Yesterday I was at my niece’s 8th birthday party, and my mum had pulled out a photo of our family on my 8th birthday to show me, and the (other) birthday girl.
The photo was of my dad’s parents, my parents, my older brother, my younger brother and moi, taken on my 8th birthday, exactly 40 years ago.
As you can se, I was rocking long light brown hair, (is that a Bay City Rollers tee? I can’t quite tell) a denim skirt, long white socks, and fabulous red Mary Janes. Check out my mum’s shirt – epically cool 70s! My dad is wearing a singlet because he was, and is, a bit of a rebel! He knew eye-rolling and tut-tutting would ensue, so he rocked that singlet quite provocatively. God I love that man!
The quite fuzzy photo doesn’t include either of my sisters (both now in their 30s), as they weren’t born then.
They were standing in the kitchen at the party yesterday, one with her baby boy in her arms, and one hosting her daughter’s 8th birthday party.
As I showed the photo to my dad, it occurred to me just how long this adulting caper can go on, if we’re lucky.
I looked at my dad looking at that photo, seeing himself as a 38 year old father of three. When that photo was snapped, he and mum had been married about 13 years, he was a successful builder, he barracked for Essendon, and both his parents were alive.
Standing in the kitchen today, dad is 78 years old and happily retired, his parents have both been dead for decades, and he’s the much loved father of five, and a loving, involved, shit-stirring grandfather to eight.
His laugh is the same. It’s the best sound.
Life is (hopefully) a long game.
Families go on and on, down the generations, from our grandparents then parents being children, to becoming young adults, then newlyweds, buying their first home, and along we come – first child, second, third, fourth, fifth.
Work gets busy, then worryingly slow; there’s sickness; family holidays; stressful times; happy times; and night after night of sausages and mashed potatoes; mountains of laundry; family get togethers; scraped knees; cousins; ageing grandparents to care for; the children grow up, then move out, and on and on it goes.
I felt so privileged to sit in my family home on my 48th birthday, with my parents, my sisters, and two of the next generation of our family, amidst noise and squeals and all those pink presents, at my #favouritehuman’s 8th birthday party.
Pass the sausage rolls dad, we could be here a while.
According to Wikipedia, deciduous means “falling off at maturity”or “tending to fall off”, and it is typically used in order to refer to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally (most commonly during autumn) and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe. In a more general sense, deciduous means “the dropping of a part that is no longer needed” or “falling away after its purpose is finished”. In plants it is the result of natural processes.
Hmmm. I might just have to stop and read that again.
The dropping of a part that is no longer needed.
Falling away after its purpose is finished.
That’s got to be about more than just leaves, right? That’s got to be about the soul too. Maybe it’s a deciduous soul thing, rather than a deciduous heart thing. Whatever it is, it’s a metaphor I can dig.
Maybe this is what #theviewfrom48 is all about? I wrote about the view here and even though I haven’t written much more about it, I have been thinking a lot about the where, why, who and what of being me. That’s nothing new for me, it’s a theme I return to often, and gladly.
It feels right for me to regularly take stock, because I think it serves me well to be mindful about my life, to look at what’s working, what is no longer needed, and to observe what’s fallen away.
Change can be so incremental that you barely notice it, and it can sometimes feel immensely unexpected and violent, leaving you reeling. I’ve known both types of change.
The things that I have let go off, that have fallen away, are as important, if not more important, than the things I’ve collected and added over the years.
I’ve let go of fears – that I wasn’t enough, that I was broken, that I was damaged goods.
I’ve let go of the idea that another person can complete me.
I have let concern about what others say about me fall away.
I have joyfully let go of living by others’ expectations.
I’ve shed plenty of leaves, heck, I’ve dropped branches.
And the falling leaves are beautiful. And the branches make great firewood.
Living isn’t about what we’re sold, or what we accumulate.
It’s about growing, and it is about letting go.
I’m letting go.
That’s the thing with seasons, they don’t just happen out there, in nature.
They happen to us, in us. We all experience seasons of ease, of change, of growth, of barrenness, of renewal.
I think the thing I’ve learned is not to fight that. I’m still learning that.
Don’t you love it when someone asks a question that makes you think about what’s REALLY important in life?
Tonight I was hanging out on Facebook, when the lovely Nat from Make It Look Easy posted a really excellent message on her page.
When I read something great, I immediately want to share it, which is why I messaged Nat to ask her if I could share her post and question, (and my answer) with you. Nat being Nat, she immediately said yes. Thank you Nat xx
Here’s her post:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill
There is a very fine line between just surviving week to week on what we work so darn hard to earn, and giving some of that away knowing that your family will miss out due to your generosity to others.
It really is so hard to hand out dollars knowing how hard you worked for each and every one those. So let’s make it a little bit easier on ourselves and start giving our time instead (just to warm us up).
There is this really funny thing that happens in our Universe – the more you give – the more you get. I am so serious here. But I am also serious in saying that not everyone has a spare dollar or even 50 cents to give. Keep your money – you need it, your family needs it (believe me, I know as I was there for quite a few years (six in total) myself).
Your time however – please give it freely and you will seriously be blown away by how many people make sure that they give it right back to you in return. And their time equals your extended learning.
The more people you listen to, the more you can condense what you really need to know and from that you can build your future.
Education is not always found in books (although I am a huge book addict myself) – true knowledge is formed by listening to those who have done it, failed and then achieved their goal in the end.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill.
What could you teach me and all of us in one sentence right now (without actually charging us for your insight) that you stand behind, use daily or wish everyone knew?
Again “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill
There are a few things you need to know about Nat, if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her or following her awesome community on Facebook – she’s an incredibly sincere, friendly, inclusive soul, she’s a super talented stylist, of wardrobes and homes, she usually has a wicked twinkle in her eye, and she is 100% about empowering and encouraging people. And she bloody rocks at it, because she’s living from her passions, and it shows in everything she does. Nat is generous, feisty, imperfect, boisterous and has such a sweet spirit. Nat is someone worth knowing.
I love questions like Nat’s. They make you stop and consider what you know for sure, and what is worth passing on.
So: What can I teach people, that I stand behind, use daily or wish everyone knew?
After feeling like answering in just one sentence was impossible, I wrote:
It is absolutely possible to truly like, befriend, fight for and CELEBRATE yourself – even if right now, your soul feels fatally wounded or flawed. (There’s no six week program, sorry about that. And it may not happen in that order.)
I couldn’t actually manage to only write one sentence! (Have we met?!)
And hey, I have a blog so I decided to share my answer it with you, in an unlimited number of sentences.
Because like I told Nat tonight, this is the most important ongoing lesson of my life.
I believe with my whole heart that you (and I) can learn to like, befriend, fight for and celebrate ourselves, EVEN IF we feel irreparably broken on the inside.
It won’t happen after we lose 5 or 15 (or 50) kilos, not once we find our perfect match, not after we get that promotion, but only when we are willing, in fear and trepidation, with sweaty palms and a thumping heart, to begin the work of questioning the unspeakable things we tell ourselves, or have been told about ourselves by others.
It’s not a quick or easy process. Anyone who tries to tell you it can be is a despicable snake oil salesman.
You may start, and then falter, for years… I did.
You may gain a secure foothold in one area, and have another fault line split open right under your other foot.
You’ll face obstacles and opposition, I can practically guarantee that.
But the rewards…. oh, the rewards are impossible to enumerate in one blog post, but they will be worth it in ways you can’t yet imagine. I promise you.
You might be thinking, “easier said than done, Annette” or “if only you knew…” and to the first thought, I agree, it IS easier to say than to do.
BUT it is not impossible.
I have done it, I am still doing it, I’ll probably be doing this inner life work until there’s no life left in me.
And do you know what I discovered?
Not everything that has been playing on an incessant, soul destroying loop in your head and heart is true.
Can you hold that thought for a moment?
Not everything that has been playing on an incessant, soul destroying loop in your head and heart is true.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on what life has taught me as I approach my 48th birthday. I’ve written about that before, and I’m sure I will write about it again, long after 48 comes and goes.
That’s not a new area of rumination for me, and Nat has been encouraging me to work out how I can give what I know to others. The how is illusive, but I know what the guts of it is. I’m sure of that.
I’m so glad to be reminded tonight that we all have something to teach each other.
I think it is important for each of us to accept that responsibility and challenge.
Now I’m going to ask you to consider Nat’s question:
What can you teach people, that you stand behind, use daily or wish everyone knew?
(I’ll even let you use two or three sentences, but if you dig down to the “root of the root” you’ll find the words you need.)
Let me (& Nat) know what it is that you have to teach us. You can do that here in the comments section, or hit us up on Facebook. Nat’s Make It Look Easy FB page is here, and the I Give You The Verbs FB page is here.
Every morning (well, almost) this week I’ve been getting up and heading straight to my art desk to do a pretty well-known writing exercise called “morning pages”. I was reminded about morning pages when I re-read Craft For The Soul by Pip Lincolne last weekend.
The idea of the exercise is that you get up and before the day gets going, you write three pages, longhand. Three pages of whatever comes to mind, it’s not for publication, it’s not a productivity tool, or a to-do list, you just write. This can seem very strange but usually something interesting comes from it.
For me that’s been reflections on the view from 48. You can check out my last blog post for more on that. In a nutshell, I’m turning 48 in about 42 days (I haven’t had coffee yet so my mathematical abilities are even shakier than they usually are) and that has made me think about how I got from there to here, what’s helped, what matters, stuff like that there.
One morning this week, instead of writing, I drew a picture of my earliest memory, and shared it on Instagram and Facebook. It was me, wrapped in a towel, warming myself up in front of the Vulcan heater, after a bath. I wasn’t happy with the squareness of my towel ensconced shoulders, so I drew myself again.
Little me. Damp hair. I like her.
In my morning pages this week, I’ve noticed that I’m circling around some of the anchoring issues in my life – adoption, rejection, acceptance, encouragement and self confidence. I’m still ruminating on those topics, so I won’t go into detail here, yet. I was talking with someone on Facebook a few weeks ago, and that late night conversation has really got me thinking about what I can be doing to light the path for others, based on my own experiences. Thanks Nat!
In that spirit, on Wednesday I decided to declare #wingwomanwednesday on Twitter and Instagram.
Clearly my peeps aren’t that active on Twitter, but they ARE on Instagram.
Soon enough, there was a lovefest in progress, with people giving virtual high fives to women they appreciate here, there and everywhere. It was SO RAD!
As people saw themselves tagged, they replied, and joined the party, sending more love out to more of their gal pals.
LIFE GOALS!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Did hundreds of people get on board? No.
Does that matter at all? Hell no. (World domination takes time!)
If only one person had seen my post and tagged one girlfriend, a girlfriend who might have been having a super shit day or feeling a tad lonely or was just having a mundane Wednesday afternoon, and she saw herself tagged as someone’s wingwoman, and felt appreciated and loved, then DROP THE MIC!
I believe that encouraging acts like these are utterly essential in life.
I certainly would not be who I am without them.
The view from 48 – it’s a long, winding path lit by torches of encouragement that kept me going, and continue to do so.
When I ponder the most powerful force in my life, it has to be encouragement.
I think I’ll make one small change to this hashtag for next week, it’s got to be #wingwomenwednesday because it takes a village, right ladies?
Thank you so much to those who got into the spirit of my first foray into mass encouragement. Your words of affection and love for each other buoyed me up this week.
And remember, you don’t have to wait until Wednesday to encourage someone!
This is my (slightly idealised) view, 48 days from turning 48. I’ve taken some creative license and brought us into autumn, because let’s face it, autumn is the most magical of the seasons.
48 days from now I will turn 48. I like the symmetry of that.
Recently, I’ve been pondering how I got here, who I am and what’s shaped me. Ive been wondering what markers along the way have been most significant, and perhaps more importantly, whether there are worthwhile and transmittable ideas, processes or unshackling posts that I could point out to others. (Does that sound ridiculously arrogant? I hope not.)
48 isn’t 50, it’s not a Hallmark sponsored milestone, but it is what’s cresting in front of me.
It’s a long time, isn’t it? 48 years.
Not compared to the planets or the stars, or even the trees in the nearby hills, but for a person, it’s a good stretch of days and nights, of summers, autumns, winters and springs. It’s a lot of Christmases and birthdays. It’s a hell of a lot of Monday mornings!
Will I write 48 daily posts? I’m not sure, I kind of doubt it, though I do have the time at the moment.
What I’m hoping is that by making a concerted effort to both reflect, and to scout what’s ahead, I might stumble across some things that help me join the dots.
I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that the truest, best changes in our lives, the really important work of the soul (ugh, sorry about that!), happens not on the mountain tops, but germinates slowly, incrementally, often without us having much awareness of what’s going on, in the every day, in the mundane.
There’s no mapped out plan for the next 48 days, there are no draft posts waiting in the wings, but I do want to tell you some stories.
No matter how SnapChatty the world becomes, I think we still need stories. Stories and questions.