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Where in the world?

7 Jun

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

This post is part of the #trust30 writing initiative, inspired by Ralph Waldo Emersons “Self-reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.  You can find further details regarding the challenge here.

Day four prompt by author Chris Guillebeau

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

I’ve done a fair bit of travelling – London, Paris, Greece, Turkey, Spain, South Korea, Canada and New Zealand are some of the most memorable places I have been fortunate enough to visit.  Sometimes I stayed for a week, sometimes a whole lot longer and as any avid explorer will tell you – there is not much that can compete in terms of the depth of life experience garnered, particularly when you’re young.

Senses are on high alert due to differences in culture, food, language, buildings and behaviour. You get to soak up artifacts and architecture previously viewed by media alone and if you are lucky enough…you get to discover that you are far more capable than you ever imagined.  On your own.

You may find yourself alone with bag stolen on a painfully overheated clunkered ole bus, headed in the wrong direction. With no ability to communicate other than hand-gestures *some tears* and charades, somehow you still manage to make that bus turn around so that you make your connecting flight seconds before gate closure.

Them be good times!

In retrospect at least.

While a passion to explore the world can most definitely provide you with a suitcase of unforgettables, it can also bring you back to a place of contrasting landscape rich in colour and as diverse as its inhabitants….. Australia mate!

The Majesty of Uluru

I had to leave home to appreciate what I already had.

I have lived in four cities and three states but have never been over the desert and into the west….part of my story that needs to be amended.

How will it happen?  Just wait and see.

Cheffy hubby and I have started “the trip” fund and hatched up a random plan which involves three small girls, skipping school and a winebago.

I’ll let you know how it plays out.

~Kirri

If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Source of image 

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Life as a series of endless post-its…

6 Jun

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

This post is part of the #trust30 writing initiative, inspired by Ralph Waldo Emersons “Self-reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.  You can find further details regarding the challenge here.

Day four prompt by author  Jenny Blake

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

In my haste to get everything done that desperately needed to get done this weekend, I now find myself behind in this writing challenge.

Behind who?  I’m not sure, but I do know that I spend many days and weeks racing and rushing…hyped up on adrenaline and a barrage of less than kind self-talk.  Driven by responsibilities and the need to do, to create, to make something out of every waking moment.

I can spend up to an hour planning each and every week, and have a bunch of post-its adorning mirrors, doors and notebooks.

I’ve been told that this is a good thing.  I’m motivated, enjoy keeping fit, making it happen and have all my ducks lined up in a nice straight row.  Thanks for noticing…..so what the whispers of insomnia and anxiety in a mind that won’t shut the hell up?

Enter pretty pink post-it:

Moment of truth.

I have coached people on maintaining work-life balance.  I aspire to live a simpler, more conscious life and yet there are times when I have to admit to being a junked up overachiever.

The sleepless nights and jitter-bug mind are always an indication that I’m out of whack and headed to that place of pure whackness!

So what do I do?  To be honest, taking this time to reflect and examine is the biggest step of all for me.  It takes me back to a place of awareness and reminds me of the importance of checking in and making minor adjustments to my current path.

Some other things I know will help and that I can consciously commit to:

– Work smarter not longer and harder.  Work in specific chunks of time and take breaks.

-Prioritize and differentiate between what is really important and what is urgent.

-Minimise caffeine and no chocolate at night (ooh that’s a hard one)

– Do more yoga, meditation and less running, dancing and metaphorical bouncing off walls

-Spend more time outside with the aim of connecting with nature

-Keep doing what I love but make sure I’m still plugged in to my family and friends

-Have one day a week where I am completely disconnected from technology – completely (also a hard one!)

– Make time to examine and reflect….That’s what I’m doing right now.

~Kirri

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What’s one strong belief you possess?

3 Jun

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

This post is part of the #trust30 writing initiative, inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.  You can find further details regarding the challenge here.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Day three:

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

(Author: Buster Benson)

I have to admit I have spent much of the morning struggling over today’s writing task….Why?  Because I’m not sure I hold one strong belief.

Is that bad?  It’s bad isn’t it?

Honestly…I’m a fence sitter.  I can see both sides of every argument.  I can empathise with all points of view which makes it difficult to stand up, hold a placard and speak boldly and passionately about a lot of topics.

What I am certain of is that there is rarely one definitive answer to many of lifes’ big questions and for all the research and evidence supporting one hypothesis, you will find another that strongly supports the opposing view.

Like fashion, belief systems come and go and my personal perceptions also keep evolving.

There are few absolutes and a handful of truisms.  This fact alone is what inspires me to keep searching, learning and evolving.

A thirst for knowledge and learning that life serves up in a rainbow of flavours?

That’s something I’m willing to stand up for.

*Final thought – I do have one strong belief not shared by some family members and friends….

Homosexuality is biological and we all deserve to be treated with respect and share equal rights.   That debate is over.

Today in a sentence?

3 Jun

This post is part of the #trust30 writing initiative, inspired by Ralph Waldo Emersons “Self-reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself.  You can find further details regarding the challenge here.

Day two prompt by author Liz Danzico

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

Staying in line with the nautical theme, my sentence for today –

It’s much easier to change course when moving than it is standing still, so grab the reins and Giddy-up!

Yeah, I like to mix my expressions…so what 🙂

How being a mum can lead to highly successful habits

24 May

Written by Kirri White.  Follow me on twitter or facebook.

You can also contact me by email –  kirri@happymumsathome.com

A couple of weeks ago, I had an Oprah-esque ‘Aha’ moment while watching Australia’s Masterchef.  One of the top 24 contestants, Kate – occupation ‘mum,’ was taking part in a team challenge which involved being woken (after two hours sleep) to bake artisan-worthy bread for eight hours straight.

A lot of the contestants emerged bleary-eyed and cranky, but not this Mumma!  She cheerily narrated that parenthood had more than prepared her for this type of challenge:

when you are a mum, you get used to having to work hard,
whether you like it or not, whether you feel like it or not.

Damn straight, I thought. This woman’s going to bake some killer bread!

Becoming a mum is fraught with experiences that can lead you to a whole new level of learning. From the very first moment you gingerly claim your newborn …your life is no longer yours.  You are officially ‘owned’, required to be on call 24 /7 and have orders communicated to you in a cacophonous language not yet fully understood by either parties.

Days and nights blend into the same monochrome and for many new parents, the outside world can seem like an alternate universe.

I know that some mums allegedly give birth to “sleepers” *dislike* but for most of us, becoming a parent is an exhausting exercise comparable to the effects of sleep deprivation-torture-tactics used in war-fare.

And no, you don’t get to call in sick….ever.

I have had to lay, vomit bucket at head-level while my three-year olds whined and pulled my hair in an effort to “stop mummy being boring”.  Fortunately, I also had my life-saving five-year old at hand, who was able to make lunch among puddles of juice and vegemite smears.

While many childless couples look forward to engaging in some serious ‘lounging’ on the weekends, mummies have forgotten that it is in fact the weekend.

No down time for you sistah!  It’s business as usual, 365 days a year.

Such is the nature of the unwritten job description.  You may not realise that ‘this’ is exactly what you signed up for but you step up and you do it.

Not to say that it’s all hard work and tears.  There are many positives to having your world shaken sideways by mummyhood. After a while, you catch your groove, and inadvertently find you have adopted a few habits of the ‘highly successful’.

For example:

You now have the permanent built-in alarm of a serious go-getter that wakes you up early no matter what. You may even morph into a healthier version of yourself, given that you no longer go out partying every weekend till 5am.

Establishing routines, organising schedules and planning events are things that have now become second nature. Household supplies and food are dutifully replenished, budgets micro-managed and a multitude of other tasks accomplished every day.

You get used to working diligently without being pushed, asked, thanked…or sometimes even noticed.

The mood of a small child can easily dictate how your day will play out from moment to moment.  As such you learn to adjust plans accordingly.  You become far more resilient and capable at handling the downright ugly and seemingly impossible. Even in public.

As your child’s first role model, you become more adept at building and maintaining positive relationships, promoting perseverance and cooperation.  With kidlet eyes now taking in your every move, you try to emulate ‘goodness’.  You become a leader without a title, far more responsible, self-contained and polite.  You become better at controlling and managing yourself and your emotions….most of the time anyway.

Flippancy to the side…being a mum can lead to strengthening all of the skills you gained as a singleton, with the addition of a few more.  In my humble opinion.

All learning has an emotional base ~Plato

Being a mum may not always educate the intellect but it does educate the heart.  The emotional intelligence I have gained in seven years of parenting remains unparalleled.  Coincidentally, emotional intelligence has been widely reported as one of the strongest indicators for success in life and directly affects ones psychological well-being (ref).

I read somewhere that the brain gives knowledge but the heart gives direction. As a mum even though your heart now moves independent of your body – the sense of purpose, passion and direction you feel can spur you on to achieve greatness in all areas of life.

Sidenote: Some of you may be thinking that this particular blog is biased and a tad dismissive of non-parents or even daddy’s.

I would concur.

But sometimes a mummy needs to hear that she is valued, competent, resourceful and freakin’ fabulous!

She needs to understand that the skills and experiences acquired through parenthood hold relevance in any environment and that she is a successful contributing member of society right here and now.

Nuff said!

~ Kirri

And the winner is….Me!

21 Apr

I woke up this morning to find out I have been honoured with the Versatile Blogger Award by fellow blogger – LifeAsMummyMax from daddy, mummy and kiddie max.   Just so you know – I had never heard of her prior to this auspicious occasion and no money has exchanged hands….But of course I think she totally rocks!

Have to say, that along with my early morning caffeine, I’m feeling super hyped and happy right now.  Funny how an unexpected dose of acknowledgement from a complete stranger can do that.

The rules are that I have to share seven somewhat unknown and presumably interesting facts about myself and also pay it forward by nominating 15 other newly discovered bloggers for the same award.

So, seven random facts about me….mmmm….tricky:

  • You know how you read about those weird little kids with imaginary friends who actually believe they are real, talk to them and have a place set next to them at the table?  Yup, that was me.  Her name was Jane and she was my side-kick for approximately two years of my life.  She was cute, funny and way more kick-ass than me.  Jane helped me through some of my more awkward moments from the ages of 5-7.  I still think of her fondly sometimes.
  • I am always puzzled by people who arrange their drinking glasses ‘rim down’ in the cupboard.  Ok…more than puzzled. I do not like. Think about it – you may clean your glasses every day after use but then you put them rim down in a cupboard that most likely has not been cleaned in 6 months??  Just stop it and let me breathe again.
  • I’ve visited many countries and enjoyed living in New Zealand, Canada, England and South Korea but I’ve always been fiercely in love with Australia.  The burnt landscape, endless beaches, crazy unaffected people and resounding buzz of cicadas are deeply entrenched in my heart.  I just love my country.
  • I’ve always liked my feet.  They’re small, strong, nicely shaped and for the amount of dancing and high-heels they have endured; they remain suprisingly soft and un-calloused.
  • Okay, speaking of attractive body parts…While all my friends were checking out boys with sparkling eyes and bulging biceps, my eyes gravitated to an area much lower…no not that low – to the HANDS…(tsk tsk)!  If you were to see my hubbys’ hands…you would understand exactly why I married him.  Nuff said.
  • I never wanted to get married or have kids – especially the kids part.  My first baby girl was an “accident” and I now view her birth as a serendipitous event.   She gave me a reason to keep living when my dad died, the opportunity to discover that I could be a great parent and the desire to have more babies.  Lucky me!
  • Finally…..I’m a firm follower of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’. I will always prefer one cup of freshly brewed coffee than 3 instant; one row of handmade quality chocolate over a whole bar of factory made. You can put me in any store and by pure chance, my favourite item is usually going to be the most expensive. Champagne tastes on beer money?  That’s me folks 🙂

Now the extra fun part –  to pass the award on to 15 other newly discovered (to me at least), deserving bloggers.  They include mummy bloggers, photography and style fanatics, eco-conscious devotees and people with a huge social conscience.  Check them out!

  1. My green picket fence
  2. Nicole Hastings Photoblogging
  3. Axxentor
  4. Gina Smith Photography
  5. Ofthenow
  6. A buddhaful journey
  7. An Aussie Mums Guide to Eco-friendly Babies
  8. The Grasshopper Foundation
  9. Maid in Australia
  10. Sunny Mummy
  11. Seven Cherubs
  12. Romantic Flair Original
  13. Styling You
  14. Martyr-hood
  15. Planning with Kids

Thanks again LifeAsMummyMax!

~Kirri

Why thinking and living like a kid can lead to a happier, more successful life.

25 Feb

Last week, I was confronted by the identical challenge I face every time I attempt to make pasta sauce. 

No, not the fact that I would need to bury the empty jar deep in the recycling bin, to avoid the meaningful looks directed my way by cheffy husband – who can never understand why I don’t just whip up my own sauce.  Pfft.It is the dance of trial and tribulation that ensues every time I attempt to take the top off the jar.  Bloody impossible!! 

I twist it both ways, wringing until my hands are as pink as my face. I then use a tea towel in an effort to assist sweaty sore hands, run the jar under cold, then hot water, bang it on the granite bench and as a last resort mutter a few not-so-niceties about the jar making machine having been designed by some puny-female-hating mean man!

As my efforts become more desperate, I notice one of my darling twin daughters silently observing me.  Approaching me quietly, she places a reassuring hand on my leg (being far too mini to reach my shoulder) and speaks to me with knowing calmness –

“It’s ok mummy. You can do it. I know you can. You just have to believe in yourself.”

How cute is she?  The cutest. Of course.              

I couldn’t help but recognise the familiar words of positive persuasion, borrowed from Winx Club.  Winx Club is an animated Italian television series which we discovered in Canada two years ago.  It follows the adventures of a girl Bloom and her fairy friends, on earth and the Magical Dimension.  Our whole family loves it.  We have taken on individual fairy personas (yes even daddy) and like to spout the theme song, regularly –

Close your eyes,
and open your heart.
Believe in yourself,
that’s how it starts.
Dreams will come true,
just wait and see
Cause the Magic’s in you,
and the magic’s in me!

 Anyway, it got me thinking (in addition to the fact that I really must increase my weights in pump class); about the magical way children view the world.  More specifically, the manner in which their behavior is a timely reminder on how to be more relaxed and present in our lives. 

And so, I present you with the following list of tips for successful living that I have garnered from my children.  Yes, although my girls are aged 4 and 6 – they are budding experts in the area of positive psychology.  Just ask them.   

The list is in no particular order but I dare you to live like a child for a day, or a week, and see how things pan out.  If you don’t feel like you are experiencing more fun, passion, learning and connection with the important people and priorities in your life, you are quite welcome to come and kick my ass!  Well, not mine actually, but my girls.  This is their list after all and I am merely the messenger.

  • Believe in yourself.  Children don’t place limits on themselves the way adults do. They live in a world where anything is possible and nothing cannot be conjured up with a little imagination.  They are fearless and like to take risks.  Tell them they can’t do something and you know they will attempt it, just to prove you wrong.  Don’t doubt yourself before you have even started. Just do it! 

 

  •  Children are passionate, curious creatures.  Be hungry for knowledge and learning like your children.  Ask questions and research the answers in books or the internet. Learn something new every day. Even if it’s a new word or an idea you have been pondering for years.  Knowledge is power and just imagine how powerful your brain will be in a year after absorbing 365 new words or ideas.  You then get to share that knowledge with your kids – plus you will feel a whole lot smarter.

 

  •  Be authentic and genuine.  Children generally see the best in you. They love you unconditionally.  The only masks they wear are those adorned by princesses and super-heroes.  Be yourself. Like yourself.  Respect yourself.  Easy to say and sometimes difficult to do but in the long term, you will feel better inside and people warm to what’s real.

 

  •  Children are open to, and great at, forming relationships. Take them to the park and when you leave 30 minutes later, they are frantically waving farewell to their new ‘bestie’.  Be friendly to the people you meet. Chat with the cashier at your local supermarket and mean it when you say “Have a happy day.” Make eye contact with the other parents at school and smile at your neighbours or people you pass on the street.  Yes, some will think you are a bit of a weirdo but so what….Even if they don’t smile back the first time, I guarantee they will have a better day. Smiles are infectious and they feel good for all parties involved.

 

  • Start your day early and with the gusto of a kid!  Exercise and be energetic. You are allowed to have a cup of coffee first but as you do, smile and ponder over something fun you intend to do today and then make sure you do it!         

         

  • Persist!  Kids are persistent and tenacious. They don’t give up easily.  “Mummy can I have this? “Mummy can I have this? Now can I have it?” Yes, it’s annoying sometimes, but also valuable in a world where after a while, we just start accepting “No” and stop asking for what we really want.

 

  • Children like to touch, explore, observe every detail and inspire connection.  Stop seeing things from the same old and tired perspective.  That’s how our work and personal lives get in ruts – we only see what we are accustomed to and ignore the rest. Remember how you took in every aspect of a new building or face the first time you saw it as a child?  Try and do that as much as possible. You will undoubtedly feel more alert and alive. You may even regain appreciation for something or someone you have been taking for granted.

 

  •  Finally – Celebrate your successes no matter how small.  Every step you take towards learning, creating a positive environment, or mastering a task that has been eluding you for months, indicates growth and progress.  “You learnt how to catch a ball today?  That’s freaking fabulous.”  Tomorrow, world domination!

It’s not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.  ~Joyce Maynard

Live more. Stress Less.

27 Jan

What’s important to you? Take a look at my home environment and you would be spot on for believing that apple pie order is a priority for me.  Yeah, I’m a clean freak and my hubby is a neat freak. Match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. If you visited our house, you would no doubt leave wondering how we manage to keep it looking so spotless and uncluttered, particularly with young kids running round. The dishes are always done, beds made, bathroom disinfected, toys stored in colour-coded boxes and the toilet paper folded into a pretty triangle after every use!  Well, almost.  

It takes a certain level of commitment on a daily basis to live that way but it is high on my list of essentials because it makes me feel calm, collected and like I have my sh*t sorted!  It’s not something I feel compelled to do in order to regain a sense of control in what can sometimes be a very chaotic state of being. Or is it?

Excessive drinking, smoking, shopping, and yes, even cleaning, can be distractions.  They take our focus from one area and move it to another place that offers temporary respite.  These habits are often the things we do unconsciously to fill a gap or get a rush of feel-good endorphins when panic threatens to overwhelm.  Is this a surprise in a modern society that generally values the busiest and seemingly most productive members?  Moreover, am I the only one with kids who feels like daily life is sometimes a battle of epic proportions??  Having one child, let alone three before the age of 30 can be a bit of a challenge.  Just ask my husband!  There are times when you find yourself running around in a blur of ‘doing’ -feeding, bathing, calming, cleaning, playing and screaming. It gets ugly sometimes people!      

Obviously I am far from immune to such distractions, but I’m getting way better at identifying my survival mode and squashing it.  How can I tell when I’m in survival mode? My actions start getting more frantic.  I try and do more in less time and I try and do it all at once.   The stress levels rise, jaw-clenching begins and eventually I get to a point where I am no longer able to think clearly. Sound familiar?

For me, the antidote is a mix of prevention and learning to refocus on the present moment.  It’s the age old saying about having a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than an ambulance waiting at the bottom for someone to fall.  Making time to read, exercise and relax regularly may seem like lofty ideals when you have a family, work and social life to contend with.  However, I have learnt the hard way that they really do help to prevent my stress levels from rising to a furor.  I like to refer to them as my ‘preventative activities’ or things that I choose to do on a regular basis to stop my mean girl coming out. Nuff said.

Learning or attempting something new, with a certain degree of difficulty can also be hugely beneficial.  Doing difficult things helps foster personal confidence and strength. Over time, these challenges lead to a sense of personal mastery and accomplishment that can boost our limits of endurance.  Maybe it’s tackling a foreign language, learning to play an instrument or revisiting a sport that you last played when you were ten. Initially it can be a little uncomfortable and frustrating.  But with time and determination, a little bit of progress can be made each day. In a year or two, your learning and performance in this area will have improved profoundly.  Additionally, you will reap the residual effects of learned persistence.  The activity in question is going to be different for everyone.  Figure out what is meaningful or just plain fun to you and pursue it.  Not half assed but whole-heartedly!

 Choosing to remain in the present moment is another proven stress buster for me.  It’s a habit that I am still practicing but I’m telling you, it works.  Learning to shake off life’s’ inevitable annoyances is not always easy, but it is possible. You can get irritated when your four year old chats loudly and incessantly, wiping yoghurt on her freshly changed top and demanding you watch her every dance move when you are trying to get some work done.  Similarly it can be disconcerting just how slowly small kids walk when you are already running 10 minutes late for school and have a meeting to get to. In situations like this, I try and remind myself that I can choose to react in an irritated manner or I can take a breath, give a little laugh and just go with it.  Ok, maybe not a laugh, but at least a half hearted sigh.  Either way, we can always choose our response and attitude in any potentially stressful situation and make it work for us.

 I’m not saying I have it all down-pat. Far from it (just ask my husband!).  There are times when I fall back into that stressed out survival mode but I try to remain aware of it and take a moment to refocus myself in the present.  Sometimes it just takes a few quiet deep breaths or a second where I can look into the eyes of my girls and experience that deep sense of connection. Other times, I crank up the stereo when I’m driving and sing loudly and unapologetically, while sucking up some of our beautiful Queensland sunshine.  Immediately I am brought back to the present and able to identify with that core that is free and adventurous.   Boo yah – I’m back in the moment and feeling fine!

The point is – this is your life. Design it the way you want to live it.  You can choose to survive (something so easy to fall into when you have little people to look after), or you can choose to LIVE.   You can get by on those to-do lists and endless obligations, struggling to keep up with the Joneses and buying more stuff which frankly, you do not need. Or, you can dwell in the land of small pleasures, powerful intentions and boundless opportunities.  

Live more. Stress less.  That’s what I’m doing today.

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