6 months

Our son is six months old today. Six months. It’s not really that long in adult time, but when it’s the entire length of your time on this planet, it’s quite a while. It’s also quite a long time when you consider that in those six months someone has gone from quite literally sleeping, eating and pooing to seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, communicating and everything in between. The sleeping has taken a bit of a drop but the eating has increased and the other thing has stayed pretty much the same. Our little man came into this world screaming, and he didn’t stop screaming for near on three hours then he slept, and my husband and I spent the better part of our first night staring at him wondering what the heck just happened. A lot has changed in six months, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve grown a lot and everything is completely different and yet oddly familiar. So I figure there’s no better time than the present to share some of the things that I have learned over these last six months.

  • The first few moments after you’ve given birth are soooooo not what you expect.

Everyone says having a child is the most incredible thing you will ever do, they say the moment your baby is handed to you, you experience a love like you never thought possible; that it feels as though your heart will explode and you just know what to do. Sounds almost magical right? Like the most natural and instinctive thing in the whole world.
Too bad it’s utter bullshit.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m certain that there are women out there who 100% experience that and just fall so madly in love with their child and are calm and peaceful and content and everything else all in one and that’s awesome. Me? I was handed a screaming, slightly purple, child wrapped so tightly in a blanket that he looked like the smallest doll in the babushka dolls and I went completely blank. I had blood on my face from where my son had been put against me, I couldn’t feel my lower body, I was fighting the urge to vomit (turns out that’s a side effect of the drugs you’re given) and there was this… tiny… little… foghorn… screaming in my face. After about an hour my first thought was not “oh my God, this is just the most beautiful and incredible experience of my entire life.” That was jumbled in there somewhere I imagine, but I can remember very distinctly thinking… “How… exactly… do I get him to not make that noise?”
The overwhelming love and sense of completeness and calm comes later. The calm comes MUCH later (I’m still waiting for that one to kick in fully).

  • The births on TV shows and movies are all dirty, dirty lies.

The woman always looks a little bit drowsy but totally miraculously wonderful, ‘glowing’ some may say. Nine times out of ten she is sleeping whenever other people walk into the room, she’s happy and completely mobile wandering freely about the room like a small watermelon did not just exit her body. The baby is all snuggly and warm and remarkably alert for someone who has just been yanked into a bright, loud, cold world. So… Lies.
Here’s what my reality was like: Those first few days in the hospital room were a blur.  I think more people have seen my privates in those first few days than my entire lifetime and, more amazingly, I can remember not giving a damn. Sporadically nurses would come in, lift the sheets and my gown, check my bits, inject me with something or other, then ask me to make sure my next toilet trip was made into a pooper scooper that sat on the toilet seat and to call them so they could “check it out”. My dear little boy certainly wasn’t all big eyes and windy smiles. He was puffy, he resembled an angry, pink old man and he spent the entire first night looking like he was foaming at the mouth as he got the remnants of amniotic fluid from his tiny little lungs. I didn’t sleep, I spent the whole time staring at his little cot at the end of the bed watching as more fluid leaked out of his mouth. Of course, because I couldn’t move and randomly couldn’t hear him breathing I would smack my husband across the arm and force him to check that our little boy was okay. The next few days were filled with tears (mostly mine), exhausted smiles, welcome visitors, break downs (again, mostly mine) and a sense of both fear and excitement for the next stage of our lives. When it came time to be discharged I was equal parts terrified, unprepared, excited and all ‘I’m gonna be the most badass mother there ever lived!’ This is true to this very day (last part still pending of course.)

  • If one more person so much as uttered the words “sleep when the baby sleeps” I would have gone postal.

The sentiment is a good one. It’s utter bollocks, but the concept is good. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is by far and large a learned skill. The first few months when the baby slept I spent my time staring at him making sure he was still breathing. Then when I started to get comfortable with the fact he was breathing I’d close my eyes and he’d wake up. Because that’s what babies do. They wait, right until you’re about to lie down and have ten seconds to yourself and they decide sleep time is officially over.

  • Tired has a whole new level of intense… and it’s okay.

I used to think I was tired before. I hear people tell me they’re ‘tired’ now and I think, “Aw, how sweet. You only strung together a solid six hours last night instead of your normal eight and you think that makes you tired.” No discredit there, I remember what that level of tired was like, it sucked. But this sucks more. There are days where I am certain I have had at a push maybe two hours of (broken) sleep. There are nights where I am awake every. single. hour. There was a whole month where I had so little sleep that I had convinced myself that was how I was going to die. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. You start to go just slightly insane. Your brain plays horrible, horrible tricks on you. Don’t panic. This is entirely normal. It is entirely normal to visualise yourself tripping and dropping your precious baby onto a tiled floor head first. It’s normal to have full blown conversations with yourself, and think you’re talking to your partner. More importantly, it’s completely and utterly normal to burst into tears at any given moment over absolutely nothing. What’s not normal is pretending that everything is just fine. Sleep deprivation sucks. It’s painful and it’s upsetting and it makes you feel sick, but what got me through was the realisation that a) it wasn’t going to be forever and b) it really really wasn’t going to be forever.

  • Family and friends are worth their weight in gold.

I think that one pretty much speaks for itself. I have laughed with, cried with, cried at, leaned on, relied on, cried on more of my family and friends in the last six months than ever before. If you’re lucky enough to have good people around you that are willing to help you out or sit with you, or whatever it is you need, use them. They are irreplaceable and they make everything feel just that little bit less chaotic.

  • It’s okay to want some time out.

Being a parent is draining sometimes. It’s exhausting and sometimes it’s utterly demoralizing. When you’re into your twenty-seventh hour of unrelenting whining or crying or screaming or whatever, you do have a moment when you think, I can’t do this. I don’t know what the hell my baby needs and I’m a terrible parent. That’s okay. It’s okay to not want to sit and stare at your child every second of every day. On the flip side, it’s also completely normal to spend an hour just watching them do absolutely nothing at all.

  • Stand by your style of parenting and for the love of God do not Google

Co-sleep, don’t co-sleep. Your child should only be dressed in organic silk that’s been dipped in hummingbird saliva and woven into a beautiful ornate garment made from baby monks living at the top of Mount Everest, your baby shouldn’t wear anything that wasn’t mass produced in a sweat shop in China. Breastfeed, bottle feed, disposable nappies, cloth nappies, routines, no routines, prams, strollers, baby wearing, baby yoga, baby yogalates, baby rugby… okay maybe not that last one. Whatever the hell it is that you choose to do, if it’s working for you and your family and you’re getting some peace and some happiness and some rest by doing it… keep doing it. Also, do not judge another parent for doing something you chose not to do, or not doing something you do. If their parenting style isn’t harming or neglecting their child and doesn’t affect or interrupt your parenting style, then it’s not your place to judge… But the reality is every mother judges someone else’s style of parenting against their own, for better or worse, it’s what happens. That’s cool, but don’t ever make another mother feel bad for what they’re doing. That’s not cool.

Parenting is a whole other world. It’s full of ups and downs, good days and challenging days. For me, it’s been full of new surprises and it’s hands down the best adventure I have ever had. For one emotion or thought, there is always the opposite. I have moments where I get so utterly tired of hearing my boy whinging over nothing that I can barely stand to even look at him, I have moments where the only thing I want to do is stare at him even if it means I miss out on precious sleep. Hearing his laugh for the first time made me cry, it was the most fantastic sound I had ever heard. Seeing my husband with my son still makes me feel this insane, intense love. It makes me want to smoosh both of their faces with never ending kisses. Being a mother has turned my whole life upside down in the most wonderful way. It would be unrealistic to say it hasn’t changed me because it definitely has, but it’s made me grow. It’s made me realise things about myself that I didn’t know before. It’s solidified my values and my hopes and ambitions. Having my son has changed my marriage as well, it’s made us stronger. It was challenging at first because we both felt disconnected for a while like we were just two ships passing in the night. But having our son has made both of us value the time we get to spend together, even more, it’s made our conversations richer, our emotions stronger and our world that much brighter.

Parenting is exhausting and overwhelming and wonderful. It’s intense and beautiful and challenging and every single day is new and different. These first six months have taught me a lot, most of all it’s taught me that despite appearances, every single parent out there is 100% winging it. There is no rule book, there is no definite ‘correct’ way of parenting. There’s just you and your child and in the end, that’s what matters.

And finally because this guy seems to be popping up in my feed more and more lately I wanted to leave you with this little vibe:

I want him to grow up knowing he’s the shit. I mean, sometimes he pisses me off. He’ll throw something across the room or he’ll keep me up all night, but then he’ll wake me up and say ‘I love you like the ocean.’ And you get up and do it again. It’s the best thing ever – Norman Reedus (on son Mingus)

Being a parent is easy, being the type of parent your children hope they’ll be one day… that’s the bigger challenge.

E

All these emotions

So today, I sat in the carpark in the Baldivis shopping centre and cried whilst my son sat happily playing in his car seat. It took me a few minutes to regain my composure, wipe my eyes, turn the car on and head back home. As I drove along the freeway, wishing that my already over tired son would just fall asleep instead of playing with the teething bug he was holding, I realised something rather interesting. I have for the better part of my life (read: up to this point) always felt as though I should ‘hide’ any strong emotions that I had. Predominantly the less amiable emotions (sadness, fear, hurt, anger etc.) but all emotions in general. It struck me as strange that I felt as though I needed to hide or rein in something that every single person on this planet experiences. Isn’t that just a little bit backward? Surely I have just as much right as anyone else to feel that way and not have to hide away in my car to express whatever it was I was feeling. Of course, all of this got me thinking even more about quite a number of different things. I remembering hearing phrases like “no one wants to hang around someone who is always depressed,” and “boys don’t like overly emotional girls,” or and this one is my personal favourite “real men don’t cry.” Of course I’m not a man so the last one doesn’t exactly relate directly to me but I thought it pertinent to add it in here just for that extra bit of emphasis. I can’t recall who said these things to me but I remember thinking at the time that they were correct, that I needed to adjust my emotions in order to fall into line with whatever this little expectation was.

 

Let’s start with the first one; “no one wants to hang around someone who is always depressed.” Okay, so to a degree this one makes sense to me. It’s true being around people that are constantly negative and quite down can be very draining and make enjoying situations incredibly challenging. However, saying something like that to someone who is simply having a bad day, or week, or whatever is actually detrimental to their overall well being. Take my situation, for example, currently, I’m having a challenging few days. My boy’s teeth are on the move and he’s going through a growth spurt and as such he’s been cranky and rather difficult to look after. He hasn’t been sleeping as well as before so we’re all tired, he’s decided this week solids are absolutely the last thing on the planet he wants to try and is generally just being a bit ratty. Now, me? I get up and I look at myself in the mirror and I think “wow, you look like you could be a zombie on The Walking Dead and you wouldn’t even need makeup.” This is closely followed by “oh God, we can’t have another day like yesterday, please, please, please don’t let us have another day like yesterday.” Positive right? Cheery and happy right? Of course it’s not. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be that negative forever. I know my son will settle, I know his teeth will calm down and he’ll be okay and we’ll go back to having the same fun we used to have. If someone were to say to me now that “no one wants to hang around with someone who is always depressed,” I may actually give them the biggest serving right then and there. This sort of thing makes people who are having a bad day feel as though they aren’t allowed to have a tough time and should hide it or lie about it and cover it up. It also makes people who are genuinely suffering for a long period of time feel even worse about themselves and could potentially lead to them clamming up entirely and not talking and letting things fester.

 

As for the other statements “boys don’t like overly emotional girls” and the ever wonderful “real men don’t cry,” they are just as ridiculous as the notion that people should hide their feelings. For starters emotions, be it over the top or as simple as a grown man crying are powerful in every form and as such should be respected. I’ve seen ‘real men’ cry, it’s heartbreaking of course, much the same as it’s heartbreaking when anyone cries but it didn’t make me see them as anything less than human. If someone even hints at the notion that being overly emotional will result in not being liked then that person deserves to be shoved into a sea container and dropped to the bottom of the ocean instantly. Emotions are a universal thing. They are one of the very few things in this world that the human race has in common regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or culture. Being emotional is a part of being a human and the reality we are faced with here is that for some reason people feel as though they need to suppress any strong emotions they may have for fear of being ‘judged’.

 

I worked with a gentleman who was always so incredibly vibrant and bubbly regardless of what was going on. He was almost always cheery and had one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. If he was having a bad day or something wasn’t quite working out the way he had intended it was blatantly obvious to everyone around him. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I never considered it before but I admire him for that. We had had many a conversation about different life experiences and one of the conversations we had was about being able to take some time to look after yourself. At the time I had gone through a rather rough patch in my own life and he said simply “if you don’t look after yourself then who will?” Let me reiterate that… if you don’t look after yourself then who will? If looking after yourself means that you start crying when a water bottle smashes on the floor in the middle of a food court then do that. If it means you say to your family or friends “I’m having a hard time, can we have a chat about this,” then do that. If it means you lay on the couch all day and watch reruns of Bold and the Beautiful then do that. Do whatever the heck it is that you need to, to look after you; because at the end of the day you have to live with yourself.

 

This notion that emotions need to be suppressed, reined in or expressed in the relative privacy of your car is archaic and damaging. Emotions are there to help in the handling of different experiences. The feeling of overwhelming joy can be expressed in so many different ways, tears, laughter, kisses, hugs; much like overwhelming grief can be expressed in so many different ways tears, silence, insomnia, sleep. None of these things are right or wrong, they just are. So feeling as though you shouldn’t cry when you’re happy or feeling as though you shouldn’t smile at anything when you’re sad is obscene. Whatever it is that you’re feeling should not be suppressed. It shouldn’t be held in to be experienced in private because you feel as though expressing it in public is inappropriate. Of course, there’s always a flip side to every argument, I mean, if you’re angry at a sales clerk it’s not exactly appropriate to punch them in the face, or say stab someone because they make you feel sad or self-conscious. I’m not talking extremes here, I’m just talking about the fact that everyday emotions aren’t something we should feel as though we need to hide.

 

I will leave you here (because my child has managed to go to bed and I’m going to take advantage of the sleep) with a final little vibe that was said at a convention I attended many moons ago:

I’d rather walk around feeling like complete shit for a few days, and feeling like God the rest of the time, than walk around feeling ‘just okay’ all of the time. – Norman Reedus

 

So, go, be emotional, be open and honest and hope that somewhere in amongst all of that you give other people the strength to do the same.

E

 

 

The smallest things make the biggest difference

Everyone has heard the age old saying “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything” right? Well, there’s some serious truth in that. Sometimes we need to learn that not saying anything is actually not a problem, that being quiet is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of thoughtfulness. There have been many an occasion in recent months that I have found myself thinking I could quite easily give someone a serving; let them know exactly what it is that I think of their lifestyle, their habits, their clothes, their attitude… but I don’t. Instead, I take a step back and I think to myself, what exactly is this going to achieve? Now it’s easy to not say anything, what’s harder to do is to find something ‘nice’ in spite of all that ‘nasty’. Not saying anything can be helpful, but saying something nice, simple and honest can be powerful. Of course, if saying something nice means lying point blank then maybe not saying anything is the better option.

I have a five-month-old son. He’s a gorgeous little boy and to date probably one of the single greatest things in my entire life. This is slightly off topic but stick with me here, I’ll get back on track. There are some aspects of my parenting style that I am certain people disagree with, some aspects people may like and there are people that see a healthy, happy, loved little boy and as such don’t care either way what I’m doing so long as that continues to be the case. I mention this because I have joined a mother’s group that is made up of some of the most diverse and fantastic women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We are a mixed group, to say the least; there are those of us who have lived in Australia our entire lives, those that have moved here recently, there are women with older children and there are first-time mums, there is everyone from managers to teachers. The one thing we all seem to have in common though is that we all support each other, no matter what. I have zero doubt in my mind that we don’t always see eye to eye on the ways each one of us parent but it doesn’t seem to matter. On more than one occasion I have needed just a little bit of guidance or reassurance and every single time those mothers have been there with a smile and a positive word of encouragement. That tiny little bit of reassurance and support has, more than once, seen me through what would’ve otherwise been a complete meltdown.

A simple “you got this”, or “everything will be fine just keep doing what you’re doing” can make an entire world of difference. The smallest things make the biggest impact and I didn’t entirely understand the depths of this until I made a comment to a woman in a doctors surgery some months ago. I had just taken my son in to be checked and I was waiting in line to pay when this woman behind me asked how old he was. We got to talking and she mentioned she had four-year-old twins, I told her quite honestly that any parent of twins is without a doubt an absolute hero in my eyes, that the simple fact that she functioned, let alone looked as well presented as she did was nothing short of inspirational. At the time I hadn’t thought anything of it, I’d just said something that I felt was true, little did I know it made a rather big impact on that woman. After we had both finished up in the surgery she came over to me as I was about to get in the car, looked me dead in the eye and thanked me. She said I’d changed her entire day, she’d had what could only be described as an utterly crappy morning. She’d been doubting that the way she was parenting her twins was, in fact, the best thing for them; hearing that some stranger thought she was doing a wonderful job had apparently given her that little bit of reassurance she’d needed.

I guess that’s where we forget how powerful words can be. I cried the first time someone told me I was doing an amazing job with my boy, needed to take a minute to myself when someone said I was looking really good four months after giving birth. It’s those little things that make such a huge difference to someone that is having a tough time. A few months back my son went through a bit of a rough patch when it came to sleeping, we were up every hour to an hour and a half over night, some nights he decided he wanted to be wide awake and playing at 3 am. This lasted for just over three weeks and by the end of it, I was a total wreck. I couldn’t even see straight, I was exhausted and emotional and I was teetering right on the edge of breaking point. Until someone said to me, quite simply, “you’re doing an incredible job, you should be very proud.” That was all it took to turn my outlook around. Two of my very dear girlfriends took time out of their lives and away from their kids to spend a day with me for some much-needed R & R and all of a sudden I felt like I could take on anything.

Changing someone’s day is simple, it’s quick and at the end of the day, it doesn’t cost anything. That age old saying of not having anything nice to say is true, but for me, I think it goes deeper than that. I think we hold a very important and very powerful tool that can make or break someone else’s day in a split second. What we say, and how we say it really can make a world of difference; they can bring someone back from a dark and lonesome path, they can brighten a tough day or they can throw someone over that edge. So, yes, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. But if you so much as think of the tiniest compliment, not force yourself to think of something, but genuinely think of something, say it. Okay every now and then you may get a strange look, but I can guarantee you nine times out of ten you’ll get at very least a grateful smile. And then there will be those special few people who will thank you from the very bottom of their heart and you will know in that split second, that you made the world of difference without even having to lift a finger.

And this last little vibe:

Words can inspire, and words can destroy. Choose yours well. – Robin Sharma

Now go spread the love.

E

Positive thinking, quite the resource

My mother used to tell my brother and I not to be so negative so many times when we were kids that I think it may as well be tattooed on my arm. We weren’t exactly super negative kids, and at times I felt that maybe we weren’t being given the chance to be negative even for a short period, but, the thing is; she was completely and utterly right. Granted there were times as a teenager where all you wanted to do was sit there and stew in your own blind disappointment and annoyance, thinking that everyone was out to get you and that the whole world was filled with nothing more than disappointment and despair. Whilst that does seem disgustingly self-indulgent it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. For the most part though, positive thinking is the way to change your entire life in the most subtle, but fantastically wonderful way.

For me, in the last few weeks, this whole notion of positivity has been more important than perhaps ever before. We have a four and a half month old and he’s currently going through what the ‘experts’ call a ‘sleep regression.’ Someone asked me the other day how I was going with it, checking in that I was managing well despite only having an hour or two of solid sleep a night. My response was honest when I said that it was a serious challenge both physically and mentally but, and this is the important part, it wouldn’t last forever. This friend, jokingly, told me that ‘forever’ could potentially be years worth of bad sleeping. We had the obligatory laugh and then went on with polite conversation. I didn’t think much of it until I got into the car to go home and then it suddenly hit me. How utterly demoralising and horrible would it be if I thought about this phase in my son’s life in such a negative way? If I sat there and thought to myself, “this is never going to end, this is just the beginning of what will be sheer Hell for such a long, unknown amount of time?” I would start to dread night times and I would probably even begin to resent my son for it as well. So with one simple change in how I talk about this phase in my boy’s development, I am changing how I handle the entire situation. Instead of saying “it’s horrible I just wish it would end,” I’m saying “it’s challenging, but it won’t last forever.” I’m looking at this stage in my son’s life as a huge step in his development and if that means I miss out on some sleep then so be it. Short term pain, long term gain and for now he needs me to be positive, supportive and happy far more than I need a solid eight hours.

It’s so easy to look for the faults and the unfortunate aspects of any situation; you could almost argue that critics make a living out of doing it; what’s harder and more rewarding though, is looking for the good stuff. It’s not something that comes easy for many people, especially if you’ve spent the better part of your life looking at things in a certain way. My husband, for example, was one of those people. He wasn’t exactly a negative person but there were more times than not that he spoke of things in a less than agreeable way. I remember one conversation in particular where we spoke of his time working in Karratha in the northern part of Western Australia. The Pilbara region is notorious for its blazing heat, dusty planes and its unforgiving land. My husband had spent quite a bit of time working up there, running rods and doing an unbelievable amount of manual labour on a mining rig back before everything went to computers and machinery. He always said he enjoyed working with the guys but the work itself was horrific. As such he spoke of the land as if it were out to get him personally, referring to that aspect of his experiences in no uncertain terms as “an absolute c**t of a place.” I made the mistake of saying that I wanted to visit Karratha one day; when asked why, I explained I wanted to see it. I wanted to see the vast landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see; I wanted to experience the cold nights, the stars blazing without the interruption of city lights. I wanted to see red dirt and arid wastelands, the steadfast flora and the hardened fauna. I wanted to experience the magic that that part of our country has to offer. At the time, his reaction was to tell me I was crazy, that I didn’t ‘understand’ the lifestyle up there and that it was a romanticised view of an otherwise totally crappy place. He was right in saying that it was a romanticised view of the place, but I can’t help that my creativity takes over pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m pleased to say in the years gone by he has actually come around to a similar way of thinking. We’ve looked at photographs of the landscapes up there and the wildlife that thrives in those arid conditions and he’s gone from being Mr You’ve-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me to being Mr What-An-Amazing-Place-To-Visit. It took time (nearly four years) but he did start to see it differently. He went from talking about it in such a negative way to sharing stories of seeing some of the most awe-inspiring country, seeing the most incredible wildlife he’s ever witnessed and getting to do things he’d never even dreamed of doing in the city. We’ve spoken about this shift in his thinking a number of times and he himself even says that it’s made a huge difference to his lifestyle and the quality of the experiences he’s had and is yet to have.

For me, hearing my mother telling me to “not be so negative” has changed my entire life. I owe her, to some degree, for the happiness I have managed to find in every situation. I’m lucky enough to have not had any really heinously terrible things happen in my short time on this planet, but it’s my outlook that has allowed me to see even the most heartbreaking of experiences in a positive way. Someone once asked me how I could possibly find the good in everything that happens and the only answer I could think to give was that it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. It took me a while, it was a very active shift in thinking for me, it’s not as if something would happen and I’d immediately think “oh good, I’m going to learn something really valuable out of this.” Things would happen and when I thought back on them later I’d make a conscious effort to think of something good. For every negative thought, I’d try my best to come up with something positive. Sometimes it would be something so small and simple like; I got to see someone I hadn’t seen in years despite being at a funeral. Over time it became like second nature to me, every time I’d look back on the more challenging moments in my life I’d find myself thinking about the positive things that came out of it.

In the end, it’s all about perspectives. It’s always going to be easier to look at the negative side of things, to play the martyr or to be the victim. Where the real challenge and, in my eyes, the real strength comes from is seeing the good in amongst all that. Being positive when everyone around you is being negative, seeing what so many other people seem to miss because they’re too busy being self-indulgent. Seeing the positive side of things isn’t a walk in the park, but once you know how, it’ll make that walk a whole lot prettier.

And finally, this little vibe:

We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are. – J.K. Rowling

E

The beauty of hindsight, and painful partings.

It’s Friday night here and if you’re anything like me you like to just tune out and do nothing to cap off a busy week. Here’s the thing though, this lovely little brain of mine takes Friday evenings (and a glass of wine) as a sign that it’s time to reminisce. Much like anyone else, my past is filled with equal parts joy, embarrassment, questionable choices and smart decisions. Of course, every so often there’s one or two memories that stop you dead in your tracks and rekindle just the slightest twinge of hurt all over again.

I can count on one hand (just) the number of people that I have had a less than amicable parting with. Three out of those five I have reconciled with to varying degrees, one of those isn’t for lack of trying and the last I recently learned is engaged and appears to be living a happy life, so best let sleeping dogs lie as it were. Here’s the thing about difficult partings though, they stick with you in the worst possible way. On this chilly Friday evening, I have come to the rather illuminating epiphany that I found these partings so painful not because I lost touch with important people in my life, but because the situations surrounding those moments were let’s say, less than desirable.

The first two people were two of my dearest friends at University. We were practically inseparable when we were studying together; spending every waking second doing everything from not studying to jumping off small cliff faces into the river below. It was around this time that it hit me, the career path I’d chosen wasn’t actually what I wanted for my life. With twelve months left on my degree, I had enough time to transfer out of what I was studying, take a few extra units and still graduate at the same time. It was around this time that I drifted from my two friends. Lives took us in separate directions, whilst they were out doing their final practical experiences I was battling with arguments about changing my studies amidst getting engaged and wondering what I could actually do with my new credentials.

For a really long time I wouldn’t let myself think back on those uni days because so much of it had those two in them. It took years for me to realise that whilst the three of us may have parted ways (read: I stopped talking to them pretty much entirely)  it didn’t actually change the fact that we were friends. I spent so many of my days with them, they made me laugh, they made the midnight essay writing sessions bearable. They were two of my very closest and dearest companions. After a while I understood that it wasn’t them that needed to ‘move on’ and it wasn’t me that needed to ‘let go’, it was everyone just accepting that things change, we make mistakes and we move forward. I contacted the two of them some time ago, we buried the hatchet and that was the end of it. I don’t entirely know where they are these days but I do see the occasional Instagram post from one of them, we share a like, a comment and we go about our lives. I can’t say how my contacting them impacted on their lives, but I know for a fact that it made me realise that just because something didn’t end well, doesn’t mean it didn’t start well.

A few years later I was in a similar situation again. Not university related this time but I had two very close girlfriends.  Much the same as with the other two, we did a lot together. We exercised together, we had girls days, girls nights, girls weekends. Not long after we met I ended up going through what I can only explain as one of the most challenging experiences of my married life. At the time I needed to put my focus on my husband and I and it meant that there was a number of other things that had to take a backseat. My work life changed, my relationships with family and friends changed. Everything changed. Then one day I found myself arguing more and more with these two friends and having less and less in common with them. Before I knew it I was blocking out entire chunks of my life from my memory purely because they were prominent aspects of those times.

Again, the beauty of hindsight came tearing into my field of vision and made me understand that I wasn’t blocking out those memories because those girls were in them, but because those girls reminded me of something I wanted so desperately to put behind me. As with the other two friends, I reached out and sent a message, an apology and a simple ‘how are you?’. This time only one of them chose to reconnect; the other, sadly, hasn’t even acknowledged that I exist anymore. That’s the other side of the story, just because one person decides that the good moments we shared far outweigh the painful ones, doesn’t mean the other person will be at the same point.

Life is a constantly moving target. Some days we wake up and feel like we can do anything and everything. We live in the now and we only focus on the good things. Other days we want to lay in bed and dwell on all the terrible, horrible things that lurk behind closed doors in our mind. There’s got to be a balance though. For every good memory, there is a negative one and vice versa. These four people have taught me that we can blend the good with the bad and come out the other end stronger, wiser and hopefully a little more humble. I’ve learned my lessons and I will be forever grateful to each and every single one of those people; regardless of whether or not they have spoken to me, acknowledged my existence, or ignored me completely, the reality is they have changed me. Their lives impacted mine in a way that I can’t put into words. They were prevalent parts of my history, my timeline, and like with any good historical account; accuracy is absolutely paramount.

I promised I would be honest in this blog so here’s the honesty. Those four people were special to me and they will forever hold a place in my heart regardless of what the outcomes were. It’s not to say they are any more or any less important to me than the people currently in my life, but they will always be there. That’s the thing, the human condition sometimes means we end up hurting each other, whether that be intentionally or unintentionally, what matters isn’t the pain that was caused, but the lessons that were learned. We all make mistakes, we all act out of turn, driven (like I was) by strong emotions or situations. At the end of the day though, no one is immune, no one is perfect and most importantly, no one is to blame. The second we start blaming people for our downfalls that’s when we start down a dark path that can be very, very hard to come back from.

And so I’ll leave you with this little vibe for your Friday night:

I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go. – Neil Gaiman

Now… go make good choices.
E

 

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When I was growing up my parents encouraged my brother and I to be creative, to speak our minds and to, above all else, be honest. Of course as a child being honest meant telling everyone and anyone you met that you hated the colour pink or that broccoli tasted like feet. Being creative meant drawing on the walls with crayons and speaking your mind meant saying your best friend’s house smelt like old people. As an adult though, those things took on a whole other meaning.

Honesty as an adult can, at times, blur the lines between being unabashedly truthful and being a little bit elusive. It means sometimes not saying that you think your friend’s child is a massive pain in the arse, that their new hair colour makes them look like a vampire or that their roast beef tastes remarkably like charcoal; but instead saying their child is ‘energetic’, that their new hair colour is ‘unique’ and their beef is ‘different’. Honesty can mean choosing your words carefully to navigate the minefield that is human emotion, much like speaking your mind isn’t just running your mouth.

It’s remarkably easy to just blurt out whatever comes into your head before really thinking about what is actually being said; I’ve been known to do just that on more than one occassion. Like the time I told one of my very best friends that I didn’t want to drive an hour to her house with my then 4 week old until he had had his vaccine for whooping cough. Of course she, rightfully so, thought that I was saying her house and her son presented a potential risk for my newborn to get whooping cough despite both being vaccinated and her house being as clean as an operating theatre (good job brain!). Speaking your mind as an adult is about more than just running your mouth. It’s about being diplomatic with how you present your opinions and ensuring you don’t come across sounding like a total jackass. Something that can prove a bit difficult if you’re toeing that creative line.

I’m a fiction writer and I have this inherent need to speak far more than is necessary. There have been times where that creative side of my brain makes the answer to a simple question a three page epic saga that makes sense only to me. It means I have a bad habit of overthinkking simple answers that others give in response to my lengthy questions. Creativity as an adult goes from drawing on the walls to painting on a canvas, from playing ‘make believe’ in the garden to writing about and inventing new and fantastic worlds on paper. The thing is, it’s not the meanings that change in any of these circumstances; it’s us.

The basic meaning of those three things stays exactly the same, it’s just that we change our perceptions as we get older. A large part of that change comes from the experiences we have throughout our lives. These experiences impact not only on how we act and react to certain things but they alter the way in which we think about our lives as a whole. Experiences change us in the best possible way; they inspire us, they test us and above all else, they teach us.

That’s where This Little Vibe was born and where it will grow. I intend on using that creativty and that honesty to speak my mind in a way that I hope will help, inspire and encourage others to do the same. With product reviews, guest writers, shared experiences and general ramblings it is my hope that this blog sees you smiling, laughing, agreeing and even disagreeing with the vibes I’m putting out into the cyberverse. There’s so much negativity and fear in the world that it’s high time we start boosting the positivity and the creativity.

With that I will say thanks, and leave you with this little vibe:

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.  – Roald Dahl The Twits’.

E