The Thousand Words You Don’t See – How Comparison Cripples

Comparison

This article is taken from excerpts from my upcoming book. I invite you to stay connected as we endeavour to stop the spin cycle, kill comparison and all the other unhealthy places that we all find ourselves in.

The Thousand Words You Don’t See

The thoughts that are in this article have been rattling around in my head for weeks, maybe even months. I’ve been challenged by conversations I’ve had through the research stage of my book. I’ve also been disturbed by TV shows I’ve watched and the advertising campaigns I’ve deconstructed.

For whatever reason, women seem to continue to battle one another. There is an attempt to slay character and slice and dice leaving one another for dead. All of this is done through the sword of comparison. Has life really become a long form version of Mean Girls?

I understand the temptation to compare is alive and well. I also know that it’s a slippery slope and one that we can fall into very easily. Easier now with social media and our crazy notion that we compare our lowlights with others highlights.

Comparing Lowlights to Highlights

I’d like to remind everyone that the perfect selfie, food shot, holiday pose or decorated cake, bedroom shot is posted after much work. A selfie needs the perfect angle and usually consists of anywhere between 6-10 shots before one is chosen. The perfect food shot always has a clutter of other food items, measuring cups and spills pushed to the side. Holiday poses frequently have beautiful smiles that are covering up a fight that has happened in the lead up to the shot and the fight that will continue after posting the ‘perfect vacation’. And the decorated cake that looks like it comes from a magazine. Well, it’s usually posted after one cake has been tossed, sweat is trickling down your back and there is sugar everywhere.

Next time you decide to compare your life with a well-curated Instagram or Facebook post remind yourself that there is always more to a story. A picture does tell 1000 words but are those words seen in the image that has caught your attention? Think beyond what you see.

I’m writing this because as a woman who is about to turn 47 I’ve realised that at this age, we no longer look at anything in a comparison way. Instead, we see beyond, and there is a depth of knowing that is rich and lasting. It’s something I would love to share with my younger friends because this is something that will not only set you free from the inevitable jungle of comparison but will save you years of hurt, frustration, anger and even depression.

How do we stop Comparison?

How is this done? How does it happen? I hate to say it but it’s very simple. It’s in the seeing beyond. It’s finding the 1000 words of the story that aren’t in the picture. Now, at 47 when I look at my girlfriends, I see courage. Courage because when I look at her, I see the woman who has walked through cancer, the loss of a child, the pain of a breakdown. I see strength because she has been tested. Life has thrown her some major challenges and she has stood. Bravery because she has turned her face towards pain and she has walked through it scared. Sometimes she’s felt alone and has held onto whatever hope she can muster. And, she made it. I see confidence because of the story of her life when reflected on tells tale after tale of how she has walked with confidence even without knowing.

I see scars. Whether they be scars of beauty marks of a stretched tummy or backside that remain because of the life that she has carried. Maybe those scars are there due to the fluctuation in body size over the years. Whatever the case, we see beauty. The lines on her face tell me that she has laughed until her belly has hurt and she has cried until her bones have ached.

There is a statement that slips through our social feeds on a regular basis that says ‘Girls Compete, Women Empower‘. May we all become women who are willing and able to see beyond the filters that cloud our view and understanding of the imagery of life.

For more articles that address the reality of Pain, Comparison, Loneliness, Living in Pain journey with us. We can’t wait to get this book into your hands and as always, feel free to send prayers, good thoughts and vibes my way as I write and create.

Much love,

Susan

Teens, Social Media and the Judgement we Pass

Social Media

Social Media….

it’s a jungle out there. Firstly, let me say that I have been guilty of what I’m about to write. Why am I writing and exposing myself and possibly many of you who are reading? I’m writing because we need to address ‘Social Media, Teens and the Judgement We Pass’. We are raising teenagers and I’ve had a gut full of the harmful chatter. It’s time to say something.

It’s a jungle out there. Firstly, let me say that I have been guilty of what I’m about to write. Why am I writing and exposing myself and possibly many of you who are reading? I’m writing because we need to address ‘Social Media, Teens and the Judgement We Pass’. We are raising teenagers and I’ve had a gut full of the harmful chatter. It’s time to say something.

Before I start, may I remind you of the biblical story found in John 8. This story pays reference to people living in glass houses ‘He who is without sin throw the first stone.’

What has me buzzing today? As a social media professional, I understand social spaces and offered the ‘behind the scenes view’ of posts, comments, snap stories, etc. My kids, however, would tell you that I don’t always get it right. I have, on occasion, misinterpreted things. This is where my guilt rests. Having teenagers and being the first generation of people to raise kids an overexposed world has caused my opinions to change.

Where is my frustration? It’s in the conversations outside of social media. I’ve been in them; heard them about other kids, and I been confronted with them about my kids. It annoying. We follow our kids; then we follow our kids’ friends; our kids let us follow them, and we see their life unfolding in front of us. Or, what we think is unfolding and we make comments outside of social spaces. What happens next? We talk about them and comment on their wild ways because of the what they post and sadly we judge them. They are put in boxes that they don’t deserve to be put in. A degree of marginalisation happens. Assumptions are made about them, and we chat about them. Before we know it, their reputations are tarnished. It’s appalling, and we need to check ourselves.

Thankfully Social Media Wasn’t Around During My Youthful Days…

I’m grateful that social media wasn’t around in my youth. I cringe when I think what could be out there for the world to see. There is one photo from my younger years that will stick with me forever. It’s one my kids have seen and although quite innocent it’s a moment that wasn’t one of my highlights. I tried to find it to share it, but it’s tucked away somewhere safe. It’s a picture of me, in a club with a tight, form-fitting white dress with black dots. I was sitting on Philip’s lap, cigarette in hand. It was innocent, however, had I posted, at the time, people would have made assumptions about me, they would have put me in a category. I can’t imagine knowing that my parents’ friends would see glimpses of my life exposed as I was discovering who I was and making mistakes.

I’m grateful that I wasn’t under the microscope and constantly in view. I’m thankful that my parents’ friends, my aunts and uncles rested knowing that I was probably up to something but remained constant in my life. They didn’t busy themselves chatting about my foibles and selfies. Instead, they helped me walk out my truth and gave me safe places to land. Places without judgement, ridicule, smerks, and ridiculous comments.Social Media

In some ways I guess this article is a cautionary tale. One that reminds us of how many selfies the kids we are talking about take before posting the perfect picture. One that also tells us to think about the way we post do question whether our posts bring expression to what is going on in our lives?

To the one who posts the perfect family, the greatest vacation, the dates with bae (ugh!) and the happy family off to church. We all know that the perfect family doesn’t exist. For example, our recent Christmas vacation was great, and we had some incredible highs that I posted. However, what you didn’t see was the fight in the airport and the moment when my husband was cranky at how I had packed and the weight of our bags. When he made us repack in the middle of the airport. Oh, the expletives I was letting go of. These scenes are the ones we leave out. For the happy family on route to church, I’m sure some Sundays are great, and you arrive intact but on other Sundays, the ‘road to church fight is underway’. As for the photo of the date with ‘your bae,’ I have no words.

Social Media is a jungle

So be kind and realise that what you see teens posting doesn’t mean they are on the wrong path. It doesn’t tell the entire story, it gives ridiculous highlights of the fun they are having, it’s only part of the story. Stop judging them based on a moment in time and yes, perhaps a stupid moment that they will regret posting. In most cases, they aren’t falling off the wagon. They aren’t on the highway to hell. They are living their life, they are exposed on every level, they never know when they are being filmed or when images are being captured. With that in mind step away from the keyboard, get off your high horse because it’s easier to get off than fall off. Become safe places for them, put your gavel down and lessen up on judging them. They don’t need Judge Judy in their life.

In the end…

These kids know the ins and outs of social media, it is part of the life they have lived, and your judgement doesn’t encourage them, it doesn’t build them, and it certainly doesn’t draw them closer. What it does is puts a wall or a block between you and them. It may be an actual block whereby they use their rights, and they prevent you from seeing their life unfold or, they apply their social media knowledge to your posts, and they don’t judge you, they simply call your b*ll$h*t and lose respect for you with every post. Harsh but true.

Susan

Life Isn’t Perfect and the Sky Isn’t Falling

Life Isn't PerfectLife isn’t perfect but guess what? The sky isn’t falling… You’ll be okay! There is a word that has been making its way around social media spaces and blogs. From what I can see, it started with Glennon Doyle Melton, the founder of Momastery. The word is Brutiful. It’s usually used in reference to the lives we all live. Our lives are both beautiful and brutal at the same time which gives us brutiful.

This week I would say I’m having a brutiful week. In many ways I have felt like Chicken Little and that the sky is falling. Some days have been filled with the sunshine, great thoughts and high moments. Whilst others have been riddled with angst, frustration, anger and even hurt.

As I write this, I feel empowered. Empowered because I’m getting a little tired of the ‘life is so beautiful’ highlight reels that we seem to see everywhere. Whether it be on social media or conversation. And yes, I’ve been guilty the highlight reel which is why I started #realitygram101 on Instagram. #realitygram101 shows the real of life in all of its glory. I find it hard to believe that everything is rosy ALL THE TIME. (note: feel free to use the #realitygram101 tag and engage with us 🙂

I’ve been prompted to write a week wrap up today? Perhaps because I’ve had so many conversations this week with people who are in challenging times. I’ve had calls from friends and people in my life who are struggling. They are fighting with REAL issues that can’t be wiped away in an instant or with a ‘tomorrow is another day’ comment. The pain and struggles are real. I believe that the more we talk about these things, the more we let our truth out and are okay with it, the easier the journey to freedom. Through conversation with others and observation of my life, it’s apparent that our challenges are multiplied by the need to make it appear like we’ve got it all together. What rubbish! Find me one person who has it all together and lives the highlight reel and I’ll give you a million bucks.

I truly believe that the more we talk about these things, the more we let our truth out….. and are okay with it, the easier the journey to freedom. Through conversation with others and observation of my life, it’s apparent that our challenges are multiplied by the need to make it appear like we’ve got it all together. What rubbish! Find me one person who has it all together and lives the highlight reel and I’ll give you a million bucks.

My challenges this week:

1) My husband and I have had to say no to one of our children concerning something they’ve wanted to do and have planned. Timing and the details aren’t lining up, so we’ve had to say no when everything within me wants to say yes. I’ve had to stop myself from trying to renegotiate with my husband in an effort to change our no to a yes. I know the decision we’ve made is right, however, I hate seeing my kids disappointed. Especially in this instance. Life isn’t perfect!

2) Work has been a challenge on every side. Life isn’t perfect!

3) Hormones feel like they are locking and popping while breakdancing through my body. My memory is just a distant memory. It doesn’t seem to be filing and locating things like it did in my 20’s and that’s driving me nuts. Life isn’t perfect!

4) I’m desperately trying to get used to my eyesight changing. This is seriously driving me NUTS! Sounds stupid but I’m finding the transition literally to transition lenses debilitating. Life isn’t perfect!

5) We are in the middle of a small renovation that I thought would be completed by this Friday, and it’s only 1/4 of the way through. My house is riddled with bits and pieces everywhere and I DO NOT function well when this happens. Life isn’t perfect!

6) One of my children asked me this week, ‘why are you such a dick to us?’ Yep, that was an all-time high for me, and that question wasn’t even about point #1. It was a different situation altogether. Following the comment, I found myself weeping whilst perfecting the best gravy I had ever made for our chicken dinner last night. Yep, there I was stirring away and crying because my feelings were hurt and I was referred to as a dick! Was I that sensitive or could this be traced back to the dancing hormones? Life isn’t perfect!

After being called a ‘dick’, I reminded my child that I would have NEVER called my mother a dick and had I, the sky certainly would have fallen. I can’t even imagine.

The highlight of this experience was when this child apologised and realised where they had gone wrong. It was a touching moment and one that I’m sure I’ll experience again. A reminder that as a mother, your heart truly does walk around on the outside of your body. It’s amazing how words can hurt and words can heal.

I did get a chuckle this morning. I was standing in the shower, reliving the conversation of last night and the dick reference. My mind quickly went back to a scenario that my eldest daughter, Sophia, and I witnessed at the airport upon returning from our Christmas holiday. There was a family who, like us, were waiting for their baggage that seemed to be taking forever. The mother stood patiently with her youngest child and another who appeared to be about 13. Her older son and husband searched for their luggage. After hearing their conversation, it became apparent that her middle child was on the autism spectrum and was having trouble waiting for the baggage. Understandably because he, like the rest of us, just wanted to get home.

As time ticked on and our bags remained unseen, the frustrated child became more annoyed at the situation and verbalised his frustration to his mother. At one point, blaming her for a situation that was beyond her control, he shouted at her ‘I hope you choke on your tits’. Needless to say, my heart broke for this mother when I heard these words. Who would ever want their child to yell that at them in such a way? I could see the pain in her eyes yet her calm composure seemed to diffuse any tension or increased anxiety that could have developed.

With this comment and being a very visual person, you can imagine where my mind began to wonder. Jet lag was looming, and I was lost in thought about his statement and the ability to actually choke on one’s mammaries. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not possible.

I found myself giggling about the ridiculous comment that the beautiful boy had thrown at his mother. In her pain and hurt from that experience, did she or does she know that her story/journey has helped me walk through my hurt? Would she ever know that her, just being her, in that moment and not being phased by the prongs that words can have truly touched my heart? Would she ever know that whilst in the shower I found myself healing through laughter, not at her son but rather at the story of motherhood? How in the midst of pain, frustration and at times hurt motherhood remains one of the most extraordinary stories to be told. And, it’s through our experiences that others are built?

Life Isn’t Perfect…..This week the sky has felt like it was falling. The feeling that the walls were caving in and everything was all too hard was real. Yet, it’s been through the lives and truth of others that my spirits have been lifted.

I smile when I think about Thursday morning when my girlfriend phoned and as soon as I answered she said, ‘What’s wrong?’ My response was very ho-hum. She offered to buy me a coffee and come by to which I gratefully accepted. She arrived on my doorstep with a perfect coffee in hand, Turkish bread, honey and a bunch of daisies. She knew what I needed. I didn’t need her to solve my problem. I didn’t need her to show me that the sky wasn’t falling. I needed to sit, eat some toast and drink coffee. She lifted my spirits through something simple and uncomplicated by simply being.

Through our truth and vulnerability, we carry healing and wholeness. In truth, there is a great freedom that allows us to be who we were meant to be. We aren’t perfect and life isn’t perfect but in the imperfect, the sometimes painful and the hurt joy can be found. It’s here that we can honestly say that life, in its fullness is BRUTIFUL.

To all the mummas out there who have had a challenging week, who have know that life isn’t perfect, may your weekend be filled with scrambled eggs, buttery toast, morning walks, hot coffee and great weekend sex!

Susan xx

Neighbourhood Terrorism Alive and Well

Neighbourhood TerrorismI never imagined I would write an article with this title ‘Neighbourhood Terrorism Alive and Well’. The fact that I am is a sad reflection of recent events which have rocked my family. We have found ourselves targeted by hatred, ignorance and, quite frankly, absolute stupidity – Neighbourhood Terrorism

Yes, we’ve experienced hurtful words before. We’ve felt the sting of racism and the bite of careless comments made in poor taste, but never before have we needed to deal with such a torrent of vicious abuse, literally on our own doorstep. Never have we been faced with terrorism in our neighbourhood.

We love the community we live in. We’re not perfect, but we do our best to be good neighbours. So, it was a complete shock when I returned home a few days ago to find my youngest daughter clutching a vile and poisonous letter which had arrived through the post, claiming to be from our local community. Its accusations ranged from insulting and outrageous to downright ridiculous.

It’s hard to believe that someone in today’s progressive society would go to such lengths to anonymously vent their anger, and for that reason, I have included a full transcript of the letter at the end of this article, but, to summarise, it labelled us “filthy, disgusting, lazy animals” who needed to get help or move out!

Its author continued the vicious tirade claiming we did “not deserve to live there or in our lovely community, where everyone is talking about the lazy, dirty people,”and accused us of putting “our dirty mark” on the house and neighbourhood.

Now, we’re no neat freaks, but these accusations are pretty wide off the mark. If they weren’t so hurtful, they would almost be laughable! As I absorbed the contents of this poison pen letter, I could not help but consider that its language and hatred smacked of racism.

My husband, Philip, is Korean and I am Canadian. As a young, mixed race couple we endured the stares and ridiculous comments. People would ask me if my husband could speak English and, if so, was it with one of those weird accents. Ironic really, given that he’s fluent in three languages and can get by successfully in another two. Even more bizarre when you learn that he was educated at King George V international school in Hong Kong and went on to study at Rhode Island’s Brown University before launching his career in the financial markets. My son too has heard words of hate on the soccer field, being referred to as the “f***-ing Asian c*#%”.

None of this is okay!

The definition of ignorance is lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned, lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject of fact; uninformed; unaware.

So, as with many sayings that bounce around our conversations, I would suggest that, in this context, the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” is not correct. In fact, ignorance is empty, shallow, lacking in any depth or deserving of notice.

I feel compelled to respond to the ignorance that has literally fallen at our doorstep. Having lived in Hong Kong, USA, Canada and now Australia, it is in this country that we have experienced some of the worst expressions of ignorance in more than 20 years together. The New South Wales region we call home is geographically stunning and enjoys a strong sense of community. Our family has made so many amazing friends here who have welcomed us with open hearts and open homes.

It’s disappointing then when a letter like this reflects such ignorance in our society. It comes only a few weeks after a Korean shop-keeper in our neighbouring town was beaten up amid a tirade of racial abuse: Korean-born shop owners bashed in racially motivated late-night attack at Terrigal. Another horrific example of neighbourhood terrorism that is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

The anonymous letter we received was delivered one week ago. I have taken time before responding to consider its contents and speak to many in our community whose views it claims to represent.

Not one of them has endorsed it, nor do they have any knowledge of it being sent. In fact, all of those I spoke with were extremely disheartened by it. Their collective expression was that we were wrongly represented. It was through these conversations that I was prompted to go to the press, to send the letter to the newspaper and radio stations. The lovely people in our community were outraged on our behalf and for that I’m grateful. We have taken a little time to respond as we wanted to make sure the ‘sting’ was gone from our voices and, more importantly, that no bitterness had landed in our hearts. You see, words like this can hurt and for a moment they did, but when you consider the source and the motivation, the sting lessens.

As with anything that comes your way and rises against you, it’s often wise to take a look at yourself, own what you need to own then reject what you need to reject.

So here’s my response to the author of that letter:

Gardening: I don’t enjoy it. In fact, none of us do. We like the challenge of growing food and planting what we will eat but regarding mowing the lawn and trimming trees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – I’m happy to give it a miss. We do have a gardener who comes and takes care of the lawns and trees for us. So, if you walk by and struggle with the grass that has grown a bit too long or the trees that need trimming, perhaps instead of looking at our garden you should tend to your own. Your words would indicate that much work needs to be done.

Indoors: The inside of our house can get messy. It’s never dirty because we love our home, and our amazing cleaner comes every week to help us keep everything in check. But, when it comes to things getting untidy at times, we love it because it means life is happening. Family coming together with friends and truly living in a community. We celebrate, we cook, we sing, we dance, and we enjoy life. We don’t live in a show home; we simply live in a home, and we endeavour to create a haven for family and friends to run to.

Interestingly, the week you sent this letter our kitchen was bursting with mess. It was bursting because I took a day off work and cooked. I cooked for a family who has just lost a husband and father far too early. I cooked for a mother of three who is in desperate need of back surgery and can hardly move. I cooked and made a mess so our family could bless people in our lovely community, so we could lend a hand and fill gaps when life was hard. So, for the extra garbage that may have come from that – because I’m sure my bins were bursting over – I’m not sorry, because that reminds me that the pain we all feel through loss means that we can love deeply. The time it took to cook and the sacrifice of a day off work means we care beyond ourselves, and we are happy to let go of pride and what our life may look like to help others put the pieces of life together. May our bins forever overflow!

As for the surfboards around our pool, the dog-chewed soccer balls and the odd abandoned beach towel, may there be many more. They remind me that my kids and our family and friends have had a fun-filled day. That we are all exhausted and have squeezed the last moment out of the day before collapsing, exhausted but content, into our beds.

For the noise we make, whether it be contagious laughter, a fight or a dance party, I hope you will one day/night join us. We laugh because we love, we fight because we love and we dance because we love and we celebrate. May your home be filled with the beautiful sounds and sights of a life well lived.

As for the ignorance in your letter, the toxic words intended to hurt and instil fear, we reject your terrorism. We choose to live beyond ignorance and we are proud of that.  Your letter defines you more than it does us. We hope you will take a good, hard look in the mirror and choose to be kind, to love and to respect. To understand that terrorism never wins. And although you think your letter and your opinion of us matters, you need to know that it doesn’t. Your opinion of us in no way changes who we are and in no way impacts us. In fact, you’ve given us a beautiful opportunity to look once again at life and teach our children how not to behave. Your letter has reminded us that we need to stand up, to use our voice and to speak for others who suffer from the words, hands and actions of ignorant people.

So, thank you for showing us that right at our back door, in our neighbourhood, there is so much work to be done. That we need to do better. That we as the human race (because there is only one race) need to live stronger. Thank you for giving our family the opportunity to grow and for motivating us to be an even brighter light in our community.

You hoped your letter would devastate and distract us. For my 10-year-old daughter, it momentarily did, but she has been raised in a family where love prevails. So your words fall on dead ground. They take no root and they will go only to the place they belong – the garbage.

The truth about our family is that we are kind. We are compassionate. We do our best to speak life everywhere we go. We choose, even in this situation, to love you, but we expose this event because when the truth is out, you can walk through anything. I believe that you do not speak on behalf of our entire community in North Avoca. In fact, I believe that when the whole community learns of what you are endeavouring to do and spread, you will see the community come together. There will be a loud voice that lets you know that Neighbourhood Terrorism will not survive in our lovely community. May I suggest, that when walking by our lovely home, please feel free to wave, stop for a chat or, if you want to, look the other way. Either way, we are fine.

A quote by J.M Barry is one we should all remember: “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

Below is the letter that was sent to us anonymously through the postal service and a beautiful reply written by our 17-year-old daughter.

To The Animals that live at no ** Surf Rider Ave.

 The locals of North Avoca are disgusted that you can live in this once beautiful house and live in it like housing commission.

 We drive and walk past every day and are so ashamed of how you have let this property go, (are you not embarrassed.) 

We all watched on as this house was transformed for many years into a unique home, and the hard work that was put into it, and within a month you put your dirty mark on it and this is how our neighbourhood watches you live.

You obviously have absolutely no pride in your house, your gardens, (OR YOURSELVES) so why don’t you get some help.

Or better still move to housing commission as that is where you filthy lazy animals belong.

We all hope you can start to pick up the newspapers and stop leaving shit everywhere, you do not deserve to live there or in our lovely community, where everyone is talking about the lazy dirty people in Surf Rider.

Would hate to think what that pool and inside looks like, maybe we should all pray for you.

THE MOST FILTHY DISGUSTING LAZY ANIMALS. PICK UP YOUR ACT OR MOVE TO MOUNT DRUITT.

And the reply written by our eldest daughter:

To the residents of North Avoca,

 I am very sorry if this matter does not involve you, but this letter is intended for the group of individuals or the sole person responsible for the rude, abusive, anonymous letter delivered to my home. 

Seeing as you were too much of a coward to identify yourself, I am afraid that the whole neighbourhood needs to become aware of the situation at hand. Your letter would have been deemed inappropriate regardless of the circumstances. However, it is even more so seeing as the content of your letter was discovered by my 10-year-old sister who is now very distressed.

First off, I would like to apologize to the neighbourhood that our council clean-up was not picked up promptly. I understand that for whoever wrote this, it is an aesthetical inconvenience for you and must cause much angst seeing as you suggested that my family and I move to a “housing commission” where us “filthy lazy animals belong”. I am very curious as to why you have no issue writing these statements that are offensive. Statements that hold extremely derogatory implications for those who actually do live in housing commissions, in my opinion living in one DOES NOT result in you being a “filthy disgusting, lazy animal” but I wonder if you would feel this strongly and have the courage actually to say this to our faces. Would you be able to approach me (a 17-year-old girl) and tell me that I need to pick up my act “or move to Mount Druitt”? 

In fact, this situation would not have caused this complication if you had simply knocked on our door and let us know that this bothered you so greatly. If you had done that we would have invited you in and let you know that the solution was in the works. You might even learn that we do have pride in ourselves, pride in ourselves that you accused us of not having. 

Not that you deserve any form of explanation because of the way you dealt with this issue, but I understand that the stuff on our lawn could have been of a burden to others in our community. So I apologize that we were not more vigilant in booking our council clean-up, and that issue, as you can see, has been resolved. That fact does not make us lazy, I think that everybody has jobs to do, school to attend, and lives to live so sometimes things get busy and as a fellow human being I think that fact is a fairly easy one to grasp. 

So to whoever believes that we are leaving “shit everywhere” and “do not deserve to live there or in our lovely community”, I simply wish that you would have had the decency to come and address this matter maturely. It is hard for a family who has moved across the world multiple times to continue with our lives and also to get settled in a new home. Develop some compassion and maybe next time you have to deal with something like this, offer a helping hand not destructive, hurtful words that contradict the “lovely community” you described. You told me I should be ashamed, but perhaps you should, “maybe we should all pray for you”. If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to pay a visit but leave your hostility at home. 

Back to School… The Aching Heart of a Mother

IMG_1543Over the past few weeks, kids across Australia have headed back to school Lazy summer days are over and the school bell beckons our attention. How did our holidays slip by so quickly? Where did the days, the plans, the sleepovers go? Alas, we are faced with lunchboxes, new diaries, schedules, school fairs, sports carnivals, meet the teacher nights and homework.

This year, I sent off my eldest, Sophia to complete her final three terms of Year 12. Our son, Gabriel, is in Year 9, and our sweet little Ella is in Year 5. How did we get here? Where did the years go?

Whilst scrolling through Facebook and looking at everyone’s back to school photos, I landed on a picture and post by my friend

Katie and her big boy

Katie and her big boy

Katie. Katie’s eldest is heading off to the big school, and by that I mean Kindergarten. Her photo said so much. I could see the sadness in her eyes and the excitement and anticipation in his. The eagerness to step into this new adventure was all about him and that familiar pang in the heart and guts could be seen in Katie. Her comment read: “The only photo I was allowed to get of this big boy starting school this morning. We’ve found ourselves here in the blink of an eye (my blink – not his). Every day has been a treasure and today especially … My big, brave boy walking off to class with his puppy (Teddy) under his arm.”

As I read her words, I found myself lost in a world of grief. I remember the first day of big school for all my children and today, especially Sophia. I commented on Katie’s post and confirmed the blink. We are warned of it when we have our children, but it never seemed real – until now! Whether for Katie, who is embarking on the school years, or myself who is nearing the end of a chapter for one child, I desperately don’t want the story to end, yet I am excited and feel that I am being prepared for Part 2, or the “to be continued”.

As I drove my children to school (yes, I made my 17-year-old let me drive her to school for her final first day of secondary education), I looked over at her sitting so confidently and beautifully beside me. In a blink, my mind raced back to the day when I was driving her to prep, perched in her car seat, lunchbox grasped in her hand, feet dangling and listening to the Wiggles. Today, I looked at this woman who is prepared to face the world, to go out and explore and to live a life she loves. There were no Wiggles in the background; rather it was something she had chosen from her playlist, a new band she had discovered that speaks her language. I felt a tear in my heart.

I thought about the years of school and all the moments that could be found in the BLINK. The hormonal days I’ve had driving them to school, yelling like a lunatic, knowing that my hormones were causing me to be a complete nutter. The days that her hormones were all over the place causing her to freak out over the length of her skirt, shoelaces or the shade of her foundation. Mums of teenage girls, you know what I’m talking about. The times when I forgot it was costume day or, the many mornings I dug through the contents of my car trying my best to create news stories out of discarded straws, matchbox cars or business cards simply because news day crept up each week far too quickly. What about the birthday cupcakes that I didn’t bake and the ones the other mums did, the decorated ones that deserved a spread in bloody Martha Stewart Living? What about the assemblies where awards were given out for picking up the most garbage on the school yard or acing the spelling bee? I made it to some, but others I missed because I simply hadn’t put them in my calendar. It’s in these moments that I scream at social media because undoubtedly another doting mother has posted or texted me a picture of my children because I wasn’t there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the photo that was sent, it’s just the personal guilt I struggle with.

Then there’s the parental academic and sports jousting. Thankfully, I did my best to avoid this trap, and I would advise my younger friends to do the same. Trust me, it kills friendships and damages your kids. In saying that, as a mother who works out of the home, I have been guilty of secretly despising the mums who don’t miss a beat. Those who bake, complete every inch of homework on time, never forget a library book, attend every excursion, incursion, book parade and fair. There have been times when this has bugged me, downright annoyed me and left me feeling “less than”.

But today, as I look at my daughter, I’m so glad I learned to be grateful for the picture-taking, baking mums who have filled the gaps when I have fallen short. The ones who have cheered my children on from the sidelines when I didn’t make it or I was away working.  I am forever grateful, and I too have held their children when they’ve been hurt or have forgotten a book. I have been there and although I highlight the times I missed a beat I know that I was there more than not. In fact, my husband and I have made every effort to attend as much as possible for our kids. But, the cookie doesn’t always crumble the way we would like it to.

What I do know is that as we have matured as mothers and fathers and are now looking at the women and men we have raised, we realise that we have grown with them. We have become better. We celebrate each other knowing that our children will make mistakes. They may not always get straight A’s or become the school captain or valedictorian. They might get suspended, talk back to a teacher or upset another student and that’s okay because it is all part of their journey.

To my eldest, Sophia, I want to thank you. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for always being so teachable and allowing us to shape you, because as we’ve shaped you, you’ve changed us. Thank you for letting me re-live my school years through the many projects we did together – I apologise for taking the reins during these times and becoming a crazed mother. You know I LOVE the project work!!! Thank you for the moments that you have created, the ones that have had us doubled over in laughter and the ones that have seen us go through a tissue box. Thank you for working hard and getting good grades because that has seriously made our job much easier. Thank you for becoming my morning DJ on the days where only JB, Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers or, more recently, Lana Del Rey and the infamous Kanye West would take us to where we needed to be. Thank you for those times we sang Adele’s HELLO and Bonnie Tyler’s TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART at the top of our lungs. Thank you for getting your driver’s licence and giving us the opportunity to spend 120 hours in the car with you. Hours I will never regret. Slow trips to Canberra, hair-raising lane changes and a few near misses. I’m sorry for those “grandma” moments when I hit the invisible brakes and grabbed for the door handle.

As for your school lunches …. well, I tried my best, shunning processed food in favour of healthier options, but it’s fair to say that dinner is more my priority. Dinner is when we get to gather at the end of the day, linger around the table and share stories of the day’s adventures. Oh, the joy.

To the parents out there who are still tearing up either because, as my friend Katie, your little one has just started, or because, like me, you hope the days linger and slow down, just relax and savour the moments. Take it all in because if you blink, you might miss it. As parents, be intentional about cheering each other on, it will only help our school communities and the relationships we find ourselves in. Life is way too short to concern ourselves with what we perceive other people’s problems to be. As the good book says: “Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” And in one of my favourite quotes, J.M. Barry encourages us: “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” Wise words, indeed.

 

GetRealLive Radio is BACK!

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We are excited to invite you to join us tomorrow for GetRealLive Radio. Yes, there is Real Talk Radio with myself and Mark Zschech and back by popular demand and much planning, Nicole Liboiron and I are hitting the air waves tomorrow morning and we would love for you to join us.

 

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Tomorrow we have a really interesting guest. Author, Joseph Wakim, will be with us and he will be sharing his story about losing his wife and how he had to step in and raise his 3 Daughters on his own. Published by Allen & Unwin the book is called, ‘What my Daughters Taught Me.’ It has been described as a ‘brilliantly honest memoir … hilariously so’ and also a ‘fight against gender and cultural stereotypes’.

The book not only deals candidly with father-daughter relationships, but also with resilience, hope, faith, masculinity, strength, grief and the ‘humour hormone’.

Tune in tomorrow at 10am (Sydney AEDT) and be part of the conversation. We will be taking calls, answering questions and comments from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Click on the link below to listen live or on demand

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The Truth Sets You Free

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I have always searched for truth. As a young 20-year-old I remember sitting with a group of women, we were talking about life. It was a faith-based women’s group back in the early 90’s. It was called ‘Women’s Aglow’ but I lovingly referred to it as ‘Women on or in Heat’ (apparently it depends which country you come from whether you say on or in… it doesn’t really matter, either way). To this day, my mind still boggles at the thought of that name for a women’s group. Being a marketing person, I always like to question the ‘why behind the what’ and this is a classic example. However, I think the better question to ask is ‘Why Did I Even Go?’ I realise now I was in search of TRUTH and so I found myself there. I promise that in my 20’s this was not my scene at all. I can only think that with my new found faith, it must have been the only watering hole at the time. I was new to the faith; I was full of zeal and zest, and the world was exciting and new to me. But I found myself lost in this women’s meeting, feeling like I didn’t belong……AND I DIDN’T.Read More

100 Women of Influence Nomination

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Some days you never know what will come across your desk and the invitations you will receive. Today is one of those days.

This week I received an email to let me know that I have been successfully nominated for the  ‘100 Women of Influence’. What an honour to be amoung these extraordinary women and be considered for such an award. Whatever the outcome, I am forever grateful for the life I live, the work I get to do and the people I get to work alongside.

Have the best week and keep digging deep and doing great things. Remember; small steps always lead to big ones.

Susan xx