Not Your Shoe Size

When I was still in Primary School, some of the boys enjoyed teasing me. Just usual stuff, hair pulling, insults, anything really to get a reaction. Sometimes, the teasing would cross the line and I would cry. I remember Allister in Year 5, the one with the rats tail, telling me in his mealy mouthed, spit dribbling way, to act my age, not my shoe size. Back then I was ten. My shoe size was already a size 10; I looked down at him through my tears, narrowed my eyes and said in that scathing way only primary-aged-girls to primary-aged-boys can: “I am”.

It’s a funny (peculiar) thing, to reach your forties and feel less like an adult than you did when you were a kid.

Lately I find myself wishing I had a mum who could take care of things for me.  Having tantrums when people don’t understand me. Wanting to lie in the grass and ignore the calls for dinner. Playing. Being petulant. Speaking my mind and all manner of other childish behaviours.

I feel like this chick.

Maybe it’s menopause, my early entry into the M-zone is not surprising for me, it came early for my Mum and my sister too. I certainly find the addition of hot flushes to my life to be a hair-trigger into the tanty zone.

Maybe it’s Maybelline.  Pffft.

I don’t know, but adulthood sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?  I recently took a break from Facebook, something I would never have contemplated a few years ago. Back when I was sick, Facebook was my lifeline. I love Facebook. But my inner child was stomping her foot and putting her hands over her ears.  Too. Much. Noise.

For the first time ever, we asked for a home stay student to be moved to another family. I found it so hard to do, I was broken up over the decision. It was the beginning of me realising that I am overstretched, not coping, not ‘adulting’ in the way I believe I should. You know that dream you have sometimes, where you are running and running and running, but the ground doesn’t move beneath your feet at all? Maybe that is just my recurrent nightmare, but I feel just like that. I’m running, but not getting anywhere. My voice is being whipped away by the wind. I’m overwhelmed with all the business required of me, but I don’t have the resources to meet demands.

So I have been taking these steps back, wherever I can. Maybe all women get to this point at midlife. Maybe I’m just pathetic. I look at my life and I wonder if I will ever achieve anything. I look at my kids and I wonder if I am doing a good enough job. I look at my marriage and I hope that he will love me through this season too, because I am not the woman he met all those years ago. I am changing. I am regressing into the child I feel like I am.  I see the moody ineptitude of myself and I want to run away from myself and climb a tree, stay up there until the sun goes down and someone forces me inside for a meal cooked by someone else, followed by bed.

My shoe size is now an 11.
But in European sizing, I’m a 42.  My exact age.  
It makes me smile a bit to think that I truly am acting my age, and my shoe size. Either way you look at it.

Are you finding yourself hanging out a lot with your inner sole (soul) too?!

The Unplanned Pregnancy

This post is kind of special!  It’s…glitter numbers proclaiming The Chronic-ills of Rach's 200th Blog PostHe he he!  I think that means I can call myself a BLOGGER!

It was a bit accidental, becoming a blogger. I’d been doing some writing for my cousin’s website when she joined me to the Australian Blog Chicks group on facebook. Someone there recommended a blogging course.  It made me think that maybe there was a particular way to write for the web and maybe I needed to learn how.  At that time, I was in bed for a lot of every day too, so an online course seemed like just the thing.  I enrolled in the ‘Blog with Pip’ course for May 2014.

But Dysautonomia put me back in hospital just as it began. I was devastated to miss the start, but Pip set my mind at ease and encouraged me to begin anyway. Her course materials are available beyond the course dates, it was a huge relief!  However, I quickly realised that I’d need to actually have a blog to get the most out of the course.  And that is how The Chronic-ills of Rach began.  A bit like an unplanned pregnancy. Sudden, unexpected, but nice… once you get used to the idea!

And like a ‘whoopsy’ baby, the arrival of my blog illuminated the fact that having one was exactly what I have been needing, without ever knowing it!  Blogging has been wonderful for me. I’ve been able to write out things that help other people, but in doing it I have helped myself. It’s been therapeutic, educational, stretching. I’ve had a platform for discussing important issues, an opportunity to raise awareness, a space for making personal reflections, an outlet for my creativity and the beginning of a brand new direction and purpose in my life.

As a kid, I always thought of myself as a writer, but somehow the years between then and now convinced me that dream was for someone else. Like I couldn’t legitimately claim it, or it was too late, or too lofty an idea. Over the last twelve months, post by post, I’ve been claiming back my territory. That dream is mine! I am taking it back. I’ve been using my words. Like a big girl.

Thank you for reading my blog.  🙂  A blog is just a diary if no one ever reads it and I am so glad you have chosen to click on over.  Really, thanks!  You make my day, after day, after day!  Your comments, your presence, make the writing so much more meaningful for me than just navel gazing.  I have a context, we have a conversation. It warms my heart.

According to my web host, I’ve had 1,115,155 hits since I started last year.  Woohooooo!  That number makes my mind swim.  I’m blogging from a tiny country at the bottom of the world and my biggest numbers of readers come from the US, France, Germany, China, Latvia, Australia, Ukraine, Italy and Russia, in that order. Of course, some of my ‘readers’ are probably internet crawling robots, but I don’t care (!) all are welcome here, especially if they contribute to giddy numbers like the one above.  Happy days.  I am in a celebrating mood.  Might have myself a cuppa.

Well done little bloggy baby.  We’ve made 200 posts together.  We’ve made new friends. We’ve made a difference, and if the difference is only for one person who felt less alone because of my words, then it is worth all the effort.  If you are thinking of beginning a blogging journey, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Try Pip’s outstanding course.  Get amongst it, I promise you will surprise yourself.  Blogging is a gentle, collegial, congenial way to flex your writing again.  Why not?

And if you are a blogger already, please leave a link to your blog in the comments below.  I’d love people to find your blogs through my blog. It’s a bit like a neighbourhood block party.  Blog party!  Heh!  Leave a link and tell me how blogging got born for you.

Ciao!
Rach

War. What is it Good For?

Absolutely nothing.

I rarely get a chance to watch the news these days.  When I do, what I see there fills me with such sadness and shame.  Are human beings really so far removed from one another that killing, hurting, and destroying each other is acceptable? Where have we gone wrong?

It makes me think of all the children I have ever taught.  Even the most damaged souls, kids who knew nothing but violence from the moment they were born… kids who had every reason to want to kick back at life, at anyone, for letting bad things happen to them. Every single one of the small humans I ever taught had an irrepressible need for laughter, for peace.  Structure and calm. Creative expression, acknowledgement, support. Every one of them responded to a positive approach.  If someone believed in them and their ability, they were confident to believe in themselves.  That was my job, as a grown up in their lives. My job to give them a calm, positive place to be happy, productive and learn.  To show them that they meant something to me.

In my first year of teaching, Nine-Eleven happened.  As I got ready for school that morning, I listened to my alarm clock radio with horror.  Things like the twin towers attack had occurred before in history, in times of war.  But in my lifetime, Nine-Eleven was the first time I was cognisant of a risk that our whole world might once again fall into war.  How naive of me …have we ever not been at war, somewhere on our planet?  This event seemed to reach the doorstep of the middle class west.  How privileged I have been to escape war.  How afraid I was, on that morning, that our world was about to descend into a war to end all wars.

As my class gathered that morning, there was a different kind of chatter on the mat. They had questions.  Some were afraid, some found it exciting, like a scene from an action movie or computer game.  Some were confused.  My multicultural class of children were a mix of the very quiet, the excitable and the belligerently opinionated, we had muslims, buddhists, christians, pagans and the non-religious too. So we sat down to talk about it.  First, I pulled out a book I have loved for a long time by Nikolai Popov.  It has no words. Just pictures.  It is simply titled:  Why?

 

Source: www.goodreads.com
Source: www.goodreads.com

The book explores the origins of conflict.  And it was the very seed of conflict that I wanted to reach with these kids.  The nub, the start, the absolute beginning.  I wanted them to come to a realisation about something very, very important.  So important that our world depends on it.  They were such smart kids.  We began to brainstorm all the things that might begin conflict between two individuals.  We talked about siblings, playground scuffles, when parents fight, gang violence, baddies versus goodies, countries, war.  But it all came back to individuals, in the end. To each child, who will one day be an adult. And this is what it all came down to:

“Conflict happens when I believe
I am more right than someone else”

 

These kids were 10 and 11 years old.  Similar in age to the boys killed on the beach in Gaza. I make the comparison because there are children caught up in a war over in the Middle East.  Children.  And the grown ups in their world are not providing them a calm and positive place to live.  They are too busy being more right than each other.  Bombing each other.  Destroying each other.  I don’t get in to the debate about who is right and who is wrong.  But I am sickened by the way people on facebook so happily ‘take sides’ in a war that is a long way from their cultural and political worlds.  And even further from their own children’s backyards.  If we take sides, we are believing ourselves to be ‘more right’ than others.  When will a dialogue begin about compromise, understanding, valuing human life?

I was struck by contrast this morning.  Two videos on facebook.  One posted by a Christian I know and respect.  One posted by an Agnostic I know and respect.  One assumes the Israelis ‘more right’ than the Palestinians, it is a video of the Israeli troops celebrating about going into battle.  The other reports on the human cost of the war, the staggering reality of the average age of Gaza’s population.  It is so hard to not make a judgement, based on those two clips alone, about who is ‘more right’.  But instead, I will focus on the thing that matters most.

I think about those children, on both sides of the walls.

Their families think they are more right.  They take their ‘right’ to bear arms against one another, and remove the right of their children to live in a world where we don’t shoot to solve an argument.  Where we make room for difference of opinion.  If my class of kids from every corner of the planet could get along and make music together, why the hell can’t the grown ups of this world?  Get over yourselves, big people.  Move over.  Live and let live.  Grow up.  Do you want peace?  Be peaceful. Stand down.  Show your children how we resolve conflict, lest you teach them how to maintain war.

My class, back then, tore paper into tiny little pieces and made an enormous peace rainbow for our classroom wall.  Every time we felt ‘more right’ than someone else, we’d look at that rainbow and remember:  all the people of many colours, gone from our world because of conflict.  And we’d extend a hand and try,
to understand each other.

 

Edwin Starr.
Lyrics.
“WAR”

War,
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
War, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, yeah

War, good God
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

Oh, war, I despise
Because it means destruction
Of innocent lives

War means tears
To thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives

War, it ain’t nothing
But a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker
War
It’s an enemy to all mankind
The point of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest
Within the younger generation
Induction then destruction
Who wants to die?

War, it ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker
War, it’s got one friend
That’s the undertaker
Oh, war, has shattered
Many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious
To spend fighting wars these days
War can’t give life
It can only take it away

War, it ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker
Peace, love and understanding
Tell me, is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way

War, huh
Good God y’all
What is it good for
Stand up and shout it:
Nothing.

 

 

Taking Stock


Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 12.54.46 pmI’m doing a course on blogging and writing (just in case you missed my many references to it).  I am loving the course and determined to do all the assignments, because you can take the girl out of girly-swot but you can’t take the swot out. Which just means (if you are not a kiwi) that I am a big fat nerd.

So here it is.  A list of what is happening in my world at the moment.  If you are a girly-swot too, who loves lists and wants one of your own, join in! I’d love to see your list, too!  I’ll add the empty list at the bottom of the post so you can copy and paste it.   Message it to me over on:
https://www.facebook.com/chronicillsofrach  or add it to the comments below.

Making: havoc of my kind

Cooking: lots of slow cooker, save-my-bacon meals for six.  But last night(!) an inspired-by-Rosie, pulled pork and noodle stiry fry with lots of fresh veggies and handfuls of coriander.   Oooooh… delish.  Even if I say so meself.

Drinking: tea!  Wanna cuppa?

Reading: Half The Sky, Let me Sing You Gentle Songs, the Dovekeepers…
(well, in truth, I’m just looking at them in my ‘to read’ pile and actually reading lots of blogs!)

Wanting: an ugg onesie.  Have they been invented yet?

Looking: at the ‘insides’ of lots of amazing heads in the blogosphere

Playing: over and over in my head,  a conversation I had recently with my doctor

Deciding: that expanding our family was the right thing to do after all

Wishing: I had enough energy for my expanded family all of the time

Enjoying: blogging with Pip and the Pipsters

Waiting: for the rugby to finish so hubster can join me in sweet slumber

Liking: (“blog crushing” on) Michelle from Living with Bob, Annette from I Give you the Verbs and Kellie van Meurs from To Russia with Hope.

Wondering: if Zed will be okay in his first TV audition next week

Loving: being challenged by my BLOG WITH PIP course!

Pondering: the sounds coming from down the road… is that joyous celebration or a fracas?

Considering: whether we should investigate that...

Watching: BBCs ‘Hunderby’… crying myself silly with laughter. It’s a spoof period drama/ comedy.  Think Jane Austen, crossed with The Young Ones.

Hoping: I will wake up in time tomorrow to wake Bee for her sunrise photography session with the other Be.

Marvelling: at the wondrous coincidences that occur in my life, all the time.  You too?

Needing: some oomph.

Smelling: Lemons from the Chilean Pisco Sours Hubster made tonight.

Wearing: Lazy Bones PJs (Australian genius in a pajama)

Following: suit.

Noticing: that my blog is a bit different to what I thought it would be. Less informative so far, more impressionistic.  What do you want more of?

Knowing: I am so lucky to have this beautiful big blended family.

Thinking: how I have always been happiest in International communities and that is why I love social media

Feeling: happy tired instead of sick tired.

Admiring: the character Bee showed at riding today when she pushed through her terror and made the jumps that she thought she couldn’t get over.

Sorting: our finances.  I’m in charge of them for the first time ever!  eeeeeek!

Buying: Star Coins for StarStable (I know.  Ridiculous.  And I am in charge of finances?  Help.)

Getting: closer to happy more often.

Disliking: NZ being so small and at the bottom of the world, so far from some of the best Dysautonomia specialists.

Opening: the doors to the things I have needed to express for a long time.

Giggling: at Hunderby’s naughty bits.

Feeling: affirmed and supported and loved by people I know and by people I haven’t even met in person. It astounding how good that feels.  I have a community.

Snacking: I’m not!  Gold star for me for the last five minutes of no snacking.  But just by the by, ‘snackage’ is quite possibly one of the loveliest types of eating. Closely followed by dessert spoon lingering.

Coveting: The writing lives of Naomi Bulger, from ‘Naomi Loves’ and Pia, from ‘Woven Words’.

Wishing: I had a magic wand.  There are lots of places I would wave that thing.

Helping: with my words. People are finding my words useful and I really love that.

Apologising: for not making links yet for all the lovely people and blogs mentioned above. That’s a bit beyond me this second. I will amend that on the morrow (check back here and get clicking)!

Hearing: a song on a loop in my head:
“Every little thing is gonna be alright” (after a little meme glued it in there).

Here’s the list.  Your turn!
Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Needing:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Feeling:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Buying:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Coveting:
Wishing:
Helping:
Hearing: