Monday, November 18, 2013

The Life Cycle of a Trip to IKEA

I had to make a trip to Ikea on Friday.  Who am I kidding? If you "need" to go to Ikea you take your husband so he can lift the heavy stuff, but if you "want" to go to Ikea, you go on your own or with a BFF.  It was one of those kind of trips. Admittedly I did "need" some of those plastic clips to put on opened bags of breadcrumbs or cereals, but really a peg works just fine.  Still....

Let me describe my findings on the life cycle of an Ikea trip, using myself as an example.  See if you can relate...

You arrive, get yourself an easy access/close to exit car-park. You hydrate up in the car, write a list of 4 things you're after, pull your shoulders back, inhale..then you're off.

You start by lazily wandering around the show rooms, marvelling at the styling flare, mentally copy ideas, and starting to scribble down items on the pencil and paper you collected at the door. That you hadn't planned but need now so you can copy the styling.

You find the one large item of furniture you came for.  At this point, you could just write down the aisle and bay numbers then head there, pick up your furniture and check out?  Thats what you do on the day you have your husband.  Not on a solo Ikea day...oh no no no...

You keep wandering, scribbling more ideas and items, collecting a few awkward shape bits in the two yellow shopping bags you've picked up along the way.  You scan for a trolley and decide not to back track to get one like the pro's have.

The tempo changes a little.  You glance at your watch and see you've lost an hour and a half.  You head down into the Market Hall.  Time to actually find all the shit you've written down.  You start to get a little frenzied, grabbing a trolly, loading stuff on it, listening to the internal chatter that tells you do do need 6 packets of those $4.00 serviettes, 80 plastic clips and 2 50m rolls of christmas wrap "because when will you be back again?". Your brain is in overdrive, you occasionally glance at your list, congratulating yourself as you do, or crossing items off if you've already gone past where they are so you don't have to go back. Which is never done in Ikea.  Only forwards, never back. You spend 20 minutes looking at lamps, you see that although they said they were only $39.99, you still need to buy the base at $49.99 so you walk away, knowing you won't get that 20 minutes back in your life. By now you can almost smell the end.  The frenzy and panic is palpable. You have bulging yellow Ikea bags filled with unplanned items, you're at the candle section, which is always the signal for the end, you throw 100 tea lights in.  Because that's just how your rolling now.

And then you enter it.

The Self Serve Furniture Centre.

You need calm.

You need one of those big trolleys (and to transfer your stuff from your medium trolley).

And you need to be alone.  Because without your husband lifting your furniture flatpack onto your trolley for you, you're going to need to hump it yourself.  And that is something you'd rather no one sees.

You get your furniture on, losing a little skin from your shins and bumping the edges of the box ominously (thinking if I've scrapped the paint off my Expedit shelving I'll just live with it, no way am i coming back).

Then with care, much difficulty and a lot of thing control you manoeuvre your trolley to the check out, after carefully and awkwardly navigating it through the "last chance" section.

You check through.  This part is always painful not only because of the self packing frenzy, but for the large number of items rung through and the tally at the end that you're sure must include more big piece s of furniture and can't possibly be made up of tea lights, plastic clips and serviettes.  Which it is.
You glance at the food section half heartedly but by now you just want to get the hell out of here.  But first you've got to get all your crap and your large item of furniture into the car.  You lose more shin skin and another edge of your Expedit shelving.  But it's in. You slug back some water, and drive with focus out of that car-park, feeling a little ashamed about what's just gone on here...

And if you're like me, you then get lost in the city in a massive downpour..but that's another story.

Do you get this or am I just doing Ikea all wrong?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From the mouths of babes

I've been surrounded by teenage boys of late.  I'm researching a book concept, and have been working with my big fella's school, talking to gorgeous young men/boys, asking them what they'd say to a younger version of themselves.

My first takeout has been - this is humbling
My second - I want to be that age again and do it all over but so much smarter
My third takeout - I want my boys to be like these boys.

We talk about the benefit of hindsight, of wishing we knew something back then that we know now. So we could have done things differently or paid more attention, or experienced that moment more.  And I get that.

I would have let go a little more in my life.  I think I regret my restraint, and don't get me wrong I danced on the tables with the best of them,  but I think I was too conservative in my approach to life.  There was a lovely saying by a lovely reader of The Collective (and seriously if there is ever a magazine that I read word for word, cover to cover, it's this one).

It was Dream Big.

I'm actually dreaming bigger now than I ever have before.  Thank friggin god it's not too late to.  But I've just stumbled on this by accident and with a little help from serendipity.  Maybe I should be talking to older women now and ask them what they regret not doing at my age, and then start doing it.

The boys comments were spine tinglingly awesome.  So awesome that I rang my husband straight away with a quivering voice, recounting some of the gems.  "We need to get this in from of our boy", he said.  "He needs to hear this".  And he does and he will.

And out of the mouths of young men come wisdom that can be applied to any age.  If these boys are tomorrows leaders, I'm ok with that...

Don't waste time doing nothing - go and hang out with your friends instead
Don't hold back - take every opportunity that you can, try different things
Be more confident
Don't be an idiot, make the right choices
Remain a kid while you can
Make memories, so you can pull them out and look at them in the future.

Do you love these messages from 17 year old's to 13 year olds?

What would you do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
Are you dreaming big and making the most of the now?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Letter to Me

I'm interviewing high school boys for a little passion project of mine at the moment.  They are so full of life and future and potential that I ache to have my life ahead of me like they do.  Instead I feel older, and regretful, and panic'y that I've got to get as much experience and life out of this life before I can't be bothered (note to self: I will ALWAYS be bothered ok?)  I wish I could be that age again, but just a wiser, more purposeful version.  I want to do this life all over again.

One of the questions I've asked them is what they'd say to a 13 year old version of themselves.  Which got me thinking of this post I wrote a couple of years ago that I've decided to pop up again.  It has needed no editing.  I'd still say the same stuff....

This is gratefully borrowed from this (and please do watch this if you have a moment).

What would you say to your 16 year old self if you'd been able.

This is my letter to me.

Dear 16 Year Old Me,
Go love your mum, tell her you do, be with her, show her the adult you're going to grow into.  Because you're not going to get the chance for her to see it.  She'll be gone in 11 years from now.
Don't rush, you'll be doing that your whole life.
Look at those girls around you.  They'll be your friends for life.  Look after them.
Be a little crazy, you know when you feel that adrenalin charge when you do it sometimes, do it more, it's fun.
Don't worry about what you look like, it will get a little better.
Turn off the lights.
Don't just think you have to get married because everyone else is.  It will only end in tears.
Go have some fun.  You know what I mean.  More fun.  Do it.
Go exploring, get brave, be adventurous, otherwise you'll be in your 40's and go "uh-oh, better go exploring, better be brave, better have some adventures."
Be confident, just because you're surrounded by gorgeousness, doesn't mean you're not.
Smile more.  See  how those that do seem happier.  Watch and learn girl, watch and learn.
Just to warn you, your dad can be just like your mother moans about.  Don't get a surprise about that ok?.
Your sister will become your best friend.  Crazy I know but it will happen.
Even though you didn't have the most conventional role models, you will be a good mum.  Just trust your instincts and do what feels right.  Oh and watch others, those around you are an absolute fountain of knowledge.
You will find inspiration in so many surprising ways and from so many different people.
Don't be a victim.  Sadly, (and I'm sorry about this), but you'll probably have some reason to be.  Don't be.  Just be positive and use those experiences.  You'll be so much happier for it.
There are so many people far worse off than you.  You may not know this yet, but there are.  Try and help them.  If you can't, then be empathetic and don't judge.  Ok, that should be a separate line on it's own.
Don't judge.
You are in control of your life, don't just wait for it to happen, make it happen - I know that sounds like a cliche, but sometimes those cliches can be so wise..
Sometimes you'll feel that you're at the edge of something scary and wonderful and you're too scared to jump off.  Please jump.
Don't start drinking Diet Coke.  If you do, it will take you years and your 8 year old to get you off the stuff.  Just don't start.
Wear sunblock.  never baby oil, and never baby oil in the snow.
Don't get in the car with people who've been drinking.  Trust your gut, you know it is wrong.
Remember how quickly you grew up and away from your parents.  Remember when  you look at your kids, try and keep pace.
Be someone, be something, don't just be nothing.  You are better than that
Dear 16 Year Old Me, please be happy, please use these years and live a crazy, full and amazing life.

What would you write to your 16 year old self?

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Today has been another day of horrific fires in NSW, we're only in October, this is February type of fires.  I've been stuck in my office catching a glimpse of the sky and watching it turn from blue to beige to ruddy brown thick with smoke only realising there was a tragedy unfolding as Twitter and newsreels started to fill up with stories and images of what was happening on our back door.  Driving around doing our after school activities, my boys and I watched the sky, inhaled the smoke and wiped ash off our arms knowing that in our safe spot by the beaches, we were lucky.  I'm an avid am radio station fan.  I listened intently as I drove.  With local telephone lines down, people were calling the station in shock with stories of their loss while others called with offers of help.

There were offers of beds, of clothing, of animal sitting, of furniture, of immediate food and water supplies.  Business owners called with no agenda other than to offer help.  A school canteen owner in the area offered his stock to children "so they don't go hungry or thirsty, - just come down and get it if you can".  I choked down tears as I listened to the community rallying, literally.

In the early days of public giving in NZ, we had 48 hour telethons, and yes although the causes were promoted we gave our $10 so some celebrity from some British soap opera would mention our name over the telly  Often there was an agenda, yes we wanted to do good, but also, yes, a little bit of us wanted to be seen to be doing this.  Maybe too many disasters have touched too many people since then.  Giving is an act of necessity now.

Once after an overseas natural disaster, I was visiting a friend.  She had a pile of blankets that she'd quietly collected and was sending overseas to the devastated area.  I would never have known about this if I hadn't popped in.   She hadn't just offered up her credit card number.  She had got busy.

But really how you help isn't as important as the fact you do help.

Because often at the worst of times, we see the best of people.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Doing it tough again

I'm dusting off a post from last year.  Bear with me.

Last year I ran a marathon then 6 days later lined up with my oldest bestie to compete in Tough Mudder.  I knew I could run the distance (20kms) because I'd just run twice that.  I loved it so much that I rallied my troops.  And this year, in fact today as you read this, I'm heading back for more with two gorgeous girls that want to share this madness with me.

Now this isn't about the event, this is about the challenge...because none of us are ready physically for it I haven't run this distance since then.  But that's part of the fun because this will be an experiment in endurance and balls.  And my girls and I have plenty of the latter.  I sent this blog post to them during the week.  Because the overrriding takeout for me is not about being sensible and 40 something and a mother.  This is about being me and having a laugh and having a "can do" attitude.  I'm not here to watch this life.  I'm here to live it.

What about you?

Every couple of years Katie, one of my BFF's (actually my very longest serving BFF - she showed me to the girls loos when I started a new school age 7) and I find an event to do that's about us, about pushing ourselves, about connecting - it needs to have some sort of physical challenge involved and hopefully a smidge of intrepidness.  So far we have done the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker, Mototapu, an offroad marathon in NZ,and this weekend gone, we competed in Tough Mudder.  I know many of you have seen photos and news stories about it, and yes, it really was as wickedly fun as it looked, as well as a physical challenge with electric shocks, mud and high things to climb while on a 20km run.  My marathon weary legs were a little weary, but managed even though I was always a few paces behind Katie.

And we ran, and chatted, and freaked out, and asked strong guys for help, and got muddy, and patted ourselves along the way as we realised that we were passing people who'd started an hour before us.  And we laughed.  At some points, we laughed so hard, we had tears running down our mud smeared faces.  One of us may or may not have  ripped the butt out of their pants resulting in an extra challenge when climbing up and over obstacles with their arse hanging out but it would be wrong for me to mention it here. This one will be long remembered for being fun.

Which got me thinking.  As we get older, how often do we have that kind of fun which makes you feel ageless.  Which makes you feel like you have no burden of responsibilities.  Which makes you feel light and blimmin joyous just because of the sheer fun of it all.  And I'm not talking about the kind of fun you have after that extra half bottle of wine - which is never quite as fun the next morning, (although Sister, the "flag dance" will be longstanding in our family treasure chest of happy memories). I'm talking about those moments that brighten your soul a little, and make you doggedly determined to do MORE OF THAT soon, ok, before you forget how good it feels?

Because I think in our busy lives of responsibilities, of raising children, of paying mortgages, of making our mark on the world, we forget to have fun. Or we have redefined fun as something that is really only a satisfactory attempt at "fun".  It's a little safe and a little controlled, and in my world, usually revolves around my kids and their version of fun.

I'm guessing that there are some of you reading this, who are happily shaking your heads thinking "nup, not me", well I say hats off to you, and I bow deeply, because you are my role models. Don't change a thing, just sit there smugly, because you can.

I ran over a marathon finishing line with my arms in the air and my face fill of joy last Sunday, and on Saturday, I ran laughing with my bum hanging out of my ripped pants, mud smeared all over my teeth, and a light heart.

It feels good to have fun.
When was the last time you had belly-laughing, pants-wetting fun?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coming home

Playing with sticks and stones in the rain

We don't see many sheep where we live

Love this city - Wellington

One of my favourite places in the world and my three favourite people - Queenstown

Our day in the snow

Boysenberry choc dipped icecream at Arrowtown.  Enough said.

Slam down favourite image of my home town

Don't judge me

There was a lot of skimming stones on this trip
I think often I have my emotions on autorotate and when going to write this post I remember that I've written something like this before - sure enough here it is...and do have a read because it sums up how I feel.

We've just been back in New Zealand for just over a fortnight.  It was a last minute, much needed trip with the weeks preceding fraught with deadlines, school concerts and illness...still we got there.  We left New Zealand almost 7 years ago and although we've been back often, this was the first time in a long while.  We all had long lists of people we wanted to see, food we wanted to eat, sights we wanted to see and we managed to tick all these off and more (although the 7 hour night time visit to A&E with one of the boys wasn't on anyones Must Do list - nope.)

It felt easy, it felt like home and it felt very unsettling.  There is something so comforting in the familiar. It just draws you in like a greek siren whispering promises of how good life was and can be until you start to consider the "what ifs".  This was an unapologetic memory tour.  We visited the hospitals our babies were born, we pointed out the sites of their first (insert) walk/swing/haircut/library visits/place Mum and Dad met/place Mum and Dad lived... we drove up driveways of old houses we lived in, we walked into the yard of the stunning house we got married in.  We walked through my old university and I told tales of life there and of a me my boys (nor husband) will never know.  And we saw family, friends, nieces, nephews, new babies.  We snuck quick rendezvous's (hi Kate), we languished in longer ones (hi Alex, hi Becs) and we cherished every minute.  I kept saying to my husband "I'm feeling unsettled", he humoured me, but we both knew what this was.

Now back home, I'm bursting with the life I live here.  And I am forever grateful how I can feel so much joy from the many different places that are my homes.

Where is home to you?  Where you live now, where you once lived or where you want to live?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Trapped in paper aeroplane hell

As a family we're not known for our crafting finesse nor our ability to fix anything. The Husband's default is to either ignore it or reach for the Yellow Pages.  Me, with fingers the size of sausages, I'm only a little bit more useful than the Husband and that's only because I'll give it a go, whereas the Husbands door is slammed firmly shut.

Sadly, this is a genetic thing and we seem to have passed our uselessness onto our children.  I need to make the proviso here, that it does not relate to anything Lego related.  I think Lego expertise is it's own special category.  And my kids get an A++ in that department.  No Yellow Page tradies needed there, no sirree.

One of my boys had a science project making paper planes.  He built and he flew and the piles of rejects got higher until in frustration he asked for some help.  Maybe that was his first mistake.  Together we watched Youtube footage, with sheets of A4 folded carefully in front of us "Why are we so bad at origami and stuff Mum", he pleaded.  And it's true.  Every other subject, I'm all over at school, but come subjects  that involve any type of construction or creation, I relax the standards, and if there has been a disaster or a bad grade, I chuff his hair up a bit and say "No worries mate, now how's that English going?"

If I don't care about it, how will he ever?

So last night, we're sitting folding, flying, creasing sharp edges.  I thought of my son's friends who's Dads are engineers, builders, handy.  One of my lovely friends offered her husband for $100 but as she lives about 45 mins away from me and he knew nothing about the intended transaction, I didn't take her up on the offer.  So with the count down on for project completion, my son took himself and a pile of paper off to the computer again, and with zero input from his fumbling mother, he created a plane that flew the obligatory distance.

And he was so happy with himself.  And it flew, and it glided and he'd done it.  the sense of achievement was written all over his face.

Sometimes we need to let our kids fly on their own so they will soar.

Today our pool guy discovered that we have a nasty blocked drain that needs sorting.  Do you think it's too soon to  pass the job to my son along with a coathanger and bottle of Draino.  Baby steps, perhaps?

Are you a Fixer or a Delegator?