Archive for the 'That’s Life' Category

Crossroads

NS August 27th, 2011

Gosh, this blog is gathering a rather thick layer of dust, isn’t it?

For the past few months, I have been mainly consumed with:

  • My volunteer work
  • My doula work
  • Planning our holiday in Spain (from which we recently returned)
  • Reading books
  • Wondering why I haven’t felt like blogging and if I will ever write my much-dreamed-of book
  • Contemplating the mass deletion of all my blogs but never bringing myself to do it
  • Feeling more drawn to fiction writing but being too lazy and scared to try it
  • Losing weight (15 pounds so far)
  • Getting back into running and going to the gym
  • Spending time with my family
  • Falling even more in love with my husband
  • Contemplating a third baby and then immediately ruling it out, and vice versa
  • Daydreaming of faraway places and feeling a strong desire to move
  • Looking into the possibility of becoming a midwife
  • Shitting myself at the thought of becoming a midwife
  • Mentally redecorating the children’s bedroom and my office, looking at catalogues and sketching out ideas
  • Knowing I need to weed the garden and do some DIY but not being arsed to do so
  • Moaning about the weather
  • Wondering when I will finally sort out the Spanish, guitar, photography or knitting lessons/courses I so desperately want to take

I feel both lethargic and energised with possibilities. I dream of so much but actually achieve so little. The bulk of the work I do is unpaid. More and more, I don’t mind.

Some days it feels like I am standing at a crossroads and I need to just choose a path and start down it. On others, it’s nice just to stand there and survey the different options available to me. Knowing I have the luxury of even contemplating these choices humbles, excites and even sometimes embarrasses me. So many others have not one iota of choice in their lives.

I often feel both stifled by my duties and empowered by the freedom from ‘the working world’ that they give me. Reconciling the part of me that used to feel worthless for not earning money or having a prestigious job with the ever-growing part of me that actually feels BETTER for it has been a lesson in self-actualisation and in assessing my own worth instead of depending on external sources to put a value on me and the contributions I make to my family, my community and my society.

Increasingly, I feel more and more grateful to Noble Husband for going out to work in the 9-5 rat race every day so that I don’t have to. Knowing that he understands how it depresses me, how it stifles my creative urges and humanitarian socialist tendencies, makes me love him even more.

I used to think I was the one doing him a favour, staying at home to raise our children and keep our household running efficiently. But now I see the favour he’s done for me, too. He has gifted me with possibilities; wonderful, endless possibilities.

After our children, it may be the most wonderful thing he’s ever given me and for that I am eternally grateful. I just hope I can fulfil at least some of my dreams and make him proud.

In time, the path will become clear to me, I know. I will make a choice, step off a cliff and make that leap of faith. Whether success or failure waits for me at the bottom, I don’t know. But at least I will have tried to be and do some or all of the things I’ve always wanted.

Image credit

Thursday is the new Friday

NS August 19th, 2010

Thursday for me is what some might call ‘Me Time’ but in reality would more accurately be called Outsourced Housework and Childcare Equals a More Patient and Fulfilled Mother Day. But that’s a mouthful so I just call it my favourite day.

On Thursday morning, my wonderful cleaner comes. I greet her as I scramble to get shoes on excitable children and herd them out to the car where I will transport them to Grandma’s house. I feel no existential feminist guilt for this. I look after two small, demanding children all day and am self-employed in two different capacities. If people can outsource their childcare in order to work, I can outsource my cleaning. Or both!

I know someone out there will be thinking I’m some kind of pampered, indulgent, stay-at-home mother who should be looking after her own children 24/7 and cleaning while her husband works hard to bring home the bacon, but to those people I say get off that sanctimony pony, make yourself a cocktail and hitch yourself a ride into the 21st century, compadre.

I do not cook. I do not sew. I do minimal cleaning. As of next month, my daughter will be in school all day and my son with either a childminder or his grandmother three days a week.

My kids probably watch too much TV. I spend too much time on the computer or with my nose in a book. I frequently say No to playing or chasing in order to do my own thing, or do the playing or chasing only until I get bored and decide it is grown-up time again, which is usually after ten minutes.

On Thursday, after I drop the children at their grandmother’s for the day and before I go home to a clean house, I spend an hour in a coffee shop drinking lattes and reading the newspaper from cover to cover. I go for a walk or a meander through the shops. Today, I put up a couple of flyers promoting my doula services.

I drive home. Alone. I sing as loudly as I want, drive faster and revel in not being asked a hundred questions from the back seat. I might stop into the shop on my way home and nearly forget not to park in the parent/child spots. I am able to get in and out in less than 10 minutes. Another Thursday miracle.

I open my front door in gleeful anticipation of clean floors and a gleaming bathroom. The air smells faintly of lemons. It is quiet. I can hear the clock ticking in the living room. Does that clock tick? I never notice unless it’s Thursday.

I look out the smudge-free window and admire the sight of washing flapping in the breeze, juxtaposed against the blue sky and emerald green grass. I turn on the radio and listen to my favourite radio program, Robert Elms on BBC London at noon, while I prepare lunch for one.

The Robert Elms show is a celebration of every aspect of this tumultuous city that we share. For three hours a day we revel in the numerous stories and characters, memories and aspirations which make this such an extraordinary place to live and work. Art and architecture, history, movies and language, shopping, drinking, dining and dancing all carried out to a soundtrack of music for grown ups.

On Thursday I do not have to cut crusts off sandwiches or put juice in cups with lids. I nibble at olives while I half-listen to the radio and daydream of all the places I’m going to see and all the things I’m going to do once I have not only one but THREE days a week in which to be alone.

Most of those days I will be working: doing my editing job; blogging (I consider my two blogs work in that it sometimes results in payment and because it keeps my writing skills sharp, which I still hope to utilise professionally one day); administrative work, research, study and preparation for my doula business; and general household stuff like taxes, banking, shopping, doctor’s appointments, DIY, gardening, etc..

But on at least one day each month, probably on Thursdays, I will catch the train into a new part of London or an area I’ve been but not properly explored, or to a place I’d like to visit. Somewhere along the way while out and about in this wonderful city of mine, I will do something nice for someone I’ve never met. It might be something simple like leaving a note or a small gift for a stranger to find, or helping a mother struggling with her pushchair on the stairs to the Underground. It might involve a bit of street art or guerilla goodness or a random act of kindness.

When out doing my history lessons/walkabouts/random acts of kindness, I will bring my camera and use it. With no children in tow, I will have time to change lenses or adjust  for the lighting and actually learn what my long-coveted pride and joy is capable of. Killing three birds on my life’s to-do list with one stone: fall in love with London, be a positive presence in the world and finally (finally!) learn the art of photography.

Thursday is definitely, and will hopefully continue to be, my favourite day. A day for me and only me. That, in turn, makes me a whole lot nicer to everyone else.

Photo credit

On not settling and the wisdom of 30

NS August 1st, 2010

Something about turning 30 made me finally feel like a proper grown-up, even though I had already acquired a husband, two children, a family car and a mortgaged house in suburbia before then. How much more grown-up than that can one  get, you might ask?

But I don’t define my adulthood by my relationships with other people, how many children I have or how much stuff I own. That’s what I believed in my teens and twenties. The beauty of turning 30 is that all those preconceived notions  you had about life after 30 are immediately thrown out the window.

I thought 30 meant a settled, boring life with little room for fun or growth. I believed that if you hadn’t done your travelling, established a career, given up partying, become health conscious and gotten a foot on the property ladder by the time the 3-0 fell on you like an ax, you were doomed to lead a life of misery and/or juvenile denial, desperately trying to catch up with peers who’d had their heads screwed on straight.

Then I turned 30.

And instead of feeling resigned to my ‘fate’ and depressed at all the things I hadn’t managed to accomplish in my 20s, I was overcome with an incredible sense of determination to reach my goals. And not only would I fulfil them, I would do them well and joyfully, I promised myself.

I never listed those goals here (though I did talk about some of them individually here and there) because I needed time to work out exactly what it is I feel missing in my life, what I want to accomplish and what matters most to me. Slowly, over the course of the past year or so, I’ve been making a mental list and adding and taking things away until I have before me the opportunity to make myself happy. Make myself happy, not waiting for someone or something to fall into my lap or chasing dreams that are someone else’s, what society says I should be aspiring to.

Learning that lesson, not ‘settling’ or what you’ve already got, is what being 30 is all about, I think. If our 20s are for growing and experiencing, our 30s are for finally learning the lessons we glossed over in our haste to beat the clock. What I didn’t know then was that I had set that clock against myself.

Finally realising that I could turn the whole damn thing off, that I didn’t have to keep hitting snooze and sleep-walk through the rest of my life, is the best gift that being a 30-something has given me. I can only imagine how much more I will learn as I progress through this decade.

So now, I am working my way through my new goals and finding the most amazing sense of self as I tick one item after another off my list, or plan and work towards the day I can.

  • Become a runner and complete at least one race
  • Repair and strengthen my marriage
  • Rediscover and appreciate music
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Become successfully self-employed
  • Explore the fantastic city I live in
  • Make people smile with random acts of kindness
  • Fight for a cause I truly believe in
  • Learn the art of photography
  • Read at least a few pages of a (paper) book every day
  • Control my reactions to things  I cannot control
  • Enjoy my children and live in the moment
  • Write for the sake of writing, as and when I want to
  • Learn to be unafraid of what others may think of me

I’ve already completed some of the things on this list and have plans in place to complete the others. Some are works in progress that will be ongoing, not items I can ever tick completely off my list. These are not things I want to do, but rather processes and learning experiences for who I want to be.

I’ll never settle for anything less again.

Photo credit

The pain of art, the joy of living

NS June 14th, 2010

You know how some artists (whatever their medium; painting, music, writing, what have you) depend on being miserable, sad, angry, depressed, lonely, frustrated, misunderstood, tired, undervalued or oppressed (or all of the above) to create their art? And how when they’re happy, busy, valued, surrounded by people, encouraged and clear-headed, with a joyful, fulfilling and healthy personal, professional and social life, they sort of lose their edge?

That feels like me right now. I’m flailing. I’m losing my ‘art’. I’m losing my blogging mojo. I’m losing interest in fighting the fights I’ve been fighting for so long. I feel less and less inclined to come up with topics to write about, things to get incensed about, news to devour and dissect. I haven’t read the papers but one time since the British elections on the 6th of May. I have read articles that would normally have me writing lengthy screeds in opposition or approval and felt nothing but the briefest glimmers of interest. I log in then I log out. I stay up late trying to figure out why I’m drawing such blanks and get less and less sleep. I become more irritable.

But then one day I just stopped for awhile. I had other things going on and didn’t have time. Normally I’m itching to get back to my ‘online life’ after a brief spell away; this time I had to force myself to log in. I felt bored. I felt restless.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve recently taken up running. I’m doing a 5k at the end of next month and have been going three times a week fairly faithfully. Yesterday my regimen notched itself up from 8 minutes at a time to 20. I looked at what the running app on my iPhone screen was commanding me to do  and gaped. Go from an 8-minute run to 20 with nothing in between? No gentle breaking-in, no gradual increase over a long period of time? Who the hell did this running app think it was, bloody Richard Simmons?! I gave it a wary eye and told myself that if I couldn’t make it, so be it. It was too much to ask, anyway! It would be a miracle if I didn’t need to stop due to bursting lungs or cramping calves or some other such affliction.

But it turns out, I did it. I did it and it wasn’t even that difficult. I could do that run all along but I was holding myself back. I didn’t think I could do it so I didn’t even try.

For the last few years, ever since I had my daughter, I’ve been waiting for my life to find its niche, its groove, its upward trajectory towards success and happiness. But it turns out that you can’t wait for this shit to happen; you have to make it happen. You have to pour your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into it and then wade head-first, eyes open, into the mix instead of standing on the sidelines feebly throwing cups of water at those racing past you.

Right now I am going through some intense transformations; from couch potato into runner, from a frustrated writer and stay-at-home mum to an independent businesswoman and running-three-websites mum, from distant, grumpy wife to more engaged partner and from a mother unhappy with her parenting practices and interactions with her children to one taking control and doing things to rectify those negative practices, ones that stem mainly from that discontent I spoke of earlier.

Needless to say, something has got to give.

So while I love my art and I love my little corner of cyberspace and the friends, opportunities, emotional and intellectual growth it has provided me, I am beginning to feel that I may be done with Noble Savage. I’ve been going for over five years and I’m not sure what else I can say, really. I’ve poured my heart out, written my fingers to the bone, researched, read, reported, raged, ranted, laughed, cried and gone a little bit loopy in the process.

Maybe I’m not going to get that book deal or journalism job or freelance gig after all. Maybe all I was ever destined to do was write this blog to meet the people and read the things that grew my mind and fed my soul enough to get me on my life’s true path, one that will make me happier, more fulfilled, more at ease and successful than my years-long dream of being a published author or  respected hack ever would have afforded me.

Maybe I just need a break, with no defined return. Maybe  a complete release from the pressure of a blank screen and a full RSS reader will do the trick and when things have settled down with the doula business and the running and getting my marriage back on track, I will have more to say, and better. Hell, maybe tomorrow I will wake up having completely changed my mind and be ready to tear the shit out of some article in the Times or wax lyrical about the highs and lows of parenthood.

But for now, the joy of living is overriding the gut-wrenching pain and time involved in creating my art. And this time, I’m going to let it.

The assassination of Iggle Piggle

NS June 4th, 2010

My sister, who is here visiting from Chicago, had Noble Boy on her lap yesterday, trying to keep him entertained by showing him clips of In The Night Garden on her phone. What she didn’t know, as most parents have already discovered if they’ve searched YouTube for clips of favourite children’s shows, is that some people like to take said clips and mess with them, making them rather dark or, um, adult.

So it was to Noble Sister’s horror when, a few seconds into the clip of Iggle Piggle bouncing around to the soothing music and nonsensical narration, something rather unexpected happened. [Warning: May not be suitable for viewing if young children are present]

Woe betide the therapist coaxing NB through this repressed memory in 30 years.

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