No need to rush things...

So, finally, as the first month comes to a roaring finish ("Already" I hear myself scream as I suddenly realise that I have a bill due TODAY that I forgot because today should be tomorrow, not today. How did that happen?), I have settled on my goals for the year.  I don't like to rush things.

 "Only Fools Rush In"

So, if you can bear with me, here they are, my goals, as I said in my previous post (mostly) SMART goals, laid out bare (some are quite boring mind you):

1. Write a review of each book I read (in a timely manner, not like the "Why Weren't We Told" by Henry Reynolds, which is staring at me, waiting for me to say something.  I think that it said so much to me that I am finding it difficult to review.  I just need to do it and stop putting it off).

2. Read 2 books per month (so far I have accomplished this.  Let's see if I can keep it up when it is not summer holidays)

3. Lower the migraines from over 15 days per month to less than 5 days per month.  This will take a lot of work on lifestyle, relaxation and drug management, good dedicated work, hopefully.

4. Shrink the waistline to 80cm or less (I had to have a "lose weight" one).

5. Fix up the bathroom and kitchen.  The tiles are falling off and we need some cupboards that have doors on them so I can stop looking at everything all the time.

6. Write at the library or cafe (ie not in the house) twice a week.  After 6 months of doing at home, I think that I now need to break it up a little. Out might be good.

7. Finish Dip of Project Management.  Once the kids go back to school, I might be able to think again, much higher chances of getting this done.

8. Exercise (ie cardio for 30 min) 3 times a week (yep, there it is again...)

9. Start a writer's group weekend retreat (perhaps quarterly) with some other likely characters.  There have been some murmurings with a friend from my Wednesday monthly group, so there is one, we may roll along and collect a couple more.

10. Spend some time in the garden every week.  It needs me, I need it.  We are co-dependants.

11. Start volunteering 1/2 day every week.  I have found a great group who work with Asylum Seekers and really need volunteers and am 2/3 through their training now.  Yippee!

12. Give some time back to me, by writing myself & things I want to do into the family calendar...we'll see how that goes...!

Twelve things, twelve months, how tidy is that?

Oh, one more to mess things up,

13. Get more organised, be more organised, put systems in place so that I am not covered in paper and surprised by late bills or other nasties... (Surely that is a given with yearly goals if you are not suffering from OCD).

Tra la la la... Here we go, into February!

The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

This is the first book that was selected for my book club this year, and when I first heard the title, my first feeling was of relaxation.  I was imagining a time of women sitting around exchanging ideas, being free of the shackles of men, dancing, rejoicing, reading books under the shade of a tree...and no mention of men.  In some ways, I was rewarded with this.  When my oldest son (12yrs) saw the title, he shuddered saying, "Urgh, I could think of nothing worse."  Well, there you go, I live in a house full of men, I would delight in it, I think.

This book is the follows Mia, the poet, and her ramblings (in a great way) as she tries to mend her shattered heart and mind.  She is coming to terms with her husband,  Boris, making the decision to have a "Pause" after 30 odd years.  A lovely young French woman aptly takes on the name in Mia's voice as "Pause", we learn nothing more of her.  Mia has been thrown so far from her place of comfort that she has a moment of temporary insanity whilst Boris takes up with the Pause.    To recover after her time in the hospital, Mia seeks shelter amongst women, her mother, her sister, teaching poetry to young teenage girls and doing book club with elderly women.  Through these interactions Mia begins to find her strength again as she reflects on her relationship and the damage that the Pause has had on her.  Her daughter Daisy desperately tries to pull her parents back together, like so many children of broken relationships do.  Siri deals with this reality so well.

In the elderly women (The Swans), Mia finds an unusual, yet lovely surprise in Abagail as secrets unfold in the most unusual ways.  Mia also finds herself in the midst of a  teenage whirlwind with a bad smell.  She uses what she knows best to work through this - writing.  It proves to be a very useful tool.

I loved the cross generational relationships in this book and how they are so important to each other, the wisdom, the youth, the reminders to each other and they can help each other.  Siri reminds us how important it is to have these cross generational relationships.

For a book titled "The Summer Without Men" I wasn't expecting so much referencing to the men in her life and other's lives.  Early on I found it distracting.  On reflection, however, this was the reality of Mia's life, Boris had been such an important part of her life, she could not live a summer with mentioning him, thinking of him every day.

The book itself is a great read and a short read.  Siri has Mia writing to the reader in a lyrical prose, best read quickly in longer sittings rather than little grabs.  I am looking forward to a re-read as I think that this book actually warrants it, and I now know that I will set aside the time to read it in large chunks than the little moments at bedtime that I did.


The inspiration for this came from my lovely husband, who I do love with all of his crash banging around!  Love to know what you think. Cheers, Meg

Big Hands
Squashing things,
Clumsy Fingers,
Breaking Glasses,
Chipping Plates,
Smashing Bottles,
Crash Bang

Strong and bolshy,
Moving with thump and thud
Door shutting,
Pictures rattling,
Chair scraping
Like fingernails on a blackboard
Books chucked down
Bending covers and pages
Crash Bang

A rough, loving kiss
Tightly hugging,
Bruising ribs with love
Slapping thigh with laughter,
Hand being held,
'Don't squeeze so hard'
Crash Bang

Toilet seat flung
Toilet seat down
Crash Bang

Made of giant
All delicates hiding
From big fingers and hands
Fragile old tea-cup found
Now balancing precariously
Between two fat sausages
With saucer waiting below
Quietly, patiently, not breathing
Lest the Man giant
Be broken from this
Gentle spell, for now.

Great Expectations and All That Nonsense

I usually begin each year with my set of goals for each of the areas in my life: health, learning, house, fitness, travel, and so forth, yet last year, I didn't.  I had no goals.  I began the year goal-free and survived.  I got through, I didn't necessarily kick huge successes, yet I didn't "fail" or fall in a heap.  I did feel at some stages, however, that I was floundering. There was no post out there for me.  I had to keep putting goal posts out there.

In the wash up I have taken a long time to "debrief" myself and my year as I have trawled through my diary, picking out the important bits, the quotes, the unfinished business (yes, I am still a paper-leather-bound-diary-no-ipod girl).  It has felt like an important thing to do after what has seemed like a really hard year.  A year that saw me grieving people, freedom, loss of innocence of my children as they get slightly older and more bolshy, loss of our tightly knit family unit that we had experienced the year before, accepting increase in pain (migraines, back and jaw) after a year of being relatively well managed (we travelled in the outback and bush for 9 months - read "freedom").  That being said, great things have happened along the way.  I got myself some great part-time work along the way after being out of the workforce for over a decade, I studied and completed a diploma (I have a history of never finishing courses for many reasons, none of which being that I didn't want to finish), I made the decision to spend more time writing, just writing (YAY!) and I was really happy to see my kids settle back in to schooling life after a nomadic year.

So, I have been debriefing, and realising that I actually need to set myself goals for the year otherwise I have a tendency to drift with the breeze and go with really short term goals.  I get frustrated with myself and that then filters through to my little family.

I am taking my time with this goal setting.  I no longer feel the pressure that I used to of the date 1 January.  For me now it is more about "Where am I now, and where do I want/need to be in a year's time?"

I have broken it up into the different areas of my life:

And as I am visual/colour person, I see each of these areas in different colours, and circles.  I have to pop them in circles and then write what I want/need to be in this year in these areas.  It is helping me to get some focus in this crazy world where my needs sometimes seem to be the last ones on the agenda.

So, from here, I have been trying to make some SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic time bound) so that I am not either setting myself up for failure or not putting any challenge out there.  I think so often we put goals out there at this time of year that are unrealistic like, "I am going to deal with every piece of paper as soon as it comes into the house.  No piece of paper is going to lie on any bench." (yes, this was one of my goals one year), and then 3 months in, the bits of paper start to accumulate, a bit of self flagellation goes on, then give up...have set oneself  up for failure.    Probably more realistic for me would be to decide to set up a system to deal with the bits of paper.  I also think that it would unrealistic for me to set the goal of getting a book published this year, but I have to seriously look at how I can put the challenge stick out there for myself so that I don't get mushy and do nothing.  Goals are great for pushing me along, getting me out of my comfort zone.

I love the idea of getting to the end of the year and looking back at the goals with a smile and feeling like I have kicked some goals and grown within myself.

Watch this space as I continue to refine...

What are your goals, do you make goals, how do you go about it?  Cheers, Meg

The Versatile Blogger Award

As the new year dawned and I was preoccupied with my boys in sun and sand, Tiffany from My Peculiar Journey kindly gave me The Versatile Blogger Award for this blog.  I am humbled.  

The Rules for excepting the illustrious Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

Thank the person who nominated you. Tell 7 things about yourself, so that your readers may learn more about you, and nominate 15 other newly discovered bloggers, then let them know you nominated them.

Here are 7 things about myself

1. I love silence.
2. I like to figure stuff out myself before looking at the instructions, instructions are for when things haven't worked out.
3. I play the flute.
4. I read until I fall asleep - every night (and drive my husband insane).
5. I am at peace when I am in the garden with my fingers in the dirt, I love to grow vegetables and local indigenous plants and write about them.
6. I love to create things from scratch
7. I am a naturally messy person, I have to work continuously at being tidy.

And most importantly nominate 15 other newly discovered bloggers.

For the moment I have chosen 13 blogs for various reasons (some are well into their blogging life and I really enjoy what they offer to me and I am sure to many, many others and have not yet received the award, others are fairly new, but I really like what I think that they have to offer) and will choose the other 2 as I find them (if I do).

The last one on the list has stated recently she may not be back this year.  I think that she really deserves the award anyway due to the wonderful blog that she has done and I wish her the best.

Thanks again Tiffany for thinking of my little blog this award :)