Whenever E wakes in the night to tell us that she’s scared of monsters, spiders, or a Backson (thanks Winnie the Pooh) we tell her that we’re nearby and that ‘mummy and daddy won’t let anything bad happen to you’. This shooting in Las Vegas just makes me realise that of course that’s a promise that is impossible for us to keep. Pain and hurt and fear and disappointment will inevitably be part of our kids’ lives, and I need to remember that it’s not our job to protect them from it, but rather to ‘assure them that when the turbulence comes, we will all hold hands and get through it together’ (and keep serving the peanuts!).
On a happier note, we got out for a family bushwalk at Tidbinbilla and it was great. I’ve mentioned it before, but bushwalking is really my happy place and it’s so nice to be sharing this with E. I listened to a recent episode of the Australian Hiker podcast on hiking with kids (#40) and used some of the tips on this most recent outing – getting E to be the guide, hold the map and look for the trail markers, and to carry her own water and snacks. She really took to the leader role (which won’t be a surprise to anyone that knows her) and managed to walk 3.3km herself (although there was a fair bit of whinging at the end and we had to pull out the promise of an icecream).
…one of my biggest takeaways was that we shouldn’t lie to children when they are asking us about grown-up words or ideas — otherwise, they will just ask Siri. If it’s between YouTube and me to explain prostitution, I pick me.
Part of supporting kids through hard stuff is being honest (in an age-appropriate way). While I try to avoid lying to E (as I know she’ll figure it out eventually and I want us to have a relationship that has a strong foundation of trust), I find it difficult to find truthful and acceptable alternatives to ‘we won’t let anything bad happen’, and the more innocent ‘I don’t know where that picture/bag/toy is’ (when it ended up in the bin during last night’s clean up)! This piece has prompted me to pay more attention to those moments duing my day where I have to make a choice about honesty.
This is my latest podcast discovery (thanks to Carly Findlay’s recommendation). I started with the latest episode (#14 – Best Friends Forever) and I’ve been thinking about it for days. It made me cry and reflect and filled me with gratitude for the wonderful friendships in my life. I’m now making my way through the back catalogue. Such a great podcast about love and loss and the hard and beautiful parts of being human.
Most of us, I think, have had this experience: behaving quite differently according to the people in the room at the time. With some people we feel in perpetual shadow; with others, the sunlight seems to angle in and we are aglow.
This piece by Richard Glover was published almost 5 years ago, but it’s one that I think and talk about often. This week it came up twice in conversations, so I thought it was worth sharing here too.
This week I’ve restarted another #100happydays photo project (on Instagram). Over the last couple of years I’ve become more conscious of what habits and practices impact my happiness, and this is definitely one that has a significant postive impact by giving me a reason to seek out, notice and create little moments of gratitude, connection and joy.
Another positive habit is daily journalling. I’ve been using the DayOne app for almost two years and this week I decided to upgrade to the latest version which includes the ability to keep multiple journals (plus some other nice features). Journalling has immediate benefits for me in that writing often helps me to figure out what I think, but the ability to look back and kind of join the dots to make better sense of who I am (or who I am becoming) is also really valuable. I’m also beginning to realise how much I’ve forgotten from the last four years of Ella’s life so I’m also trying to capture notes and insights about the kids – mostly so that I can remember, but possibly also so that when they’re older they can get a deeper insight into who they are.
Three things that have engaged my head and heart this week…
…living with children is probably the most powerful spiritual practice that anybody could ever be engaged in if you open yourself to it that way. I like to look at them as when they’re little as little living Zen masters that are sort of parachuted into our lives to push all our buttons and see how we’re going to work with the challenges they throw at us in addition to, of course, having to put food on the table, pay the rent, build a career, have a loving relationship…
This was a podcast episode with some wise messages about mindful parenting that I really needed to hear this week (see this Sticky Wisdom post). In moments of complete frustration, imagining E and L as little Zen monks brings a smile to my face! And I’m trying to remember to ask ‘what are they trying to teach me?’ rather than ‘why are they doing this to me?’!
2. Robert Sapolsky talking behaviour and biology on the Here We Are podcast
A friend recently recommended Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. I have it on hold at the library but to be honest I’m a little daunted by a 800-page book on neuroscience so I went searching for a podcast instead. This episode had some fascinating insights and anecdotes about how the brain works, including a super interesting conversation about how ‘disgust’ is perceived/felt.
3. Jacinta Tynan: Why I’m Compiling a Daily Record of My Boys’ Childhood
This article was definitely part of the motivation for updating DayOne and starting journals for each of the kids. I really like the ‘one-sentence journal’ idea and it only takes a couple of minutes at the end of each day to jot down a few words to capture how they spent the day, a special moment or a funny quote. But listening to Sherry Turkle’s interview on On Being has me thinking about what physical artifacts from my kids’ childhoods I’m keeping (I’m very ruthless and there aren’t many artworks that get kept!) for them to discover later in life, and how I might ensure that the digital memories I’m capturing can also be retained and discovered.
A semi-regular capture of 3 things that have engaged my heart and/or heart…
1. Relationship vs transaction
I was talking with a friend last week about interpersonal interactions being motivated by either a desire to build a relationship or to complete a transaction. So I was surprised to hear these words – relationship and transaction – come up in the recent episode of the Dear Sugars podcast on saying no (with Oprah Winfrey). I believe that when the universe keeps unexpectedly throwing up certain words or phrases in front of you, it’s worth paying attention.
2. Deep work with deep responsibilties
In her email newsletter this week Laura Vanderkam asked can you do ‘deep work’ if you also have deep responsibilities? It captured some of the frustrations I had with Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which I love the idea of but struggle to see how it can be implemented in reality by people with lead parenting (or other primary caregiving) responsibilities – which are most often women. However, I like Laura’s suggestion that perhaps Deep Work can be achieved in smaller blocks or through ‘retreats’.
3. Drop the Ball
I also finished Tiffany Dufu’s Drop The Ball – a book for women about letting go at home. My friend Ruth wrote an excellent review of the book, and if you’re not inclined to spend the time or money to read the book but are still interested in the idea, I recommend listening to Tiffany’s interview on Jonathan Fields’s Good Life Project podcast.
#stickywisdom from Designing Your Life co-author Dave Evans on Jonathan Field’s Good Life Project podcast. Sometimes trying to change yourself isn’t worth the effort and it’s better to embrace your natural tendencies and work with/around them. It’s taken me a long time to realise that I need regular change and variety as well as flexibility in my work. Rather than beat myself up for consistently getting bored/burned out after 12-18 months, I’m going to acknowledge the ways in which I work best (and the ways that I don’t) and build a career based on freelance project and/or short-term contract based work.
Over the last week or so, I’ve tried to practice more conscious consumption of information. I have a love of learning and it’s easy for me to spend hours listening to podcasts, reading blog posts, and following endless internet rabbit holes. However, I’ve noticed how little of this information I actually retain, and even less is translated into some action in my life. As Derek Sivers said, ‘if information was the answer then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs’.
So, what I’m trying to do is commit to not consuming anything without also producing. This doesn’t have to be something significant or public. It can just be a couple of notes in my DayOne journal. Already I’m noticing how it’s made me more selective in what I consume, and I consume less. I guess it’s like making a deal where every time you eat a biscuit or cake you have to do 10 pushups – it makes you ask yourself, is this cake worth the work I’ll have to do. And doing the work seems to make the consumption feel more worthwhile.
One of the best things I’ve read on the internet lately was Asher Wolf’s ‘Fuck You, I’d Spit in Your Cupcakes‘ and it definitely got me fired up on Monday morning. Becoming a mother has affected my sense of self and my thoughts on feminism and so I very much enjoy reading about other women’s experiences.
Several late nights unable to sleep with a nice viral cough provided the opportunity for binge watching the fabulous You Can’t Ask That on iView.
The other thing I’ve been watching quite a bit this week is clips from Cats the Musical. E loves drama and dancing so I thought she’d enjoy these and I was right. I have very fond memories of seeing it as an 8 year old when the production toured Australia for the first time, so it was fun to share it with her.
I learned that the French have a term for the predicament of thinking the perfect reply too late – ‘l’esprit de l’escalier’ (staircase wit).
This post about attempting to go for 21 days without complaining got me noticing just how much complaining I do! I have too many ‘challenges’ on the go (habits, #100happydays etc) that I’m failing to keep up so am not going to start this challenge right away, but it is something I’m interested in trying.
When I’m sick I’m particularly conscious of practising more self-compassion, and I think that’s the reason that this week I sought out Tara Brach (I started reading Radical Acceptance*) and Brene Brown (I re-listened to her interview on the Tim Ferriss show).
I went and saw Annabel Crabb & Leigh Sales at the Canberra Writer’s Festival last week which was delightful. And this was followed up by a new Chat 10 Looks 3 episode, which always puts a smile on my face.
We’ve had some pretty challenging episodes with E recently. I suspect that it’s just ‘being three years old’, but I could do with whatever help I can get, so I’ve also started reading Janet Lansbury’s No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline without Shame*.
Last week was Book Week and I’m super grateful for my mum making a gorgeous Gumnut baby costume for E. She also made a Princess Leia costume (which was E’s original request). Yay for amazingly talented family!
Head & Heart are approximately fortnightly posts about what I’ve been reading, watching and thinking about – things I thought were interesting, and that you might find interesting too.
* These are Amazon Affiliate links.
Once again I’ve found myself several months behind on my regular Head & Heart posts so I’ve decided to try something different. While I enjoy the practice of doing some reflection and documenting what I’ve been doing and thinking, I’m not sure the monthly timeframe is working for me. I feel like there is so much swirling around in my head that it’s hard to remember a month’s worth of content for each post and I feel some pressure (self-imposed) to make the post interesting, comprehensive and mostly coherent. It feels a bit counter intuitive that if I’m struggling to fulfil a commitment to post monthly then weekly might be easier, but I’m going to give it a go. I’ll also give myself permission to make these posts scrappier and less ‘complete’. The goal is here is building a regular practice rather than perfecting a writing craft.
So, in no particular order, here are some of the things I’ve been doing, reading, listening to and thinking about this week…
- My daughter Ella turned 3 on Monday. Birthdays are a significant reflection point, and I’ve found her birthdays to be quite emotional as I reflect on how becoming a mum has changed my life and how I see myself and the world.
- Not enough exercise, meditation or sleep had me in a funk on Wednesday morning. One of those (thankfully rare) mornings where I’m feeling sad and unable to get out of bed. Staying in bed never helps though. Once I did eventually get up I spent some time clearing my head by mind-mapping (using MindNode – a recent purchase that I’m enjoying using) how I was feeling and why, the things that I know impact my mental health, the barriers to me doing the things that I know make me healthier, and ways to overcome those barriers. Getting it out of your head makes it seem less significant and more able to be actioned. I felt much better afterwards.
- Jason and I went on a rare date to see the documentary Minimalism. It was good, but as I’ve been thinking and reading about minimalism for the past year or so, there wasn’t anything particularly new. But one of the most powerful things in it was a statement from author Patrick Rhode which was something like ‘the easiest way to deal with the overwhelm is just simply to turn it off’. This really struck me, particularly because I have been feeling quite stressed and overwhelmed lately. It made me think of a sink that’s full of water and about to overflow. Instead of trying to find ways to manage the water in the sink and keep it from overflowing, perhaps it’s easier (essential?) to first turn off the tap.
- I finished reading The Coaching Habit. If you’re new to coaching or you’re a manager wanting to have better quality interactions it’s a good read.
- Emi Kolawole’s post on learning how not to be angry was good and her thoughts and advice about how to look after one’s mental health resonated with me.
- I did session 1 of the C25K program (using the Run5K app). Feeling excited to get back into running which I know is good for my mental and physical health.
- I listened to Mia Freedman’s conversation with Natasha Stott Despoja on the No Filter podcast. Natasha made an interesting comment about multi-faceted women (specifically how difficult she thought the media/public/established political players found it to respond to a multi-faceted woman – someone who could be on the cover of a magazine AND have a serious policy debate on Lateline).
- I’ll also include in these posts a screenshot from Way of Life of how I’ve gone with my 3 priority habits (bed before 10.30pm, meditate, 30 active minutes). This week wasn’t great. Only 1/3 completed. I reckon that it’s about 2/3+ that I need to be hitting to be functioning well and maintaining good energy and mental resilience.