A letter from my previous self…

It’s March, 2000. I’m nearly 20. I have two brothers: Brendon (nearly 17) and David (15). Apparently I’m also a patronising party-pooper with inconsistent paragraphing styles (however my handwriting is pretty)… Also, fifty eight bucks, is that all!?!?

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 16/3/00

Dear Brendon,
     I did not REALLY appreciate having money ‘thrown’ at me with a little note as you walked out the door.
     You have obviously checked out prices already to know HOW MUCH to provide me w/, but as $s can change from every store you could perhaps provide me w/ some details as to where to purchase.
     Additionally I would ♡ details such as
        WHO the alcohol is for
        WHEN will it be consumed
        WHAT you plan on doing with SO MUCH grog
        WHERE you plan to hide it all
        + WHY am I purchasing more when I haven’t yet been paid for the first lot.

You know that I don’t really agree w/ underaged drinking, especially if there are no adults around. Besides I assume that you’re purchasing for more than just the two of you because 
 a) 6 x cans of RMc + Cola would get me quite drunk
 b) 350 mLs of JB would get me quite drunk
 c) 700 mLs real mccoy would put me in hospital
 d) Fran and I shared a 350mL Bacardi one night + we were plastered.

There fore I would also like to know how many other minors I am supplying. 

Please come to me like a mature boy – I know you are – and ask me properly.
   I’m quite offended that I got no explanation from you + that you boys expect me to hand out alcohol willie nillie.

   Hence, enclosed is your $58.00. You + David can come + speak to me about this properly because I assume that he is involved as well.

♡ always,
          Jennifer.

Here's one of the few photos I have of me from around that time, a couple of months later at my 20th birthday party. Letting loose* with Lib, Kerrie and Em. (*I probably had one rum and cola that evening...)

Here’s one of the few photos I have of me from around that time, a couple of months later at my 20th birthday party. Letting loose* with Lib, Kerrie and Em. (*I probably had one rum and cola that evening…)

PS, thanks Brendon, for sending this hilarious letter back to me. I giggled like a school girl. Best kind of mail xxx

Be Confident That Your Voice Will Be Heard

Today we put an offer on a house.

Garden Lady

Not on the river; on the contrary it’s nestled in the highlands an hour and a half south of Sydney. We have family down that way and whilst it’s not exactly our ideal climate (18 degrees on a winters day is our kind of climate), the location is great. Close to family support. Great community. Good schools. Affordable housing. Close enough to a major hospital for me to be able to commute while I do my midwifery studies. Lots of boxes ticked. Plus we really liked the look of the house and even though it was way at the top of our price bracket, it was one of the only houses we’ve seen in the last six months that isn’t listed as “offers over” (which ALWAYS end up selling for $40,000+ more than their listed price… but that’s a rant for another day).

We saw the house mid morning and really liked it, then another house just before lunch with a different agent (it was ok) and later a third house with the first agent, Kate. Kate is the least real estate agent-y agent we’ve ever met. She was down to earth and helpful, genuine and connected. She treated us like people rather than simply the means to her next pay cheque. As a result we felt very comfortable just talking to her about how we felt, openly and honestly. She mentioned that the current owners would really like to stay in the house for the next five years (they want to use the sale money to expand their business, but really love their home) and then suggested that if we offered $XX less but with a two year fixed price lease they would probably consider it. I said ‘what if we offered $XXX less with a five year fixed price lease… do you reckon they’d go for it?’ and she didn’t think that it was out of the realm of possibility, even though the offer was substantially less than their original asking price.

So this afternoon we took a leap and made a formal offer. If they accept, it would be a win/win for both parties. We get into the housing market with a property that we love, that is in an area that we would be very happy to live in (especially in five years time when climate change has warmed the highlands another few degrees), with guaranteed rental income for five years. They get to live in the house that they clearly love, and they get to pay less than current rental market value for the privilege. If they don’t accept, we’ll be ok. There’s always another house. Still, both of our guts are saying YES on this one.

I sat down tonight and did a wee oracle reading. Nothing major, just a one card, tell me about today request.

I’m extremely new to oracle readings and have a bit of trouble recognising and trusting my intuition. Tonight I pulled Communication from the deck. As I drank in the image I tried to figure out how the heck it fit, and thought I’d probably mis-read my intuition and might need to draw again. As I read and re-read the descriptor I became convinced that I hadn’t listened closely enough, because it seemed completely irrelevant to my day.

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“You are being called to communicate your truth and vision through actively initiating conversations, meetings, agreements or new connections. Be confident that your voice will be heard with the desired results flowing to you. Should you need to communicate with sensitivity around an issue requiring resolution, you are being supported by higher powers to do this at this time.”

I think I wanted something that told me we’d made the right decision, so because I had expectations I couldn’t see what is now so abundantly clear.

Instead of being guarded and keeping our cards close to our chests, we were honest with Kate, telling her what we liked, what we wanted, how we felt. We communicated our truth and vision clearly, even though we’d only known her a few hours. And we boldly asked her about a relatively low ball offer and then offered the same with confidence. And she didn’t laugh, or try to talk us up. She took it graciously and promised to get back to us tomorrow.

Who knows how this will all turn out. I’m ok either way. Sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith and be confident that your voice will be heard.

When did you last put yourself out there?

xx

I’m joining Rhianna for Thankful Thursday.

The One You Feed. Or, Get on the Mat.

This somewhat brain-dump-y post is fuelled by a 20 day binge and is inspired by Raychael from Agent Mystery Case, who set a challenge in June to blog like noone is reading.

I’ve been meaning to write for weeks, but just can’t seem to make/find the time. Finally here I am. It’s easy to blog here like no-one is reading, because so far I’ve not shared this blog with a soul! No doubt I’ll share the link around for the Blog Exchange gals to have a read, but for a little while at least, that is as far as I’ll send it. To be honest, I kind of like the idea of having a place to just write, where I don’t have to worry about what people will think and don’t have any expectations of how many people it will reach.

Actually, I’m also going to share this dump over at My Home Truths for I Must Confess, because I feel as though a confession is in order.

But first, a parable.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority.
“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed”.

Image from Shutterstock

I’ve been really struggling with my self (sense of, and actual) of late. When I think of personal descriptors, here’s what comes to mind: challenge junkie, pleaser, obliger, perfectionist, procrastinator, motivator, dreamer, planner, flake. At the end of May I gathered up a few friends to join me in a Whole30. I’ve done it twice before and each time have lost some kilos, improved my sleep, cleared up my skin, kick-started my metabolism and maintained some regularity and improved my relationship with food. I’d started several rounds since my last (mostly) successful round (I ate chocolate on day 30) and each time flaked out after a few days. This last time I decided I needed a small team to help me stay accountable and on track and so, with my Whole30 buddies in tow, began a month of clean eating.

Confession #1: I claim to love many things about the Whole30. There are a stack of perks, sure, but mostly I just love the fact that I lose weight easily, without looking scrawny. Strict paleo makes me slim down to what is probably my natural perfect state (slim but soft – I don’t work out often) and the abundance of good fats and loads of vitamins and minerals makes my skin plump and glowy. Basically, it makes me look and feel better. I stop thinking about my appearance. How my clothes fit. Whether I am attractive/skinny/whatever enough. My body functions as it should, in perfect working order, strong and able and alligned. THAT is what I love most about Whole30.

Except this time I didn’t lose any weight at all. And my digestion was worse that it has been in ages. I’ve considered a stack of theories for both of these disappointing outcomes and I think I’ve narrowed it down to two. One- where I was previously breastfeeding several times a day, these days I feel MasterL once, before bed, and I’m pretty sure it’s just a comfort suck with not much milky action. But I still eat big meals. Less milk production = less calorie burn = no weight loss when you eat more than you actually need. And two – I was eating a LOT of leafy green veg (which I usually do) but I think the combination was binding me up. At least that’s what Google led me to believe, and I think it’s a valid suggestion. The day after I finished I ate two fat slices of bread and promptly had a rather satisfying trip to the bathroom.

Confession #2: Since those slices of bread I have continued to eat whatever the hell I feel like for the last three weeks. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a draconian ‘Paleo or nothing’ kinda gal – I just know that it makes me feel better than any other style of eating. And given that I’m hopeless at balance and that abstaining generally works much better for me than moderating does (thanks Gretchen Rubin for teaching me that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing!!), I am frustrated that I am spiralling into this self-sabotaging funk with such gusto. I had such high expectations of what I was going to achieve by the end of this Whole30, that when they didn’t come into fruition I have essentially thrown a massive tanty and cut off my nose to spite my face.

Confession #3: I think there’s something kinda satisfying about being here, deep in this rut. Seems utterly bizarre, but it must be the truth, because I keep on avoiding what I know will help me climb out. Since my birthday at the end of May, I meditated and/or did yoga every day until the end of June. And I ran 3-4 times a week. I had started to connect with myself and was really nurturing and owning my mindfulness practice. I was taking time out For Jenn. Now, every day I have great intentions to do yoga and meditate and then every day I end up shoving peanut butter and jam rice cakes or (healthy, but still not healthy enough for every day consumption) brownies, or teaspoons full of honey, or whatever else I can lay my hands on, down my throat, all the while thinking STOP! YOU NEED TO STOP. TAKE A BREATHER. GET ON THE MAT. BREATHE. LET GO… and then I think sure I’ll just finish inhaling this not very nice, not nearly warm enough and somewhat uninspiring second helping of dinner out of the fridge and then I’ll get right on to that… and then, of course I don’t.

My evil wolf winning. I know what I need to do to feed the good wolf, but the power of the other is so strong, it’s hard to just get started.

Even tonight I planned to do yoga as soon as the kids fell asleep, and here I am writing this and not getting on the mat. Though I do feel somewhat better for having vomited it all out, I’m still very aware of the fact that my window of yoga opportunity is narrowing by the minute. It’s all ok though. I didn’t even think about The Parable until about 15 minutes ago, when much of this was already written. Now that I’ve remembered, and realised how relevant it is to me right now, I feel as though a rope is being thrown down to me here in the depths of my rut and I am in a position to pull myself out.

First step – publish and get on the mat.

Thankful Thursday :: River Adventures

brooklyn railway bridge

Mumsy came to stay with us last week. We spent lots of time together, chatting, drinking tea, hanging with the kids and visiting Grandma on The Farm.

I’m not sure that we’d necessarily agree here, but for me the highlight of her trip was Tuesday morning when she hung with the kids so that T and I could go for a kayak on the river.We left pretty early in an attempt to catch the sunrise. Turns out the sun didn’t come out until several hours later, so whilst our bodies warmed up after some peddling for 20 minutes or so, our little toes froze! We were just going to potter around Peat Island and Milson’s Point, but decided that a paddle to Patonga might be a bit of fun… which it was.

Actually, it was more than fun. It was invigorating. It was GREAT for the soul. It connected us to each other and our place. It reminded us again of how much we love where we live.

Mum and the kids drove to Patonga to meet us when we arrived, then we headed into Woy Woy for lunch before heading home.

It was a brilliant way to spend a Tuesday, and I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to get out there with T!

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24 Ways I’m Becoming More Crunchy, the Older I Get (and four ways I’m not)

My brother-and-sister-in-law think I’m a bit of a hippie: in a style sense anyway. They always have. I lean towards the bohemian, I don’t keep up with fashion trends, I’m more likely to sport a number 2 shave than a $300 hair cut and I prefer birkenstocks to ballet flats. I’ve never had a problem with the title; at least I know I’ve never had to impress.

By the contrary, however, I have a fairly solid history of non-hippie like behaviours. I used to dream of driving a sports car and living in a million dollar mansion (back when a million dollars actually got you a mansion, as opposed to these days where you’d be lucky to get a recently renovated, 3 bedroom home on a decent sized, flat block within 40 minutes of the city). I spent my money on expensive underwear, jewellery, clothes and shoes. So many pairs of shoes.

I’m pretty sure that said in-laws think I corrupted T and turned him a bit feral, because since we’ve been together he’s said goodbye to the over-groomed, $75 t-shirt-wearing metrosexual and welcomed his scruffier, less concerned with appearance – and other people’s opinions – cardigan wearing self. This is hilarious because he thinks spending money on jewellery is ridiculous, he hates earrings, make up and nail polish, he prefers me with either a shaved head or natural looking hair, to highlights/lowlights and layers, and his influence on me has washed away any previous love I had for high gloss and brightly coloured feature walls, in favour of rustic, natural materials and authentic wear and tear.

My dear friend Sara visited the other day and within a three hour window made 3 or 4 references to my being a hippie. It got me thinking about the ways that I have become more free-spirited as I get older. So, a little listicle for your Tuesday.

24 ways I’m becoming more crunchy

1. We’ve predominantly used cloth nappies for both munchkins.

cloth bum

2. When we don’t, we use eco-friendly disposables.

3. I do No Poo. Have only recently started this, but I love it! My hair felt incredible the first time I did the bicarb vinegar wash and apple cider vinegar rinse and each time I go a day longer between ‘washes’. I’m up to 9 days now.

4. I wear my babies. To date I’ve owned six different types of baby carriers, though I only use two these days.

This was the first and last time I tandem wore my babies! Clearly needed more practice...

This was the first and last time I tandem wore my babies! Clearly needed more practice…

5. We’re sorta kinda co-sleep. As in, the kids start in their beds, but more often than not, one of both of them end up in our bed by morning.

6. We believe in gentle parenting.

7. We grown our own herbs – and attempt to grow our own veg.

garden loving

8. I eat paleo. Most of the time.

9. I’m not very good at body-hair removal.

10. I had a ‘pet’ spider. Sadly after about 6 months in her web on our deck, she vanished a few days ago. Suspect a bird. Circle of Life and all that, but I’m pretty sad about it, if I’m honest.

11. We’re going to send our kids to Steiner School even though it means moving house to do so.

12. We make our own cards and wrapping paper.

13. Nearly everything we own comes from op-shops, antique stores, hand-me-downs or from the side of the road.

14. We store our food in – and at times eat from – glass jars. Mostly Pics Peanut Butter jars actually. T really REALLY likes Pics.

15. Our kids are free range, bare footed, crazy haired, rosy-cheeked little cherubs.

16. I make and use bees wax coated fabric food covers.

17. I just bought my first oracle deck. It arrived yesterday… I’m can’t wait to get to know it – and myself – a little better!

Connected & Free Inner Hue Oracle Cards

18. I believe in the universe.

19. Our kids wear Amber necklaces

20. My idea of the perfect house is old, well built, character-filled, sunlit, warm, open, filled with love and memories, with chickens and dogs, veggie gardens and fruit trees and delicious smells. It’s on a big, flat block, in a safe and close-knit community where the kids can run free… and it’s probably on Dangar Island.

21. My ‘beauty routine’ = both cleanse and moisturise with a castor oil/olive oil blend and slap on some naturally tinted lip balm. If my skin is really dry, I add sukin night moisturiser. If I’m feeling adventurous, or heading out I’ll add eyebrow pencil, mascara and a little shlook of red lippie. Also, I find people’s social media posts highlighting their thirty-seven product ‘natural look’ to be simultaneously hilarious and utterly boring.

22. I’m embracing my greys. I last had my hair dyed back in April when I asked the colourist to match my dye to my natural colour, thus minimising regrowth. And now I try and own those pesky little silverfish that have been populating my head for over a decade.

23. I use mama cloth and a menstrual cup. And I just got excited because I realised my menstrual cycle has aligned itself with the lunar cycle. I’m not sure what full moon periods represent, but it sure seems cool to me.

24. I recently bought a ticket to Wanderlust … a 4-day celebration of mindful living that brings together yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists, and chefs for a transformational retreat.

And 4 ways I’m not crunchy at all…

1. I’d totally get laser hair removal if I could justify the cost.

2. We’ve owned eight prams in the three and a half years that we’ve had little people. To be fair we’ve barely spent a penny on them and we’ve finally found the one we wish we’d had all along (a Mountain Buggy Urban, incase you’re curious).

3. We drive a shitty commodore wagon on our 60km and 120km round trips to work – often both in one day, averaging around 500km per week for work alone…

4. I’m addicted to my iPhone. And I hate it. I need a brick, stat.

Jenn xx

ps, I’m linking up with Jess for IBOT. Head over for some more great reads x

Today I Chose Awesome

I work on the casual nursing pool within my local health district. Although I originally applied for the job because it was the first in 6 months or so of looking that came up, it is actually perfect for us at this stage of our lives. My shifts are usually only 7 hours, which means that T can work the same evenings that I work days (saving us from working 7 days a week). I can work at any of four hospitals in the district, meaning that there’s no shortage of work. I can be explicit about only working early shifts while MasterL is still breastfeeding in the evenings. I get casual loading on my hourly rate. And I can cancel shifts whenever I need to. Like last week when T got a late-notice acting gig that required him to work massive days for a week or so, in return for a generous sum of money. Or when he had several hundred auditions to get said part. Or when we really just need to get away for a few days. You can’t do that when you’re employed in a permanent position.

Image via Les Vregens

Image via Les Vregens

On my first day on the casual pool I wandered down the corridors of the hospital and calculated that I had not worked as a ward nurse since late 2008. My days in between had been spent in clinical facilitation, project management, GP practice nursing and the emergency department. I was sent to a geriatric medical ward and, along with an AIN, had nine patients under my care. Most of the patients had dementia and incontinence. They all had very complex medical conditions. I was TOTALLY out of my depth. I ran from start to finish, I had super short meal breaks, and I honestly had no idea who I was looking after. I couldn’t tell you what was wrong with them, why they were there, what the plans were for their ongoing care. Between meds, showers, toileting, redirecting, re-washing, redirecting, toileting, obs and meds, the first time I had a chance to look at their medical records was when I was writing progress notes 15 minutes after my shift was supposed to finish. I spent the day working my butt off, yet felt as though I’d accomplished very little. It was awful. I did not provide good nursing care, and I was extremely unsatisfied professionally.

I haven’t been back to that ward. Maybe they begged management to keep me away (I honestly felt like such a crap nurse that day). Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Since then I’ve worked in both medical and surgical wards, in pre-admission clinics, in day therapy areas, in endoscopy and in emergency departments and thankfully have not had such a sense of professional shittiness since.

Walking in to work this morning I knew that I was going to have a heavy shift. Although working on the casual pool means being sent here there and everywhere, lately I’ve been lucky enough to be spending my days in familiar places like ED, which has been a bit lovely. This morning I had a sense. The sense that niggles away at you and says ‘it’s been ages since you’ve been in a heavy geriatric medical ward… today is it’. And it was.

I had a pang of anxiety. And then I thought bugger that…

awesome

And I did!

The ward was a shambles. Honestly, my first thought was ‘you guys couldn’t organise a shag in a brothel’… but I chose awesome. I was working with a scattered-and-extremely-whingey nurse… and I chose awesome. I had a really busy day. I accepted offered help and returned the favour when I could. I smiled and laughed my way through the shift. I nursed with compassion and whole-heartedness. I did what I could and didn’t stress when I couldn’t. In the end I got everything done, and then some… and it was awesome.

When did you last choose awesome?

Jenn xx

The First and Last Day

Open your eyes

“You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well. Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes you can open, that incredible array of colors that is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment, with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather, and even with the weather, we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day, right now, has unique weather, maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again. That formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same as it is right now. Open your eyes. Look at that.” – Louie Schwartzberg

This quote appeared on my instagram feed this morning, right when I needed it the most. I am in a constant fluctuation between past and future these days; rarely focusing on the gifts of present and presence. Rarely stopping to indulge my senses. Rarely noticing the details that make up the rich embroidery of this life. My life.

And so today we watch the sunrise and give thanks for our spidery friend.
We relish in squishy cuddles that I know won’t be around forever.
We notice each other from different angles.
We dig in the dirt.
We explore texture.
We laugh and hug as though today is both the first and last day.
And we give thanks.

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