Today matters more than yesterday.

I can spend literally hours on social media. According to my Quality Time app (something you can download to make yourself feel like shit), I spent on average about 6-7 hours staring at my screen… and I’ll be real. A lot of that time is taken up by social media, in particular Facebook. I don’t often post things, but I’m always deeply interested by what other people post. I’ve done stints in the past where I’ve decided to rid myself of Facebook to better my life, but usually I replace it with something else… instagram, snapchat, twitter. Last week someone commented to me on a tweet they had made that was quite funny. I recalled reading it at the time and I told him I saw it, thought about responding but that I use twitter to stalk, not tweet. I said it so flippantly too, like it was a natural part of the world. I’m just cool enough to have a twitter and a little too cool to actually tweet. Stupid.

Anyway, while scrolling mindlessly through Facebook statuses about sports, parenting, food, cars, celebrity pregnancies and whatever else other people happened to like, I came across a blogpost that struck quite a chord for me. It was basically about using a kinder voice. Her opening story really captured me because I felt like she was me. Anyone who knows me really well, and possibly those who live next door to me, know that I’m a rage-machine. I yell pretty loud and my family generally cop it. It was part of how we did things growing up: be upset by something, passive aggressively “communicate” this, yell because no one has noticed (despite throwing every individual spoon rigorously into the sink), and then throw something. Sometimes we just skip to the throwing part. There have been times I’ve been flooded with overwhelm, stress and anxiety that I’ve yelled so loudly and so sharply that my child has instantly burst into tears. Immediately she’d run to her dad for comfort because at that moment he is safe, mama is not.

I’ve never really liked children. I’ve always found them pretty annoying. But more and more I’m noticing the amazing capacity children have for love. My child is forgiving. When I’m upset and crying, she comes toddling up to me with a tissue in her hand and she gently strokes my face. There’s no judgment, no expectation to have it all together, just a hope that I’ll be patient with her, share empathy with her during her stage of learning and developing, and speak with kindness. Toddlers ooze so much love and they give it so freely in abundance. They also ooze throwing things at you, slapping your face, wiping their snot on your everything… but alas that’s not what this is about.

Today matters more than yesterday.

After reading that post, I actually went and downloaded the suggest book read to my kindle. It’s now one of about 10 different reads I’m part way through. Kindle even tells me what percentage of the way through I am. Most of them sit under 10%. I like to start and not finish. This one though, takes the pressure off a little. It’s less about getting through an entire read and more about taking something away from the smaller segments. I like that. But it’s not like some daily devotional, it’s seasonal… as you need to.

I imagine all this reading may take some reflection and I’m using this forum to voice a declaration from those reflections. Here’s todays one:

I’m making an effort to use a kinder tone of voice. I may need your gentle reminders.

Maybe the next one will be another year away… maybe it’ll be tomorrow.

We’ll see.

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Adventures in motherhood… of beauty and anxiety…

It seems like I could begin every post I’ve written in the last couple of years with the words “I haven’t posted in a while. It’s true. I wrote about pregnancy and marked the halfway point and then went silent. Despite the fact that I have hours on hand now, I also kinda don’t really. A lot of parenting is learning how to do everything one-handed and I find words don’t flow as easily through one hand if that makes any sense lol.

Baby A. She’s lovely. Everything about her is perfect. From her cradle-capped head to her funny looking toes. She’s the most perfect person I’ve ever seen.
There are some beautiful elements in motherhood. Just beautiful. The giggles, the intense eye gazes, the tight grip of her tiny fingers on… everything, the angry rolling. Parenting is amazing. I’ve always wanted children and have always been pretty good with them. So I kinda thought I knew what to expect.

But alas, it’s hard. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that are so overwhelming that I just don’t know who I am or how to deal with it. As a social worker, I make my living out of assessing people and situations, and then together determining the best foot forward. It’s something else when you realise that maybe you’re the one that needs assessing. It’s probably been the most unexpected of all the unexpecteds, the fact that you don’t actually know what you’re doing and well… the mental health stuff.

I’ve done a little bit of work in mental health over the last few years and as someone who advocates for dropping the stigma around mental health, it’s still such a struggle for me to admit that there is some postpartum anxiety going on for me. I attend a support group for women with postpartum anxiety & depression. And after spending the last few years learning cognitive behavioural therapy for social work practice – learning in order to support others, it’s strange to be on the receiving end – learning in order to apply to my own situation.

I love my daughter with an intense love like I’ve never felt before but I grieve for what I had before. Being surrounded by people doing what we loved to do – helping people. I miss having this expansive identity: social worker, music lover, foodie, friend, sister, wife, student, wanderer. Since being pregnant, mostly my identity has been wrapped around being mother: nappy changer, reluctant milk producer, laundromat, professional cuddler, rocker (and not in the musical sense – though we did go to a Billy Idol concert at around 35 weeks preggo). Part of my new life is trying to navigate all the new stuff while maintaining the stuff that makes me… well… me.

And then there’s the stuff that other women make look so easy… like breastfeeding. May I just say that breastfeeding actually sucks. I don’t enjoy it. I had many a cry and would shudder every time it was time to feed. But the age old “breast is best” line rings constantly through the ears of many mums (I am no exception). While I’m glad I persevered (mainly coz I’m too cheap to want to pay for formula), the only statement mums really need to hear is “happy mum, happy baby. That is best.”

Anxiety can be pretty hideous. A flurry of ugly and scary thoughts and fears running through your mind and it’s so dark sometimes. I am full of fear… fear that I’m doing this parenting thing wrong, fear that I’m screwing up my daughter’s life, fear that I’m not a good enough wife, a good enough mother, a good enough lover, a good enough friend. I often think back to times when I was fearless and I’d spend entire nights on the street wandering around, I’d walk home from random places during the wee hours of the morning or I’d wander around until 5am when I’d see my dad walking down the street ready to head to work (I can see why my mum told me off now). Now, I just don’t know how to turn it off. Where’s the anxiety switch and where did the anxiety even come from? I guess postnatally, all sorts of things happen with women’s emotions. It’s hormonal, it’s new, it’s a massive life changer, and it’s a time of firsts.

These past few months have been a time of firsts:
First raspberries blown, first roll, first toe suck, first thumb suck, first feed, first taste of apple, first smiles, first giggles, first face touch, first face pinch, first hair pull, the first time they wrap their little hands around your one finger, the first time they squeal during a wiggles song, the first time of many times that you wake up singing wiggles songs…
It is a rough and a beautiful journey and most days (like 98% of the time), I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Other days, I just wanna stay in bed and hide from the world. Lucky for me, I have this wonderful partner who chooses to carry on for both of us on those days I’d rather hide.

Reflecting on Connectivity…

I was watching Stand By Me last night. It’s a great movie about 4 pre-teen boys who have a life changing experience as they travel on foot to see a dead body. It delves into their personal stories of pain and anguish. Basically, it’s the end of the holiday before school begins again and after that crazy experience, they part ways. Grown-up Gordie (one of the boys) narrates the story and at the end he says: –

As time went on, we saw less and less of Teddy and Vern, until eventually they became just two more faces in the halls. It happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant.

Testing, testing, 1 – 2 – 3…

My husband is an electronics engineer. At present he works as a Senior Test Analyst for a fairly prominent radio communications company here in New Zealand. He often says I should be a tester. In fact, when we started dating, he bought me my very own crystal radio kit. It consisted of parts of a crystal radio that I got to put together using a soldering iron. He certainly is romantic isn’t he?

I guess even then, he knew me better than he thought. When I was a kid, I used to love taking apart old radios. I think I was fascinated by how they worked. Obviously not fascinated enough to do the study required to actually fix radios, so I spent more time breaking them than I did fixing them. Nevertheless, dad (a bus driver), would bring home all these old radios and when they started crapping out, I’d bust out a screwdriver (sometimes it was a knife), and I’d start taking them apart. I managed to prolong the life of about 70% of the radios simply by fiddling around with them. Of course the length of prolonging varied. Then I’d try again and eventually, they’d die. My husband tells me that Test Analysts basically break things for a living. I think I’d enjoy that.

But here’s the thing… I’m not a big fan of science.
I think I’ve learned more being married to my husband than I had when I was in high school. That said, as soon as I didn’t have to take science at school, I dropped it. It was far too technical and detailed. I thought I could become a doctor but realised that the only thing I liked about what doctors do, is helping people. So I dived into other subjects, like social studies, art, statistics, classics, etc. I love people. I love watching behaviour and hearing their stories. Social work is all about discovering certain aspects of a persons nature and behaviour. If you ask the right questions, you get the right hints. And sometimes, if you listen carefully enough, you find the right triggers.

A few years ago, when I started work as a youth worker, I took a personality test called Strengthsfinder. Three out of five of the signature themes that came back were “Connectedness”, “Relator”, and “Restorative”. Connectedness sees the “cause and effect”. It’s about joining the dots and tying together past and present. Relator likes to dig deep with people, asking questions that plunge into the heart of something bigger than a current situation. And Restorative is about fixing things… finding the missing piece and restoring them. Might not be the same as before but it’ll be differently beautiful in a sense.

So while my husband loves figuring out different ways to break a 2-way radio, I like figuring out what’s broken a person. I love the assessment phase of a social working relationship. Someone could come to me needing budgeting advice, but maybe it’s bigger than that. They have no job so with the limited income they receive, they need help rationing.
But why do they have no job? Maybe a conviction hinders them from using their skills.
Where did the conviction come from? Perhaps a drug conviction from way back.
Why did they do drugs? Broken family life.
Do they need a job? Yes.
Why do they need a job? Is it just about getting more money to contribute to society? Ex-partner has banned them from seeing their son and they want to prove they can do it.
(nb. this if a fictional situation, but could be a very real one…)

Criminals are so much more than criminals. Bad parents are so much more than bad parents. And perhaps that’s the reason I’ve never blamed my parents for their bad mistakes (and trust me, there were some pretty bad ones). Bad parenting often comes from bad parenting (note: connectedness). Bullying often comes from bullying. Vicious cycles are hard to stop. Anger & blame, alcohol & gambling were significant problems in my family growing up. So, I’m a careful drinker these days, and I have never touched a poker machine, nor have I set foot into a casino. I also haven’t bought a scratchie card since I was 17. The angry rage part is a bit harder to overcome, but it’s a journey I’m on. Sometimes I get angry and it makes no sense. Or it’s about the smallest thing and I just fly off the handle. And when I’m caught in my bad mood, everyone should stay away. My husband is a good and patient man. He handles me with such grace. It’s not all perfect. Sometimes we make choices that stop us from making negative choices that destroy our lives (and the lives of people around us), other things need more work than simply deciding. It took me a long time to give up destructive drinking.

Anyway, like I said in an earlier post… I’m not sure what to do with psychopathic behaviour. Perhaps I need to take some lessons in psychology.

Talk soon,

L

New healthier perspectives

You know how you see someone for the first time in forever and in your head (or if you’re forward, you do it out loud), you say, “wow… you really let yourself go” – and we don’t mean that they look a little shabby, we actually mean they look fat? Well I’ve been “letting myself go” since I was a teenager. When I was younger, I was a keen netballer, basketballer, cricketer, and footballer. Then something happened that shattered my self-esteem even more than it already was and I just started eating (Sky TV also happened). My brother and I would come home from school and dive into an entire loaf of bread. Then we’d eat a can of spaghetti (each), and just keep eating. And when dinner came, we were still eating. Then he’d go for a run and I’d sit down and watch TV.

My parents have always commented on my size. When I was 12, they were calling me fat and when I was 16 they asked my why I couldn’t be as skinny as I was when I was 12 – “oh you were so small back then!” There was actually no winning. I love sport. I have total coordination and zero-fitness. I was good. I was good enough for A-squad netball and then I “let myself go”. Part of me wanted to. I was sick of giving a shit about being skinny. Always being told that I needed to get skinny and the more I was told, the less I gave a shit.

Then I got married. He has never once commented on my size. In fact, he loves the curves. But the more we journey together the more I realise how little I’d be able to cope if he just kicked the bucket one day at a young age. And I thought to myself, wow, if he loves me as much as I love him and we love our journey together and want more time, I need to do something. I could stroke or heart-attack before I’m 30 (and I’m 2 years away from 30). So, I went to a clinic that specialise in rebalancing my body’s hormones and they gave me an eating plan. At the 4 week mark (the last time I was officially weighed), I weighed 11.3kgs less than what I had when I started (which was a lot). I didn’t do this for anyone or because anyone told me to. I did it because I want to live longer for myself, and for my hubby and for whatever lies in our future. I mean, sure a bus could hit me tomorrow, but flip, at least I’ll have tried my hand at a healthier life.

We’ve got some pretty mean goals too. I’m looking forward to playing netball again and I’m looking forward to trying my hand at volleyball. I’m looking forward to spending less money on clothes – being able to fit sale clothes at glassons (I hate glassons and I hate their clothes (but the point is, I’ll be able to fit them!). And my husband and I would love to see the beautiful places in NZ you can only get to on foot. I’m looking forward to the tramping adventures and the beautiful things we’ll get to experience together.

It’s a little weird posting this on the interwebs but then, I’m excited about the journey. We all find it a little hard to talk about our weight-issues and all of us carry a lot more than fat, but also years of torment in being called “fat” or “ugly” or having it implied that no one would ever be interested in us… Which reminds me, when I first told mum about my new boyfriend, she responded with “oh people are actually interested in you??” Sounds like a bitch I know but she’s ok. She’s just got her hangups and they’re a bit different to mine. Also, Samoans can be pretty forward. They love joking about how fat you are. And if you cry, it means you can’t take a joke. Serious. Samoans are also really annoying when it comes to food. My dad is now telling me I don’t eat enough. Story of my life really. My cousin will vouch for it too. We spend years getting told that we need to lose weight and as soon as we visit the parentals, they make us eat… and then they make us eat some more… and then some.

haha anyway… it’s study time.

love & peace,

L

 

Re-pondering Spirituality…

I really should be studying but I’ve been thinking about spirituality a lot lately and what better way to get it off my chest than to chuck it here in the blogosphere. If you haven’t caught up (assuming you still read this), I left my youth working job and a year after I left my youth working job, I left my church. That wasn’t because I had issues with faith but rather I had issues with form and reason. Why do we go to church on Sundays? Why should I listen to his/her sermon? Why are all these people here? Why are we singing this song? Why do we believe that? And so on it goes…

I began to develop what I call “Sermon Attention Deficit Disorder” (isn’t that sadd?? lol). I couldn’t sit in church and listen to an entire sermon. I couldn’t be part of a music team that was singing a song I didn’t necessarily agree with. I wasn’t even sure I held the same values about worship. So, my husband and I took an indefinite break from the church scene. We have moments where we look back on all the the fun other people seem to be having and I get jealous but I’m rediscovering where I sit with all of this. I didn’t want to be going along with something just because. I wanted to do it because it was my choice and desire to do it. It’s like this whole journey of weightloss at the moment. I’m not doing it because my parents called me fat half my life, I’m doing it because it’s my choice to do it. And at first I was kinda excited about getting out and making friends with non-christians, but then I realised something… actually I’m just excited about making friends with different people.

At my postgraduate course, I have 3 friends that I’ve just sorta warmed to this last year and a bit. They’re amazing. One practices something along the lines of “The Secret” (check out thesecret.tv), another loves astrology and believes in auras and in the gifts of psychics, and the other practices something similar to a form of buddhism. We all sat round a table at a Japanese restaurant last week sharing our entire life stories – they were all pretty heartbreaking but we all had these awful experiences. And that was the point that I realised that these girls were more than my non-christian friends… they were my friends. And a couple of nights later, we sat round a table at a Korean restaurant and talked our spiritual beliefs. Everyone had a place there. These are girls who have been really burnt by christians who dismiss them as stupid and not knowing anything about spirituality, and they let me sit at their table. It was a beautiful scene. 4 women with different journeys in different spiritualities and yet we experienced the same growing pains.

So that’s where I’m at on the spiritual journey. And I’m enjoying it. In fact, I love this. I love being able to express myself in a whole new way. I’m open to talking about my spirituality and in turn, these women give me air time. We all give each other air time. It’s a reciprocal relationship and it’s quite lovely.

Love & Peace,
L

A few odds and ends…

Considering the last post I published was October 2011, there might be more than a few odds and ends. I’ll make a list yeah?

1. I got married. Last year, I married the man of my dreams. It feels a little cliche to say that but he really is. I’ve never met a man more matching. I once heard a description of myself that went like this: “she’s laidback to the point of comatose”. Someone else said I was actually “dormant”. No no… my husband, he’s dormant. We’re not great at making decisions. We could drive round and round in circles trying to find a place to have dinner, but I’m pretty quick to get frustrated. I get so angry and just pick a place or I get really angry and make him pick a place.
But alas, he’s my dream guy. He plays the guitar, loves the blues, will eat anything, is keen to learn about culture, Samoan language, loves my family, my niece and nephew love him, he makes me laugh, he’s a total geek, he’s full of energy and loves me.

2. I took a church break. Husband and I are almost at the end of month 2 of our church break. When I decided I was going to step out, I said it wasn’t because I was losing faith, but because I was tired. I don’t like saying I’m tired of the institution because I really believe the institution works for some people. I’m not tired or fed up with the institution. I think I’m just tired. I got to that point on a Sunday morning where I was distracting people around me. My husband has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but I have sermon ADD. Serious. I can’t pay attention and none of it sticks. I wouldn’t be able to tell you of a single sermon I listened to last year (sorry if you’re reading this and happened to speak at one of the services I was at). And as part of the music team, I felt like I only ever turned up out of my guitar/vocal playing obligations. I was told to come with a worshipful heart because I had to lead people with my worshipful heart but I had no such thing.
Taking a break is hard. It means I have to find my own space to figure out who I want to be to God and how I want our relationship to take place. That’s scary. It’s personal. No one’s preaching at me to go do something and something else. I have to find God myself. It’s hard to get disciplined and it’s hard to even start because though I’ve been in these spaces before, I have no idea what I might discover… about God, about people, about myself.

3. We got a puppy. Some people ask me whether it was Hubby’s idea, but it was both of us. Truth is, I was probably the more pushy one. The company is nice. Usually I’m at home by myself. It’s hard at the moment because she’s so incredibly dependent on us. She’s lovely though. Takes a lot of patience but she seems to love us and seems to love being loved.

Anyway, that’s all I’ll post right now. Things to do, people to see! I’ll be back though… hopefully no doubt.
I might even use this to replace facebook hehe.

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