Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Better than Prozac

Photo from australiantraveller.com

Two weeks of school holidays made me very depressed. Really sad, to the bone.

School holidays always sneak up on me, and catch me with no plans or means for lovely family trips to the beach and the like. The Luthier's one-man, small business means not much in the way of Smith family holidays.On our big adventure, he had about 10 days off work in seven weeks, leaving the kid-wrangling to moi. Anyhoo, one mustn't whine about an overseas adventure because it was unreal, child-challenges and all.

The fact is I don't cope well with prolonged periods with no time to myself. No time to do any old thing that takes my fancy does not work for me.

So on Saturday, the Luthier took the kids and I took a long walk in the sunshine. Just me and my iPod going GaGa. Destination fancy caf by the river, a glass of Jansz, some truly sublime lime cheesecake with a blood orange gel on the top and a good old chatfest with a lovely friend. No kids talk, no housework talk, we did not even slag off our husbands. We talked big, fanciful, outlandish ideas and she made me laugh so hard that I spat. On her cake. Terrible form.

Two hours did the trick.

I gotta remember that the it is, sometimes, that easy. Sunshine. A little time. A little walk. A little laugh. A little being nice to myself and now I feel more like being nice to everyone else.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cyndi Lauper - True Colors

Our latest bedtime song. It gets me every time.

True Colours - Cindy Lauper

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Friday, September 03, 2010

Mon petit coeur

Photograph from http://frenchgeneral.blogspot.com/

The bug that has plagued my J all week has jumped host and is having a party in both my system and the luthiers. Oh, snotty misery! Scanning my blog list for a little flu-forgetting inspiration, I saw this title 'Mrs Smith's Velvet Heart'. I thought to myself, "I would love for my heart to be velvet. Hang on a minute, I am Mrs Smith". My whiney flu-infested self has won a giveaway from The Warp and The Weft, a truly beautiful blog by the ladies of French General in the USA. Its a kit for a beautiful antique velvet heart used to keep treasures and trinkets. How lush!

Thank you so much. Merci Beaucoup. My day has been made.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

More Inspiration

The latest Country Style magazine has a truly beautiful piece by Hilary Burden from Hilbarn about her journey from London to Karoola. Receiving, hand delivered, my Hilbarn box each week, containing wonders like this mignonette lettuce, is inspiring enough, but now to have the story behind the box ... inspiration in spades.

The latest Adult Ed guide details a course being given by Hilary on writing about place. More food for thought.

Inspiration and Education

Someone recently suggested that blogs should be about inspiration. It inspired me. In that spirit, this is what else has inspired me this week.

I don't know about you, but as a mother of school-age children, I am anxious about my children's education. I fear for my lads in the overcrowded, behaviourally-challenged state system and private school is not possible. Do I regret not having my children baptized, as now I can't get them into a Catholic school? No, I don't think so. Being an atheist converted from catholicism, my hypocrisy will only go so far. Mind you, I have been wrong about most other things that I have ever formed a strong opinion about. Like craft, for example. I used to be very anti-craft. I thought it was Fine Art's bogan cousin on a scholarship from a rural and regional area. I thought it was all Fimo earrings and appliqued wattles on windcheaters. And how wrong was I? So part of me is prepared to meet Jesus on the other side, shaking his head with a hint of a smirk that says 'I told you so' as he points me in the direction of the Inferno.

My concern had reached a peak last weekend after a very ordinary school report and being told by his teacher that my son "struggled with reading, but it was nothing to worry about" had inflamed a feeling of helplessness for my two boys. My boys are not your ordinary boy-sy lads, and I fear they could skate through a system in which, if you are not a high achiever or a naughty boy, you could potentially coast through, relatively education free.

Then a friend said "There is this video on the Internet, a speech by Ken Robinson, you HAVE to watch it." And I did. The speech is entitled " Why education kills creativity." Rather than furthering my despair, this speech gave me hope and clarity. A simple message 'play to their strengths'. Don't focus on their flaws, focus on their strengths. I dig it.

This philosophy is quite at odds with my childhood memories of education and family support. Being one of 7 children meant a rigid, nun-based education and in my belle famille mistakes were rarely left to pass unnoticed and the opportunity to take the piss was never left wanting. My mother recently joked about how I never wanted to go to ballet classes because I wouldn't get out of bed on Saturday morning. The way I remember it was being a 4 year old, all dressed up in my ballet pinks, loving myself sick, only to have the piss taken out of me so ruthlessly that I didn't ever want to don them again. My brother once kindly said that " a bikini on me would look like two rubber bands on an egg". But I'm not bitter ... much.

Any road, what I have taken from the witty Ken Robinson is this - observe your kids, see what makes them truly happy and facilitate their opportunity to revel in it as much as possible. All talents are equally important. Obvious stuff, I know, but my anxiety needed to be kicked to the curb.

I have also been reading Andrew Fuller's "Tricky Kids" which could alternatively be entitled "Out-of-Control Parents" but probably wouldn't sell as well. It is really a guide for changing parent's behaviour for better outcomes for your kids. I am inspired. Fuller promotes a simple mantra - 'Be positive and optimistic and be a fierce friend to your kids".

Note to self - Be positive and optimistic and play to your strengths. Life is more than your capacity to be 'successful' as defined by any one standardised test, institution, system or social expectation.

What's inspired you this week?

P.S. This post was not intended as a criticism of the education system or of teachers. The education this week has been all mine. What I have learned is that anxiety, my parental anxiety has clouded my judgement and has negatively effected the way I parent my children. Anxiety encourages me to focus on flaws. The problems I imagine and project onto the education system stem mostly from my fearsthat my children will not measure up within the system. The inspiration from Ken Robinson has begun to help dispense with this anxiety. The thing I hope for most for my children's education is that they find an adult or adults other than me and the luthier, a teacher or mentor who invests in them and their talents. Good teachers are the bees knees!