Sunday, 31 January 2016

Family day today ( and every day)

When I woke this morning and followed my ritual of thanks and a cuppa- I had a thought. A word popped into my mind- family!

 "Write something about your meaning or connection with family" it said.

Now, like most mothers, my children are constantly present in my mind- sometimes right up there, sometimes in the back ground but DEFINITELY present. And when I say children I mean that in the broadest sense of the word - children, their partners ( whom I elect to love as my children) and my grandchildren - both those I can hug ( figuratively speaking as they live abroad) and the one in my heart.

I think the focus on family resulted after a visit to my husband's aunt on her 89th birthday yesterday. She has been a widow for many years- has no children of her own so 'borrows' with love, her nieces and nephews. She had a room full of visitors in all age ranges. It was a wonderfully warm visit and I felt privileged to have been a small part of it. So, focus on family.

Family for me has many meanings- but firstly all due must go to those nearest and dearest- my parents, my siblings and my heritage. It has partly shaped me. The experiences of having my own family, involvement with extended family and the friends gathered around me have helped with moulding the rest of ME.

My parents, whom I also hold dear in my heart, were pioneers, courageous and steadfast. They shared 53 +1/2 years of marriage, brought forth 5 children, survived various of life's dramas and made decisions they thought were the best they could make at the given time and circumstance. I can only say - THANK YOU.

Although almost no contact with siblings, my feelings for them and my connection with them is eternal. Bound by our parents and their forefathers our lives are entwined forever. Their personalities have also had an impact on me.

The dutch heritage, the identity, religion and history have played a huge role in who I am and how I view the world.

All my children live Down Under, so they will not be there on birthdays unless I travel to them. Maybe when the grandchildren grow older they may travel and plan to 'pop in' to visit sometime. Now that would be great. The thought and possibility alone is heartwarming.

Looking at extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins all share some common part of my identity. Their involvement in my life need not have been great, yet every sense of belonging stems from 'recognisable traits' which we all have inherited in some form or another. The chefs, gardeners, artists, teachers, photographers and those having entered religious life - can relate to the drive towards these professions held by many. Is it a gene thing? Who shall say.

Friendships, worth their weight in gold -
( read my earlier blog on the subject of friends). True and pure and of long standing. How I treasure those memories and their influences on me. What a wealth of diversity and warmth. I consider them too in my feeling of family. Some even closer than those born into my tree. As far as I am concerned they deserve a spot on my branch. I share their joys, and mourn in their sadness and they mine.

Yesterday I attended the birthday celebration of a family member who turned 89, today I get to share along with many others, the 60th birthday of a dear friend. 

How awesomely blessed is that?

Treasure the family which you have, polish it and keep it shiny and bright. It makes life beautiful!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

One week on

A week ago I wrote about my quest to be more of an oma for my grandson. We now chat almost daily and keep each other informed about our daily doings, possible hitches, successes and attempts to be who we are meant to be.

Now school is back we may not get as much on air time- as he will have homework and a earlier bedtime Which is all good- it just means we have to be more creative.

Earlier this month, I realised I was sitting around too much. We moved into an apartment one year ago- and the loss of extra levels in the home means less legwork. We do use the stairs in stead of the elevator and our home is situated in beautiful parklike surroundings- so the possibility of having a daily walk- a -bout is present. With the colder temperatures and my lack of energy meant I reneged more than I should have.

Whilst setting up some goals with my grandson, I set my step goals to 8000 steps per day and committed to upholding my challenge to myself by reposting my achievements in the chat session each day ( or failure to do so).
And it became a tussle between me and that magical number. Some days it was no bother to reach and surpass that amount of paces, but days like today, I just know I will not be making the grade.

I slept well but far too short, the sun is out, the wind very chilling. I am still not showered ( did brush teeth and splashed water round though) and am wearing my 'home to stay' outfit, which isn't fit for outside. That alone is enough to thwart any enthusiasm I may be able to conjure up.

For the first time in almost 3 weeks I will get an 'F' for walking. Having written this part - I feel a sense of shame - but no drive to alter the situation. Oh boy, that sounds pitiful. No walking today...... and that's that!

While laying awake last night- no reason really why I couldn't sleep, I thought about the few chores I kept pushing aside. The button on a pair of trousers, the dress which need attention ( stitching had come loose), the Easter Bunny almost losing an ear,  the ironing and the two parcels that need posting.

So now, the button has been replaced on the trousers, the dress is ready to wear, one of the parcels has had a letter added to it and is ready for the postoffice. What I haven't addressed yet is the ironing- that can wait till I take the rest of the washing of the line - which is now flapping in the breeze.

Seeing I elected 'Contentment/ Satisfaction' in life as my word for 2016 - I need to see whether I can live with 0 on my counter or pluk up just that ounce of will power I need to open the front door. After that, there is no turning back.

Do you have days like that- when the mood rules? How do you turn it around so that YOU win?

Monday, 18 January 2016

Support at a distance

There are days when I ponder on whether or not the actual physical distance between me and my (grand)+children is a hindrance or not. Certainly coffee and stay-over moments are out of the question but I was thinking more in the lines of; How I can be of practical support as far as advice ( giving and taking), sharing of hopes and dreams and generally 'being a mum/oma' at a distance? And is that distance a spell breaker?

My children all have families of their own. Their addresses are spread over Australia and New Zealand. They are beautiful adults with firm goals and hopes and dreams as all ( or most?) parents are. I admire their energie, their drive and commitment to their children and each other. No road is smooth, no journey without it's disappointments and challenges. Still they journey on - together with the occasional input, where and when asked, needed or offered, by me as their 'living at a distance' mum.

And last weekend I had one of those moments. A few years ago one of my grandsons asked me to play an online computer game with him. I bought the game- tried to get the hang of it- yes, I did try, but eventually he did opt out and played with his friends- saying, " It is ok oma, this is just not your thing". We did play Scrabble too a while- which was also fun. So in sense we shared the same space as if I was there visiting. It felt good.

Now that same grandson is heading for his last year High School. At his age it is still very hard for him to know in which direction he wants to go - in deciding on future study plans. And that isn't unusual. Having to choose something for life when you've just come calling. For a wee moment I felt useless. As a mum of 3, a former teacher and having worked with students I am only too aware of how frustratingly hard this choice making situation can be. Not only for the child but also the adults, the parents who feel unable to communicate or advise on this matter without it becoming a challenging conversation- leading to more frustration. Some parents have this dream that their child will follow in their footsteps ( profession) and some definitely don't want that at all.

So now, my grandson and I have chatted about this for a while- and I made him an offer. I suggested that he and I work together on finding what suits his style, knowledge and interest. We are going on a treasure hunt together. With regular 'meets' online, we will dive into the possibilities with as goal- some sort of answer to the question: Where to after this.....! After all, if I was in the neighbourhood - I would do the same.

At the present point in time we are looking at making a schedule, setting goals ( one step at a time) and learning how we can both become disciplined in this exciting journey together. It involves trust and commitment by us both- because I need to also deliver the support, encouragement and follow ups - to keep the ball rolling. There is no real ' big brother' check up system in place- just our own honesty and perseverance. I am keen to get started and especially excited about - the journey itself. We will use 2016 to travel together. How cool is that?

TOGETHER with my grandson - from a distance - but on the same wave length.


Thursday, 7 January 2016

Times, yes they are (forever) a changing!

One of my favourite past-times while living in New Zealand was walking barefoot on water's edge on the beach. I was very fortunate to be able to spend many a weekend in a batch owned by friends. They gave me the freedom to spend time there whilst I was going through a very rough patch. The waves, the fresh air, the stiff breeze and the possibility for quiet reflection all helped bring some relief in my heavy heart and clouded brain.

Whilst on my walks I would be mesmerised by the waves, sometimes fierce and powerful, sometimes timid and almost silent. But never ending! They lapped around my feet and they never stopped - but changed in size and shape constantly. Looking at them, no staring actually, it was almost tiring thinking  and knowing that they never stopped ( it would be disasterous if they should). It comforts me to know that the waves keep on coming and it enthralls me that they are forever changing in shape, form and character.

The waves, like my thoughts kept on keeping on. Relentlessly, tirelessly and without pauze. I felt at one with those waves.

For me it was the water that captivated me, for others it are the clouds or the stars. The same yet always in motion, changing at each blink of an eye. Comforting yet mysterious.

So too life. It captivates, evolves, situations forever changing. Life for me has changed once again. New location, new challenges and new possibilities. The waves in my life too sometimes a rough ride, sometimes a smooth glide across the ocean of life. It still enthralls me, captivates me and challenges me to make the most of what life has to offer- no matter which beach I am on. Every wave counts.

I think this is also a reflection of the story when the apostles were in the boat and Jesus slept. A storm arose and the waves threatened to engulf the small boat. The apostles panicked and woke Jesus.  As a parable it has a strong message. When a storm in my life happens - calm is of the essence and in knowing I don't have to struggle on my own, gives comfort, insight and courage. The waves will be tempered and the calm will return - when wisdom is sought and I make the right choices. I don't have to fight the battle on my own.

Enjoy your walk, your beach, your stars, your clouds and most of all, enjoy the challenge of change.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A wee flash back

I make a point of writing a last blog before year's end- but when you read what I have been up to in my kitchen you will understand why I was stuck for time.

But first- how was your Christmas? Did you eat in, out, have guests, a quiet dinner for two or did the day pass by without any specific upheaval?

Christmas is not the same for everyone, I realise that. For me it is being with family and if that isn't possible, then with the closest friends you want to surround yourself with. Providing of course they want to spend that time with you ( wink wink).

Listening to and looking at the various weather reports, not many countries had, what one might call, the traditional weather pattern expected at the time of year. We certainly didn't.

Funnily enough it was too warm- and not into temperatures as in Australia where one of my sons lives but, we generally have something close to a white Christmas- at least nothing much above 5 degrees. We had 14. And that feels weird.

Our guests were dear friends who otherwise would have spent Christmas within their own homes- not a bad thing, but gathered together we had a great time. Nine of us graced our table and I have to say,  " worth repeating!"

Seeing we knew each other pretty well, I was also aware of likes and dislikes. I stayed clear of fish dishes and had plenty of vegetable choices and in various forms prepared. I had a silky parsnip puree, jellied beetroot and carrot juice, shoe string sweet potato fries and an absolutely yum vegetable terrine. These accompaniments to go with the 5 and 1/2 kg turkey. The cranberry compote had a lovely tawny port added which lifted it to another dimension. Sooo delicious.

I prepared a 6 course meal.... with much love and dedication and I have to say " a proud moment" when the reactions and compliments were freely dancing around the room.

Our guests arrived approx 4 pm and we closed the door after the last guest left at 11:30pm. Guess you could say that we had a great evening.

Christmas, a time of sharing, of merriment and a taste of the holiday spirit. For me, I think of families in a special way. It is a birthday we are commemorating. In this time of refugees and unrest, I think about Mary and her being far away from home, being a 'displaced person' as many mothers now also are. But it is also a time of joy. New life, a promise of things to come.

Last year we moved into our new home on Christmas Eve and believe me, I had NO intention ( or energy) to have a Christmas dinner here. This year I reclaimed the festivities and made them my own once again. Wonderful.

Another few days and the tree and all the trimmings will disappear into storage once again and I can look back on a great festive season. I hope you can too!