July 18, 2016

18/07: Music for Monday...

I've been writing in one form or another for what seems like forever. For pleasure and as part of my job. The joy of the written word has always resonated strongly within me, fostered and encouraged by my beautiful mother, a voracious reader like myself. Fellow readers will understand and appreciate our devotion to the theory that the best kind of insulation you can ever have in your house is a bookcase stacked with books!

But being a typical Pisces girl, I also spend a lot of time in my head thinking and daydreaming. Not to the point of forgetting what I'm doing but let's just say it's probably rather fortunate I can multi-task like a boss! Turning over a few hundred different ideas in my head while I'm doing something else happens quite often.

I used to write little short stories in primary school, graduating to filling red and green covered diaries with my thoughts and girlish fancies all the way through high school. Oh, the angst of those teenage times! Writing took a backseat for a brief period post leaving school. I was consumed with the serious business of applying myself to the pursuit of being young and free and enjoying my independence, along with the responsibilities of my first job. But the words wouldn't be denied and after my first son was born, I began to write again when he slept, emptying my mind and filling page after page of spiral bound exercise books.

I wrote about my hopes and dreams, my worries and my fears; the constant conflict every new mother has about whether she will be enough, combined with the physical and mental impact a baby undoubtedly brings to your life. I drained the ink of countless pens whilst writing it all down the old school way, in long hand. Looking back, the fact I had an outlet to evaluate what I was feeling and put it onto paper helped me immensely, especially during those early years coping with life as a new mother. At the time I don't think I realised how much it really did. I certainly do now, though.

Thinking about writing was the prompt for today's Music for Monday choice and to be honest, there are thousands of songs whose lyrics speak to me, it just depends on my mood! However I was reminded of this little gem today and after listening to it again, I remembered why I love it so much.

This song about daughters is beautiful for so many reasons; not least of which is the reminder that a father and a mother set the example for all little girls to look up to and how special that relationship truly is.

Happy Monday, peeps.

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

John Mayer - Daughters

July 4, 2016

04/07: Music for Monday ...

I've loved music for as long as I can remember. Like forever. I literally cannot function without it taking up some part of my day. There is nothing else on the planet with the ability to get me smiling, moving, coping, thinking (or not-thinking, as the case might be) faster than time with a large thumping dose of aural goodness into my ears.

Music has had my back whenever and wherever I've needed it, on more occasions than I can count. It has tirelessly soothed, inspired, eased, motivated, enhanced and/or distracted. I've powered through countless hours of housework, gardening, dog-walking and driving, not to mention rocking out at concerts, days at the beach, drinking on hot summer nights and intimate moments after dark with music my ever-present partner, loyal to the end. It's the perfect accompaniment for anything and everything and can be all things to all kinds of people. That's the cool thing about it.

Just like eating and sleeping as long as this half-century old heart still pumps blood around my body, for me music will be an essential part of my life, every day. As the very wise Jimi Hendrix once said: "Music is my religion." Amen to that, brother.

Music has provided a soundtrack of virtually every major event in my life right through to plenty of not so major ones. Isn't it amazing how listening to a certain song will take you right back to where you were the first time you heard it? I love how that happens. Music's kind of like a super food for your soul and let's face it, we could all use a bit of self-care there, especially lately. With the world in the current state it is in, we could do worse than to take time out for a bit of internal nourishment.

Regular readers of this blog will know of my Music for Monday posts. Despite my lack of posting of late, I still get asked about them so it was only a matter of time before I brought them back... arm twisting not required at ALL.

So last night I was mentally sifting through possible choices to kick it all off when the answer serendipitously appeared. I was watching the last episode of Californication, after 6 weeks of romping through all 7 very funny seasons showcasing the comedic chops of the equally sexy and talented David Duchovny (seriously, how gorgeous is that man? Motherf*cker! Californication devotees will get the reference, haha!).

The final few minutes of Hank Moody introspection were underscored by one of my favourite songs from Elton John's early years. It was the perfect choice for the way the series ended and even though the song was released in 1972, it sounded just as good now as it did then - the sign of a true classic if ever there was one.

Happy Monday, peeps.

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
Til touchdown brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no, no, no... I'm rocket man

Elton John - Rocket Man

July 2, 2016

Hello from the Other Side...

Hello... it's me.

Adele references aside, I'm back from a very long and mostly unintentional hiatus from writing. Bless me Father for I have sinned... it's been almost 6 months since I've posted something. No religious offence intended.

But like misplacing your glasses or dropping your phone in the toilet these things sometimes just happen. It's all part of the rich tapestry of life, right? But I spent a long time worrying about my not posting initially. This blog is almost like my 'other' baby, my own personal patch of cyber space if you will, and I'd neglected it to the point that Google Analytics would undoubtedly laugh and raise a smug eyebrow at me if I'd ever bothered to check my now-dwindling stats.

I've desperately missed the process of putting my thoughts out there and sharing them though. I relish the weight of the words as they travel from head to MacBook, the texture and wonder of them as I edit and organise them into some semblance of articulate expression. And then there's the interaction with readers and the genuine thrill of reading my words online (something I still feel, even now. Seriously, it never gets old). Like my bio says, writing is my special place.

But this blog is more than that for me. It's like a diary, almost, which is probably why it's still here despite my non-posting and I why I haven't deleted it. I still have diaries from when I was in high school so I guess I shouldn't be surprised!

The thing I've come to realise during this hiatus is that essentially, I write for myself. It's never been about writing for anyone else. And for me, that's how it should be. So when I get bogged down with life/work/kids or I simply can't find more than 10 minutes to sit and get into the zone I need to be in before anything worth reading comes out, my Mojo gets wise and takes a break.

But miracles do happen occasionally... and today I was home on my own, with no plans or places to be. Oh, the possibilities!

It's taken me a long time since my divorce to adjust to having periods of time solo and for a while I really struggled with that. I used to prowl aimlessly around the house, not knowing what to do with myself; it was like I'd forgotten something yet for the life of me couldn't remember what it was no matter how hard I tried. That sense of imbalance would plague my head all day leaving me feeling exhausted and very on edge. Not a great place to be in.

I've become a lot more adept at dealing with that imbalance in more recent times. As expected, time has worked its magic and helped me adjust to the inevitable changes that divorce brings but combined with some wonderful surprises from the Universe I can honestly say I'm happier now than I've ever been.

So I saw the solitude today as a gift, a time to relax and concentrate on me without interruption, as shallow as that may sound. I personally think everyone needs to do this if or when they can, because the benefits are immense. One thing they don't tell you about being a single parent is that so often it's the guilt that stops you from enjoying these special little moments. You're too busy being worried or anxious or stressed out to recognise the treasure they most definitely are. And you need to see them that way, it's all about embracing the positives where you can. It's a lesson I've learned well over time to the vast benefit of my improved mental state. In my experience, happy parents make for happy kids.

Tomorrow I have a girly day planned with one of my best mates. We're booked in for spa treatments and an afternoon of lunching, talking, laughing and general bliss. To say I'm looking forward to it would be an understatement. I mean, what's not to like? Gotta say the mojo is pretty psyched too... always a good thing to have a relaxed and happy mind to begin with.

All things going well, I'll be back here soon. Cheers to that, peeps.

So going solo... is it your thing or do you hate it? How do you deal with it? What constitutes a miracle in your life? 

December 7, 2015

07/12: Music for Monday...

There's something special about the idea of true love, isn't there? Who doesn't relish the thought of being swept off their feet? The inner dreamy, Piscean girl that I am is a huge fan of that notion and always has been. It's a wonderful thought, that's for sure. Gets me every time. Also possibly explains the large number of historical bodice-ripper romance novels on my bookshelf too, just quietly.

While on holidays recently, I had a moment of true love. Like, INSTANT true love. But not in the way you'd expect. I saw a photograph in my Dad's photo album that stole my heart the moment I laid eyes on it. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

The gorgeous couple in the full flush of young love are my father's parents in Germany circa 1932. My father would have been a newborn baby around the time this was taken. There are so many things about this picture I love; how my grandfather's hand tenderly cradles my grandmother's face, how she literally glows with happiness while posing for the photographer, how you can almost 'see' the emotional connection between them. True love right there. And all the more incredible when you consider the time they lived in.

The world was very different place in 1932. The Great Depression was in full force. Unemployment was rife. Support was growing for the Nazi and Communist parties. Life was hard and money was tight. Good news was hard to come by. And unbeknownst to them, the worst was still to come. 7 years later World War II set in motion events that would dramatically change the landscape of the world forever. 

Somehow, perhaps even despite what was going on around them, they were still able to find the good in their lives together. Their relationship (and their son, my Dad) was the joy that their lives revolved around. It certainly would have made dealing with the craziness of the world they lived in a lot more bearable.

So I look at that black and white photograph and can't help but smile. It makes me feel happy and hopeful, too.

In my experience, a true connection between two people is rare; once discovered you can't deny its existence any more than you can stop breathing, the feelings it conjures within are that intense. 

Which brings me to today's Music for Monday offering from singer/songwriter, Vance Joy. He writes and sings so beautifully about matters of the heart and this song is particularly apt for today's post. Anywhere I go, there you are. Oh yes, indeed.

                                                            You're the fire and the flood
                                                        And I'll always feel you in my blood
                                                                  Everything is fine
                                                       When your hand's resting next to mine
                                                                     Next to mine
                                                           You're the fire and the flood

Vance Joy - Fire and the Flood

December 1, 2015

Don't quote me, but...

I truly believe this. Once connected, always connected.

As a lover of the written word in general, I'm a long time fan of the snapshot variety. The quote. My favourites are ones which utterly and completely capture a situation, emotion or a belief that I've had, or still have. They can be simple, just a few words, or a perhaps several paragraphs long; it really doesn't matter. The reason I like any of them is always the same; after reading them it's like someone has stepped inside my head, flicked the light on and cast a probing, all-knowing gaze over the corners of my mind, then unerringly plucked out the exact same thought.

"OMG, that is SO true!"

"Man, I can relate to that!"

"TELL me about it!"

Know what I mean? Ever had that feeling after reading one?

There are times when a quote can sum up precisely what I'm struggling to put into words (something I find incredibly frustrating). But then I'll stumble across a quote and think: "Yeah, that's it EXACTLY." I suspect having my feelings eloquently summed up this way helps my mental process a lot. At any rate, all I know is that I love these little mini bites of thought.

Consequently, I use quotes for lots of reasons in my daily life.
  • To motivate or inspire when I'm feeling a bit meh - feeding the mind with words that kick my arse into gear is aways a good start. If that fails, Spencer gets an extra walk while I power on through with headphones and music!
  • To lighten my mood - generally speaking, I'm an optimist but the Pisces in me can be a little overly dramatic at times so occasionally I need a lift with some humour. Laughter is the best medicine after all!
  • To send someone a message - they say a picture is worth a thousand words and attaching a snapshot of a quote to a text is so much faster than trying to explain what you're trying to say sometimes. This is called making technology work for you. Or being lazy. Whatever. It works for me.

There are quotes about absolutely any topic you can think of. Search Google for what you're looking for and I guarantee you'll find something. My personal favourites include fate, destiny, humour and souls that stay connected. There are literally THOUSANDS of quotes to wade through in cyberspace, so you can right-click-save or Pin til your little heart's content. I should probably also mention here that it is VERY addictive. You can lose an hour before you know it!

For the non-cyber quote collectors among you (and I am sure there will be quite a few) let me paint you a picture: it's akin to being a Tall Grass Devotee. Imagine walking through a never-ending field of tall grass, stretched out as far and as wide as the eye can see. You wander aimlessly around, touching each blade with your hand, savouring its texture between your fingers briefly before your eyes dart off to look at the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one. Occasionally you'll snap a blade off to keep, but still you wander, looking and snapping, snapping and looking, losing track of time and not caring because you're totally in the moment. It's bliss. After twenty minutes you can't see the edge of the field, you forgot why you even went there in the first place but you really don't care. You have fistfuls of grass!

The photo gallery on my phone will stand as testament to this incredibly time wasting fact. What on earth did we do before Pinterest, I ask? Ahem.

I literally have hundreds saved but thought I'd share a few that I'm loving a lot at the moment:

It's all about accentuating the positive!

The beach has always been my happy place.
One day I will live closer to one!

Yes, I am. And I'm worth it.

I think we can all relate to this one... the older I get, the
less inclined I am to tolerate anyone else's BS.

So tell me... do you love a quote? Relate to anything here? What's the best quote you've read lately?

November 28, 2015

Getting away from it all... so you can remember how it was.

I'm recently back from holidays this past week. It was the first chance I've had for a decent break (on my OWN!) after a particularly full-on year and I really needed some time away to recharge the batteries.

I'm pretty easy-going when it comes to holidays, I'm happy just to get away! But I do have a short checklist of must-haves: No alarm clock. Scenic location. Comfortable accommodation. Loads of time to RELAX. No stress. Opportunity to increase usual (almost non-existent) alcohol consumption.

I am happy to say this holiday ticked ALL of those boxes and then some.

The reason (or excuse, but really do you ever need one to get away?) for this little escape was to attend the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends in New Zealand. She was one of my bridesmaids when I got married and I always said if she ever changed from a Miss to a Mrs, I wanted to be there.

And so it came to be.

It was a gorgeous day reconnecting with great mates, many of whom I hadn't seen for a long time. Nothing beats catching up with your besties, does it? We simply pick up from where we left off. LOVE. I made some new friends too, people I know will be in my social network for years to come. It was that kind of wedding. Joyous, engaged conversations, laughs a-plenty (and a few tears), liquid refreshments and jokes flowing long into the night/morning. Simply brilliant.

My girlfriend lives on a charming little farm with picture-perfect views in every direction. A river runs along the back boundary. The air is fresh and crisp and clear. There are chickens, pigs, a horse, dogs and an old black cat who loves to snuggle on the couch. It's the type of place you could imagine Darryl Kerrigan describing as having a "Can you feel the serenity!' quality to it, ala The Castle. Because Lordy, it has serenity by the zen-load. I had plenty of time to think, that's for sure. My writer's mojo loved it. I may have to go back!

The nearest big centre is only a short drive away. Dunedin is a picturesque city, two-thirds of the way down the east coast of the South Island and steeped in Scottish history almost everywhere you look. Gorgeous architecture. Great people. Cheese rolls to die for. It also happens to be the city where I was born.

I drove past a few places reliving memories: the house I grew up in, my old high school, the place where I got my first job. It was like I was back in the 80's again. Nostalgia was working its magic on me, laying it on so thick I could almost taste it. That afternoon I met some other friends for a drink at a hotel in St Clair, but not without catching a glimpse of the beach where we high school girls used to spend hot summers working on our tans.

The nostalgia continued over dinner with my Dad and Stepmother that night as we looked over some old photos. I'm right into family history and I've been blessed with older relatives who have been too. We are so lucky to still have in our possession old birth certificates and family tree records dating back to the early 1600's and even earlier. I have very very distant links to the Swedish royal family, believe it or not. (I know, right? I have Viking heritage! What's not to love about THAT?) It is seriously cool.

But like all things - and especially holidays - it came to an end and I was back at the airport, waiting for yet another plane, en route home.

Cue my house today: the washing machine is currently on load number two and I've already mowed the back lawn that had grown to jungle status in my absence. No. 3 son is already here and No. 2 son arrives tonight. So life goes on. Spencer and Princess are beyond thrilled to have me home. The cat next door who I discovered had been sneaking over the fence to pinch food from Princess's bowl has been swiftly reminded in no uncertain terms that Spencer is BACK, baby. Woof woof WOOF!!

It's nice to be home.

November 17, 2015

Eliminate the negative...

The world seems to have gone crazy in the last 72 hours. It's been really tough maintaining the optimism this week.

I've recognised an optimistic trait in myself for as long as I can remember. My whole life I've mostly tried to hope for the best. Keep accentuating the positive. It doesn't always work but generally speaking, that's how I roll.

My optimistic psyche isn't about possessing a 'Pollyanna' style persona preaching silver-lining methodology to all and sundry - that would be incredibly annoying - apologies to Hayley Mills. In my case, it's more of an inner positivity that only influences how I'm feeling about people, things and/or events around me. I may or may not express those views to anyone else.

Despite this, I still have moments of feeling down or depressed. The only difference is as an optimist I'm aware I won't stay that way for long. Eventually the positive spirit within can't help but take charge, thrusting aside all negativity cluttering up my brain and whipping things back into shape.

Taking regular time out for myself helps maintain this status quo. Being near the water - the beach, especially - is the perfect remedy. There's something about the smell, sound and visual delight of the sea that brings out every good and joyous feeling I possess. I feel alive there.

After this weekend, I think I need to go back.

Because I found it almost impossible to shake the sadness and heaviness in my heart today. It got to the point where I had to stop watching the news because it was too much. Too brutal. Too senseless. Too many questions bouncing around in my head, asking why? Why??

So I binged on TV show Vikings as an escape - including all its bloody violence and gore - because it was simply a television show, and not our current reality. More blood onscreen than you could poke a stick at. Believe me, the irony of my viewing choice hasn't been lost on me.

But that was still preferable to the news. You know, with stories about real life. And real people. With families and friends and normal lives like you and I. Far too real, far too close to home.

Right now, it's fucking hard to put an optimistic spin on THAT.

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