I hadn’t figured out how to enable comments on Blogger so although  I posted every couple of weeks I never got any comments on my blog. While enjoying the luxury of a phone connection in Cairns my gorgeous friend Karen asked me impatiently ‘when are you going to put up another blog post?’ She told me with some irritation that her family had been reading them all and were waiting for the next post.

That was my watershed moment.

Somebody was waiting, impatiently and expectantly, to read my writing.

 

Reflecting on this now I think it really captures everything that makes me passionate about writing. Cliché though it may be, I love writing!

It takes me to a place within myself that I didn’t’ know existed, and something creative just flows.

I get such a buzz from the process of refining and expressing ideas in words, that to find someone else who enjoys reading those words is pure joy. It’s like seeing friends enjoy a delicious meal you’ve created, it nourishes the soul and connects people though a shared pleasure.

So the blog has grown from a travel journal to a journey of personal growth. It’s constantly growing and changing, therefore so am I.

Comfort zones are easier to recognise once you’ve left them behind, so my advice is don’t stay too long in places where nothing changes.

FRIDAY-REFLECTIONS-250-x-250

Do You Have A Vision?

vision board collage dreamsA Vision of Chaos!

Little did I know that a hot hectic day in the middle of January would mark the birth of something so special.  It was just a little thing that became a big thing without me realising it was even happening!

 

After a disgustingly early start for school holidays, (we already had 2 hours of football training done and dusted before 10.30am) I was foraging under Berry’s bed, discovering missing school hats, dirty washing and random Lego pieces in preparation for the arrival of 3 excitable 12-year-old boys. It wasn’t until sometime later (probably before the tenth pizza and between shouts of ‘Marco’ and ‘Polo’ from the pool) that I realised I had doubled booked myself.

 

I had been invited to attend a vision board session hosted by Veronica Smith from The In8 Parent,  but had also planned a multiple sleepover for Berry on the same night. Thinking that Veronica probably wasn’t expecting a vision of chaos with my pre-teen entourage in tow, I called Excel-Man to bail me out! Needless to say feeding, entertaining and refereeing the rowdy crowd while I went to a ‘women’s thing’ was an underwhelming prospect!

 

So that’s how I left the house, harassed, hot and feeling like it was all too much like hard work!

 

I had not given the vision board a second thought all day, and I was totally un-prepared for what was to come. In a weak effort to show some enthusiasm I’d armed myself with scissors, glue stick and coloured pens, but I was ready for a passive sit-back-and-zone-out session where other people did the talking and I nodded thoughtfully.

 

But…it turns out that you have to create your own vision!!

 

Faced with a table of magazines, a blank sheet of card and a bowl of Cadbury’s Favourites I sat back to flick though the pictures, eat some chocolate and chill for the first time that day.

 

I really didn’t have a clue what I was looking for!

 

Having just discovered that a vision board was a personal, flexible, visual creation, representing your hopes, dreams and goals I felt a bit brain-dead visionless.

 

So I decided that I’d just cut out pretty pictures. I way was too tired to think about hopes, dreams and goals.

 

And then something happened.

 


 

It

began

very slowly.

I didn’t even notice

inspiration seeping in.

Cutting, sticking and creating

a vision of me and all I want to be.

 


 

A Vision of Me

 

Without realising it, I had started to shed the layers of mother, wife, teacher and friend. Pictures began to form a vision of me.

 

vision of me

 

My vision board didn’t get finished that evening, but it began germinating.

 

I watered it with hope, fertilised it with dreams and I left it in the sunshine of opportunity.

A vision was growing.

 

For the next few weeks I collected magazines where-ever I went and when I had the house to myself one afternoon I set about completing my vision board. It turned out like this.

 

finished vision board

My vision of home, heart, health and happiness

And now the vision board sits right in front of my desk, and while I write I look up at it and pause.

It affirms what I want in life.

It reminds me to connect, grow and create.

It inspires me to be passionate in all that I do.

It speaks to me of fulfilment, love and family connections.

My vision board is who I am, and who I will be, and I love it.

 

Links you may find useful

 

If you’re interested in creating your own vision board here are a couple of useful links:

 

 

 

A Journey Beyond Kilometers

family-roadtrip-togetherWe recently travelled for 3 months around Australia and I began blogging, mainly to share news and updates with friends and family, but also to record a journal of our adventures. As we travelled it was clear that this was not a journey measured only in kilometres, but in personal connection and growth.

We covered great distances from Broome to Cairns but the further we went from home the more home was found within us. It was as if the distance created by pursing individual goals diminished as we worked to achieve shared goals. Gaps and silences that had been sliding quietly into the spaces in our lives became filled with laughter and adventure. And when I reflect on the real journey that my blog documents, it is the record of our family re-connecting and evolving.

Now we’re back in Perth, back to school, work and hum-drum can we keep the connection alive? How do we maintain our individual lives without becoming fragmented again?