Category Archives: Lessons for my daughters

Lesson Eleven: Finding the Magic in the Everyday

Lesson Eleven: Finding the Magic in the Everyday

‘Finding the Magic in the Everyday’

When my eldest daughter was a toddler, I tried to introduce her to some Disney classics, but she was too young and quickly lost interest. Surprisingly, the first movie to hold her attention was ‘The Muppets’, or ‘The Moopets’ as she called it. As you observe children watch movies, You realise that they aren’t required to have ‘suspension of disbelief’, instead to them, a movie isn’t something coming out of a box via technology. The television is a portal to the world of ‘The Muppets’, and when they don’t want to view that Henson world anymore, they can tune in to something else, and disappear down the modern rabbit hole somewhere else.

The special effects employed in movies these days greatly surpass the talents of the Henson’s Muppets, in such legendary movies as ‘The Labyrinth’ or ‘The Never Ending Story’, which often look a bit odd to us adults watching them back. But for kids, it doesn’t matter how fancy the effects are or how big the budget is – the world that is presented is that world exactly how it is. Think the dog looks a bit strange as he flies through the sky? Well, that’s how it looks. Think the Oompa Loompas looked a bit orange in Willy Wonka, well, yes, they were orange!

To children, the world is magical. Fireworks are magic (I must admit, I do get giddy with excitement over the New Year’s Fireworks we have here in Sydney, they are pretty spectacular). Butterflies, ladybugs and even moths are magic. I watch with wonder as kids enjoy the world as it is presented to you. They don’t question tomorrow. They don’t actually hassle you for the latest toy, okay, maybe once or twice. Whilst in the shops, they will energetically clamour over to the well-positioned product at the check out, but after we’ve survived that, they are back to enjoying the thrill of seeing a baby pass us in the shops, or someone with a puppy.

Parents want to give their children the world, but to our children, we are the world. And everything we give them – through the movies, the books, the people we see are all of the world that become aware of. If they don’t see it through us, then it doesn’t exist. Russia could be Tasmania for all kids understand. Tasmania could be Japan. I mean this in a geographical context not a political context, but on politics, we all know that no child is born racist right? Not only are we presenting them with the world through their experiences with us, but we are also shaping their ideological frameworks. No pressure.

Share the magic with your kids, and look for it beyond the special effects. The eyes of children help to make the world seem a more magical place.

Lesson Twelve – ‘Everyday Friendships’

Lesson Twelve – ‘Everyday Friendships’

Smile Talk

When I was a young girl, I was often berated for not smiling or for appearing unhappy. I was a happy enough child but very contemplative, and often lost in thoughts or observations in what was happening around me.

I couldn’t possibly make myself smile. I was too distracted trying to camouflage myself in my surroundings. I was desperate to witness that heated discussion of the couple nearby, or to subtely listen to the school girls behind me on the bus while I pretended to read.

I was shy and very unsure of myself. I couldn’t force a smile as I was too afraid to talk to others, and being berated for not constantly smiling wasn’t going to encourage me to do so.

I was too lost in my little stories of my imagination, and I was not very good at small talk. Strangely I just accidentally wrote smile talk (since corrected) – which is an apt description of what I’m attempting to write about.

Smile Talk

That is, that friendly small talk you have with someone next to you on the bus, or at the playground. You catch their eye, smiling at them, and conversation is initiated.

You find yourself smiling throughout the whole exchange of pleasantries. Afterwards, you feel content and happy that two people can have a random interaction, and it feels as though there is harmony surounding you.

I can’t help but think if I’d been better at this skill at school it would have been easier to make friends. I was the new girl four times at school, and it was a gut-wrenching experience. Each time, I would look for my bosom friend (‘Anne [of Green Gables‘] and Diana style). I would resolve to myself at the start of each school year to talk to more people and not to be so shy, but my blushing severely impaired this resolution. I was so shy that if I needed to talk to the bus driver as I hopped on the school bus (probably to explain my baby sister’s missing bus pass), a slow queue would often build behind me, and I would redden.

I would try and answer questions (only ones that I was very confident with), but the embarrassment of putting my hand up would mean my cheeks would be red once the teacher gave me her full attention. I could barely get my answer out and my confidence quickly dissolved. Laughter permeated the classroom at my discomfort.

I often went days not talking to anybody in class, only saying ‘hi’ at recess or lunch in our small circles. During my early high school years, I was often on the sideline of these conversations, and found it very hard to contribute. I witnessed the golden friendships being formed around me and often felt as though I was the third wheel.

Year 9 was when I had my first inklings of real friendship at school, and my dreams of sleepovers and hanging out started to come true, but it was not to last. This is not a good year for the development of girls – we all seem to be trying to force our way out of girlhood and will resist anybody who stands in our way. My small circle was soon due to for a shake up.

After many arguments, negative commentaries and outrageous break ups – new little pockets of friendships were formed, I didn’t belong in any of them. I suddenly to endure much harassment and derision for my introspection, labelled ‘snobbery’, and there was bullying for the months that followed. Thankfully, I found a disabled toilet to spend lunchtimes in, and finally, the anger dissipated.

Somehow, I found somebody who didn’t mind that I was quiet (she was even quieter), and we could sit in our own little corner away from the negativity, talking about our heart’s desires.

That girl was my first ‘Diana’ – and I’m so lucky that I still have her to confide in at anytime, almost 18 years later!

This was the first real friendship and to have this pure understanding gave me a huge boost. This confidence has built over the years (independent travel definitely helped). I slowly found that I became less hesitant with my smile and more open to new people.

Once I felt that kindred understanding,  I was on my way to seeking out more friends.  I have found that the easiest way, is to start with a smile and to proceed purely by just, being nice!

I’ve moved universities and to new countries, and have thrown myself into new social settings (as nervous as it still makes me feel). ‘Smile talk’ turns into coffee dates, and slowly you find yourself chatting to somebody who was once a stranger, is now an essential part of your day.

I am blessed that I have gone on to have many meaningful relationships with a wide group of friends since school – and these friends have helped me through many teary days as relationships have ended or hospital stays.

My chronic pain has complicated relationships for me and has often meant, through my honesty, that I have become closer with others faster, as I have had to explain some ordeal that is going on with my health at the time (one such shocker was a painful miscarriage during my first semester of my postgrad degree – oh what a horrendous time, but I’m grateful for the girls there with me) .

Whilst living away from home these friends were my family, and I think of them still (and will always) with so much love and appreciation. I could not have got through those times or been who I am today without them.

I haven’t wanted to demonstrate how my shyness left me lonely, but rather to illustrate the importance of real meaningful friendships, and the benefit that they can give to you. I’m also attempting to explain (or to teach my girls), that often igniting powerful friendships can start simply with a smile.

It is so much easier to make friends once you have children! My girls have been my gateway to friendships as you can comment on similar snacks/screams/nappies that you see another Mum use, and suddenly you are chatting happily away with a stranger about all your personal trials and tribulations!

I met one of my dearest closest friends by merely sharing smiles. We’d pass each other on our morning walk with our newborn baby girls – usually one of us going in or out of our apartment building. It took one of us (me), to ask if we could start heading out on walks together at a prearranged time for a change. The walks turned to morning coffee and now, with our almost four year old girls (also best friends), we have had many great play dates and mornings together and we’d be lost without that friendship.

Being unwell has cemented the need for powerful friendships, as I have often had to rely on people in a way that would probably look uncomfortable on paper. But my gorgeous girl friends make helping out seem so natural that I’ve been able to turn to them for anything from regular childminding during my uni days, help to drs appointments, play dates, hospital pick ups and once even taking my daughter to her gym class (most of this list from the one amazing friend)!

My lesson to my daughters is, although this has taken me more than twenty years to realise – is to see everybody as a potential friend, and to smile your shyness and discomfort away. You’ll soon find people wanting to talk to you – and conversations enrich your daily experience. I learn so much from my beautiful friends every day.

I still observe people keenly and find human behaviour fascinating,  but I save my contemplative moments for when I’m by myself and find myself smiling when out and about (without having to think about it like I once did). If all else fails – talk about how beautiful someone else’s baby is (as all babies are) – you will surely make a friend easily then!


Best friends from birth, flower girls at my wedding (2011), and a new baby girl added to the circle in 2012. By 2017, we now also have two gorgeous boys who make us laugh. Beautiful things can grow out of a smile.






Dedication: I dedicate this post to my friend Kamila, who has always got my back, and will let me rant and vent about my health and personal issues, without ever judging me.  I feel so grateful that we both rented the same dodgy apartment in the most beautiful location opposite Mort Bay Park. The walking and talking we enjoyed every day made early motherhood so much easier to bear, and are treasured memories. Thank you Auntie Mila xxxxxxx



Lesson Ten: ‘My three year old has cellulite! Trim the fat….talk!’

Lesson Ten: ‘My three year old has cellulite! Trim the fat….talk!’

‘My three year old has cellulite!’

Lesson Ten: New Years Resolution: trim the fat…talk!

‘Look at my legs Mummy, I have cellulite!’ Matilda cried out as she pinched her legs!

Now before you bring out the pitchforks and storm my front door, this complaint isn’t mirroring my talk. In fact, I have no idea if I have cellulite or not! I assume I do, after all I’ve delivered two healthy girls into this world and that was not via a journey of salads and mung beans.

I have a new approach to my cellulite – I don’t look at my legs! That is one part of my body ‘fixed’, but there are many other areas that still need addressing. This is not so much a lesson as a rant. I have been doing my best to improve my body image talk and be a good role model, but as you will read, these efforts are overshadowed by a family tradition of obsessing over your faults, and how we are all drowning in our contradictions.

Getting back to Matilda, and her ‘fat’ legs.

I was having coffee with a (extremely lean) girlfriend the other day who was complaining to me about her cellulite while the girls were playing nearby.

My Miss Tilda, three and a half, is a magnet. She is very clever at collating the language and information around her – ready to pour forth later. She can multi-task – listening as she quietly amuses herself nearby (I have this talent too).

I am doing my best Mumma duty to keep my body criticisms to myself and have been practising killing off my critical inner voice since Tilda was born. It’s hard. I probably used to hear a minimum of ten things a day in my head, but now I don’t notice so much. The girls keep me busy and most days I don’t have time to check in a mirror. That helps.

I have awful eating habits. I have got into the terrible habit of grazing throughout the day and not really eating lunch but having a huge dinner. I live off museli bars and yoghurts and have done this for years (except when breastfeeding, hold the lambasting)! It’s not that I’m consciously dieting, it’s just that I have this habit of having small meals as I don’t get particularly hungry at a set time and have to remind myself to eat. At the end of the day I do enjoy a small square of chocolate with my book and won’t have it if I’ve had ‘the wrong’ type of foods in the day. Does that mean I’m dieting? I’m not sure.

But yes, I am aware of the calories I intake, but it passes through my mind as naturally as water from the tap.

I try not to worry about them and I do love to indulge! I love my Smiths originals and Tim Tams when I am lazily enjoying a movie on the couch.

When I indulge, I have no regrets. I savour every mouthful and enjoy the pleasure; otherwise it is just a waste!

I do still struggle with getting dressed into a new outfit, as you don’t know which ‘part’ is going to stick out. Sometimes my inner voice is bursting with criticisms and I might change half a dozen times before going out for a special occasion. My inner voice is punishing – ‘Oh my God, look at you! Oh your flabby arms, oh no your Mummy tummy is showing!’ Sometimes I am in tears before I can leave the house. I need someone to reassure me, to comfort me.

I can’t do it myself.

When I was in high school all we cared about was the Formal. I was so obsessed and excited that I chose my dress when I was in year 9, and treasured it in my wardrobe for the year before it was needed. I punished myself in the lead up to my year ten formal. The event that I saw would be the absolute pinnacle of my high school experience. I remember flicking through the Rosemary Conley ‘Hips and Thighs’ diet before realising it all looked too hard. Plus my Mum wisely refused to let me diet.

I heard girls talking about laxatives, and I tried that for a few days but was racked with pain and couldn’t sleep due to the discomfort. I have never admitted that. It was very stupid.

There was an adorable girl in my year who had that girl next door quality and she used to eat all the time and was quite happy and confident about it. She wisely suggested to me that exercise was the key, not food. So I started running more and walking the dog and decided that would be my focus. I think I looked quite cute for my formal. I was very pretty in pink. I enjoyed being pretty when I was fifteen. Many years later, I dyed my hair black and tried to shake the prettiness off me. My hair looked like a wig. It wasn’t me.

I was obsessed with presenting the best me, and often felt what I wore failed me. Almost all of the women in my family also suffer with this cringing obsession about how we look, or more accurately, how terrible we look. When we take family photos all you hear is:

‘Oh my god, I look terrible!’

’Oh look at my chins (me)!’

‘God I look fat, I shouldn’t have worn that!’

In my family, skinniness is revered – whether through genetics, ill health or fitness – you are automatically adored and placed on a pedestal. It doesn’t matter what you wear…you will always be mentioned and discussed as looking ‘gorgeous’ and ‘divine’.

Others, the medium sized, averaged among us, fail a mention. Those who have medical issues that prevent exercise, or are taking despised but necessary medication that make your weight balloon – give up at the sheer unfairness of it all and decide to enjoy their wine and not give a f*k. That is until we are all gathered at big family parties. Then, almost all of the women in my family imprison themselves in their bedrooms not wanting to come out. We all hate what we are wearing.

My Mum, who would probably consider herself body conscious, and is often nervous in other areas of her life – shines at parties. She puts together the perfect outfit accessorized with headwear and jewellery. Her hair is freshly done and her nails bright and she is resplendent in her ensemble. She bursts with confidence and never hesitates or changes what she has. She is always ready first. I’m proud of my Mum and the way she does this. I am saddened when she criticises the photos later.

Compliments don’t come our way very often. We hurl insults at ourselves though, and are very good at refuting the comments we hear others say about themselves:

‘No, you are gorgeous.’

‘Your eyes look amazing with that dress.’

‘Stop, you always say that about yourself, it isn’t true.’

We have all learnt to curb our swearing or cursing around our children, as we don’t want them running about spouting these words all over the playground. We haven’t learnt to keep our negative words to ourselves.

I’m fat…my legs are fat, my tummy sticks out.’

These are probably some of the regular sentences and discussions that swirl above my daughter’s playland.

What are the things that you say aloud when you are complaining about yourself?

Is there any purpose in this? Are we seeking reassurance or confirmation from our confidantes?

We all know we shouldn’t say these things, yet we all do. We have heard them our entire lives from our mums, aunts and grandmas. My sister is very good at silencing my inner critic, but if she isn’t around – the words spill forth and tumble like a fountain around me. They remain etched in the tableau.

The spiteful words imprison me and I can’t disagree with myself. I need someone else to do it. That power does not live within me and rather than becoming strong enough to refute myself, I am learning NOT TO SAY ANYTHING when I look at a picture. I am trying to enjoy the memory of the moment. Live in the moment. Be kinder to your self.

It took a long time to find me. I had to reach inside and travel alone a lot. Being a Mum has helped me identify me. I have a label. I am a category. This is who I have become, who I am.

These contradictions and criticisms are of course, common. I’m writing about it for the first time, others shout their disgust loudly. This student did an inspiring (I don’t use this word lightly, she did inspire this post) job or drawing attention to the gender issues of body image and the impact on children. See her roar at:

There are some great groups that are attempting to address the cultural and media forces that affect body images. The people over at have listed ways that we can take action to improve our body image. Listed on is five ways to ‘make change’.

My favourite is:

Practice looking at yourself in the mirror and finding 5 things you like, and not saying/thinking about what you don’t like. Repeat each of the positive attributes 5 times to yourself, out loud.

Some of my personal tips are:

* Stand back from a photo and look at the entire image

– if you see a play and sit close to the stage you will see all the make up on the performers. The illusion is thwarted, as you can’t see the character but the person. Bring your focus back to look at the mise en scene and the magic is there waiting for you. It is not a young man with lines drawn on his face, but an old man, weary and tired.

– when someone takes a photo of you – look at the overall image. Look at the person standing next to you. Try and find their faults? Can’t? They look good don’t they, as do you. Don’t look at your frown lines or double chin – look at the smile and the memories connected with it and savour that moment. That irreplaceable moment in time when you smiled and were truly happy and the camera snapped that moment.

Photos are supposed to help re-connect us with our happy moments. Not a showdown with our faults. Try it.

This new years, I’m not going to make a silly resolution to myself about dieting or getting fit. I enjoy walking and getting out and about and do so when I’m well enough. I don’t need to make a pledge to myself that will often be unable to keep and make me feel as though I’m a failure! Being a Mum is already tough enough without that extra strain!

Resolutions invariably lead to disappointment, and the year is too fresh and new for those.

I’m going to relax, smile and stand back and look at the whole picture. And curb that fat talk! My three year old daughter does not have cellulite!


‘Making castles in the air….here, there and everywhere!’ Lesson Nine

‘Making castles in the air….here, there and everywhere!’ Lesson Nine


Lesson Nine: ‘Patience and Creativity’

Matilda’s new favourite past time is to make castles. To build them here….to build them there…to build them everywhere!

This means finding all the blankets and cushions in sight and fashioning them into some type of cavern. She begins her task by busily dragging every toy from around the house towards the construction site. She fossicks about picking up toys, blanets, cushions, shoes, jewellery. until every crevice and crack of the castle is blocked with anything from Dora figurines, teddies and hair ties as mortar for the space.

I am patient. I watch her pulling toys from her room out to the lounge.

I watch her pulling cushions and blocks from the lounge down the hall to her room.

Once, she even blocked our hall with a construction that was mainly scaffolded from a hat box and a stool… was hard to get to the bathroom or bedroom that night as every movement of a tutu or shoe in the way was ‘destroying her castle’!

I watch her and marvel at her creativity and ponder her future career choices, possibly in Architecture. I don’t mind the mess, I enjoy the process…and I sit and admire. Although I know that later when she goes to bed, we will have a big task ahead as we dismantle the structure and unpack the clutter remaining.

I allow her this indulgence as she is continuously confronted with my complicated health problems, which often means we spend a lot of time at home. I worry about the effects of having an ill Mum on such a vivacious child – I don’t want to deflate her happiness.

Most of the time I get by with heat packs and rest, and going to bed early. Although, when I have a flare up of pain or other intrusive symptoms, I cannot just take myself to the closest emergency. My history is so convoluted that I need to wait to see my specialists in a hospital almost an hour away, who will need to formulate a new plan. That is the best, although often painful approach.

A few weekends ago I had a bad episode of chronic pain. I should have gone to hospital, but the thought of waiting eight hours to be seen and ‘wasting’ that time away from my girls, when I can just wait to see my doctors and have a clear plan organized with an admittance planned meant I suffered at home with the pain relief on hand. Patiently.

Sometimes my determination to wait it out, means that I am often not the easiest person to live with and can be a bit short with my hubby, and easily overwhelmed.

Being patient as you watch your house being converted into a castle helps me to be patient in other areas of my life.

Although this past month, I just couldn’t wait it out any longer and I needed to take myself off to emergency. There was a plan outlined for the following friday but I had an acute problem arise over the weekend and by wednesday I was a walking zombie barely managing to speak or sit down.

Having children means also accepting when you can no longer be the Mum or wife you want to be. It sometimes means taking yourself out of the picture to get some rest and recover – rather than drag everyone into your web of pain and tears.

Knowing that my girls are so well looked after by my Mum and my darling hubby when I’m sick helps me to give into that decision much easier, but I feel that I am less a person when I have to admit defeat to pain, and voluntarily take myself away from them. I feel such a useless Mum and wife, but this is who I am as a result of the ravages on my body by having my beautiful children.

Having castles in your house shows you the beautiful potential of empty baskets and boxes as they can bear the weight of your castle. Being stuck indoors doesn’t become boring, but rather a way to redo our play area to make it ‘cosy and rosy’ for ‘bubba and Mama’. I have no idea where Matilda picked up this expression, but she loves using it, and puts on a bit of a Yorkshire accent when she does. I don’t know if the voice is an affectation picked up by my (Yorkshire) grandparents, or our Yorkshire cousins who we infrequently skype and stayed with for a few weeks last year. Then again, it could have emerged from something more meaningless via the television through ‘Peppa Pig or ‘Little Princess’ – adored shows in our house.

I am beginning to think that I am writing less about lessons for my girls but rather lessons from them. Matilda sometimes seems three going on fifteen with the kindness and patience she shows towards us. Then there will suddenly be the tornado of a three year old tantrum. At other times, she is my little baby who cuddles into my arms with her ‘num’ (dummy) and ‘Percy’ (Miffy comforter) and falls asleep against my head. I cradle her and kiss her on my favourite part of her which is that little chubby, delicate, soft bit of skin under her neck….and I breathe her in.

As a girl, I used to stretch out on my trampoline and search the clouds for castles in the sky…now I watch my girls building theirs and feel a love in my soul I never knew possible.

‘Ten Dreams for Ten Years’

‘Ten Dreams for Ten Years’


As my little baby has now turned 3, here are ten things I dream for her doing or becoming over the next ten years.


These aren’t goals for academic results or lofty aspirations for sporting prowess, but dreams of ways that we can add colour and happiness to her development. I know that this list might appear delusive, but I have daily plans for my daughters, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be wistful about the next ten years.


  1. To play by running around simply and barefoot in the yard with her little sister by her side in a world of their own creation (a yard which we do not possess as yet, but plan to, within ten years anyway).


  1.  To appreciate others. To show thanks or show gratefulness for what others do for her.


  1. To travel (as a family). Within Australia, outside Australia….be exposed to landscape, to cultures to people. To learn how to initiate conversations with strangers – through using us as guides, and with us always supporting her efforts. To clarify, I mean other little girls at camping grounds or children she is sitting next to on a plane. I obviously do not  mean to talk to  ‘strangers’ as in random people on the street by herself.


  1. To have at least three best friends. To never limit herself to one friend or one group. I hope that she would try and be friendly with people across a few different cliques, rather than sticking within her familiar group. (Mia Freedman over at Mama Miawrote a fabulous blog post about how many best friends your children should have, but I can’t seem to find the entry. I vaguely remember her talking about five…).

I know that this could be difficult and awkward for a young girl (or anyone), but through travel and other forms of exposure (see list), this experience can be made easier (I had pen pals for years after some family holidays…I wonder if children these days instantly become facebook friends after meeting on holidays…or? I’d be interested to hear input from those who know).


  1. Play a team sport. Through my own experience of team sports or in after school clubs I found myself  mixing with people who you wouldn’t normally form friendships with. This can definitely boost your confidence and friendship networks, and I can only assume make yourself less likely to bullying attacks (please correct me or comment on this if my assumptions are wrong).


  1. To have tried a musical instrument.

This may sound slightly ‘Tiger Mom’ -ish, but I think everyone should be introduced to music as early as possible.  I am sure my Mother is laughing at this point, as my parents ‘encouraged’ me to play piano for about ten years, and I fought against it every step of the way. I hated practicing. I hated the teachers and I was extremely nervous at playing in exams or concerts (probably because of the lack of practice). The years of piano lessons certainly did not grant me with any musical skill, nor did it help my Maths skills  (working off the theory of left brain/right brain) – neither weakness helping the other really.

What it did show me was the effort that goes into mastering skills in music (and other Arts) and I became a devoted appreciator of musical talent and I enjoy listening to all forms of music including classical, opera, jazz and contemporary pop.

I have a close friend who is a brilliant viola player and I love to attend her Orchestra’s performances (see TMO – an amazing Sydney group) and can truly appreciate the skill and effort that have gone into playing such emotional and intriguing compositions.


  1. To encourage her love of books by modeling this passion at home. A place where the television is often turned off (and other electronics) as we enjoy a quiet afternoon/evening reading. My girls and I often already lay in bed together reading – me reading my novels, Matilda ‘reading’ her magazines through the pictures or by reciting her adored picture books aloud (such as the beloved classic ‘Possum Magic’ by Mem Fox) and bubba chewing on board books.


  1. To encourage her cheeky humour which already gathers a following at parties and local activities. She is a natural show-off (as are most toddlers), and I only hope that this self-confidence blossoms into her teen years, not fades.


  1. To hold her sister in high esteem as one of her closest and dearest friends and to build on that unshakeable sister bond every day as they grow older.


  1. To know that her Mother is always and forever her biggest fan and proudest supporter and will love her every moment no matter what (even during her foolish toddler tantrums I often find myself secretly smiling inside at how gorgeous she is).

As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, I don’t need presents or gifts to thank me – my gift would be if my little girl (and girls) achieved all this and more.

Wish Making

To finish with a fabulous sentiment from Jodi Picoult (to apply to my girls) –

“What I really want to tell him is to pick up that baby of his and hold her tight, to set the moon on the edge of her crib and to hang her name up in the stars.”
― Jodi PicoultMy Sister’s Keeper


‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green……or Bein’ Me’ Lesson Eight: Accept Yourself

‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green……or Bein’ Me’ Lesson Eight: Accept Yourself


Lesson Eight –  ‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green……or Bein’ Me’

Accept Yourself

My life is pulled in two directions – between my chronic pelvic pain and my two beautiful young girls. Often the pain devours all other demands and sends me to the couch, or bed, and sometimes even to hospital. Through my role as a Mother, I am learning to accept myself.

I may distress people with this diatribe.  For those out there suffering with diseases, or being burdened by life in other ways – my heart goes out to you and I apologise if in anyway I am offending you. This post is part of a blog of  lessons for my girls from my experiences and musings, although I do hope to teach others about chronic pain in the process.

I have had eight surgeries over the past fourteen years. I have suffered with endometriosis – a much maligned disease, since I was fifteen when I started passing out at school in pain with my periods. Although it wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was nineteen. I have had one miscarriage, two beautiful babies, one postpartum haemorrhage and four D&Cs.

I have a lot of scar tissue and a lot of nerve pain.

Although I am very lucky, yes lucky is a hard word to use in this sentence, but lucky that I’ve only been affected by pain with my endometriosis, my girls came to me easily (we didn’t have the fertility issues often associated with this disease).

I have to depend on my Mum a lot of the time to takeover with my girls. As some regular readers of my posts will know, I am a fiercely independent woman who has travelled the world by herself and been through a lot of tough experiences.

I do not like depending on people – but my health has forced me to.

Letting yourself depend on an army of friends/helpers opens you up to getting used to them being there, so that when they are not, or when they stop understanding – it hurts more than if they were never around.

This week, I was in and out of hospital twice. For once, it was not connected to my chronic pain. It was due to a painful infection. I am not relieved…or content…or anything. I am just frustrated. And I hate feeling frustrated almost as much as I hate being in pain. This is where I am trying to change, and where my lesson comes in. Firstly, I should be extremely incredibly grateful that my issues are not terminal.

I do have pain. I do have issues. But doesn’t everybody have some kind of shit to deal with?

If I wasn’t the woman the doctors scratched their head at and rolled their eyes over as they scanned over my long history and many medications. I wouldn’t be me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has had to fight for many years for nurses to believe I am truly in excruciating pain when I am not crying or screaming. That is just not me. I sit quietly, in agony. The biggest clue to my pain is my difficulty to stand, or those many days when I don’t leave the house. This is me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has changed specialists every few years as their sympathy and understanding grew thin, I’d be in bed permanently. With patience and re-newed purpose, I would  re-tell my long medical history again. I never gave up or accepted when they said there was nothing more that could be done. That is just not me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has been in three motor vehicle accidents, and had a painfully slow recovery from one in a fancy Croatian Hotel room (thanks to a loan from my parents) with no pain relief and no assistance. I couldn’t get the hospital to admit me – the language barrier was insurmountable. I didn’t complain. That is just not me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has had to continuously cancel on friends, family and events at the last minute…repetitively..losing friendships…for many years. I never sat at home all night crying with disappointment or frustration, (okay…maybe for just a few minutes…but then no longer). That is just not me.

I have been able to fall blessedly pregnant with two beautiful girls. I am writing this blog for you girls to learn from as you get older. I struggled with being me, but because of you two – I came to accept myself.

I have to accept myself because my chronic pain, my endometriosis, my miscarriage, my arthritis – is all part of the woman I am. I have the best life in the world. I am a Mum.

I am turning 32 and I am accepting myself. I am often in pain, but that doesn’t define me. I am a Mum to two amazingly wonderful gems. My girls. My daughters. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

To finish with a literary genuis:

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”
― Robert Frost

I hope my readers have never felt silenced or defined by others.

How do you define yourself today?

Do you truly accept yourself? Or are you struggling with “‘bein’ me


Update – I’ve now got a beautiful almost two year old boy, and yes, my body was completely broken by the pregnancy. I’ve gone on to have two more surgeries and now have a Neurostimulator in (but more on that later).

Lesson Seven – The Kindness of Strangers

Lesson Seven – The Kindness of Strangers

Lesson Six

Sometimes, people surprise you…in a wonderful way. I want my girls to be the surprising type. I fancy that my girls will  grow up spreading happiness to others who are lucky enough to cross their paths, and my next lesson is about compliments.

I am still a rookie Mum on co-ordinating the needs of the three of us when we go out, so a short shopping trip to do one thing, can take hours. I had just masterfully negotiated out of the toy shop to the parents’ room with a successful maneouvre around the playground.

I was hastily giving the girls consecutive nappy changes, getting food out for MJ and trying to get ourselves set up for a bf for AM.

I think my two year old thinks that my nappy change bag is a magic carpet bag – every snack option you present to her isn’t the one she is after, and the little angry dances that she does on the floor (of anywhere) are getting more fluid and cacophonous.

Anyway, I was managing all of this bedlam when a Mum of three children walked over to say ‘you are doing a really good job.’

My emotional reactions as a Mother are very easily ignited (as I’m sure most others are) and I could have either cried or hugged her on the spot.

I am a firm believer in telling somebody if they are a tag dag, but complimenting a stranger does not come naturally. I can comfortably strike up a conversation with another woman if they are changing their bubba whilst I am, and might even throw in a compliment about their efficiency or cute child.

However, this angelic woman managed to positively spin my day on its axis, and I will resolve to try and change somebody else’s day, in a startling way, with a thoughtful compliment.

I once read somewhere that Mark Twain said that “I can live for two months on a good compliment”. I can rework that by saying that long days by yourself with two little ones can be injected with renewed viguor when an unexpected compliment comes your way.

Side note – I can add with pleasure and confidence that I have regularly, consistently and often compliment unknown women for the great job they are doing. Now I have 3, I truly understand the struggle that it is just to leave the house. Parenting is hard work. Being out and about is tough! Keep up the compliments ladies, because, let’s be honest, it’s the sister hood that keeps us going, not the men in our lives who are ever going to tell us we are doing a great job!


Lesson Six – Oh, the places you’ll go……

Lesson Six – Oh, the places you’ll go……

Lesson Nine

Once your formative school years are behind you, the world is waiting for you to dance upon.

My next lesson is about dreaming, and in the understanding that once you start to unravel the true tenor of one dream you may find yourself starting all over again, or outside your self-designed dreamscape.

I had very clear goals for when I left school. I had saved and booked into an exclusive private college where I was going to study Journalism. A few weeks into my course I found that the structure was very restricted and the timetable and homework were reflective of school practice, and I wanted out.

In danger of losing a lot of money, a second option was presented by the college which was to study their Book Editing and Publishing Course. Although the course was fairly mundane and I made no friends (and had to sit there each week quietly alone at a desk by myself feeling forlorn), I did make some use of my time there. I had finally started to immerse myself in the world of my true passion – Literature.

Curiously, it was the part time job that I got at a local bookshop – solely because of my recent Diploma course, that led me to study English Literature at University. I worked alongside a hip young group of undergraduates from the local university who were all passionately engaged in University life.

I quickly learnt that my unexpected withdrawal from college had drifted me towards my true dream thanks to the people I encountered (the experience of working with great people was tempered by being managed by a cantankerous boss, but that was all a part of that time). I had been too scared and too limited in my ambitions as I had thought Literary study too indulgent and not serious enough. I hadn’t realised that you could go to University to study areas that interested you, and to worry about connecting them to career pathways later. I had always been a worrier, and I finally started to conceive of the big dream as I went along.

When I was at Auckland University, my two close friends were a 30 something single mother who partnered cynicism with very dry humour in a Julia Morris sort of way, and a cyclopean Samoan ex-bouncer who loved playing ‘War of Warcraft’. I was drawn to them by their passion and enthusiasm for History and their ability to converse and fervently debate historical issues without self doubt or fear of being in the wrong. I would watch incredulously (because I was still a shy 20 year old) and think – but shouldn’t we be doing something else useful today…other then sit here all day discussing the true beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement..or who the greatest thinkers were in History? For the first time in my life I encountered passionate people pursuing their interests in a professional way. I was inspired to further my love of English Literature and no longer saw it as something frivolous or indulgent.

I changed universities three times over my three degrees and each time I met people who challenged my thinking and my understanding of the world and pushed me closer to dreams I wasn’t aware I was chasing. I am forever grateful to those friendships as they left indelible impressions upon me. Every experience changes you and contributes to the way you build your life and dreams.

I started my last degree, a postgraduate Bachelor of Teaching as a single mid twenty year old, and ended up having to delay my courses and meet half a dozen new cohorts as child rearing took over. I finished my last teaching Prac 6 months pregnant with my second, and studying History (Ancient Roman History, a topic I’d never previously looked at) with the most difficulty I’ve ever had. I remember staying up late, pregnant, emotional, tired, and doing my best to get all the Caesars in the right order as i was teaching a Year 12 class. Fortunately, I had the most wonderful supervising teacher, who really helped my confidence and inspired me to learn more about Ancient Rome. I thank him for my current obsession with that time period.

My discussion on some of my own post school learning experiences, and the ways that they’ve contributed to my current state of happiness ends here for now, with a reminder to my girls, and other readers to see the world with shiny eyes and when ‘things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.’

– from Dr Seuss ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’


Share this:

  • Share


by Elissa in Lessons Tags: ambitions, career, debate, dr seuss quote, dream, dreaming, friendship, goals, happiness, i worry, passion, school, study, thinking, University, worry

Lesson Five – Find a Friend to Lean on

Lesson Five – Find a Friend to Lean on

Lesson Seven

Friendships have been written about using all kinds of cliches and cheesy phrases.

Love has been ravaged and anointed in the same way.

I’m going to make this lesson simple. Work hard on being honest and opening up to the people around you – family, school mates, uni friends and colleagues. These people will all come in and out of your life depending on where you are living, travelling, or how intrusive work life is for them or you.

When you can, spend long insouciant hours in the playground, coffee shops or pubs opening up about your life story and who you really are. Open up your heart by listing your worries and fears, and listen to theirs.

Work hard on this. Your work or study or boyfriend will always (hopefully) be around. It is not a waste of your time to be having girly girl chats.

I say girly girl chats, because in my experience girls have always beautifully featured in my life in this way. I’ve never had a close male friend, except for my husband. But this will always be a different relationship to the one you have with your girlfriends.

BECAUSE when you are having a burdensome run of events, you will need someone who you can just call on and unload to and not be judged or lectured to or misunderstood.

Find that friend and treat them well.

And finally, from another literary great who can astutely embody my lesson with a few words:

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

Dedication: to all those women out there who I have called on in tears. I heartfully thank you for being in my life.

Follow up: Since I wrote this post, my darling first born has started school. I thought I had seen the best of female friendships, but nothing had prepared me for the ways women go completely above and beyond once you are part of a school community. Having my third baby, suffering surgeries….pain, and other issues made getting Mj to and from school very hard. Having women drop off dinners, some of whom I barely knew, was life saving. Some picked up and dropped off my daughter many days in a row….their kindness suprising me in ways that made me want to almost cry. I thank you ladies, I could not have survived kindergarten and a newborn without you. You women were truly generous, and I am still so grateful.

Lesson Four – Let it Go

Lesson Four – Let it Go

Lesson Four

This is one of my husband’s favourite phrases and I really am trying…but maybe if I wrote about the ways in which I am doing this, it might help others to implement this valuable (although often annoying) advice faster, and be a helpful lesson for my daughters about living in the present.

There have been two recent incidents that have made me laugh about how much I tend to hold on to things, and how much easier it would be just to let it go.

The first incident involved an old classmate. Having left school over ten years ago, I was finding it ridiculous that I was still distressed over the antics of a few ‘mean girls’ during my schooling days. I managed to reconnect through the omniscient powers of facebook with a girl who often said horrible things about me, and seeing as we both had young babies we thought we’d have a play date and catch up.

I was so nervous about it, both in accepting the invite and during the drive over, but she was lovely and has morphed in to an all embracing Earth Mother type after some hard times and the birth of her beautiful baby.

We both laughed about those days, and as she went on to talk about how bitchy she was at school, I was both relieved and surprised.  This self-awareness made it much easier for me to let it go. And to laugh at how silly I had been.

The second let it go incident was with HP  after we had just had a family picnic end in tears. Our two year old daughter Matilda Jayne (MJ) fell off the picnic table in a sickening two stage collapse. I could only watch hopelessly  as my legs failed to get me there in super(wo)man speed.

HP was the first on the scene and as he was picking MJ up, her eyes locked onto mine with the pain like a forgotten labrador puppy and I rushed to unload AM so that I could hold her.

The only sound I remember before the wailing from MJ burst forth was the sharp intake of shocked sighs emerging from a wedding party who were in the process of being video-graphed and photographed in the park.

I carried MJ away from the trauma scene so that she could be distracted by the boats on the water, but as the volcanic swelling slowly erupted from her forehead, I saw it as our cue to fast track it home to ice pack and rest.

We endeavoured to pack up the picnic food, a rug, a ball that was being blown towards the water, as well as trying to keep all our rubbish from flying away while carrying screaming girls.

What bothered me most as we drove away from the accident site? That nobody in the wedding party had offered to help, or offered any kind words or even sympathetic looks as we struggled in between them all out to our car. The only look I did register was the frustrated look of their videographer as he was obviously foreseeing the audio dramas MJ’s wailing was going to play havoc with.

‘Just let it go sweetie…just let it go’, said HP as I fumed away in the car.

I went on and on about the ignorance and rudeness of people. There were no interruptions to my tirade as MJ, traumatised, had immediately fallen asleep in her car seat.

We had been in a park only ten minutes away from home, and as I got out to carry her inside, I suddenly saw her bruised forehead, grazed arms, and the clean streaks that the tears had made through dirty face, and I felt nauseaus.

I didn’t have time to think about those people again until today, three days later, now that the drama and fear over MJ’s potential head injury has passed.

Worrying about the past, or other people’s reactions to events, or worrying about anything outside my little family has no place in my life today.

Sometimes our girls take up so much of our time that I really don’t have the time to even remember how to let it go. It just happens. So being a Mum is healthy for my worries and healthy for my girls who benefit from my constant focus and thoughts…if they aren’t with me then I am thinking about them.

I only hope that my daughters don’t have to wait until they are my age to retain focus on their own life. The phrase, Let it Go should be the soundtrack to your teen years when people around you wrong you, which they will..and disappoint you, which they will..and anger you, which they will.

Don’t wait until being a Mum to start learning how to let it go – practise it as early as you can!

And in honour of my husband who has been doing his best to get me to practise living his favourite phrases, here is a quote from an author he introduced me to when we first started dating (and is the reason I discovered the brilliant ‘fahrenheit 451′)

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It’s like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That’s a triumph.”
― Ray BradburyFarewell Summer


Final note: I wrote this before ‘Frozen’ came out obviously, so I find it quite funny looking back that adults could get away with saying ‘let it go’ to each other without instantly conjuring up images of an Ice Queen. Bloody Disney! Nah, I still love it, even though Miss 6 has moved on.