September 24, 2014

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth...

I'm baaaaaack!

I guess it's true what they say, old(ish) writers never die; they just go on a loooong hiatus. Boom tish.

Well, what a difference a year makes. Those twelve little months can whoosh past in the blink of an eye, can't they? Before you know it, you're unpacking the fairy lights and Christmas decorations even though it only feels as if you've just packed them all away. (Unless you're like one of our neighbours down the street who leave their fairy lights up all-year round.) 

So what's been happening, you ask? What has Sarah been doing? And what IS Sarah doing next? At this point I can honestly say I only know on a day-to-day basis. I have no big plans. Nor do I need any. The past year has seen a steep learning curve of changes for me and mine. Nine months ago I separated from my husband after almost 19 years of marriage. Yeah. BIG change. Massive. Huge. I won't go into all the gory details here - this is not that kind of blog, sorry - suffice to say that it was my choice to leave and I have no doubt it was the best decision for me, and my children. A happier Sarah is a much better Mum and/or everything!

So as you can imagine, the landscape of my life has changed immeasurably. I can't say it was quite how I imagined my life might look at age 48, but it is what it is and you know what? That's alright by me. The benefit of age and a fair bit of hindsight tell me that life in general is usually an open book - it's whatever you decide to make of it. That's not to say that I haven't had my moments of uncertainty, stress and fear-induced anxiety; God knows I most certainly have. I've weathered some very dark days, awful, desperate days. There've been panic attacks. Hyperventilating episodes, fighting to calm myself days. I hardly recognise the woman I was then. 

But I am finally starting to find my happy place. YES! The optimist in me is slowly but surely exerting her influence and I'm so glad. That means I'm on the mend. Sleep is coming in longer bursts and is more restful. I look less strained and a lot more relaxed. I moved to a new house recently and it's beginning to feel like home, a true reflection of me and my boys. I walk in and it feels welcoming. I was at home on my own the other day and I caught myself looking around the room and thinking: "I did it. I really did it. And I'm doing okay." It was a pretty cool moment, readers. The beginning of something GOOD.

So I'm grabbing hold of these new beginnings and holding them close - they are only a few small things, for sure, but nevertheless they make me HAPPY and that's the whole point. I was watching Pharrell Williams on the Graham Norton Show last night and they mentioned his song 'Happy' from  'Despicable Me' that the kids and I both love - I defy anyone to sit still while it plays; you cannot help but tap your feet as it bops along.

What's made you happy lately? The thought of school holidays and no alarm clock? The start of next term? Or maybe it's just you, the couch and a bowl of Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig & Honeycomb ice-cream in front of the TV?? 

May 27, 2013

27/5: Music for Monday...


Everyone in my house had Monday-itis this morning. Except for my eldest. He was up and out the door by 6am. The only reason I know this is because our resident feline diva had been literally walking all over me since 5.30. How freaking hard is it to find a suitable spot to plonk yourself down on, I ask you?

A few seconds later - in truth an hour and a half but it honestly FELT like only seconds - the alarm went off. Let's get this wagon train a-moving! Except that no-one was keen. Just very slooooooooow.

I had to wake up Son#2 THREE times before he eventually surfaced with a muffled 'Wha...?" from under his doona. Rise and shine, baby, I was thinking. If *I* can get up and get my shit together, then surely you can too. I'm a night person, remember?!


Things can only get better from here. I hope.

Today's song is a more recent tune - one I heard on the radio over the weekend while out and about. I was enjoying one of those sport-free weekends - a very rare occurrence in this house - which came about after a few days of very heavy rain. Spence and I were enjoying an invigorating Saturday morning walk in the autumn sunshine and this song kept me moving with a spring in my step. I liked it so much I've added it to my iPhone's music playlist. See what you think!

Hey baby won't you look my way
I can be your new addiction
Hey baby what you gotta say
All you're giving me is fiction

I'm a sorry sucker and this happens all the time
I found out that everybody talks
Everybody talks, everybody talks (too much)

Neon Trees - Everybody talks

Happy Mondays, people.

May 13, 2013

13/5: Music for Monday...

I thoroughly enjoyed all the pampering of yesterday but today it was back to work! You can tell when I have a day off, that's all I'm sayin'.

Image source

Three loads of washing were washed and hung out, two baskets of clean clothes folded and put away, breakfast dishes sorted, kitchen benches wiped down, hard floors vacuumed and mopped, dog walked and all was done before 11.30am! Phew. I can clean like a woman possessed when I'm in the zone.

But it also helps when there is an incentive, am I right? And this was a doozy. One of my Mother's Day presents from yesterday was a gift voucher for a one hour massage at my favourite beauty salon, the appointment scheduled for 12.30 today! Oh yes. One thing I must say about my boys - they definitely know what I like!

AND what I need. Because OH MY GOD, did I need it. There were knots in my neck and shoulders I swear have been there for months. And the massage therapist found every. Single. One. I did not want her to stop, the release of tension was sheer bliss! SO DAMN GOOD.

Have you noticed it's always a bit of a lottery with the range of 'relaxation style' music each salon has piped through their treatment rooms? I think they must all buy from the same music catalogues. I've been in enough salons over the years to be thoroughly sick of Enya, Tubular Bells or Clannad. We need to think outside the box, people!

Here's a suggestion for their playlist. Not a hint of chanting, wind chimes or flutes in this, I can assure you. Just very mellow and highlighted by a soulful guitar. I could listen to this particular artist all day. Twice I have seen this song performed live and both times, Sting was nothing short of incredible. What a talented musician.

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold

Sting -Fields of gold

Happy Monday, people.

May 11, 2013

The Magic of Mothers...

I adore this picture. It's a mother's love, shining pure and bright for all to see.

My mother and I have had our share of ups and downs over the years although I'm glad to say they've mostly been ups. I think she'd agree that my teens were probably the hardest period of all, probably not helped by the fact that we're actually very alike. It's only now - as I'm getting older - that I fully realise and understand this. 

"Hi Mum. I want to apologise in advance for
the grey hair I'm going to give you..." 

Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs out. No pay, on-call 24/7/365 days a year, no holidays. No instruction booklet available, just work it out yourself, thanks very much. It wasn't until I had children myself that I truly appreciated everything my mother has done for me, indeed what it actually means to BE a mother. It's a tough gig with not much to show for it at times. 

Heading home... circa 1966.

Thanks, Mum. Seriously, THANK YOU. You've always been there, my rock, my champion, my fiercest supporter. Whenever I've needed a strong female role model, you've shown me the way. All things considered, I think we've navigated the mother/daughter seas very successfully, don't you? Love you to the moon and back. Can't wait to see you in July!!

I'm looking forward to a relaxing Mother's Day at Chez WSDN tomorrow morning. On the to-do list is a sleep-in, a cup of tea with my Sunday paper (with time to read it) followed by a lazy lunch and a rugby game to watch in the afternoon. Can't get much better than that.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day, dear readers. And big hugs to all the mothers for everything they do. I hope you have a relaxing and joyful day with your families.

What are your plans for Mother's Day? And for those mums, what's on your present wish list for tomorrow? 

May 6, 2013

6/5: Music for Monday...

I have this quote printed on a magnet. I've had it for ages. I can't remember where I bought it (probably one of those spontaneous purchases at the cash register) but I do remember the first time I read it. 


I've added that to my bucket list. How invigorating would that be! Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff on your own; the air around you, still and portent. Suddenly you take a huge breath and let loose with the biggest scream of your life. The first time you do it, you might feel stupid. Self conscious, even. But then you gather yourself and try it again, putting all your angst and frustrations into a blood-curdling scream that soars out into the open space beyond. You listen to the echo bounce back to you.


After all that screaming, it stands to reason that you'd feel some kind of release wouldn't you think? Which could easily be extended and enhanced for a much longer period of time with a relaxing weekend away at an indulgent spa? Where can I sign up for that? I know, I know, I'm projecting but for the record, I like my bubbles in a tall crystal glass, ploise.

So as a tip of my hat to quote writer Carol Shields, I thought today's selection should reflect our continual search for a truer, deeper meaning of self. This particular legendary band sprang to mind -  when you need lyrics with meaning, you'd be hard pressed to go past them. They've got a repertoire so extensive you can find a song for almost any situation. This one happens to be one of my favourites... its iconic opening guitar solo speaks to my soul in a way no other does. 

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for 
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

U2 - I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Happy Monday, people.

May 5, 2013

Ghosts of holidays past...

Just before the Ninja Boy turned 4, we decided to take a family holiday to New Zealand. Ten years had passed since our last visit and I was desperate to take my boys to see everyone back home. The decision was made to go for 12 days during the winter school holidays in July. We'd start at my mother's place in Blenheim at the top of the South Island and drive down south to where my brother lived in Queenstown.

It was an exciting prospect. New Zealand is at its most spectacular in winter, especially in the South Island. The Southern Alps stretch like a jagged zip down the centre of the island, providing an impressive snowcapped backdrop to every picture postcard view. I've always thought of it as God's Country, because the serenity? Is simply magnificent.

But every time I thought about stepping on that plane, my brain was consumed with worry as well as a short list of all the things that could go wrong.

This trip was a very different proposition from all others we'd ever taken before, you see. 18 months prior, our youngest son had been diagnosed with Austism Spectrum Disorder. This news, quite understandably, had changed the landscape of our lives completely. In a turn-it-upside-down kind of way. We were still on a very steep learning curve with early intervention therapy but we'd already had elements of substantial progress. Managing the everyday challenges on a daily basis was becoming less of an issue but to even be contemplating travelling with him on an aircraft? An enclosed space where he couldn't get off? Something else ENTIRELY.

Anxious does not even begin to cover the myriad of emotions I felt. We'd never attempted anything as ambitious as that. How the hell would it work? Right from the word go I knew the sheer size of the airport building and its hordes of surging, noisy crowds would be sensory overload for the Ninja Boy in mere minutes. Going grocery shopping for 15 minutes was too much for him. My brain was already mapping out the likely scenarios of what could happen and none of them were particularly pleasant. The stress was building and we hadn't even booked the tickets!

As it turned out, we had a great trip. With a few meltdowns here and there which weren't as bad as my massive bouts of anxiety had led me to fear. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

Customs in both Australia and New Zealand were fantastic, graciously allowing us to go through the gate last, so that when we got on the plane it immediately began taxiing to the runway for take-off, there was no hanging around. The Ninja Boy spent a good portion of the flight lying on the floor underneath The Provider's seat, curled up with a blanket and a pillow. In his mind it equalled less pairs of eyes able to see him down there so that's where he stayed until landing. This coping mechanism was to be repeated a lot during our holiday - the Ninja Boy often sat under the table to eat his food - it was only there he felt more in control and less stressed, so we simply rolled with it and carried on regardless.

I was reminded of this holiday earlier in the week when I came across a picture we took at the time. The Ninja Boy had looked up as he was crouching on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. He'd been transfixed by all the rounded stones, fascinated by their shapes and colours. I swear, during that trip he must have thrown a quarry's worth of stones into the water/snow or river!

Looking at this picture reminded me how far he has come since those early days. His life at 12 is a far cry from where it used to be. The woman in that photo could only dream about the sorts of things the Ninja Boy is doing now. Thinking of the future was often in the 'too hard' basket - I was flat out dealing with what was happening today let alone five, ten years from now. I didn't know it then but I shouldn't have worried. He has taught me to appreciate the positive in every step forward and to focus on what we CAN do, not on what we CAN'T.

A good way to live for all of us, I think.

Have you ever travelled with a special needs child? How did it turn out? Where's the best place you and your family have holidayed?

April 29, 2013

29/4: Music for Monday...

Another Monday and the start of another week. Can you believe it'll be May in two days??

The countdown has begun for school to start (this Wednesday, woohoo!) although I may be more excited about it than the boys are. The house will finally be mine! *cue manic laughing* Rooms will miraculously stay clean all day. Serenity and calm will permeate the air. Work will be accomplished and study will be completed. That's the plan, at least. I'll let you know how it works out.

Plus there'll be a helluva lot less food preparation going on. That right there will save me SO much time. Seriously. The amount of food chowed down in this house over the past two and a half weeks is nothing short of ridiculous. You'd think we were a house of 10 adult men, not a family of 5. I honestly don't know where they put it.

All I know is that I'm tired of hearing male voices whining: "Muuuum! There's nothing to eat." 

Because the thing is, there's PLENTY. Fruit, bread, cheese, eggs, milk, bacon, ham, two minute noodles... literally oodles of food. DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING?

Apparently, yes. Yes, I do. Roll on Wednesday, ploise.

One voice I am enjoying hearing is the TV show 'The Voice'. We finally have new outfits for the judges (thank goodness) and the competition has ramped up to a 'sink or swim' atmosphere. Some singers have thrived, while others have been absolute shockers. Song choice is so important, is it not? 

The Voice has been a constant source of inspiration for MFM song choices lately and the last couple of episodes have been no exception. Today's selection is a KILLER song. I absolutely loved it in 1990 when it first came out, and the contestants did a pretty good job in the Battle Round, especially Shawne. 

Turn this up loud!

I always thought that our relationship was good
You played the role of having sense
While I always played the fool
Now something's different
I don't know the reason why
Whenever we separate
I always want to cry

Oh no, please not that again
Love rears up its ugly head

Living Colour - Love rears up its ugly head

Happy Monday, people.

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