Life lessons

  • Ten things I say to my kids and (almost) never mean…

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    1. I’ll think about it… (usually said when I mean no, but can’t be bothered with the ensuing argument)
    2. I’m not going to ask you again…(oh, yes I will!)
    3. I’ll be there in just a minute… (more likely 10 minutes, unless I forget to come at all)
    4. Get off that iPad, you have been on it for ages…(it kept you quiet while I was on Facebook and Instagram, but I’m finished now)
    5. Maybe…(see number 1)
    6. There is going to be a serious consequence if you don’t do what I say… (um,  I just have to think of it first)
    7. I am going to turn this car around if you don’t behave… (and go where? I’m trying to get you out of the house!)
    8. You are going to be in big trouble when your father gets home…(but we probably will have all moved on to the next drama by then, and forgotten all about it)
    9. If you don’t clean this room, I’m throwing all your stuff in the bin! (no I won’t- then I’d have to buy you more stuff)
    10. Why doesn’t anyone listen to me?  (Why won’t you all stop fighting/playing on the iPad/jumping on the dog, and look at me with adoring expectant eyes ready to hang off my every word!)

    It’s funny how we often say one thing, and mean another- and I am definitely more guilty of this in my role as a parent, than I am in any of my other relationships.  This week, I am going to make a conscious effort to remove most of these sayings from my parenting repertoire, and be more honest with my responses.  After all our children are like sponges-absorbing how to behave from our actions more than our words (and besides, half the time they never listen anyway!)

    Do you ever say one thing, and mean another? Leave your comments below- I’d love to hear from you.

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  • The dying art of the handwritten note

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    The other day, I received some mail in my post box. It wasn’t a postcard from my friendly real estate agent telling me how my house is worth much more than I think. Nor was it a letter from my local council member telling me how she is spending my massively inflated rates, based on how much friendly real estate agents think my house is worth. It wasn’t an electricity bill (they just hit me online now), or a catalogue from Vintage Cellars (although I do like those).  This was a hand written envelope addressed to me, and I must admit I felt a small thrill upon seeing it (yes, it is possible that I need to get out more!) I was even more thrilled when I opened it, and found a beautiful note from a dear friend whom I shall call Caylie (because that’s her name) congratulating me on my new blog and website. Now, many friends have told me how they love what I’m doing, and it really does warm the cockles of my heart (does anyone actually know what cockles are?) But to know that someone actually took the time in this day and age to find a nice card, write some heartfelt words on it, put it in an envelope, and take it to the post office to buy a stamp (because nobody keeps stamps at home anymore- do they?) and then post it. Wow- I am exhausted just thinking about it, in these digitised times of automatically clicking send or post.

    It made me think back to all the precious letters I have kept over the years- beautiful long heartfelt love letters from my long distance boyfriend (now long time husband), funny and descriptive postcards from friends backpacking overseas, and treasured handwritten cards from much missed relatives that are sadly no longer with me.  In a way these missives are all relics of another era, but I am so glad I still have them in my possession.  I may not look at them often, if at all, but it is certainly a comfort to know that they are safely sitting in a special box in the top of my cupboard, ready to be reread if I need to be reminded of how loved I am and how loved I have been throughout my life.  Yet, I feel sad that my children will not have these memories to cherish.  Sure there are a few birthday cards with some special words written on them- but heartfelt letters that someone has really taken time to consider their words over?  I don’t think so.  So, I have decided to once a year write (not type) a letter to each of my three children telling them the things I have loved about them and loved doing with them in that year.  I will give it to them on Christmas day (not during present time- I’m not completely naive!) and tell them how much I love them, and that I want them to keep these letters in a special spot to read whenever they want to.

    I am perfectly ok with the fact that they may not be that interested in what I have to say at this point in time.  But it is my hope that maybe one day a grumpy teenager who is having a hard time expressing themselves, will be sitting listening to terrible music in their room, and feeling like the world is against them might think to read some words from me that they would never listen to spoken out loud.  They would remember that no matter what, I am in their corner and I love them unconditionally.  Or if God forbid, something happened to me, and I was no longer here for them, there would be tangible written evidence of my all-encompassing love for my children that survives long past texts and Facebook updates.   If (there doesn’t seem to be a guaranteed ‘when’ in this day and age) they leave home, they may well leave these letters behind, along with long forgotten kinder drawings, soccer medallions, and written stories about magical kingdoms.  But thats ok, because I shall keep them, ready to be the custodian of their memories until one day, they too need to remember how much they are loved and have been loved throughout their life.

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    Do you still write letters to people? Or do you write special notes for your children? I would love to hear from you…

  • How a failed business idea led me to exactly where I am supposed to be.

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    When I turned 40, as part of my Festival of Mel celebrations, I decided I wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary with my four best girlfriends.  Something that would be exciting and thrilling, without the inherent danger of say, jumping out of a plane (after all, we had 13 small children between us!)  We ended up going ziplining in the Otway State Forest- it was great fun if you ever get the chance to do it, and we came away feeling happy and exhilarated. Later that week, once I had recovered from all my festivities,  I was thinking to myself that it would be great if there was a website that sold gift vouchers for experiences for women, as this would be a fantastic 40th birthday present.  When I started looking online, it seemed that a lot of the websites selling experiences were geared towards men e.g. hot laps in a V8 (I know this might be some women’s idea of a good time, but it ain’t mine). However, anything targeted towards women tended to be along the lines of spa treatments and massages (now I love a good massage as much as the next person, but it hardly gets the heart pumping- unless of course it’s by Ryan Gosling).

    With that, an inkling of an idea began to form- maybe I could start a business that sold gift vouchers to women for experiences rather than products- things like cooking classes, dance lessons, jewellery making, and swimming with dolphins (I still think it’s a good idea by the way, feel free to steal it if you want to!)  I talked to my best friend about it, and we both agreed it was a fabulous idea, bound to be super successful, make us a motza of money, and would eventually be bought out by a large corporation so that we could spend our twilight years travelling the world together in style (did I mention that I’m a glass half full type of gal?) So we decided to go into business together, and diligently started our planning.  We chose a name (Your Time Off), registered it, got a logo designed, did a business plan, researched potential suppliers, started getting a website built, and……..

    Nothing, we really didn’t do anything.  The above took us two years to come up with.  Yes, for two whole years we would meet once a week, catch up with each others news, complain about our children, complain about our husbands, laugh about life in general, have a cup of tea, have some lunch, oh, and maybe spend an hour or two on the computer (while easily getting sidetracked by Between Two Ferns– you can thank me later if you’ve never watched it before!) So what happened? We both thought it was a great idea, but neither of us had any motivation to do any work on it outside of the few hours we caught up once a week- basically we didn’t have any passion for our business.  What we did enjoy was spending regular time together, and having the excuse of our start up business meant we made consistent time for each other in our busy lives.  Now you would think that two girls who met whilst studying psychology, would have realised sooner that running an online gift voucher business would not be their strong suit, but no, we kept going as neither of us was willing to disappoint the other by pulling out.

    It was only earlier this year, when a friend convinced me to attend the Big Hearted Business (un)Conference and I heard Danielle LaPorte speak, that I started to question what I was doing. I really started listening to my inner desires, and pushed my fears aside and enrolled in a life coaching course that deeply resonated with me.  I knew that helping women like me live their best life on the other side of forty was where my true passion lay. I finally felt I could let Your Time Off go without feeling like a failure. My friendship is still rock solid (and lets face it, it may not have stayed that way if we went into business together).  Not surprisingly, I have achieved more in the last few months, than I did in the last two years, because I believe so much in myself and what I want to achieve.  I built this website myself, I have rediscovered my long lost love of writing, I have embraced social media, and I am loving my life coaching course.  I can’t wait until I start taking clients on next year, and I’m already thinking ahead about publishing e-books and running retreats in the future.  Yes, I am thinking big, because I am believing in myself  and what I have to offer the world. I may have gotten here via the long route, but I wouldn’t trade those days with my best friend for anything either- they helped get me to exactly where I am supposed to be.

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  • On the Other Side of Forty- Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight

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    When you are a kid, midnight seems an elusive and magical time- impossible to stay awake for, but so full of promise (did anyone else dream of midnight feasts with ‘scrumptious tea cakes and lashings of ginger beer‘ or was that just me and my Enid Blyton obsession?)

    In my late teens and early twenties, I often didn’t even consider going out until after 10.00pm, so most of my night out occurred after midnight, and usually included lots of dancing, drinking, and fun times. Seeing the sun come up after a dance party was not unusual, and my body seemed to function pretty well on a small amount of sleep and an egg & bacon McMuffin or two (this was an unfortunately small period of my life when my body reacted so well to alcohol, lack of sleep, and fast food- those days are looooong gone!)

    In my thirties, I wanted nothing to do with midnight, I was all about sleep and how to get more of it. Throughout the night there was often a baby wanting to be breastfed, a toddlers wet bed to deal with, or a young child’s nightmares to soothe. My husband and I often enjoyed the fun bonding game of “I’m going to pretend I’m still asleep, so the other person gets up first.” The only thing I learned about midnight during this period is that there is nothing good on TV when you have to feed a baby in the middle of the night, and never ever purchase anything on a late night shopping channel, even if it is going to revolutionise your life (unless it’s one of those rotating hot iron hair straighteners- you should buy that and tell me if it really will smooth my frizzy locks!)

    These days, midnight is no longer something to be feared, as all my children sleep through the night. If they get up early (as they invariably do) they all know how to make themselves a bowl of cereal and keep themselves amused until I come down the stairs to see the kitchen in a complete shambles (they never get tired of delighting me with that vista). However, I am speaking from experience when I say that on the other side of forty nothing good ever happens after midnight. Let me give you two hypothetical scenarios to prove my hypothesis (ok, so they both might have happened to me!)

    Example one: You have paid for a babysitter to look after your children, while you and your partner go to a real life actual grown up party in your local neighbourhood- yippee! You confidently tell the delightful young babysitter that you’ll be home just before midnight. So off you go wearing grown up high heels, and soon you are talking to real life grown ups, having a real life grown up great time, when you suddenly notice that it is 11.58pm (when you last checked the time it was 9.30pm- how did that happen?) Somehow you have to remove your husband from his life or death conversation about sport, say good bye to everyone, have a fight about who’s going to drive, look for where you left your jacket, and then as neither of you can safely drive, you walk home in bare feet with your uncomfortable shoes in hand. When you finally arrive home, you end up giving the babysitter a big tip because you are so late, and see a note from your son on the kitchen bench informing you he has an away game of soccer at 8.30 in the morning, he can’t find his soccer boots, and you are on orange and lolly duty…

    Still not convinced?

    Example 2: The girls night out. You and your besties have all cleared your schedules, left plans and dinner with your significant others, and have managed to put on an outfit that makes you feel somewhat young and with it (or at the very least not too old and without it). You are going out for a nice dinner in the city, and decide to have a glass of champagne at a friends house before you catch the train. Two glasses later, you are feeling on fire, and head into town, where the hip new restaurant that doesn’t take bookings informs you that the next table of 6 will be available at 9.45pm. You decide to go to a bar because tonight you are young and wild and free- a few more drinks are had and the conversation and laughter is flowing. By the time you are seated for dinner it is past 10.00pm, and you would eat the coasters you are so tipsy and starving. When the food finally arrives you wolf it down, and end up eating a number of kimchi tacos and mini sliders at $12 a pop, that you barely tasted. Someone decides that an espresso martini is a good idea for dessert, and you miss the last train home and have to get a taxi. You finally get home at 1.30am, tired, starving, quite possibly drunk, and have spent a small nations GDP on your night out. Oh, and your husband has left you a note reminding you that you are on canteen duty for soccer in the morning…

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    Do you have any great stories about the other side of midnight? Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me (more or less!)