Monthly Archives: May 2011

So What’s Normal Anyway?

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Thank you, my bloggy friends.

Thank you for your astute observations – blogging, it seems, is fraught with dangers for the ex-adulation-junky (read: athlete). Thank you for your advice – taking a step back, it seems, does not have to be the end of a good thing. Thank you for your warmth – my whining, it seems, does not grate on others as much as it does on me!

I have done a good deal of soul searching this past week and I have had epiphany after epiphany (I love that word, don’t you?). These epiphanies are nothing new, mind you. Then again, are they ever? I’m sure I am destined to learn the same damned lessons over and over and over until I die, but, with each new context I believe I’m growing.

This past week I have learned that, whatever form it takes, writing is part of who I am, and no matter what form it takes, somebody will resonate with my thoughts and feelings. What better reason to write than to express who I am and to connect with other human beings.

I have learned that I still have work to do on my need for approval, my need to be seen and heard for validation. This is a work in progress, but with a little help from a brilliant woman, I have moved light years ahead on the path to self-acceptance.

I have learned that changing direction is not ‘quitting’. Everything evolves and a stagnant pool can never harbour the life that a bubbling stream can.

So, this week I am embracing the changes that are bubbling away in me without a thought of what others may or may not think of me. A good place to be.

I intend to get back to what this blog was orginally about – So What’s Normal Anyway? I intend to write what moves me when it moves me (hopefully I will continue to feel moved on a Wednesday, but I can’t guarantee it!). I will begin working on my larger projects in bits and pieces. I am listening to my children rather than telling them how the week will go down. I am relaxing – nothing matters so much that I should be miserable or stressed. I will cook more and clean less. I will laugh more and sigh less. I will create more and craft less. I will be more and try less.

I will love more and judge less.

I hope to see you on the way.

This post is brought to you by:
“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” – Joe Ancis
Have a great week.
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Weekend grateful

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I’m by no means a regular gratefuller, but whenever there is a real need for me to stop, breathe and appreciate, Maxabella’s list is there to help me remember.

So, this week I am grateful for:

1. Toddlers who push the buttons in just the right way to make you realise what has been bugging you all along – thank you, Little Lion, for being my messenger. Now I can go take that load of emotional garbage out!

2. Husbands on holidays – nothing calms the soul quite the way that your presence does.

3. Troublesome chickens – if your escape tactics and lack of laying capacity are my two greatest problems, I am a lucky woman indeed.

What are you grateful for this weekend?

Crossroads

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I’ve been having a bit of a bloggy crisis of late. Actually, I’ve been working my way through one of those “Damn, I’m not the person I thought I was, so who the hell am I and where the hell do I go from here” episodes and the resultant tsunami has triggered concurrent crises of varying magnitudes in a range of domains. I suspect the bloggy crisis is part of this shock-wave. Whatever.

Fact is I’m at a crossroads:

To blog or not to blog, this is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous self-criticism

Or to take arms against a sea of dissatisfaction

And by quitting, end them. To write to vent –

No more – and by a vent to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That the mother’s brain is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation

Unlikely to be met. To quit, to sleep –

To sleep – perchance to dream: ay there’s the rub,

For in that sleep of the quitter what dreams may come

When there is no place for all the ideas to go,

Must give us pause. And the difference

Between blogging and writing makes calamity of a need to write…

Yeah, yeah, the Hamlet thing was getting lame, but you get the idea, yes?

I started this blog nearly a year ago for a couple of reasons – 1. To write; 2. To have a space to vent; 3. To get myself ‘out there’, you know, have my stuff read, adored, develop a cult following, become Mrs Woog or the NDM or someone equally magnificent, get book contracts thrown at me, publishers falling at my feet, my career as a world-by-storm writer secured… Ugh… whatever.

But I feel like my blog is amounting to nothing more than a big fat winge about my life, motherhood and the little poo machines I have given birth to. And I don’t like it. It’s not satisfying my need to write because it only ever feels like piece-meal. I want to get onto some of the big projects that have been burning at me for a REALLY. BLOODY. LONG. TIME… not to mention the thousand other projects on my absurd To Do list.

My argument for blogging was that it was something I could do in an hour here and there (I find big stuff almost impossible to write in this manner), so it would satisfy my creative urges without taking up my life. I like I need long stretches of silence and endless glasses of wine cups of tea to lose myself in the world of my creation so that the characters may take hold of their own destinies. And that’s fucking impossible a rare occurrence with Little Lions and Blossoms in da house, as we all know.

But blogging, as it has turned out, is taking considerably longer than an hour here or there and my creative urges are screaming louder than they were before I gave them a taste of freedom. Sure, the draft of a post is smashed out lickety-split, but then you edit it once or twice, you send it out through the universe, you wonder if anyone’s read it, you check your comments eighteen times a day, you log onto every other blog known to man to read (which I LOVE doing, mind you – what better excuse for some down time and damned good reading under the guise of ‘blogging’),you comment, you kiss the metaphoric babies and you press the cyber palms in the hope that someone will hop over to your place to have a read, they will love you and share you with all their friends… hmm, that went in an unexpected direction. Oops.

Anyway, before you know it, you could have written a Mills & Boon in the time you’ve spent belly aching about your latest public rant, your most recent airing of your dirty laundry, your up-to-the-hour personal expose.

I know blogging is writing (and any writing is better than no writing, of this I am sure) but I don’t know if it’s the kind of writing I want to be doing, at least not exclusively. And I don’t know how to fix it, this stupid, dissatisfied nagging in my gut. It’s killing me!

So, what to do? Do I quit the blogosphere and dedicate my thoughts to those big projects bashing in my brain? Do I redefine my blog and make it something more, um, I don’t know, meaningful? Do I go half way and only post once a fortnight/month and spend the rest of my time learning how to write big stuff in little bits? Do I just get over the belly aching and cyber-loving and get disciplined – 1 hour writing (no editing), 1 hour reading/commenting (for fun) and actually pay some attention to my other projects kids for a change? I don’t know…

And am I the only one? Has anyone else had bloggy burnout – a blog that takes over their world without giving a real sense of satisfaction? And what did you do?

Ee-i-ee-i-o

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Call me ‘Old MacDonald’ who has a not-quite-farm, Ei-i-ee-i-o.

And on my not-quite-farm I have some Chickens, Ee-i-ee-i-o…

Their arrival has been anything but smooth, poor beasts. Maybe that’s why they still haven’t started laying. Yep, seven weeks on and we’re still eggless. Patience is wearing thin, I tells ya.

Mr D wanted to make a chicken house from all the bits and pieces of materials we have scattered around our monstrous yard. I thought it would be the most wonderful experience for the Little Lion – building a house for the chooks. I even had the shots planned. Angles, focal lengths, white balances…

But as the months dragged on, it became clear that designing and constructing a chook pen was never going to make it to the top of the priority list when competing with the likes of ‘asbestos fencing to be removed’, ‘lights on front porch, in front room, in Blossom’s room, in back room, in office’, ‘finish AC ducting’, ‘GET A GARDEN SHED SO MR D CAN ACTUALLY GET INTO HIS GARAGE TO COMPLETE AFOREMENTIONED TASKS!!!’… and that kind of thing.

We both came to the decision independently. Mr D conceded that LL would get more kicks out of chooks than watching dad bang a few timbers together, so we bought a pen online. A whizz-bang-Taj Mahal of a thing. Actually, we just got the 7-chook Penthouse, because we thought the 12-chook Taj might be a bit big. Whatever.

It sings, it dances and it houses the birds for days at a time if you need to leave them locked away from night-hunters for a bit. Brilliant. It would be delivered within 5 days. Even better. I tracked down the only guy on the east coast who actually breeds both the types of chooks I was after and he had some available (“but, just warnin’ ya, they won’t last long, plenty a people snappin’ ‘em up…”). We were good to go.

Except that the pen didn’t arrive. Stall the chook man. The pen still didn’t arrive. Stall him again (“Youse’re fair dinkum, right? Coz I got me plenty of people who wan’em…”). Then, on a Tuesday, half the pen arrived in a badly damaged box. I called the supplier and they were suitably aghast. Send photos of damage. Wait until tomorrow for next half of pen. Cannot stall chook man any further. He agrees to bring chooks in a cage in which they can happily live for a week (“or ‘round about”), but I am certain we’ll heave them in a singing and dancing chook house by Thursday night.

Alas, this particular Thursday turned out to be a stressful one – I was trying to clean the house for the first time since we moved in (in December 2009) before I became the proud new host of a weekly Friday playgroup, our impossible-to-pin-down builder came to install the range hood that had inhabited my hallway since last September and the leadlight doors that had been under the bed since November, and it was pouring for the first time in weeks, sending great sheets of water across our yard and through our pretend gutters. Into this bedlam came the traumatised (and still homeless) chooks.

Mr Chook and I decided that the best spot for our new pets in this weather would be on the cubby house deck, but as I spread the floor tarpaulin in readiness, the heavens opened, the torrent streamed in sideways (highlighting the need for some additional tarpaulin wind protection) and Mr Chook and I found ourselves trapped in the intimate confines of Little Lion’s cubby house.

We waited and made uncomfortable small talk. I offered him a pretend cup of tea from a miniature cup. We peered out the windows. I began wondering if Eau d’ Chook was a compulsory part of hen ownership and I knew it was time to make a dash for the house, regardless of the biblical torrent. It would be less uncomfortable to be drenched to the bone than to remain, stooped and in such alarmingly close proximity with a man who admitted to preferring cash payments so his disability pension might not be compromised.

Some time later, as the chooks clucked miserably and pecked at some grain in their tiny cage I cringed at the pathetic start to what I had hoped would be such a great era in our not-quite-farming lives. They were sitting on top of each other. There was nowhere for them to go. I had inherited my very own battery farm and I prayed that this damned Penthouse be easier to assemble than it was to obtain… if it ever arrived.

Friday came, and with it came playgroup. Eight children and mothers out on the front deck and, WOWEEE!, a truck arrived. The enormous woman who tumbled out of the truck made no mystery of the fact that she was pissed off. Someone had put a rocket up her and she was downright scary. So when she unloaded not one, but two chicken house boxes, I didn’t say a word – how the fuck did I end up with ONE AND A HALF BLOODY CHICKEN HOUSES?!

This was a question that the supplier could also not answer and he immediately began searching for the other poor sod who was waiting on half a Penthouse! (The other half of the second house arrived four weeks later in another extremely badly damaged box and my parents took possession of Penthouse II).

Our ‘Chicky-Girls’ (as LL calls them), have been moved twice since, we’ve had a dozen escapes into the neighbour’s yard and one lock out (that saw me trying to pluck them off the chicken house roof in the pitch black with Mr D’s head torch falling down over my eyes). They won’t sleep in the pen if there’s too much shit on the floor and they are tortured by the mere sound of LL’s voice, knowing that ‘the chaser’ is on approach. All in all, they are precious little ladies.

We decided to name them after the various chicken dishes they would become should they not lay enough eggs – you know, instilling a sense of duty though intimidation and fear, dictatorial style. But Babs (Ke-), Barb (-eque), Butter (Indian-style), Nugget (Mc-), Noodle (-soup) and Henny Penny have called our bluff. So now the conundrum is playing on my vegetarian mind – how long do we let them laugh before Mr D arranges for them to mysteriously disappear? How long do we feed, house, protect and nurture them before they have to pay board or move out? I fear I am being mocked by my hens – they are having the last, longest and loudest laugh at the expense of Old Mrs MacDonald… but they’d better watch their feathery little behinds!

National Disability and Carers Congress – Post 2

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When I was 16 I broke my neck. I was messing around with friends and dived into a shallow pool with my hands behind my back. I broke my first vertebra in three places. By some miracle, the three pieces of C1 stayed in place despite me massaging and stretching the whiplash that kept me stiff for three days. And by some other miracle, six weeks later, I was able to walk away from that injury without any long term adverse effects.

Yesterday, for the first time, I actually grasped what my life might have become, should have become, had I not been so incredibly lucky. And I cried.

I am still crying.

At the time I had a vague concept of what the life of someone confined to a wheel chair might be like and I thought myself lucky to have escaped that fate, but today I listened to real stories and I realised just how much my ideas had been shaped by prejudice, stereotype and incomplete information.

Until yesterday, my relative ignorance had never really concerned me – after all, disability does not affect me directly in any way. Until yesterday, the most regular interaction I have had with disability has been driving past the disabled parking spaces at my local shopping centre. Until yesterday I thought that being scathing of people who park in those spaces illegally made me a compassionate, understanding member of society.

But today I have been humbled. Today I have heard stories that the whole world needs to hear – stories of basic human rights being denied, stories of beurocratic red tape strangling the provision of desperately needed support, stories of illogical decision-making and buck-passing by governments and support agencies, stories of injustice, stories of the financial burden and the day-to-day battle for a normal life that slowly grinds away at the spirit of the disabled and their carers.

Today, without a hint of self-pity, I heard what life is really like from the people who live disability 24hour a day. There was no call for special treatment. There was no request for sympathy. There was no suggestion that mainstream Australia should feel sorry for their plight. There was only a powerful, dignified call for a system that will ensure that their needs be met so that they and their families might get on with the business of living a productive and happy life.

A National Disability Insurance Scheme is precisely what is needed and, according to the draft report from the Productivity Commission, it is a scheme that is not only feasible, it is a scheme that is essential. It is essential to ensure that needs are met in an individualised, fair and sustainable way. It is essential to ensure that the future of those with a disability will be secure even after their parents are no longer around to care for them. It is essential to give those with a disability a degree of autonomy and choice with regard to service providers, support plans and personal aspirations. It is essential to ensure that people with a disability have the chance to enjoy so many of the freedoms that you and I in mainstream Australia take for granted – the freedom to live where we want with whomever we choose; the freedom to buy our basic needs from wherever we like; the freedom to study, to work, to contribute to our local communities; the freedom to travel, to play, to go out all night if we want… the freedom to be who we are.

You can help make this happen.

Go to the Every Australian Counts website and click on the link to join the campaign. It doesn’t require a donation. It doesn’t require a commitment to act. All it takes is for you to type in your email address and to say “Count me in”.

Your voice will strengthen the message that we, inAustralia, will no longer tolerate the marginalisation experienced by the people in our communities who happen to have been born with or have acquired a disability.

We are all people, we are all Australians. And Every Australian Counts.

National Diasabiltiy and Carers Congress – 1

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I feel like I am on the brink of something. Something big.

My eyes are open in a way they haven’t been in a long time. It’s an almost visceral awareness of the people around me. People. All people with their own stories and thoughts spinning through their minds, with their own fears and hopes and passions. There is nothing that separates me from them. We are all, essentially, the same.

These two days are going to be challenging for me. They are going to introduce me to a way of living that, up until now has been shaped in my mind by stereotypes, assumptions and my own ignorance. But today my eyes are open and I can feel a common humanity pulsing through my veins.

Today, life for people with a disability and their carers are beginning to change.