Life Advice to my Daughter

Parenting feels like a whole lot of mental gymnastics!

The months leading up to my daughters’ birth, I would get caught up trying to visualize what the baby would look like, not knowing she was a girl. I wondered about her eyes ~ the colour and shape they would be; the lips; the hands and feet… whether the baby would be born with hair. I would wonder about her personality ~ the questions were endless. Then she arrived and those questions were answered which triggered a whole lot of new thoughts. Now my mind is preoccupied with all of the things I want her to learn, experience and know and it feels like the list is ever growing (insert head explosive emoticon here).

I once heard a saying that it takes a whole village to raise a baby. The endless parenting blogs, social media forums and every personal opinion is keeping that saying alive. At first I was preoccupied with reading all the articles that gave advice on how to raise a ‘perfect’ child. It took but a few moments to stop reading them and sit back and think.

I didn’t want to mold the perfect child, dictated by societies standards. I want my daughter to grow into the person she will choose to be. I chose to shut out the millions of voices on these topics and have looked to make this much more basic.

Here are a few things I want to teach my daughter:

 

  1. Always practice kindness

Never underestimate the value of your kindness extended to another, even to those who many be rude to you ~ they are often the ones in need of kindness the most.

There will be many people you will encounter in this world that will challenge you emotionally ~ it’s important that you never drop your personal standard to match another. And remember, take others as they are – sometimes that includes the warts and all.

 

  1. Use your common sense

The world can be a scary place ~ unfortunately this is largely out of your control, but don’t be afraid to live in it. Question everything around you at all times ~ do not blindly accept what you are being presented with and use your own judgment. Your intuition will be a powerful tool in your possession.

Your teenage years will present many challenging circumstances (and while those years are a great distance away, my heart already clenches are what you may be faced with) but face each of them with common sense and the knowledge that you have choices to make and that power is in your hands. With every circumstance remember there are consequences.

 

  1. Love your body

I once heard a quote that I can’t quite find the origins for now but it goes

I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. If you could, you would see just how beautiful you are, and the extraordinary miracle of being you.

The moment you were born I looked at you and was astounded by your beauty. I loved every tiny inch of you and as I continue to watch you grow, I continue to love each and every part of you.

In the cycle of life the body will continue to change. You will go through lots of different external versions of yourself ~ that is normal. There will be times where you may find it challenging to accept these changes ~ that is normal too but remember to love your body for all it gives you ~ the ability to wake every day and engage with life wholly and completely.

Nourish your body with goodness from the foods and drinks you consume to the activities you will engage in.

Taste the foods of the world! Dance and climb and run and jump! Use your body as an important tool in the life you will create.

 

  1. Give care to your mind.

The greatest assets you will ever possess are your thoughts. You will have many of them and no doubt you are already expressing the many you possess now.

Never forget the train your mind to remain open. Welcome new thoughts and ideas all the time. The more you nourish your mind, the greater rewards you will reap as you will continue to view the world around you in new ways.

 

  1. Embrace technology but…

You will never know life without advanced technology. You will be encountering technologies that haven’t even been conceived yet. You will also hear the ‘old people’ (mostly Dad and I) talk about what life was like before technology took over and you will no doubt shake your head at our ‘strange’ descriptions of life. We will no doubt shake our heads at the new technologies that we will have difficulties in grasping.

Embrace the technology and learn to live with it to your advantage ~ yet remember there is a world out there that needs to be smelt, felt, seen and heard by you ~ all of which technology has nothing to do with.

Feel the sensation of the ocean as you swim within it and of the grass when you walk upon it.

          Watch an amazing sunset.

               Listen to the sounds of a rainforest and waterfall or the thundering clap of a wave smashing

               against the shore.

                    Smell the amazing scents of the trees and the ocean or the foods created from the earth.

Remember to switch off from technology and live outside of it. That is where you will create the greatest memories.

 

  1. Never compromise your happiness

Life has much to offer you. Open your hands out to the universe and accept all of the marvelous gifts it has and watch your happiness flow. However ~ Happiness will not always come easy. You will have to work on it and often look for it in times where circumstances may be difficult. There will be times where you will be faced with choices that may make another person happy at the cost of your own ~ think carefully about these choices and always remember that if someone honestly and genuinely cares for you, they would not seek to have you compromise your own happiness for theirs.

What makes you happy today may not make you happy tomorrow ~ that’s okay. Be flexible enough and brave enough to make the choices as to what makes you happy and never settle for anything short of it.

 

  1. You cannot save the world… but…

It is not your job to change or fix another person – nor is it your job to be the hero in someone else’s story ~ but never stop doing what you can to make the world a better place. Always think of the footprint you are living upon the soul of the world.

There will be people who will reach out for your help and because you will (hopefully) be exercising your kindness you will provide assistance but keep in mind that your morals, values and thoughts may not be universal.   Tread carefully in imposing your ideals of life on another. Instead learn to listen to the help they are seeking and do not judge them for not accepting your help – even when they have asked for it. Everyone deals with their lives in their own way and time.

 

  1. Listen to your soul

Take the time to learn about the person you are ~ remember that this person will evolve and change over your lifetime ~ and this is okay ~ but at every point through your life’s journey pause to listen to who you are becoming and it is a collective decision between your heart and your mind as to whether this version fits with your morals and values.

You will experience happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, grief and every emotion in between on the rainbow of emotions ~ this is okay and often the appropriate reactions to the situations life will throw at you. Remember that nothing bad lasts forever and in the toughest of situations ask the question ~ will this matter in five years? The answer is usually no… unless you are a teenager and every circumstance will feel like the worlds end is nearing. I promise you – nothing bad lasts forever.

 

  1. Mistakes will happen…

You will make choices that in hindsight may not have been the best ones to have made. I will expect you make many perceived mistakes ~ that is okay, but with every ‘mistake’ I ask you to learn from it. Take the lesson you need and move forward. Do not dwell on them or fall into fear of making another, halting your life’s progression. Dust off your knees, Keep moving forward. There will be ‘mistakes’ that you may need help to fix ~ this is also okay. It is important that you understand you can always ask for help. Dad and I will always help regardless of the problem free of judgment. There isn’t anything that cannot be fixed.

 

  1. Dream Big! Aim High! But…

There is nothing in this world that you cannot accomplish. There is no dream too big or out of your reach. We will tell you that you can be absolutely anything you want to be or as many things as you want to dream to be! There is no limit to your goals but! Never forget that all your goals are within your hands to attain – through hard work – through determination – through your own motivation.

No one else will hold your hand to push you in life better than yourself. No one will hand your dreams to you ~ it is for you to work hard to achieve it. You will be so much prouder of yourself when you reach your hard earned goals with your own determination.

 

Dad and I will proud of you and love you always.

 

~ F.P

 

 

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Is negativity contagious? The impact of kindness upon humanity.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”.

~ Oscar Wilde

 

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Is negativity contagious?

If so, is positivity equally as contagious?

 

How often do we mistakenly believe that we live in a private bubble that doesn’t affect anyone else?   How often do we believe that our emotions are felt by us alone?

On the flip side, how often have you been on the receiving end of someone else’s bad day? An aggressive and unnecessary honk on the horn in traffic or an unintentional strong bump without an apology? A rude or unhelpful store attendant or alternatively a rude customer? How do we feel when we walk away from these encounters? Do we feel as though a dark cloud has suddenly appeared above us? Often when two of these encounters coincide in a short period of time, suddenly our day because marked by feelings of having a bad day all of a sudden and nothing seeming to go right. Then does the vicious cycle of negativity follow that those you encounter can then take on the dark cloud you have unexpectedly inherited?

Unsurprisingly, negativity has a habit of lingering… and leaves a particularly unpleasant taste.

 

How often do we pause to think about the impact our actions and emotions have on another person?

I am not advocating for having artificially happy existences for the sole purpose of keeping everyone else around us happy. We aren’t designed to be feel a monotone of ‘happy’ emotions and we are more than welcome to feel angry, sad, hurt, frustrated – the list is endless! Often, these emotions are the most appropriate and necessary feelings to have depending on the circumstances.

What I am advocating is that we be mindful of the impact of our encounters and the energy we place into the world ~ particularly when considering the bigger picture of life.

 

Kindness takes but a brief moment to share with another. Whether it be a smile directed at a stranger, the offer of assistance to someone you know that may need it or merely the way in which we interact with others. Checking in and letting others know we are thinking about them. These actions have the power to profoundly impact the life of another without you ever knowing how much – nor do you ever need to know. That is the point of kindness – we aren’t kind to others because we need self gratitude worn as a medal. Kindness is not always about grand gestures with the intention to change the life of another. Perhaps it should just be part and parcel of our days ~ just like breathing with the side effect of having the potential to positively impact the life of another.

 

Over the weekend, I was fortunate to bare witness to a moment of kindness that struck my heart, warming it completely. I was in a supermarket that has a self service lane. There was a bubbly teenager working in the self-service area. Firstly, I had never seen anyone work so hard in that role! Secondly she did it with such pride of her position and an honest and genuine eagerness to assist people. She bounced between all eight self service registers bagging items for mothers juggling kids; double bagging heavy items for older customers and greeting each and every one of them with a kind and friendly smile. I observed that everyone left those registers with a smile too.

 

After watching her (in a non creepy way) for some time, a 30-something male with a significantly disability on a motorized chair approached her registers. I watched as she greeted him by name and asked how he was and patiently waited for his response looking directly at him. She acknowledged him as a person and even more than just a customer. She assisted him with his purchase by helping him count out his money and he left with her bidding him farewell and her telling him that she was looking forward to seeing him next week again. The entire interaction took less than two minutes but was a positive two minutes in his world that cost her nothing but a few moments of her time and a positive and kind output. It was an interaction that also left a positive impact upon me ~ a mere bystander who was not in any way involved in the interaction, yet it warmed my heart that there are still genuine and caring people that are carrying humanity forward.

Fortunately, I have been witness to other such humanitarian angels like certain nurses, teachers, lawyers, social workers, people who work in cafes, retail assistants, friends of friends where I have no idea of their profession ~ strangers in the street!  Society is peppered with kind people who merely go about their day without knowing the kindness they are bestowing upon others.

Kindness doesn’t require huge amounts of effort nor time ~ kindness merely takes mindful intention in how we carry ourselves in the presence of others; thinking about how we interact with our neighbor souls and every once in a while stepping back and thinking about what our words and actions are contributing to the lives of others and more broadly what it’s contributing to humanity.

 

~ F.P

 

 

Nine weeks in and this is what I’ve learned…

I have just hit nine weeks into my new role as a mum and I can attest to it being the steepest learning curve, with the greatest adrenaline rush I have ever experienced. While some moments are challenging, some moments I feel almost super human with my new found abilities to function on little and broken sleep; produce consumable liquids from my body and hush the toe curdling wails of a crying little person sometimes with nothing more than my voice.

As I sit here and reflect upon the pregnancy that feels like so many moons ago, those months had lulled me into a falsehood of what was to come. All of the reading materials (of which I admit to reading very little of them) and information out there can never prepare you for the battle fields we experience each day. No two days are ever the same. Within each and every day there is a collection of moments so memorable that you feel as though the space in your mental memory card is well and truly filled, yet there is always room for so much more. And regardless of how many times you have seen that smile, each time that it spreads across her tiny lips, exposing her deep set dimple, without fail each time it takes your breath away and you feel as though it is the first time you are seeing it.

In and amongst it all, there are some lessons I have come to learn in my short experience that I thought I would share…

Life is all about control and routine:

Prior to my daughter, my life was somewhat ad hoc, aside from the time frames of employment I enjoyed living spontaneously and as the wind blew. Clearly my daughter did not get that memo because from the moment of her arrival she had set herself into a precise routine and she sticks to it regardless of where we are and what is happening.   She is in complete and total control of her body clock at all times and I am a slave to her almost OCD routine.

As a result of my tiny daughters ways, she is teaching me to adjust into a solid life routine and I must say, I am not disliking so far…

Multitasking takes a back seat:

Back in my former life, I had the ability to get many things done at the one time and I was able to do them well. I was efficient and proud of my abilities and I finally felt as though I had mastered multitasking.

In my current role and duties, I am now confined to one task at a time as my mind is internally screaming and praying to the heavens to duplicate me to enable me to complete multiple tasks at a time. You are no doubt shaking your head in disagreement because it is a well-known fact that mothers are the best at multi tasking ever. I challenge this concept as the child is in its infant stage. Picture this – baby is hungry as you are in the middle of getting ready to head out and there are a few small tasks to get done before you leave. As I sit down to feed her, I stare at the half packed baby bag wishing that I could mentally pack it and put it in the car, all the while cursing myself for not having packed it earlier. I look at the pile of dishes in the sink and attempt to calculate how long it would take to do and how late might you be if you did them – on second thought you will be cooking when you return home – more dishes anyway. You reason they can all wait.

You look at the clean yet unfolded pile of clothes you dumped on the couch when the baby started crying a feed ago and wonder what is the most effective way of hiding these! I am driven to leave my home in a fit state because I am terrified of the police having to attend and for me to explain that I can’t be certain of what a potential burglary did to my home because the way I left it could be confused for a ransacking.

So as part of the anti multi tasking, I am learning to enjoy the moment and get into a better organization pattern to prevent my head exploding when the clock is ticking against me.

I have become a moving coat rack!

Now this will sound odd – but to anyone who is packing a car and only wants to make the one trip, you become super creative. I have now mastered the ability to carry the baby bag and everything the baby requires including the kitchen sink and about 62 blankets thanks to the Melbourne winter – as well as the baby – all in one trip without dropping anything and locking the front door! I have virtually become a magician!

Babies are the bearer of happiness:

There are so many things in the world that make you stop and feel a pain in the depths of our hearts whether it’s a personal tragedy, something that has happened to someone we know directly or the news that carries of others sadness and grief. Unfortunately there is no shortage of sadness, yet the birth of a child cuts through pain and brings a pure and uncensored happiness. The interesting part is that the child will probably never know the happiness and peace they generated just from being present…

The true value of being present:

At first the 3am feeds felt like the devils hour. A few times I may or may not have mistaken the babies gentle cries for my previously set morning alarm and tried to press snooze on my phone. I dreaded the feed time as my eyes were so heavy and shut, my arms feel rubbery and not attached to my body and everything felt hard.
Fast-forward a few weeks – my favourite time of the day is the 3am feed. My body clock wakes slightly ahead of the baby as I anticipate her gentle stirring of hunger. I listen in the darkness for the sounds and my heartbeat slightly quickens with delight as I watch her eyes open just enough.

After years of practicing meditation and struggling with being present without using the time to make endless to do lists, the 3am feeds gets me to that point without much thought.
As I am settling the baby back into sleep, the world in this moment is quiet. There are no distracting sounds – nothing but the sound of her gentle breathing as I watch her eyelids become heavy and shut. Her head against my chest succumbs to the comfort and she flies off into her dreamland. There aren’t any pressing chores to attend to and my mind isn’t distracted by a ticking clock. There is nothing more important and nowhere else to be in that very moment but to breathe in the beautiful and intoxicating smell of her newborn head, or to watch her fingers wrap around my finger and to enjoy the warm and comfort shared between us.

 

Motherhood is a challenging yet exciting time. For me, in the past few weeks not only am I getting to know my daughter but I am excited to be getting to know a new and very different version of me… a version I am quiet happy to become…

~ F.P

What does your happiness actually look like minus the stress and guilt

“There are two things to aim at in life; first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second”.

 ~ Logan Pearsall Smith

 An excepted understanding of life is that it moves in cycles. These cycles refer narrowly to our own lives and broadly to humanity overall. Throughout time there is a resurgence of past eras working as inspiration for the future. This resurgence involves fashions, lifestyle habits and values. I am now in my 30’s and have watched attempts at reviving aspects of eras gone by many times in many different incarnations from the 1970’s fashion of bell bottom pants to the scrunchy crazes and tie dye clothing of the 80’s; remakes of both songs and movies and the current revival of 1960’s furniture. Another currently trending revival is the attempt to live more simply and organically ~ just in a more complicated and stressful way.

Humanity continues to evolve socially but it is undisputed that we are currently living in a world dominated by stress and anxiety attributed to the lack of balance in our personal lives. We have become time poor and consequently living an unsatisfactory life. We always seem to be chasing the illusive dreams of being able to achieve happiness based on certain life markers drawn by societal expectations and those we draw for ourselves. In reality, these markers may never be crossed. Does that mean we will never be as happy as we want to be?

We work hard to create the life we desire ~ long work hours and lots of energy in molding such an existence but then we are often too tired to truly enjoy it. It has been stated many times over that we now have bigger homes but less people living in them and less time spent in them. We spend so much time building our careers and less time enjoying it. We spend so much time stressing about being healthy and less time putting things in place to achieve this. We spend so much time living with guilt at not giving family time they deserve and almost feel as though we are living in a cycle of unhappiness and resentment at our life’s responsibilities.

There has been much written about in helping our society achieve balance and happiness. To be frank, I am tired of being bombarded by articles that preach to have the answer to our first world concerns because in reality, if we were to follow the ascribed ten steps to happiness written on every life aspect, our lives would never achieve any sort of balance but will continue to raise our levels of stress and anxiety at not achieving the accepted happiness. While these articles may be helpful to some, I have started to look at them as though they are condescending and trying to break my soul down until it neatly fits into a mold. My soul is too big for a mold of any sort – nor does it deserve to live as one.

Life and how it is lived is subjective ~ that is the essential beauty of it. We chose what our happiness looks like and how we wish to achieve it. There is a false conception of what our happiness should be.

Pause.

What does your happiness actually look like?

Reflect.

Taking a step back for a moment as I ponder this very question, I reminisce on my childhood. It was happy ~ it was simple.

We grew our vegetables and ate healthily together at dinnertime around the kitchen table. We bonded as a family in the backyard tending to the veggie patch or playing sports games. On weekend drives we breathed in the fresh air and enjoyed walks and swims and relaxation in the outdoors. We watched the sunrise as we drove out early to a far destination. We listened to the music that happily flowed from the radio.

Our way of life wasn’t the exception, nor was it hippie – it was just life and how my family chose to spend our time. We weren’t preoccupied with finding a balance nor were we stressing about how to do it all… we did what we could and how it worked for us.

 

Perhaps we should try to stop reinventing the wheel and take life back to basics.

Life is not meant to be overcomplicated – Life is meant to be lived, to be embraced and to be enjoyed.

 

“There are two things to aim at in life; first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second”.

 

Here’s to molding a life of happiness ~ the way happiness looks to me and maybe one day I can achieve the wisdom of succeeding at enjoying the happiness I want…

 

~ F.P