Our mission (yep, we’ve already chosen to accept it!)

How can it be that the week is almost over (and the linky is about to close!!) and I haven’t managed to write this post yet? We actually wrote our mission statement mid-week but until now I haven’t sat down and written about it.  Still, no time like the present. Creating our mission statement was reasonably straight-forward and quite fun. I’m sure the reason I found it so hard to narrow down my list of core values was because I put a lot of pressure on myself to create a list that was FINAL and would be true forever more. But of course it is impossible to predict how things might change (how I might change) over time.

So this time I just decided I was going to be happy with whatever we came up with that is right for us at the moment. There was no pressure that we had to come up with a mission statement that would stand the test of time. It didn’t have to be perfect, final and non-negotiable. Once I had sorted that out in my head, it was a really fun process.

I was determined to include our soon-to-be 4 year-old in the process of creating our family mission statement but really wasn’t sure how that would go. I’m happy to report that although I’m not convinced he understood the big picture of what we were trying to do, he was certainly happy to contribute to the dinner table conversation we had prompted by Deb’s questions.

He came out with some incredibly beautiful comments. Things like “I am most happy when we are all cuddling” and “I think we should always be kind and gentle with each other”  and “When we feel sad we talk about what is wrong and then cuddle and kiss”.

He had some really important things to say: “I hate it when we rush”, “I think we need to be silly and laugh more” and “I love it when we all play”. And in response to me asking him several times for his thoughts on a particular question: “Mummy, I’m not talking because my mouth is full!” Fair point.

Meanwhile, our baby girl made her own important contribution to the conversation by reminding us how much we value good food and looking after our bodies. Avocado…….yummo.

After the kids were in bed, hubby and I did our best to pull it all together and in fact, it was a pretty smooth process.

So….drumroll…..our family mission statement looks a bit like this:

We will love and respect one another and respect all the other living (and non-living) things in our lives.

We will be kind and gentle with one another.

We will make time for each other and ensure that we genuinely connect with one another by talking and listening and cuddling. We will truly share our lives and support one another.

We will be silly, play, have lots of fun and laugh.

We will spend as much time outdoors as we can connecting with nature.

We will prepare and eat nutritious, delicious food.

We will be active and look after our bodies.

We will take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way and not be afraid to try new things.

We will never forget how incredibly lucky we are for so many reasons, particularly the people in our lives, where we live and the freedom we enjoy.

We will be active members of community who contribute and never forget how much we can learn from other people.

We will try not to take things too seriously!

Could do with a bit of pruning, but this is just fine for now.


The irony and the ecstasy

The irony?
The irony is the fact that I teach university science students how to blog and how important blogging is and yet somehow I’ve never got around to blogging myself! I just never had anything I was that desperate to write about and put “out there”. But that is all about to change 🙂

I read Deb’s 52 weeks to simplify your life challenge and realised I just couldn’t ignore this one. Perhaps it was a case of “right time, right place”. Perhaps it was inevitable that eventually I would come back to writing about all the things that fill my head…… writing stuff down has ALWAYS worked for me in the past. But I just haven’t found the time to keep a diary since I became a Mum. These days my head is so full of ideas, dreams and plans about the person, mother, wife and friend I want to be. But how do I actually achieve my goals? How do I ensure that I don’t find myself  in February realising I’m back in my old habits, following the path of least resistance?

By taking up the challenge!! Here is someone generously offering to guide me through the process of simplifying my life, getting back to what really matters. How could I possibly say no? And along the way I get to connect with a host of other people who all want to make positive changes in their lives too. How can we possibly fail if we help to hold one another accountable and support one another? Talk about exciting.

The funny thing is, most of my students complain that the hardest thing about blogging is coming up with topics to write about. Thanks to Deb, I don’t need to worry about that!

Ok, what about the ecstasy?

Well that comes from the joys of 2011 of course. And there were many. So onto the first task. My year was basically divided into two. The first half I was working part-time, I was pregnant and I was trying to enjoy every minute I could with my nearly 4-year old son because I knew that soon it would be much harder to give him my undivided attention. Then our gorgeous baby girl was born on June 20th. Life became even more joyful (but also more challenging) at that point.

What energised you? Funnily enough, being pregnant energised me. So many women I know really struggle with pregnancy but I adore it. And the feeling of a little person inside fills me with energy and excitement. Work energised me too. I get to teach stuff I love and believe in to fabulous students and it doesn’t get much more rewarding than that.

What made you feel happy? No question about it – my family. My son fills me with happiness and talking with him about the baby on the way was lovely. He was DESPERATE for  a sister and I’m very happy to say that is what we got ;). My husband and I were so happy and excited waiting for our new bub to arrive. There could never be more wonderful anticipation than waiting for a new member of the family.

Words simply can’t describe my happiness at giving birth to our little girl. I imagine most people here can recall the ecstasy of giving birth. (OK maybe you can recall some other things about it too).  A beautiful new life…. endless possibilities…..unfathomable and unrivaled joy. Having a second completely natural birth made me deeply happy. Having a daughter made me deeply happy. Discovering that once again I would be blessed by an easy breastfeeding relationship made me deeply happy. Watching my husband become a father again made me deeply happy. Watching my son become a big brother made me deeply happy. Watching my kids get to know one another made me deeply happy. Smelling my daughter’s sweet milky breath made me deeply happy.

Discovering  that my daughter is one of those “easy” babies that falls asleep easily, rarely fusses and seems to always look on the bright side made me deeply happy and enormously relieved. My son was a VERY different baby and I was very apprehensive about having a newborn again.

I will cherish the memories of the early hours, days and weeks with my children for the rest of my life so for that reason 2011 will always be one of my top years EVER.

What made you feel at peace?  That is a tough one. In contrast to the unbridled joy I just described, I wouldn’t say I felt a lot of peace last year.  Only because life felt very busy and as always, I put too much pressure on myself.

But maybe I am just forgetting the peaceful times. In the first half of the year the times I was most at peace were first thing in the morning and last things at night when my little boy would talk to his baby sister and give my tummy kisses. In the second half of the year I felt most peaceful during the first few hours of our daughter’s life. She was born in the wee hours of the morning and my husband and I spent a number of hours JUST BEING with her before we felt the need to talk to anyone in the outside world. That was extraordinary. We couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the family about our baby girl but by the same token we. could. really. wait. And we did!! Also for me, breastfeeding has always been a wonderfully peaceful experience. Nothing beats it.

What positive people lifted you up? I feel very blessed by the people in the my life. My husband, my kids, my brothers, my parents and my amazing amazing friends. Some friends in particular are just always there to share the joys and the challenges. Three of my closest friends became Mums for the first time in 2011 and sharing the joy with them lifted me right up.

What filled your “tank”? Relationships, no question about it. Connecting with people. Being honest and vulnerable and real with people.

What worked to bring your family together? Time, just time. Making time to play with my son despite the exhaustion. Making time to talk with my husband, despite the exhaustion and constant demands of the kids. Making time to get outdoors. ( We REALLY need to do more of this).

What is something that made you feel excited to dive right in? Actually, I think it was my work. Running my new subject for the second time was so much easier than the first time and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it. Also, going back to a choir. Singing with other people is fundamental to my happiness.

What did you learn (positive things)? That I really can function reasonably well on not much sleep and I shouldn’t worry about it so much. That dreams come true (a calm and contented baby girl) 😉 That being gentle with myself is vital. That family and friends truly make the world go around and that the power of connection with other people must NEVER be underestimated. No matter how tired I am, if I reach out I always feel better. And that I need to walk.

What are you grateful for? Let’s be honest. What aren’t I grateful for??? I’m grateful to live in Australia, that my family is safe and that we have access to abundant clean water and nourishing food. My family and I are all healthy. I have a loving marriage, and two simply amazing children. I am blessed to have wonderful relationships with my parents, brothers and other family members. I have a nice house to live in and my husband and I both have jobs that reward us and that we believe in. I have freedom. So much freedom. To spend time in the bush, to read, to walk, to spontaneously decide to go to the park, or bake muffins, or ring a friend or go to the zoo. When I think about all the things I am grateful for I get so frustrated that I spend time worrying about things. But that is another blog post!

LOL I remind my students all the time that a short, engaging and succinct blog post is a good blog post. And just look at what I’ve done. Ooooops! Way too long.