Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Is there such a thing as too many books?

I am looking out on a blue sky, wishing I could be out enjoying the sunshine, but after a week of rain I have to give my priority to something else - washing.  Unlike many people I love rainy days.  They are a guilt free opportunity to read.  So many household chores are placed on hold with no need for excuse, I love it.  True, there is a downside.  When it stops raining I have to deal with the overflowing dirty washing basket which all too soon becomes the overflowing ironing basket.  Still, I wouldn't give up those reading days.

My birthday is just a week away and to Adrian's dismay all I want is books. I know my online wishlist is growing by the day, something I have let slip more regularly than usual in the last couple of weeks, but he thinks that buying me more books is a bit boring and that more effort on his behalf is required.  Me, I am a fan of the 'lazy' option.  I am pleased that the day is sneaking up on him and soon I will be placing an order on Fishpond. 

Is it possible to have too many books?  That is a matter of opinion.  In our house opinion is divided.  As the owner of the second hand book shop I visited yesterday reminded me - there are worse addictions.  I will share that gem with Adrian.

He doesn't seem to mind me collecting DVD's but I concede that is a more sociable habit.  If only I could put the books down a bit more often so we could find time to watch them.  To a non book-lover it is hard to explain the appeal but that could be said for most things.  I don't understand people voluntarily leaving a plane if its engines are still running and a crash is not emminent but apparently that's fun. I have been told I should try it for the sheer rush.  Walking towards a plane that could fit in my house is rush enough for me.  It's just not going to happen.  Sadly, some people feel that way about books.

I try not to give them the but-there's-so-many-different- types-of-books lecture; I admit I fail repeatedly, but I do try.  As I sit here and remember all the times people have tried to convince me that flying is awesome and it's safer than car travel and blah, blah, blah I understand the futility of my argument.  Maybe I will remember that next time somebody tells me they hate reading.  If I am honest with myself I know I will never stop; books are too important to me. 

Besides, who doesn't love to see a supposed book-hating teenager reading voluntarily?  No parent I know.

Therein lies the perfect excuse for every adult to read. 
Kids learn through example. 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Remembering what's important

I had a reality check this morning.  Last night Ozzie, one of our four wonderful ginger companions came in with his eye partially swollen shut.  Upon looking him over it became obvious he had been the victim of a nasty scrap.  Considering his size I would hate to see the other cat.

His lower eyelid is torn and hard to look at.  Somehow he permitted my bungling nursing efforts and I bathed his left eye in salt water, relieved to see he could open it further as a result.  Alana's boyfriend was king hit on New Year's Eve earlier this year and as nasty as it looked all swollen, purple and green he healed quickly and well, so I held great hope for Ozman.

This morning my hope turned to distress, his eye was completely swollen shut and even after bathing he didn't seem able to force it open.  Using my best vetinary skills I managed to prise the lids apart but it wasn't pretty and neither is what I saw.  He had gunk and pus and a swollen angry lump where is lower eyelid had once been.  I felt sick.  I can't imagine how he was feeling.

Lying in bed this morning I had planned my day and it was all about me, well until it was time to take Lani to the gym at least, but now it was all about Oz.  I grabbed the Yellow Pages, looked up my vet's number and dialled. 

My voice was shaky, I knew it was, but I couldn't help it, I wanted his eye to be fine and I wanted it to be better.  It wasn't opening time yet so I was automatically transferred to a very sympathetic nurse working in the emergency clinic who explained that I would need to ring back in ten minutes.  Ten minutes is a long time especially having been informed that they might not be able to make a house call since they were already heavily booked for the morning.  As stupid as it sounds, I have four cats and no cat carrier. 

The vet agreed to make the house call and we arranged a time between 10.30 and 11. Kelsey the receptionist had made my day, whatever happened from here could only be the best for Ozman.  I gave him a pat, I should have left him sleeping, and I returned to doing the books for our business to pass the time. 

Before I knew it a little green hatchback was pulling into my driveway and help was at hand.  Having looked Ozzie over she concluded that yes he had been in a cat fight and yes he did have a cut near his eye but that was just the beginning. He also had a cut on his eyeball, an abcess on his eye, a fever and his lymph nodes were up.  I'd only diagnosed two out of six but I didn't have the flourescent yellow dye that she squirted in his eye and he accepted with out so much as a squeak, nor did I want to think that was possible. 

She dosed his eye with antibiotic drops, popped a tablet in his mouth as easily as if she was administering a tab to a teenager and all was going well. 
Sometimes you just have to know when to stop though.  We discovered that was after the tablet and before the syringe full of pain relief.  Syringes, tablets, stethoscopes and containers went flying, some of which I am sure are lost forever in the dust that resides under my too-low-for-the-vacuum couch, but she wasn't worried.  She found the syringe and discovered that I wasn't in need of stitches so she was happy and we left Ozman alone.

When she left I gave Oz some of the special cat milk I buy for the cats as a treat hoping he would show some interest.  Who was I kidding? This was Ozman I was talking about.  He doesn't lap or nibble at his food the way the others do, he inhales it and in what seemed like seconds the milk was gone.  Oz is going to be fine and so am I.

We get to go through the entire process again in a weeks time so I hope cats don't have amazing powers of recall or things might not be easy as they have been today.  In contrast I hope I do have strong recall abilities because today taught me something invaluable

Call it cliched, call it corny, I really don't care.  What I realised is that I didn't care about whether I completed everything on my new to do lists or not, I just wanted Oz to be well and I am glad that I am a stay at home wife and Mum who was gifted the time to sit and wait the 3 hours for the vet.

Charged emotions are the norm when women feel forced to justify their position as either working or stay-at-home Mums and I don't believe that is right.  Women should feel comfortable with their decisions, decisions that should be based on what they consider is best for themselves and their families.  For the first time in a long time, I just became comfortable with mine!

Writing might well be navel gazing but would I  understand myself without it? 
I doubt it!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The dangers lurking in writing sites

Someone should have warned me not to click on the link to writing.com.  It was an innocent enough email reminding me that I haven't logged in for a long time and that my membership might be terminated. I am ashamed to say I have been a member since 2006.  Being a member isn't the embarressing thing though, it was discovering that I have been a member for 6 years and never utilised this wonderful site.

Now I have the opposite problem.  Having rediscovered it, I can't seem to make myself log off, or at least not for any length of time.  I have spent hours over the past few days clicking on this and clicking on that and yet I have barely touched the surface.  Most things register in the 'I must come back and look into that' section of my brain however the list is growing so extensive I doubt my poor brain will be able to keep up.

This is not a bad thing I have decided.  I feel I have found somewhere comfortable for me to spend time with other writers.  I know they have forums, I just have to work out how to access them.  Since I am still in the explore the website phase I am in no real hurry.  There is so much to see and do.  It is hard to classify myself as a newbie when I have been a member for six years so I did consider cancelling my membership and rejoining but I thought better of it.  This way I have a reminder about how often I have put writing on hold.  2006, wow that is a long time ago.  I would have happily kidded myself that I joined a year or two ago.

I can't go back and change anything so there is no point on dwelling on the situation.  What I can do is keep moving forward. It is so much easier to live in the land of regret because it doesn't ask anything of us but there is no reward unless excuses can be seen as some form of pay off. 

Excuses belong in the bin, right beside regrets, never to be recycled. 

I hope I can remember that long enough to complete the projects I am working on.  I can say they have been progressing steadily and I am happy with the structure that has emerged so that is something. 

Never before did I think I would enter a writing competition so that is something as well.  My entry wasn't my best work; it was mainly constructed between the hours of 2am and 4, but I am happy enough with the end result.  My thought process was simple, write and enter it before I have a chance to change my mind and that is what I have done. 

For the first time a piece of my writing has left the safety of my computer for outside consumption.  What a strange and exciting feeling.  I guess this blog is writing of a sort but this is free, straight from the brain to the page with no planning, nothing more in mind than to sit down and free write.  That probably isn't the recipe for a successful blog but it gets my fingers moving across the keyboard and I find that comforting.  It also serves the purpose of calling me to the computer which is where at least part of my writing work is done so that can't be a bad thing. 

My motivation levels continue to grow and I intend to feed them any way I can!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Back to writing

This blog is called 'My writing life and other things' yet looking at my posts it seems other things have taken over. That is definitely not the case.  In fact it is the complete opposite.  Writing has taken over every spare minute.  I guess that is why I have been blogging about other things - they stand out!

Once I made the decision to take writing seriously, I was forced to work out what that meant.  Writing was something to fit into my day when I got a chance, or something I did at the expense of something else, and that had to change.   Now my mornings are dedicated to the house work and what my family needs me to do, just before lunch is boxing time and the rest of the day I either write or research. 

The writing and research part is supposed to end around 5pm but it seems to have a mind of its own and often exceeds the time allocated.  So far that's okay.  No doubt my family will let me know when it isn't.

My need to feel in charge of my life means that I tend to automatically reject anything that imposes limits on me, now it appears I am growing up. 
Routine can be positive! 

With so much planned for each day I use every minute.  Sitting in my car waiting for the kids is no longer wasted time - it is an opportunity to read, new glasses perched on my nose, highlighter in hand.  My car is my mobile study so not a second is wasted. 

Chores no longer have time to stretch out for a day, or two, or three, either,  and I enjoy the structure.  Wow, I never thought I would say that!

Structure has given my day purpose.  Purpose has given me determination and a happiness I had forgotten.  I love my family and I would still put them first if forced to but as much as I can live for them I can't live through them

Sometimes we have to take a stand and realise
every life is valuable, even our own!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Living in the light

The Easter weekend is over and life is returning to some semblance of normal, well as normal as can be expected when the kids are on holidays.  Most people look forward to long weekends but for us they bring mixed emotions. We live by the no work, no pay mantra.  That said, we wouldn't have it any other way.  Actually, that's a lie, being paid for having a break would be nice and we definitely wouldn't say no to the money.  Would anyone?

Since money wasn't to be found hiding in the numerous chocolate eggs and rabbits that invaded our home we decided to get stuck in around the yard.  What a difference!  Our gardens can be daunting.  I go outside all motivated, ready to tackle the weeding and pruning and then reality strikes, I look around, can't decide where to start and head back inside.  With four days at our disposal Adrian and I got stuck in.  Three days, numerous splinters and very sore hamstrings later we had taken over 700kg of green waste to the tip and now our yard appears triple the size.  As an added bonus we have sunshine streaming into the house perfect, for the winter months ahead.

Something else happened too.  As I pruned back the out-of-control bushes it felt like I was gaining back control over my own life somehow.  Something inside me is changing, I am not yet sure what it is yet, but I am liking it.  My privacy used to be something I guarded with the intensity  of a secret government agency.  I refused to open my blinds in the morning until school rush was over to ensure that the mum's walking past couldn't look into my house.  Not that I am ever doing anything exciting at that time I just couldn't cope with the thought that people could see into my house and in turn somehow see into me.  I like being a bit of a hermit I guess and as much as I resist it, I like the anonymity.

Well, that has changed.  In front of my bedroom window, until two days ago I had four nearly 4m high bottlebrush trees providing a very personal screen.  Now those very same trees are a collection of stumps rising at most about 75cm from the ground.  I hope they come back because I like them, but I know that I never want them to block out the light again. 

Since clearing out the gardens my house somehow feels bigger as well and it's not just because of the amount of light that floods through the full length windows.  I feel lighter.  The house doesn't feel so claustrophobic and I am able to joke about the lack of privacy rather than fear it.  This is a huge turn around for me and I am loving it. 

Even my teenage daughter who insisted that her room stay her 'dark little dungeon' was amazed by the amount of light entering her room. This is the same child that would refuse to open her blinds.   Adrian and I could only exchange bemused glances when she declared her excitement and commented that now her room doesn't feel all dark and depressing.  Someone has possessed our daughter. We expected a strong reaction but we didn't expect it to be happy. It seems we have both changed.  It proves that sometimes you just have to take a chance and try something new.

Small changes - huge benefits!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Signing up for surveys

Well, I decided to give online surveys a try.  In the past I did a survey on how I use the library, one of my favourite places to spend time, and they paid me $30 for my efforts so I thought why not sign up for the online version.

You can imagine my excitement when two emails arrived on my phone this morning.  Okay, excitement might be pushing it a bit, but I have to admit a smile crossed my face.  It was definitely enough to force me out of bed, through the shower and on to the computer.  I wasn't going to try and do surveys on my phone.  It's all well and good in theory to receive emails and surf the net on the phone but seriously who has the patience.  Read half a line, scroll over, scroll back, repeat.  As much as it's not for me I still find myself doing it surprisingly often even when my laptop is close at hand.  What does that say about me?

Anyhow, having left the comfort of my bed and my three snuggled cats I made it to the computer, opened my email account and clicked on the survey they emailed me at 7.21 this morning, only to find that I had already completed it.  Not to be disheartened I clicked on the second email, received not much later.  For that survey I need one of my children present.  What teenager is awake at 7.34 on a Saturday morning?  Needless to say, I have not completed a survey this morning, but I am up so I will focus on that.

Is this going to be a colossal waste of time - possibly - but it might be a bit of fun also.  So far I have $4.86 in one account, strange amount I know but it is US$5, and some points accrued in others. Not much for the time I have spent.  This morning's 20 minute survey pays $2.97 so why bother?  Curiosity I guess.

If you have ever participated in online surveys I would love to hear about your experiences.  Please share.

Besides, I can't call it a complete ride off ; I have discovered some amazing things about myself since filling in form after form on everything from my choice in health products to the amount of technology to be found in my home.  For someone who claims not to be a fan of technology I am surrounded by it and not just one of each.  I can't believe how much stuff I own and yet when I visit the shops it is amazing how much I still seem to need.

Later today I will be walking the brightly coloured Easter egg aisles with all the other last minute shoppers. I wonder if I will remember that I really don't want for anything.  I hope so, but then again if the jeans I want are on sale, maybe not.  Hey, at least I am honest but it is something I know I need to give a bit more thought.

Just because I can doesn't mean I should!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Life after homeschooling

My homeschooling journey is over.  What was supposed to be the beginning of freedom, my time for me, has been anything but.  Instead it has been busier than usual.  Before life consisted of a morning coffee, followed by lessons and so on.  Now it revolves around, "Mum I start work at 5," "Mum I don't start until 6," "Mum I finish at midnight," "Mum I need this for TAFE," and so it goes.  I spend less time in the comfort of my lounge room and more time in the driver's seat or the car park shared by Red Rooster and Hungry Jacks.  As much as I might complain sometimes, I don't mind so much.  They have jobs - I am relieved and so is our bank account.

Now that both the kids are involved in outside studies I have to admit I feel lost.  I have decided time for yourself is a much overrated thing.  It's not that I want someone to fill up my days, I am quite capable of doing that myself, it is the fear that I finally have to take charge of my own life that is paralyzing.  I have spent time agonizing over uni and TAFE courses playing the time-to-pick-a-new-career game but the exercise leaves me feeling flat.  I have made the bold decision to stick to my dream of writing and see how I go.  My husband is supportive but I am sure somewhere underneath his bravado is the wish that I would be happy with a nine-to-five job.  I have been there, and done that, and I loved it at the time, but now it feels so far in the past that I have no desire to bring it into the present and it's definitely not how I want to picture the future.  Does that make me selfish?

Maybe, but what I have found is that by making the decision to write I am now more content to look for jobs.  It is amazing what a change in perspective can do.  Instead of looking for a career job I am happy to look for part time work to subsidize our household income whilst allowing me time to pursue what feels right for me.  Are  there doubts?  Heaps, but don't we have to decide at some stage in our lives that life is for living not enduring?  I have so many friends that seem to live for Friday and that saddens me.  If so much time is spent at work shouldn't it be doing something we love or at least something we can get a bit enthusiastic about?

Maybe there is something wrong with me.  Maybe I have things a little confused.  Maybe my husband has screwed with my head, but I really don't want to change my thinking.  Adrian loves his job.  He enjoys his weekends but he never grizzles about Mondays or extra work and I know when I ran my massage business I felt the same way so I can't help but think that is what having a job is all about.  I know there are cases where people feel forced to accept any job they can get and I feel a strange admiration for people that persist with jobs they hate because they feel obligated to do so, but I have a much greater admiration for people that take the chance to follow their dreams and apply themselves to what feels right for them.  I want to be one of those people, I just hope I don't chicken out and follow the more acceptable path.

I encourage every body with a dream to follow it, especially my kids, now it is time to listen to my own advice,
stare down the fear and get on with life.