One Mark went to mow

Earlier this week I received a text from Mark the mowing man. 

Mark is a great bloke. We often have a chat when he’s here. Mark is friendly, reliable and he has cool tattoos. 

Here’s how this week’s text convo with Mower Man Mark played out. 

 

I thought that would be the end of it. He’s running a small business, not a free mowing service. 

Even a generous guy might baulk at waiting that long… but not Mark. 

(For the record, because I know that you know I love language, kindness trumps punctuation!)

How great is Mark? 

I was pretty damned chuffed, and humbled, by his offer. 

On Wednesday morning, Mark sent someone around to mow the lawns, and I think you’ll agree they look great. 

It’s kind of wonderful to have someone trust you like Mark trusted me this week. 

Better get back to the job hunting now, I owe Mark $50! 

Do you have a Mark in your life? 

Who has shown you kindness lately? 

Better yet, who have you been a Mark to? 

 

Annette ūüíö

Christmas Honours

Christmas Eve is upon us! You know what that means… only about 36 hours until the Boxing Day sales lunacy begins, and hot cross buns go on sale. 

I was one of those “whoops I forgot something” shoppers who ventured out this morning to pick up another bottle of pesto, a different shape of pasta, bread rolls and additional chocolate (the last item being the only one not connected to Christmas feasting). 

As I wandered back past the supermarket, I said hello to a lovely older gent who caught my eye. I don’t think it was Santa, but he did tell me, with a glint in his eye, that he was recently awarded an OBE. 

With impeccable timing, he then announced it was for being Over Bloody Eighty. 

Bahahahahahaaaa! 

Gosh I want to be like that when I’m OBE. Twinkle in my eye, witty line at the ready. And great legs! 

I told him all I’d managed was an OBF, and I was pleasantly relieved when he picked forty not fifty. 

That kind of interaction typifies what Christmas can be for us once the thrill of writing letters to Santa and counting down sleeps passes us by. 

I always try to balance the frustration I feel when people seasonally lose their ability to navigate car parks, with smiling at people, letting a person with less items than I have in my basket go ahead of me at the check-out, or stopping for a quick chat and a laugh with a twinkle-eyed octogenarian. 

Two days ago, as I stopped for a coffee in David Jones, I decided to pay for the coffee of the next person to sit down. I can’t remember precisely how the lady I made the offer to described it – impressive, or something like that, but the thing is, it isn’t really. 

It was just a cappuccino and a yoyo biscuit. 

And it wasn’t “random”, it was deliberate. Can we retire “random acts of kindness” please, and make them every day acts? 

We can forget how simple it is to be kind, especially if we let all the shoulds of the “most wonderful time of the year” overwhelm us.

Isn’t that kind of backwards? 

Isn’t Christmas about stopping to chat with a fellow traveller – goodwill to all style? 

Isn’t it about togetherness with those we love, and those knowing, phew, we made it through another year glances we exchange? 

I think it is. 

I don’t know a single family where anyone storms away from Christmas lunch because there were only three side dishes, or just ham and prawns, and not ham, prawns and turkey, or the cranberry sauce was store bought. 

If anyone in your family does these things, please have them contact me for a much needed arse whipping seasonal adjustment.

This Christmas, I know people who are nursing recent and raw bereavements, and not-so-recent but still raw grief. 

I know people who won’t be with the one they thought they would wake up beside every Christmas morning.

I know parents navigating tricky shared custody issues, and those for whom the idea of family togetherness is enough to have them booking last minute tickets to Hawaii. 

I also know people filled with Christmas joy, celebrating as families for the first time, beloved babes in arms. 

There are those who will be seeing loved ones they miss like crazy all year long, and then there are all the in between folks, busy making salads tonight, chopping spuds and basting hams, checking on the pav and wrapping gifts at midnight after everyone’s in bed. 

Wherever you are on the spectrum, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, even if Christmas isn’t your jam. 

I want to wish you the sweetness of fond memories of past Christmas mornings with loved ones gone too soon.  

I wish you strength as you “keep calm and Christmas on” in front of the kids. 

I wish you friends who will text you, and say, I’m thinking of you babe, and who will bring you leftover pav on Boxing Day. 

I wish you joy as you enjoy (or endure) the obligations that tomorrow brings. It’s just a few hours, and if it’s too much, I wish you the strength to remove yourself from anything that isn’t good for your soul. 

I wish you quiet moments, and signs that they’re still with you, and yep, I even wish you great presents. 

That’s allowed, right? 

Merry Christmas my friends. 

Festive love, 

Annette xx

 

PS  Please rock, paper, scissors for designated driver duties before anyone picks up a glass in celebration, and take your time on the roads. 

 

 

 

 

What Wenceslas can teach Scott Morrison

I’ve been ruminating on the lyrics of my all-time favourite Christmas carol a lot this week. I don’t really know why it’s my favourite, but it always has been. I think I learned it as a child, and something about it has just stuck in my ‘favourites’ folder.

There is SO MUCH to be taken from these words, from this ancient story about a good Bohemian king who was known ¬†for his kindness. What an amazing thing to be known for – ruling with kindness. That’s pretty Christmassy in my book.

So I just wanted to share the lyrics to the carol with you, and tell you that my Christmas wish for you is that something in this carol resonates with you, even if you have to read it twice to get through ye olde language, and that you’ll see what I see, especially as the song progresses – a story about a king, and a page, and their journey to assisting someone in need.

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Without wanting to take away from the message of Good King Wenceslas, I also want to say that I value each and every one of you that visits here, whether you’re a regular reader or an occasional reader, or if it’s your first time here – hello, thank you for visiting I Give You The Verbs, and thank you for making this one of the best years I’ve had in a really long time, even though I’ve needed my own Wenceslases, quite often. I’ve been so blessed by people’s generosity and kindness.

Merry Christmas, or have a great Thursday. Don’t forget Good King Wenceslas.

Much love,

Annette x

 

All the news that’s fit to blog

Hi friends,

I’ve been a bit busy lately and have neglected the Verbs a bit. Sorry about that!

I have some news – really very good news…. I found a job!

Those who have been reading for a while will know that I’ve been looking for work for a long time…. and I’m pleased to report that after slogging away at applications for months and months, getting my hopes up, having them dashed, being rejected repeatedly, feeling defeated, brushing myself off and getting so, so close… one of those rejections turned into a second chance, another interview and a trial that’s turned into a part time job.

I won’t give you all the details, I’m not sure how much work/blog crossover I’m comfortable with, but I’m working Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday every week, doing admin tasks and a little blogging and social media strategising for a small, family run business, and I’m really enjoying myself. I’m working with a nice group of ladies, the parking is free and the coffee is good.

Huzzah! There’s money in my bank account again, money that I earned. That feels so good.

I want to say a sincere, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has cheered me on, sent me cards and messages, offered words of encouragement, sent supermarket vouchers, arrived on my doorstep with bags of groceries, left me fresh eggs, handed me cash,¬†cooked for me, invited me out, sent their best¬†juju over Instagram or Facebook, asked me how I’m going… it has meant SO MUCH to not be trudging through this season alone. It has been the difference between despair and hope.

Who knows if this part-time gig will last, for now I’m thinking of it as a ‘summer job’ and working on paying back some debts quickly.

I’ve slipped easily back into the routine of setting the alarm, getting through the traffic and on Thursday when I was home, it felt strange. Strange to be home on a weekday! That felt good.

So, that’s a biggie isn’t it? Employment, something to do, it’s so important isn’t it. Phew. Yay. Grateful.

photo 1 (3)

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs too, especially the words of my friend Eden. I’ve only met her once IRL, at ProBlogger, but I reckon it’s okay to say we are friends. Not besties, that’s cray-cray talk, but in meeting her, in looking into her face and having her look into mine, and talking about real things straight off the bat, I felt a genuine connection.

The month of October was the first anniversary of her beautiful brother Cam’s suicide, and if you’re connected to the internet circles I am, you may know about #fucktober, where people were invited to send Eden some love – a card, a word of kindness, a little something to say, yes FUCK you October, we are here with you Eden. Big shout out to Beth from BabyMac for organising all the love. On ya Beth!

It’s been beautiful to see Eden absolutely overwhelmed with love and kindness, and CAKE. People are so good aren’t they? I don’t buy this idea that the world is all shitty and dark, of course I know that awful things happen, but really people are still inclined to be good and kind and willing to reach out to others. Don’t you think?¬†(And yes, I know Eden isn’t the only one going through shit times, but I also think it’s okay for this post, on my blog, to just be about her, alright?)

Eden decided she wanted to do something really out of the box to try and raise a little awareness about suicide, which is still a topic that’s shooshed and hushed and hidden. It needs to be talked about, to be acknowledged and we need to try and help each other when we feel the black dog breathing on our necks. Grief is a monster, a hurricane, a vortex, and when you lose someone to suicide…. well, I can’t speak to that personally, but I do believe we need to try, try, try to understand grief better. Stop with the old ideas of grief being linear, then done, the time heals all wounds stuff, the god needed another angel stuff, all the words we say instead of saying the person’s name, saying I don’t know what to say, wrapping our arms around those who grieve, and try a little doing too, doing is good. Write a card, send a cake, lip-synch a ridiculous song and post it online.

Here’s the blog post Eden wrote about her fab idea to do a lip-synching competition. It’s been awesome to watch people’s videos. So funny, so moving, so beautiful. If you don’t watch any others, watch Eden’s clip. It is so powerful, so crushing, so true, so beautiful.

I thought and thought about what kind of song to do. In the end I went with something I love, something lighthearted and upbeat. And here it is Love Is A Contact Sport by Whitney Houston. Enjoy! I had so much fun just being a fool in front of my iPad! It’s so freeing to be silly.

If you search the #edenland tag on YouTube you can watch other people’s videos, there are some beauties!

So, they are the things that have been keeping me busy, a new job, a new routine, being silly on the internet… in fact, I was feeling so silly that I posted a clip of myself singing the theme to The Love Boat on my blog’s Facebook page yesterday. I posted it to cheer Eden up, and it seems that other people have enjoyed it too. Pop over to the I Give You The Verbs Facebook page¬†(you can use the social media icon up there on the right) and check it out if you want a giggle.

So that’s what is new with me.

What’s your news?

What’s the hap where you are? Sung anything silly lately?

 

Annette x

 

 

How an empty mayonnaise jar brought me undone….

Isn’t it funny how on a bad day, seemingly small¬†things can send you into a tailspin?

When I used my last egg and scraped the last mayo out of the jar this week, the abyss opened up, and I was a mess.

Is my cupboard bare? No, it isn’t. There’s good stuff in there. Stuff I can easily turn into simple, tasty meals. But on Thursday, there were no more eggs, there was no more mayo – and I knew I did not have enough money to buy both, and wouldn’t have, for at least two weeks. I’m unemployed at the moment, so money is tight.

It is a confronting thing to realise you can’t afford basic things, items which Toby from The West Wing (god I love that show) calls ‘the everyday things, the 99 cent things’. The things we take for granted, like eggs, and mayonnaise.

As the last shell went in the bin, I cracked too.

People sometimes say that there’s no kindness left in the world, or that it is hard to come by. Some days that seems true, some of us just don’t have our eyes open to see it, but I can tell you, Thursday was not a kindness-free-day for me.

In my increasing agitation, I took to the keyboard, to vent about feeling sad, stuck and vulnerable. Not a public broadcast, a conversation in a group of people I felt pretty sure I could trust. The group I chose was the one I’ve been spending the most time in lately, my Pipsters. From here in Melbourne, and in far-flung places from Spain to England to America, these awesome ladies, my homies, my Pipsters¬†PICKED ME UP with the tap, tap, tapping on their keyboards, and created a safe space where I could¬†talk about feeling¬†humiliated by my lack, and frightened of not getting through the next fortnight.

They encouraged me, empathised with me and didn’t gloss over what I was saying, which is so important when someone is having a shit day. Let the person in Shitsville¬†say it is shitful. It is. Don’t rush to “the sun’ll come out tomorrow”. We all know it will.

What the temporary residents of Shitsville need, what I needed, was listening ears and compassionate hearts.

Boy was I in the right place. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

There were so many tears, and as I sat at my desk, talking in real time with people, feeling the support and solidarity, reading about how other people have been in my shoes, I was being broken open, my emotional pressure valve hissing and spluttering out the worries of the week.

It may sound utterly bizarre to you (it does to me) but blogging is bringing battered old passions to the surface, it is causing me to be more open, authentic and vulnerable, with the people I am creating an online community with, and with myself…. it is strange, and sometimes painful, but it feels exhilarating too. Being fully alive isn’t about feeling only good things. Neither is blogging!

After I’d been chatting with the Pipsters for a while, I felt a bit better, then a lot better, and so, so tired. All that crying takes it out of you. I woke up the next day feeling completely different. Nothing had changed, but I was no longer weighed down with worry.¬†I was buoyed by people sharing ads for jobs they’d seen and thought I’d rock at, there were links to sites that might help, people shared mayo recipes requiring only two ingredients, people encouraged me, people SAW ME, unvarnished and broken, and not one person turned away, or blithely told me to ‘get a job’ or that what I was feeling was invalid. That’s priceless stuff. Human stuff. That’s community.

Today I can write this from a totally different mindset than the one I was stuck in two days ago. Today’s tears are of gratitude. I am not ashamed of my tears. They are softening me, inside and out.

This week I learned a new lesson about what I’d term humiliation – a feeling I despise with all my being. ¬†Maybe what I know as humiliation – a deeply painful, confronting and devastating state of mind and soul, holds within it a chance to be more authentic with people, more vulnerable and ready to say, I need help. Try saying that, even in your mind, I need help. It’s not easy is it?

And yet, we all need it. I need help. You need it. Your sister, your dad, the guy on the bus, the shiny people on magazine covers, who we’re supposed to worship and believe ‘have it all’, the crafters, the ‘successful’ folks we admire and maybe envy a touch, ¬†even them – we all need help every now and then. Maybe not every day, maybe not to buy eggs or mayonnaise, but sooner or later, Mayonnaise-Gate happens to all of us.

How GRATEFUL I am that when I was ready to say, even just from the ‘safety’ of my computer, that I needed help, that people were there to listen and to encourage me. That was the help I needed most on Thursday afternoon. Help to be honest, help to be vulnerable and let my emotions out.

Can I exist only in the virtual world? No I can’t. I need my flesh and blood friends too, I need to trust them when the chips are down (or gone!), as I do in the good times. I am undone by friends who demonstrate their love in ways that resonate.

Some cheer my efforts at blogging on, or remind me that Don’t Stop Believin¬†is my ultimate theme song.

Some friends do this with their words, their care, their support and encouragement, their precious time.

Some do it with groceries, or a supermarket voucher.

Some  give me money that I know they could have used to buy their own eggs and mayonnaise.

I have friends that take the time to read and comment on my fledgling blog, or come over with pizza.

The yet-unmet-friends who spoke life into my situation this week, wow, thank you.

The pal who asked me how I was on Instagram, and I decided to tell her the truth, which resulted in us having a great chat, she’s sending help. I’ve never met her.

One yet-unmet-friend from Blog With Pip, who sent me a message on Friday asking me where I live, is dropping off help this afternoon.

A lovely friend took me to dinner, paid for my meal, and a second glass of wine, and helped me out, again.

The friend I met in a West Elm store, who I’m enjoying getting to know, said she’ll buy me a coffee next week.

There’s no hierarchy involved. The friends who offer practical support aren’t ‘better’ than the friends who offer a listening ear and words of encouragement. They know that, I certainly know it. We all play our part.

Sometimes we buy the eggs, sometimes we listen and send virtual hugs.

What I’ve learned this week is that kindness isn’t at all like mayonnaise – it doesn’t run out when the jar is empty.

In fact, sometimes that empty jar is a portal to an outpouring of kindness that lays you flat with gratitude.

That’s why I’m not about to stop believin’. Even when mayonnaise makes me cry.

mayo jar

 

Gratefully,

 

Annette xx