Or ‘In Which We Tried to go to the Jenolan Caves and ended up Visiting a Stranger’s Long Departed Grandmother’
Hellllo My Cherubic Vagabonds
One of the things I love about living where I do is the amount of amazing places I can drive to for a day trip. Sydney, Canberra, Blue Mountains and Heatherbrae Pies to name a few. Though Canberra is for those special occasions that you feel like driving 3 hours each way.
As I’ve said before, I love giving a good surprise. And with 2 of my children away, I decided it was time for some surprise quality time with our youngest. (Now I say it like that, it kind of sounds a little bit like it’s…not-quite-welcome quality time I’m trying t force on her by stealth.)
I discussed it with hubby the night before and we decided to take her to the Blue Mountains for on overnight trip to investigate the Jenolan Caves. I booked a hotel (one of the only ones available at such short notice) and packed the car up while our daughter was asleep.
The next morning I packed a picnic and told her that we were going for a drive to explore. Knowing it was a long drive to get out the other side of Sydney where we were planning to stop at an old cemetery (a thing she loooves to do) I had her pack a few things to do in the car in case she got bored.
Off we set.
All was going swimmingly for the first hour of our journey. Then we got to Carlingford.
It is about this point in the story where things go horribly wrong. Both hubby and I looked at each other and said ‘Our car shouldn’t be doing that’. And mere seconds later we were pulled over at a service station with the hood up and looks of this-would-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-such-an….no-its-almost-funny were running across our faces.
Telling you about the importance of looking at the beauty in the world instead of the boring train tracks and power lines that seem to clutter everything up last Monday reminded me of a walk I took one lunch time. And in true it-must-be-a-sign-even-though-I-don’t-believe-in-signs-so-it-is-clearly-a-coincidence-I’m-going-to-nod-my-head-and-say-huh-in-an-annoyingly-knowing-way-about kind of way I came across an article on Pinterest about the 7 things that Mindful People Do Differently.
I’m not sure that this story fits neatly into any of those boxes but to me it certainly illustrates how our attitudes change the way we experience life. And it is the beginning of a challenge I am setting for myself, and for you. But more on that in a moment. For now to the story…
It was a sunny day and the route down to the boardwalk I like to use takes me past a vacant lot, lots of trash, a dual lane highway, mosquitoes breeding in stagnant puddles… you get the idea. With my eyes firmly fixed on the green field ahead and my face turned to the sun (in a feel-the-warmth-on-my-face way, not a blinded-because-I’m-an-idiot-who-stared-at-the-big-ball-of-burning-gas kind of way) I felt the stress of work slip away as I walked in the sunshine with Ed Sheeran playing through my headphones.
As I walked through the trees I could easily have focussed on the abandoned shopping trolley, the trash in the water or the muggy mangrove air. Instead I saw blue wrens hopping across the ground, the fluffy seed pods floating through the dappled sunlight and the homeless man sitting on the boardwalk shooting up 20 feet ahead of me.
Or, ‘In Which We Ran into a Speed Hump in Life, Ordered a Pizza and Accidentally Went on a Metaphorical Journey’
Ahhh My Lovely Vagabonds,
Here I am again in front of my keyboard waffling on. But I call it a journey because it was. Journeys often take you somewhere new, teach you things and leave you with a sense of change. And getting passports for our girls certainly did all that.
Well, that was disturbingly deep. Let’s get on with the part that ultimately leads to laughter and shenanigans.
So, a couple of years ago we decided we wanted to take our kids on a cruise. It had been Bek’s dream forever to leave the country to see new places and discover a whole new world <cue Aladdin music>. On a limited income it was going to be tricky, but we discussed it with the kids and decided that the cruise would be their Christmas(and birthday) gift and we would have a nice quiet Chrissy at home together. We booked a cruise to the Pacific Islands (I was super excited because I had never been to Fiji before) and my parents booked as well. What a family vacation!
I bought new clothes and swimmers, made reading towels for all the girls as they had plans to sun themselves on tropical beaches reading good books. I bought good books. Wrapped them all and put them under the Christmas tree.
Christmas came and went; it was lovely. Everyone was excited about the trip and no one regretted giving up big fancy gifts in favour of our holiday. Unfortunately the excitement didn’t last for long and we had to cancel the holiday.
We had thought there would be no problem getting passports for the girls but sadly after a speed hump in the road of life, their father refused to resign the forms. Frustrating to say the least. Emails back and forth trying to talk it out between us didn’t seem to get us anywhere and after 8 months I knew it was never going to happen.
But I’m not one to give up so easily, so I applied to get passports without both parent’s consent. Seven months (yes, that’s right, 7 months!) and many phone calls to the ombudsman’s office later we had an answer.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes work feels never ending. And on just the odd occasion, I feel a little stabby too. One of the good things about my job is that I work alone a lot of the time. One of the bad things is that I work alone a lot of the time. It’s a vicious cycle. The introvert in me loves the solitude, the extrovert misses the company.
I spend hours on end in a windowless office staring at a computer screen coming up with new ways to tell the same story over and over with the end of the day always far too far away. It can make me a little despondent, tired and stir crazy. My hour long lunch break seems especially long on days that I’m working alone. I’d much rather have a shorter break and head home earlier so I can relax.
Not so long ago it occurred to me that I am looking at my break all wrong. I have an hour for lunch. That is inordinately long for a lunch break, especially for me. I’m used to not getting a break at all in my old job. I have a whole hour where there are no demands on my time. No children to look after. No boss to please. No husband to pay attention to. Nothing but my time in the middle of the day. So I started to do things that allowed me to enjoy my break time, instead of using it to mill around eating the minties we put out for clients and wishing I could go home sooner.
Last night was a long night. I won’t horrify bore you with the details of the darkness that kept me awake most of the night, suffice to say that I was almost a zombie when my hubby’s alarm woke me at 6 am. So now it is 6:30 and instead of being irritated that his alarm woke me when I was finally getting some sleep, I am grateful that he cares enough to help me find beauty in the morning.
Awareness of the colour of the light coming through the curtains was gradually penetrating* my foggy exterior but I had yet to rouse myself to look outside. Hubby came in and told me that the sunrise was spectacular and I should have a look at it. He pulled aside the curtains and after seeing the gorgeous golden sun stream through our window I couldn’t resist going outside to soak it in.
The sunrise making everything glow, the cool breeze on my face, the kookaburras heralding the dawn and the dew tickling my toes made me thankful just to be in that moment and chased away the night time terrors.
*still not a good enough reason to use the word penetrate**
**bonus cookie for those who can identify the movie quote
I’m properly mental. Not in the licking-windows-and-owning-57-cats way. More the suffer-from-a-generalised-anxiety-disorder-and-refuse-to-grow-up kind of way.
One of the things about that is that I have issues with perfectionism. Not that I’m perfect in any way or that things I do are perfect, more that I have trouble seeing anything I do as good enough, relinquishing control or starting things if I don’t think they will be as good as I want them to be.
I was practicing mindfulness at the beach yesterday while waiting for my daughter to be out of therapy (it’s not just me that is proper mental in my family)and a thought popped in to my head that I should have a section for mindfulness on my site. Then I thought that I couldn’t do it because I don’t have my proper camera with me. Then I thought about the fact that I haven’t found the voice I want to use to write this site. And then… Well you can see where this is going. But the end of the story is that I realised that it is my issue with perfectionism that is stopping me from really starting this site. And that I am not going to find my voice unless I actually start writing.
So here is. This is me starting the first post for Brunch Fuelled Vagabond. Even though I am convinced it is not going to be good enough.
And it about something I think we should do more of. Really experiencing the world we are living in. And the moment we are living in. Mindfulness.
Often when Ash is at her psychologist I will take a walk down to the beach, do some yoga or just sit and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing and children playing. Today I decided to turn left (much like Donna in Doctor Who but without the drastic earth changing results and creepy beetle).