Change Is Afoot

There was a slight chill in the air this morning, the kind that makes you dig down into the back of your drawer and pull out a singlet.

Now as rain steadily falls outside, I’m content to sit with my cup of tea in hand, socks on feet and ponder the change in seasons.

I think it’s fair to say that Autumn has finally arrived (well, in the only  way it can in Queensland). Sadly for me, it’s goodbye to summer, my favourite season.

I am always surprised though, strangely, when I finally begin to feel a change in seasons.

When it’s at the height of summer I can never imagine (or recall) it being anything but hot and sticky with the sizzle of sun on your skin and the smell of sun cream and sea salt on the IMG_20150928_093131breeze.

Likewise, in the middle of a cool winter, with ugg boots and scarves on, I can’t think of what it was like to have bare skin exposed to the elements or the urge to dive into crisp, clear, cool waters at the beach.

How funny that is. Yet, no matter where you are or what you are doing in the course of any given year, the seasons are constant and ever flowing. With them comes change; some that is welcome and some perhaps not so, but change none-the-less.

The shift that a change in season brings, has offered up the chance for me to be reflective and remember that nothing lasts forever. And in turn, consider if this is a good or bad thing?

I recall when our twins were only little bubs and as parents we were really struggling with the whole sleep deprivation gig. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt less human or more Zombie-like. I also couldn’t see an end to the sleepless nights and this only feed into my feelings of helplessness.

As I was chatting (more like wallowing) with a friend one day about this dilemma, she so gently reminded me that ‘it’s just a season’. This simple statement struck me with such force at the time (even in my dazed state) and reminded me that yes, all things ebb and flow, change is always afoot and nothing lasts forever.

With that, I could see some kind of light at the end of a dark tunnel and hope, like a new season began to spring forth. (Yes, I’m going to get my mileage out of this metaphor).

To view life’s challenges or experiences as akin to seasons, is a bit of a cliché really. Everyone from Shakespeare to the 60’s folk band ‘The Byrds’ have provided us with this metaphor for life.

‘To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn’

Peter Seeger ‘The Byrds’

But, it is so easy to forget when we’re in the thick of it.

I can count scores of times I’ve been bogged down with work that can seem to be overwhelming, endless even and allowed my mood to be adversely affected, forgetting that in time, it will get done. It always does.

On the flip side of this, it’s often only when I’m ill that I am reminded just how great it is to be well, living and full of life. Even summer doesn’t last all year and often I fail to appreciate it fully at the time.

‘If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.’

Anne Bradstreet (c.1612 – 1672)

And I’m ashamed to even admit it, but there are those days when you just can’t will change on fast enough, cause you’ve had enough of screaming children, or endless demands from work or no social life, or ……. (you get the picture).

So, no……. it’s not easy and certainly not a natural reflex to remind ourselves that things will change, that it is just a passing season. In fact, it’s when you are in the thick of it, that it’s hard to imagine yourself in any other place.

It is a fine line between enjoying life’s seasons, but at the same time knowing that change is always afoot.Change ahead

At the risk of sounding all Confucius, I think it’s about acknowledging and having reverence for these shifting periods in our lives. This is something I am willing to admit……. I’m still working on.

So while the rain outside is constant now and I’ve got cup of tea number two in hand, I think I’m happy to accept that Summer is over and allow Autumn to blow on in.

And I’ll do my best to remember that whatever comes my way, no matter what, things will at least continue to ‘turn, turn, turn’.

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Ahhhhh, good old Dr Seuss. Put your hand up if you’re a fan? I’m aware that he’s not to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying he’s spicing up the reading stakes in our household again of late (see what I did there).

His books have the ability to tease and challenge our imaginations, our tongues and for me most importantly, our morals.

One of my son’s favourite books is ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ Yes, it’s the rhyme and pictures which grab his attention, but for me, it’s the moral message which fills my heart with hope each time I read it to him.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go”

Dr Seuss from ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’

The idea that we are the ones who control, choose and direct where we go, may not sound very revelatory, but it’s a truth I often fail to recall when juggling the demands of Life.

Take this morning. We awoke to the sound of two screaming toddlers desperate to test their vocal chords out against the walls separating each other (and my patience it would seem). Pretty sure the neighbours we’re tempted to holler back, but if they did we couldn’t hear it above the chaos that is most mornings in our household.The places you'll go

Banshee-like boys chasing each other, food thrown to the floor, drinks spilt and protests against nappy changes and teeth cleaning. It’s a battlefield and I’m spent, all before 7am. It’s the beginning of a new day and I feel like these little creatures are dictating my direction.

It’s a little harder to face the remainder of the day when you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, so-to-speak.

The clock has a nasty presence in this daily routine too, dictating not only when things happen, but always with such high priority. Get kids organised, get to work, get kids from school, get dinner on the go….Go, go, go!

Choices, well of a positive and personal nature, seem to play a minor role in each of these actions and herein lies the shame. Not to mention the cause of much angst for me and those around me.

A few years ago I was introduced (at work funnily enough) to the ‘Fish Philosophy’. The philosophy is simple and made up of four guiding principles.FISH

Dr Seuss really might as well have come up with this himself, especially considering his affinity with fish. But no, it’s based on a model used at a famous Fish Market in Seattle.

I am always amazed at how much influence these four simple ideas can have on me, my day and those around me, when I choose to act on them.

The idea of ‘choice’ when it comes to our attitude each and every day, is powerful. Attitude is everything and often the first thing people notice about you.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days like this morning when I am slightly too distracted to flick on the ‘Choose your attitude’ switch. But once I’ve got the jug boiling for a cuppa and the boys have food in their mouths, I try to remember that I do have a choice and know I’ll be better for it if I make the decision to reboot my attitude.

The concept of ‘play’ is simple in its very nature. Have fun. See the silly side of things. Goodness knows Toddlers and young kids have enough silliness to go round.

On the subject of humour though, Dr Seuss once said,

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

Amen to that.

I’m trying to get better at this. As a thinker I generally overanalyse most things, including why my toddler feels the need to remove his own nappy each morning and splatter his cot with poo. He finds it funny, why can’t I?

As for ‘making someone’s day’, well I figure if you’ve got the first two principles in action, then you’re making your own day a hell of a lot easier for starters.

It’s not all about you though, but it does follow that if you’re feeling happy and in control, then you’re going to be that person who is determined to ‘share the love’.

Finally, to just ‘be there’, present and aware of what is happening around you, more often than not, can help put things into perspective.

My boys might frustrate me with their constant issuing of demands and my ‘to do’ list on any given day is ever growing, but if I really listen and just stop, sometimes I realise that none of it matters that much. What does, is just being there for them (and me with a well-deserved cup of tea in hand).

At this point, when the end of the day draws to a close I am thankful that their little souls crave a story. I have to ‘be there’ and ‘play’ if I’m to nail those character voices and I feel pretty complete knowing it ‘makes their day’.

So thanks for the friendly reminder Dr Seuss,

of the places one can go,

If we try to remember the choices we have,

Then maybe our life will glow.

(Wow, pretty lame I know but I’m in the Seuss zone folks)

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Detoxing the Dream

It’s the tingling scent that awakens you first. The warming aroma of freshly ground coffee with a hint of sweetness in the air.

The gentle hum of pleasant conversation and the chink of tea cups against china saucers. The vast array of perfectly formed, colourful baked treats, all lined up neatly behind a cool glass cabinet, begging to be savoured by your temped tastebuds.

Ahhhh, this is my version of heaven! If I could LIVE and by live I mean exist, in a Coffee Shop, I would.

A dream of mine since I was a youngster, is to own a slice of this heaven. A sweet little café that would provide a place of solace for some, a social melange and meeting place for others and an opportunity to indulge in simple, yet decedent pleasures.

On my travels, some of my best experiences have been happily spent in places like this.

I remember practically running into one, to escape a frosty winter’s day in Krakow. Taking refuge in a charming renaissance café, I willingly squandered valuable sight-seeing time to slowly sip away at the best hot chocolate I have EVER had.lokale_krakow_rynek_02

Any number of French cities and towns have afforded me the pleasure of sitting in a luscious café, filled with gemmed treats glistening in the window, trying desperately to stop at just one.

A cosy English teahouse brimming with character and scones covered in clotted cream, has warmed my body and soul on a blustery winter’s day.

And back home in Oz, a cool, funky café with hidden corners housing comfy leather chairs, has allowed me to finish a compelling novel or chat greedily with an old friend.

How wonderful would it be to create such a place? To offer this experience to others and make them feel all these things? To be surrounded by such senses on a daily basis? Yes, LIVE the dream!

But, then I reluctantly allow that nagging bully Reality to push me around and my dream is tainted, the shine lost.

Yes, the reality of perusing such a dream would mean giving up a lot. I’m not naive enough to think that sacrifice and hard work aren’t part of the deal here. I’m sure long hours, no family time and stress would definitely be part of the equation.

But it has got me thinking about ‘dreams’. They are powerful, wonderful things that inspire us, feed our passions and give us hope. We feel happy knowing that they are our very own unique creations. They have the clout to grow and morph with us.

We are told that if we work on our dreams hard enough and don’t let the fear of failure get in the way, it is possible to see them merge into reality.

I love this! The idea that our dreams can come true, no matter how fantastical they may be. As a youngster I bought into this philosophy whole heartedly, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

Actress, archaeologist, dancer, novelist, musician, were just some of them.

After several ‘crash and burn’ episodes, I am still slowly and reluctantly learning that pursuing a dream means it has to be almost a need within you, it can’t simply be a want.

I think I want to own a café, much more than I need to. I’m figuring out now that in order to make the hard work and sacrifice doable, I reckon you really need to need that dream.

There are any number of glorious quotes out there inspiring us to follow dare to dreamour dreams (thanks social media). Heck, I even have a cushion on my couch that says ‘If you dream big enough anything can come true’. Bit misleading now that I think about it.

But I love the idea of giving things a go, at least.

Without stating the morbid obvious, we do only have ONE life. As my Dad says ‘There is no dress rehearsal’. I figure we’ve got to get out there and have a crack at all the things that might just be really worth it. The things that bring us so much pleasure.

I have an undelivered card I bought 10 years ago, that’s still in its plastic, with a quote by Thoreau (had nooooo idea who he was at the time) on the front. ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.’ The power for me in this quote, lies in the second sentence.

Dreams can be dangerous if we don’t balance them out with a little reality check every now and then. As long as we’re living a life that we had imagined for ourselves, then I’m going to say (as all good Aussies do), we are ‘livin the dream’.

So, I’ve done sooooooome hard work recently and while I’m not about to start any grand plans of opening up a Café, I have reached for the compromise. I plan on visiting more cafés to satiate my desire for all things dreamy AND I’ve decided to create an in-house Café (once a month), to fill my home with family and friends, coffee, tea and tempting café treats.

A win-win, all round I think. As for the future of dreams? I’m going to keep on following this current need of mine, to write this blog….. if only for me.

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