Sunday Meditation – Progress

Progress. It gives us the ability to see further into the horizon than before, and turn around behind us admiring the progress already made. This is the beauty of the journey that provides so much satisfaction in our lives, the achievement of work done so far. When we look back it only inspires us to continue forward, onward. The passage of time presents us with a choice, to remain as we are, or decide to take the steps to get to where we want to go, living the life we so longed for. By taking the first step, then the next and the one after that, we can place ourselves firmly in progress, and achieve success by giving it everything we have. Time is passing anyway we may as well make progress and give ourselves a richer experience for it. 

Daycare Days

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When I was at school I swore I would never work in an office. An office job seemed far too boring and worse, it was what most people did. I wanted something more exciting and glamourous. My fantasy CV changed almost weekly at school, running the gauntlet of all possible career options, most of which I would be embarrassed to even mention now. When I did finish school, in order to delay actual full time work, I went to university and worked in retail on the weekends seeing as my parents had cut me off financially. And like the majority of most graduates I failed to gain employment related to my degree once I graduated. My living expenses had also gone up significantly, so there was a growing need for money and a complete lack of jobs available. 

I remembered back to the uni open days when they would smile and list all of the wonderful career titles you would be able to have with their degree. Seducing me with their fancy productions and Oscar-winning performances of key lecturers brainwashing me into the cult of academia. At the time I wanted to work for National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Absolutely I was told, this three year full time degree is perfect to get you in the door there. Then when I went to apply for the sole job that finally was advertised by NPWS I was turned down. I enquired why, I didn’t even get an interview. It was because I had a degree, they needed someone with a TAFE qualification. 

I was cornered. It was office job or unemployment which actually wasn’t an option as I had to be unemployed for two months before I could apply for benefits and I couldn’t go without money for that long. Many years passed. Different jobs, different offices, still fundamentally the same. Generic paperwork, incompetent micro-mangers and the hideous office grapevine. When I walked out of the office to start my maternity leave I swore to myself I would never walk back in there. Never again was I doing this. 

Motherhood changes you. That is a full length feature film for another time. It forced me to take a good long hard look at myself. There is a lot of time for thinking when your partner returns to work and you are at home and have a good six hours ahead of you to do ‘nothing’ while your newborn eats and sleeps. The result of that thinking was that I decided no more fluffing and dreaming. It was time to get focused, get serious and get busy. 

Now here I am, two days a week I have daycare days. They could be called work days, but I work 6 days a week, it’s just on these two daycare days I have a solid 8 hours of full productivity, which is where the bulk of the work gets done. Parenting is tough and full on, but in all honesty these days are my most productive. They are also highly rewarding. Being a mum is exhausting. There is no immediate feedback. You put so much in, how do you even know if you are doing a good job. It might be 20 years until you are satisfied with the job you have done. At least on daycare days I can look back at 5pm and pat myself on the shoulder for all I have accomplished and marvel at the all the ticks next to my weekly goals. I may have left the office but I have never worked so hard in my life, and I love it.

Solitude

Today I sat alone in a room full of people. I enjoy my own company and while I wouldn’t always choose to sit alone, when the mood strikes me it is actually quite pleasurable. It was play time at the end of music and I was having the enjoyment of becoming acquainted with two new babies. I don’t think Teddy was happy about this as he decided to throw a toy cart at my head. With the swiftness of a now seasoned expert I whisked him up into the football hold and walked him away into the corner of the room to play completely supervised. By me.

To be fair we had a big weekend, I was still trying to overcome it myself and both of us were tired. There were lots of kids at music today. Teddy is great with other kids, he loves to socialise but he has his own threshold and once that number is crossed he has no desire to mix with others his age. That threshold was clearly crossed today. After a minute in the corner with Teddy pushing Percy (known to some as green Thomas) to me, he was bored and decided to just play on his own, still under my careful eye. I was happy to lean back against the wall and watch. 

In the space of ten minutes I had three people come over to me to talk. I was like honey for the bees, because who doesn’t love a mum sitting in the corner of a room by herself, to go and talk to and make sure she is ok. I appreciated the gesture. Honestly I would have done the same thing, but I very politely deflected them. I was happy to sit there, alone. It’s not the first time. Motherhood gives you many new opportunities. Like when your child becomes deeply, ‘challenging’ that you know a change a scenery is in order before someone, you or them, completely loses it. So you go out. 

Perhaps it could be argued that you are not really alone when you have your child with you. Fair point. Although with growing independence sitting at a table by yourself as your child plays without even a glance at you does feel like you are having a moment of solitude. I remember, in my child-free days, a good friend of mine who was a step mother and a new mother more recently, telling me all she wanted was a night in a hotel room by herself. To do nothing but be alone. At the time I thought it was weird. And boring, why would you want that. But I get it now. I want silence. I want to stay in a hotel room all alone. Free to do whatever I feel like. Like having a bath, sipping wine and reading a book for as long as I damn well please. To have my body to myself, with no one touching it for 12 hours. 

Of course this will not be happening any time soon and I am actually ok with that. Parenthood is temporary. I know some would argue otherwise. My dad tells me you are a parent for life and my mother-in-law has still not cut the placenta. Of course you will always be concerned about your child. But I do believe when your child leaves the nest, your parenting duties are effectively done, after all they need to learn to survive themselves. So I remind myself, when things feel rough that one day I will want grubby hands clinging to my legs demanding a cuddle and a messy lounge room to clean up (again). I’ll take my moments of solitude when I feel like them. Just like I will take my social time when I feel like it as well. And if I really need it, I can slip on a Disney movie and have a clean and silent house for an hour and a half. Just enough time to do what I need to in order to remind myself I am more than just a mum in a room full of people.

Sunday Meditation – Step Aside

Step aside. When we step away from the everyday we are able to review our every-days with a fresh perspective. Simply give ourselves a change in scene, pace, company, activity; whether brand new to us or slightly familiar from days long gone. It doesn’t have to take long, a day, an afternoon, a handful of hours. As long as it is something out of our ordinary and we immerse ourselves fully in it. When we take ourselves our of the middle of our own lives and create space to see what is outside out tunnel vision, we gain clarity, ideas, and answers to decisions we have been sitting on. Then we step back in, wiser, knowing what needs to happen next, and our days shift and flow again with just the slightest change in course, which will lead to a new direction over the long term.  

Now I Network

Network

Last night I pushed myself from my comfort zone into something I had never done before. I attended my first networking event. I was surprised by how nervous I was about it. I remember as a child assuming that all adults were cool, calm and collected. As a parent I feel I have to be, that I need to have it together at all times. I had seen lots of these events pop up on Facebook and would make a note of the date and time but then as it neared found a reason not to go. Usually the reason was simply that I would prefer to stay home. But in truth I felt like I wasn’t ready. I felt my business had to reach a certain level before I could attend. 

But this year I am pushing my boundaries like I never have before. I bought a ticket. Paying for a ticket should motivate me, but of course when you have a child you start to get used to paying money for nothing. Like perfectly good food that gets thrown on the floor without a bite and subsequently thrown in the bin. Or a toy that your child is determined to break as part of his discovery of how it works. Broken beyond the repair ability of either parent, that gets thrown in the bin. And the clothes that end up with paint stains all over them, even though the paints clearly state “washable” on them. Maybe they mean skin washable and not cotton washable. Of course I don’t throw those clothes out. They get kept for staying at home days. But they don’t make for very good Instagram photos so they actually end up pushed to the back of the drawer and thrown out when I go purge all the clothes that no longer fit after yet another growth spurt. 

The day before the event an email was sent confirming details and reminding everyone to bring business cards. I don’t have those just yet, I am still ‘consulting’ with the designer about the multitude shades of teal available and reviewing which micro-shade I like best. I could have backed out then. I could have said, can’t do it, don’t have cards.  But I did have a pdf of the latest design which was very close to what I wanted. So I could send that to anyone who asked for one. Another excuse gone. 

My friend messaged me, telling me she was going (woohoo she came through) and did I want to go in with her? Yes please. How much easier that makes it. It probably shaved the nerves off a little and I am so grateful to her for reaching out. We met in the carpark and walked in together. Frankly I have no idea what I was worried about. Everyone was so lovely and friendly and welcoming. There were drinks so nothing like some bubbles to ease the remaining nerves. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I realised I need to work on my networking skills. Of course the point is to meet like minded women and promote yourself and what you do. Yet as a life coach I listen to people and ask them what they do. That is how I am trained. I am curious and like to listen and some of these women seemed to be doing some fascinating stuff that I kept asking them questions on it. But it’s a learning experience. I’ve done it now. I know how it goes and now that there is a sense of familiar, I can go again with much more confidence and be more prepared to talk about what I do. I will see some familiar faces, and thank goodness there are name badges so I can smile and use someone’s name. And I have just told the designer I am happy with the last draft she sent me so off to the printers now and next time I will business cards, plus my elevator pitch. Fear conquered one, comfort zone zero.

Sunday Meditation – Love

Love. That person or people who you want to sit with at the end of the day. They know our pain but also those deep secret dreams and passions. They understand us, laugh when we are funny and shake their heads when we fail the joke. With one look, one meeting of our eyes, they have the power to settle the nerves and swell our heart to bursting. They see our best and our worst and they love us at those extremes and everything in between. When something wonderful happens they find out first and in our moments of sorrow they are the ones who can provide the comfort to see us through. We cannot imagine living in this world without them, how boring and dull life would then be. Let’s make a point to be grateful and say thank you for the difference they make.

Sunday Meditation – Meaningful

Meaningful. Identify what matters most in our lives. Stress often comes when we knowingly give our time and energy away to what is not important to us at the expense of what is. We need to give the best of our energy to what is meaningful in our lives and anything outside of that is given what is left, slotted into the gaps. We cannot do everything, be everywhere or give to everyone which is why there is so much value in gaining clarity on what matters most to us and keeping those at the forefront of our minds. The meaningful is a two way relationship, where we gain and benefit in the receiving yet also the giving. This is true for people, places, passions and processes. When all the fluff is taken away all that is left is what matters most to us. And that will be a reflection of the energy that we invested into them.