The Strength of $1.49

I know it’s July, and many of my friends are enjoying long, lazy summer days (although for us in the Southern Hemisphere, we are longing for those days to return) and Christmas most likely isn’t on your mind. In saying that, I know a few friends who start their Christmas shopping now. I’ve always admired them but have never been able to keep up with them. In any case, this story is one that I’m sure you will enjoy.

I wrote this some time ago and have decided it was worth a repost/recycle so here it is. How a small $1.49 can make a big difference in a child’s life.

The Strength of $1.49

The countdown to Christmas is here and from what I witnessed this weekend, the shopping frenzy has started. The malls are bursting with people and the hum of conversation almost drowns out the carols that are being played through the internal sound system. The parking lots have become more like scenes from movies like ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ or perhaps ‘Smash Up Derby’. Finding the perfect spot and securing it, before someone else squeezes in without a nod is quickly becoming the norm. Everyone seems to be in a rush to get the perfect gift for that special someone. Others have lists as long as their arm with names scratched out and check marks in the appropriate columns. Simply put, it’s a crazy situation out there.

Gift buying is such a beautiful thing, especially when it’s well thought out and not just a quick pick off the shelf. For many of us, we have been racking our brains for the perfect gift for our children or perhaps grandchildren. Advertisers are busy sharing their messages about their product through television, flyers and email notifications. They influence us and sometimes help us with our purchasing decisions. Whatever the case may be, there is a message to ‘buy now’. According to retailers, without specific products both your child/grandchild and ourselves will be less of a human being if we don’t have or purchase the product of the season.

You may recall, a few years ago, we read or heard about the chaos surrounding Black Friday shopping in the USA.

One 61-year-old man was trampled to death by a rush to buy. Another woman sprayed a fellow shopper with pepper spray, all to secure the product she wanted. It’s in these moments the question of need versus want begs to be asked. Whenever buying, whether it be during the Christmas season or not, I ask myself and my children to determine whether the decision to purchase is based on need or want. I ask this just to give us a moment to pause and to consider.

A few Christmas’ ago my youngest (at the time she was 3.5 yrs old) was still at that tender age when the boxes and wrapping paper (post gift opening) were the most exciting part of Christmas morning. My husband and I had wondered what to give her, we considered the season’s popular Princess Barbie but knew that wasn’t really what made her smile. We found it because advertisers were telling us to, yet it didn’t fit her personality, so what was the point of buying a $40.00 Barbie just because we felt obliged to.

As Christmas day approached, and the excitement in the house grew with the impending arrival of Santa Claus, my little one found herself drawn to the tree. She couldn’t resist the shiny paper, the well-wrapped gifts shouting ‘tear me open’. Joyfully she shook every gift and tried her hardest to peek, without tearing the paper. She kept track of the days through her chocolate advent calendar and would check the fireplace (on a regular basis) to make sure Santa’s landing place was acceptable. She was the picture of excitement and a beautiful example of what Christmas can bring to a heart, whether young or old.

Finally, the morning arrived, and it was time to find out what was hidden beneath the shiny paper. Our designated Santa handed out each gift with a HO, HO, HO. The excitement in the room could have been bottled and sold for a hefty price. My youngest ripped and tore and unwrapped like a wild child. She squealed with delight when she saw ‘Darla’ the doll she had been hoping and praying for. There were a few barbies to add to her collection, however not the expensive and very popular Princess Barbie, yet even these caused her to jump for joy and giggle with excitement.

In that moment, as we watched our three children unwrap their gifts, every line-up we had stood in, every wintery road we had driven on, every hour of wrapping felt so good and was worth it. Thankfully, we hadn’t gone overboard; we didn’t break our budget yet our kids didn’t miss out on any of the excitement of Christmas.

Finally, a few last little gifts were distributed.

My little one was handed a flimsy gift that was wrapped in the ‘left over’ pieces of paper because this gift was mostly an afterthought. Mustering the same enthusiasm as she had when opening her doll ‘Darla’ she tore open this seemingly lesser gift and much to her surprise and overwhelming pleasure it contained a pack of four school notebooks that cost a total of $1.49. You see, our little one loved (in her words) to do homework. From the time, she could hold a pencil she would write, draw and scribble on any piece of paper she could find. So, to keep her homework and art together, we bought her a set of scribblers.

After the lines, the consideration and the conversations about what to get her, our little girl stood in the middle of the room, clutching her new notebooks. She was surrounded by her new doll, her Barbies, some candies and a few other gifts yet with the notebooks firmly held in her hand she exclaimed for all to hear, “This is the bestest present I ever gotted”.

I share this with you to help take the pressure off. We are so conditioned, for some reason, to think that our children need the latest and greatest in every area of life. The pressure can be overwhelming and at times crippling. Through this little story and the words of a 3.5-year-old may I encourage you to be creative this Christmas. Know that your children, like mine, will not suffer, nor will they be forever damaged if they don’t have exactly what they want, when they want it. Sometimes the greatest gifts cost the least.

Use kind words, your arms of love and hearts of compassion and see your family go from strength to strength.
Susan ~

 


Good Parenting = Time Spent Wisely = Good Parenting

I recently updated my Facebook Status with this:

I have loved our bedtime routine this week with the kids. Nice times…

I received a number of messages following this update. Many of the comments were from young mother’s asking me why I’m enjoying this time and what are we doing differently.

The answer is simple.

We {my hubby Philip and I} have always spent time with our kids getting them to bed, we have always read to our children or listened to them reading to us. We also pray with our children every night. These times are special. However, for whatever reason, we started to let these times ’slip’, ever so slightly. We found ourselves rushing through the bedtime routine, rather than savoring the moments and soaking up the time of laying in bed, talking, laughing, praying and simply listening. We were on fast forward. What caused us to unintentionally do this? I have no idea or explanation but for whatever reason it happened. We still spent time with them {at bedtime} but as I say, the fast forward button had been pressed.

Recently the fast forward button was turned off and we have returned to our ‘normal’ routine and it has been amazing.

We have been spending one hour putting out kids to bed at night and we both love it. We read, they read, they talk, we talk, we slowly make our way through the routine of jammies, teeth, hair and bed and the reward is beautiful.

This time is precious and both my husband and I have committed to never let it ’slip’ away again. Thankfully, we caught it quickly and made the necessary changes immediately. Through these times, another element of harmony has {once again} been added to our home and it’s not an element that I will let go of anytime soon.

Can I encourage you to engage with your children {whatever their age} at this time of the day. If your fast forward button is on switch it off and allow the minutes together to matter….. you won’t regret it. Just last night I was massaging my son and as he was drifting off to sleep, he muttered, ‘mum, you and dad are the best parents cause you care and you love us.’

In that moment I was reminded, once again, that the time we were spending was being spent in the right place. The laundry could wait, the dishes would still be there, the crumbs on the kitchen floor didn’t matter and my book club book could wait just a few more minutes. My lesson from last night is that Good Parenting = Time Spent Wisely = Good Parenting.

Enjoy your kids, they are only kids for such a short while.

 Susan

One Girls Treasure Another Girls Trash

As many of my readers will remember, my late father, Graham Taylor, loved a good garage sale. He would drive miles to pick through odds and ends. Never did a sale go by that he didn’t return with his red truck bursting with gidgets and gadgets. Sometimes he would even return with the odd live animal perhaps a dishwasher for a cool $5.00 or a much needed tea set. You never knew what would accompany him on his return.

He loved garage sales and would often marvel at what people would sell.

He would giggle away as he shared stories about buying a crystal water jug for $2.00. He would tell us how he was sure the seller had no idea it was crystal and what a steal he got. Then of course there were the old books, that now line the shelves of my mothers home. My father was a man who loved the written word. He knew his grandchildren loved to read as well and for him, finding a box of classics on a table for $10.00 was hard to pass up. I must admit, just last night my daughter cracked the cover of one of his book buys. She loves to read them and is reminded of him with every page she turns. Every once in awhile the kids are surprised with a hand written note on the inside. Grandpa always made sure he documented things, even down to the smallest of events and here my kids are treated with yet another memory of a great man.

Whilst we were living in Wolseley (a few years ago) there was a garage sale in town.

Dad was up and wanted to get there early because he knew it was going to be a good sale. The lady hosting it had three children, so my father new that there would kids toys and more. He wanted to dive in and make a few purchases that would put smiles on his grandchildren’s faces. My mum and I stayed home and let my dad have his fun. After about 30 minutes of being away we heard the kitchen door open. There was laughter and the kids were anxious to see what grandpa had bought. He pulled out toys and trinkets and of course, books.

There was one purchase that seemed a little odd, almost like the saying ‘one of those things is not like the other’.

He had bought a pair of Mukluks for $1.00. He pulled the Mukluks out and with perfect form created an impromtu presentation ceremony and presented them to my daughter Sophia. You see, my father knew how much Sophia loved fashion. He saw something in these used Mukluks that said ‘Sophia’.

To my surprise my daughter squealed with excitement, wrapped her arms around Grandpa’s neck and thanked him over and over. Now, fast forward 3 years and these well used Mukluks have been, since the first day of receiving them, her everyday shoes. She has been stopped by the most fashionable women in shops and on the streets of many cities to ask where she purchased them. Mother’s at school comment on her style and how much they like them and girlfriends ask to borrow them. Who would have guessed that a pair of $1.00 Mukluks bought from a garage sale could create such conversation and in some cases even coveting.

This past weekend our family was in Edmonton attending our son’s soccer tournament. Between games we braved the West Edmonton Mall for some retail therapy. Whilst shopping my daughter was (once again) stopped in her tracks by a fellow female shopper and was asked where she got her Mukluks. She responded by saying, “My grandfather bought them for me for $1.00 at a garage sale.” The girls face flashed with shock and responded by saying, “I’ll buy them from you for $50.00.” To which Sophia replied by saying, “No thank you, I really like them.” We parted ways and as we did, we marvelled at the lure of these Mukluks.

We carried on shopping and an hour later bumped into the same girl again. This time she greeted Sophia with, “Okay, I really want those Mukluks. Can I offer you $100.00 right now and you can go and buy any new shoe you want?” Sophia graciously replied, “Thank you but no thanks, these are really special to me.” We parted ways and again we marvelled at the conversation surrounding the hand-made footwear.

Who would have thought that my father’s $1.00 purchase at a garage sale would create so much conversation?

As her mother I’m not sure that it’s the Mukluks that really shine, rather I believe it’s the beautiful girl that walks in them that gives them their lustre. These Mukluks are special because they were the last gift my father ever gave my daughter. The gift had almost no monetary value to them but it was a gift from the heart. My father SAW who my daughter really was, he took the time to know her. Now through these $1.00 Mukluks and the attention they bring, she is reminded every time she wears them how much she was and is loved. How her grandfather saw her and that’s a gift that no one can buy, no one can ever take away or touch because it’s locked in the secret place in her heart.

One girls trash truly can be another girls treasure.

Susan


The Grandparent Effect

I remember as a child how I adored my Nana. She was one of my favourite people, so kind, so caring and she was always on my side. When I wasn’t allowed to get my ears pierced, Nana stepped in and they got done. When life was feeling all to hard, Nana was there with Chicken Soup and a kind word. She always shared her wisdom in the most unique way, she corrected me without me really realizing it. My Nana was a small woman {maybe 5 feet tall} but in my young and now older eyes, she was a giant. I’m sure she had her short comings, her challenges in life like the rest of us but I saw none. I saw strength, courage, wisdom and kindness. She was my Nana after all.

Nana had an interesting role in our family.

She was a great support to my parents, when it came to us kids. Nana’s house was always open to us, she always welcomed us with open arms. There was always a bed ready for us, cash on hand if we needed, and she could whip up a hot meal and fill our tummies in what seemed like minutes. She played games with us, helped us with our school work, told us stories and always connected the family dots {Uncle who? How’s that person related to me?} Our Nana also served as a sounding board for us. When we thought our parents were being unreasonable, we’d ask Nana. When we felt they were being to hard on us, we’d go to Nana. Oh that poor lady. I think now of all the stuff she dealt with and how it never seemed to faze her. Our parents also used Nana in their favour.

An example of that would be the time I stole a piece of gum from the IGA {sorry Mr. and Mrs. White}.

If my parents making me return to the IGA to admit my guilt and pay for the gum wasn’t enough, they then made me stand in front of Nana and tell this sweet, gentle, kind, little lady what I’d done. Of course as the years went on situations escalated from the gum incident to other things ~ thankfully not remaining in theft. Things more like bad report cards, talking back to our parents and then of course the peer pressure incidents. Getting in trouble was emotional enough on its own but the real sting came when we had to disappoint Nana. What clever parenting and discipline our parents used on all of us. The Grandparent Effect was huge for me because as I’ve mentioned my Nana was an extraordinary person in my life. Now, as a grown woman and as a mother of three, I too have adopted the Grandparent Effect.

I have seen it work wonders in our home.

Most recently, our eldest was ‘caught out’ in a very minor situation that required parental intervention {a table discussion}. Following our healthy discussion I told her that going forward part of her discipline would be to call her Grandmother {my mother} and tell her what had happened and why she had found herself in ‘hot water’. At the thought of this, my daughter burst into tears. She wept saying, “No, please don’t make me do it, I never want to disappoint Grandma.” I cuddled her and said, “Well then my sweetheart, whenever you are faced with a decision or are tempted in anyway, just imagine yourself standing in-front of Grandma, telling her about it. It’s called The Grandparent Affect darling and trust me I know it works.”

Friends, never underestimate The Grandparent Effect.

Adopt it as one of your tools and make it your own. Extended family is there, like my Nana to support, to love, to be a soft place to land and in some cases perhaps a simple look of disappointment from a respected Grandparent is all that is needed.

Susan xo


#RealityGram101 Update

This weekend was hilarious as we saw more and more posts on #RealityGram101. Not only are people posting their pictures but they are talking about how #RealityGram101 is making them feel okay about the life they are living.

Studies regarding Social Media and the impact the many forms are having on individuals are currently underway in many Universities, Organizations and beyond. We are all fascinated by the instant connectivity that we have yet we are becoming increasingly frustrated with our own lives, perhaps because of this.. Today, I was reminded why #RealityGram101 matters and why in its form, it is gathering people and serving as a positive place for people to connect. Jenny McGhie, who is very wise and witty and  is one who is greatly admired within her sphere of influence as a woman who knows challenge, who understands victory and who never shy’s away from hard work or adversity of any kind. She uses her life in a way that attracts people and today through Instagram and #RealityGram101 she posted this:

‘TOO OFTEN WE COMPARE OUR BEHIND THE SCENES, TO SOMEONE ELSE’S HIGHLIGHTS’

Could this comparison, coupled with an unprecedented time of connectivity be leading us down a path of loneliness, a sense of ‘not measuring up’ and in some cases overall disappointment as we look at our lives through the filter of someone else’s Highlights. I’m not sure but when I read that I was thankful for #RealityGram101 and they way it is bringing expression to what we know is behind  the Highlight we are being shown.

There is always the clean up after a beautiful meal. Someone always spills on a beautifully set table. Freshly folded laundry and an exquisite linen closet usually starts on the laundry room floor, perfect hair started wet and knotted up. The fun road trip usually hosts a fight or two. A day on the beach is accompanied by endless amounts of sand trailing through the car, the house and sometimes the bed sheets. Blurring and other filters are used to hide what we don’t want seen. So, #RealityGram101 is designed to validate each one of us and give us permission to smile when life isn’t picture perfect.

What #RealityGram101 is not: It is not approval to be lazy, to not care or to engage in what I call slothful living. It’s simply about being Real, being Authentic and putting our best foot forward.

Today’s #RealityGram101 pictures come from:

Vickie Reddy – Another busy Mumma of two who ended up ‘nit picking’ (literally). Just another thing added to her ‘to do’ list for the weekend.
Jenny McGhie – Jenny always makes us laugh with what she, her hubby Jared and their lovely son, Max get up to. Jenny’s #RealityGram101 made us all laugh as Jared decided to change a nappy/diaper man style. Definitely a ‘Man vs Wild’ moment at the McGhie home.
Rachael Watts – Whilst out enjoying a well deserved night with the girls, Rachael and her girlfriend Keren return home to their hubby’s who have been looking after their children only to find the children running around the house playing whilst the dad’s found a comfy space on the lounge to sleep.
Deb Ezzy – A busy, working, single Mumma who chose to spend her weekend painting her children’s bedrooms until the wee hours of the morning simply so they could come home to beauty and comfort. Making a house a home!

We hope you will join the fun simply by #RealityGram101 on your Instagram pictures that make us all real!

Susan xo (to see more great #RealityGram101 pictures simply click on the hashtag on Instagram and you will see what’s happening!)


#RealityGram101 Is Taking Off

 

Okay friends everyone is loving #RealityGram101 for one reason…. It’s REALITY and it’s NORMAL! We are having so much fun and would love you to join us by posting the Reality in your life and the oh so Normal that happens every day (for more on the Why behind the What of #RealityGram101 see yesterday’s post).

Today’s highlights come from Katie,  Liz and Helen from Australia and Suzi in the UK. These girls have shared everything from:

Katie giving us a glimpse of bedtime and what that looks like when a toddler won’t take off his bike helmet in case he falls out of bed.

Liz shows off parenting in a very real way. We all have those days, toddlers crying, toilet paper being unravelled and the list goes on.

Helen confesses that she hasn’t made her bed since she fell pregnant. I believe she’s past 12 weeks… Hilarious!

Suzi sets the table and shows us how a meal although well planned out can go slightly wrong. Suzi, your dinner looks oh so yummy but what happened?

These are all so funny and oh so normal. Thanks for sharing girls and making all of us feel totally Real, Authentic and Normal!

Can’t wait for more photos today! Susan xo

 


The Dining Table – Revised

This article is one I posted in 2006 but I believe it needs to be read again. Perhaps now is the time to re-visit the Dining Table or the Kitchen Table and discover it’s value, worth and place within the home. I hope you enjoy what I have prepared 🙂

The Dining Table (from 2006 susanjsohn.com/thefamilyroom archives)

Over the past few years my parents have been thinking about moving from their farm into town. The conversation has progressed substantially and they have bought the house in our small town. This transition is now very quickly becoming a reality. Like many of you reading, you have gone down this road and made this transition, so you know exactly where I/we are right now. In preparation for this move the time has come for us kids to start picking and choosing things from the farm that we want, things from our childhood that scream of memories ~ not an easy task that’s for sure.

I have thought long and hard about what it is that I want, what piece of the farm can I take with me, as I travel through life? What piece will allow me to remain close and connected to a place that saw me grow from a four year old pig-tailed little girl into a thirty-something woman? There are many things I have decided I would like, however there is one thing that has stuck in my mind and I have finally I decided to ask for it. What is it you ask? The kitchen table!

You may think the kitchen table a strange request, however you must understand that in our house, like many of yours {I’m sure}, the kitchen table is the centre of our home life, it’s almost like the central nervous system of our house. So much has happened and still happens around this table, so many hours of conversation whether it is the early morning coffee with the neighbors, warm winter breakfasts, dad’s 12pm lunch {we always ate at 12pm} or the countless dinners that have been shared or maybe it’s the late night heart to hearts. Whatever the case may be, our kitchen table has and continues to host much laughter, some tears, always great food, many jokes and so much more.

Over the years I have learned that a kitchen table isn’t simply wood and varnish rather it is like a giant memory box. The kitchen table is the gathering spot where life is shared, where dreams are realized, where vision is cast and where laughter can be heard. Sadly, I see many new homes being built with no kitchen and no space for a kitchen table, this is a trend in the big cities that I see has not yet hit small town Saskatchewan and I hope it never does.  They refer to this new trend as progress, as adapting for a new way of life, the busy life. This ‘new way’ of living is about eating out, moving away from entertaining at home with guests of even your own family. It’s about being an  individual and allowing each person to ‘fend for themselves’ and perhaps eat in your bedroom or in front of the computer or television. In my mind, this is a modern day travesty.

There is something significant about kitchen/dining tables and as I look through history I see that through feasting and dining cultures come together. There is strength in breaking bread together as families and as communities. I think about Jesus and the last supper and the fact that it was shared at a table. I find it interesting that Jesus could have chosen anywhere for this significant act to occur yet he chose the table to share such an important moment. Through this one act I have to believe that there is a message to us all. Tables are sacred places. They are a place where we can come together to talk about the hard things, to relax and enjoy each other’s company, to communicate, to eat and to simply be together.

I would like to encourage you to use your dining table to it’s full potential. Through our work with thefamilyroom and now through GetRealLive and much of the ‘Work Life Family Balance’ issues that I get the opportunity of engaging with I see change through a simple conversation where I suggest coming back to the table. I have seen countless families come together, broken hearts mended and so much more simply through sitting at the table together, sharing a meal and getting back to what really matters. I find it interesting that we are designed to enjoy food more than once a day, we are designed to stop, sit and replenish so why not start making this a critical part of our family schedules.

If, in recent times, you haven’t enjoyed a meal together at the family table then I would like to encourage you to dust off the table, let everyone know that dinner is on at 6pm, prepare a family favorite and watch everyone enjoy each others company. I know you will be amazed. If you find yourself alone and without family then I encourage you to extend yourself and invite someone to your table. If gathering at the table is something you do regularly then please keep it up and why not invite someone over and share the time together.

As many of you know, I live away from family and have done so for many years now, this being the case, there is one thing I know for sure; if I call home at dinner time, I know I will always get an answer and if it’s a party or special occasion, and everyone’s home but me, the phone will surely be passed around I always know exactly where everyone will be sitting – being able to do this warms my soul and the simplicity of this allows me a feeling of knowing everything being well with the world. The table and what happens around it provides, security, strength, wisdom and love. It is where Faith, Hope and Love live.

To conclude I am happy to report that my parents have said I can have the old kitchen table that still holds the chip that I etched out one warm summer day in 1978. I know that as the years continue and as life changes I will hear the voices of my family and friends, simply by sitting at that table and allowing the richness and memories flood my mind. Let me encourage you to use your tables and remember to always put an extra potato in the pot or rice in the cooker and leave room to squeeze one more in just in case someone turns up at dinner time.

Much love,
Susan

Her First Job

Yesterday was a big day in our home. Our lovely daughter, Sophia, who is soon to turn 15 headed out for an afternoon at her first job. I can hardly believe that we have arrived here. How did it come so quickly? Where have the days, weeks and months gone? I still remember the days when she used to snuggle up on my lap and when those big brown eyes would look up at me telling me that she needed me – I still see that sometimes and know that, in her life, she will always need me.

I remember the first day I took her to preschool (and yes, it only feels like yesterday). She was ever so confident, all dressed up in her green ‘prep uniform’. Perched in the back seat, sitting high in her booster, gripping her barbie backpack, she beamed with excitement. She felt so grown up, with her little brother coo-ing in his carseat beside her. It was a big day. As we drove through the streets of our Suburb I could feel the tightness in my chest increase. I could sense my nerves tingling as I prepared myself to walk her into her class and more importantly, leave her there. I was encouraged by her confidence and that gorgeous smile.

We arrived at Pre-School/Prep, along with many other ‘newbies’ and the anticipation of what lay ahead propelled this lovely little girl forward. Together, we walked down the path towards check in. As we walked, hand-in-hand, I could feel her grip on my hand tighten. I glanced down at her and as I gazed into her big brown eyes, I could read the signs. I knew instantly that her confidence was waning and her need for me by her side increased. I squeezed her hand, smiled at her and whispered, “I’m so proud of you. You are such an amazing girl’.

Once in the classroom, we tended to the ‘necessary details’ of that first day, all the while, she stayed very close to me. As the time grew closer to my departure, I could tell her level of confidence and security was being challenged. I sensed we were heading towards a very confronting good-bye or rather, see you later. The time finally came and I needed to leave. Those big brown eyes looked up at me and this time, they were filled with tears. My heart ached, her heart ached. All I wanted to do was gather her up in my arms and run for the car. I wanted to take her home and keep her safe and secure in my care. I didn’t want to let her go.

It became very obvious that she didn’t want to let me go either. As I composed myself and comforted her I listened to the instructions of the teachers on how to say good-bye. I cuddled her, consoled her and told her I would (indeed) return. I began my journey out of the room. A journey that was definitely challenging since my little girl had wrapped herself around my left leg. I limped forward, dragging her along, all the while encouraging her to let go. I wondered, would she be okay? Will either of us be okay and would come out of this unscathed? Eventually, I made it out of the room and onto the pathway to the car as I walked, all I could hear was the deep sobs of my little girl. I maintained my own composure until I got into the car and it was then that I too began to sob. Was I doing the right thing? Would she be okay? Would the teachers be gentle and kind with her? Would they speak words of life into her? Would they tell her she was amazing and how proud they were of her? What had I done?

I wiped my tears, blew my nose and began to make my way home. Upon arrival, I was quickly jolted into reality by the piles of laundry that required my attention. I kept myself busy around the house and engaging with my sweet baby boy, Gabriel. I called my Mum (I cried again). I did all I could to pass the time away and found myself first in the pick up line at the end of the school day. I needed to see her and wanted to hear all about the adventures of the day. I wanted to know that the sobbing stopped and that she was okay. Needless to say our greeting was one of excitement and sheer joy.

(Note…. If you’re wondering if that leg clinging, mother limping, situation was a one of… For all the young mum’s out there I wish I could say it was but, for this beautiful child, it took her until year/grade 2 until she stopped crying when I left).

All of this brings me to yesterday. As I drove her to her first job I again felt my chest tighten and that familiar knot in my throat return. I glanced over at this beautiful girl, now perched ever so confidently in the front seat performing all the necessary duties of the car DJ whilst holding onto her Bo-Ho handbag which has replaced that pink Barbie backpack she loved so much. As we arrived at the Japanese Restaurant she is working at I placed my hand on her knee and said, ‘I’m so proud of you. You are such an amazing girl.’ To which she replied with a wink, a click of her tongue, a beautiful smile and a ‘Thanks Mum’.

I dropped her off and told her I would wait in the car park across the road until she was settled. I parked the car, watched her engage with her new boss and sat in awe of how she carried herself. She exuded confidence, she was sure of herself and very secure. My mind drifted to that day back in Preschool and as the tears streamed down my face I smiled to myself and thought ‘We have done something right, look what is infront of me’. With confidence she looked across the street and waved me on saying, “I’m okay Mum, you can go now.’ I couldn’t move. My chest was so tight, my throat was restricted from the pressure, there was an ache in my heart. Time was standing still and I didn’t want another second to go by.

I knew she knew how I was feeling and with that, she gave me her signature Sophia head tilt, a smile and a knowing look through those big brown eyes and yes, a little wave. My sweet darling girl is growing up and once again I find myself not wanting to let her go.

As I drove away in the rain I was caught by the song that was playing on the radio. It’s a song called ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger. Have a listen and imagine the tears that flowed as I made my way home. I love our girl!


Margarita Chicken

A few months ago (whilst still living in Canada) my mum and I were having a nice, relaxing evening, we were enjoying a glass of wine with some yummy food. It was one of those nights where we decided to eat ‘tapas’ style. One of our dishes was another of Chef Andre’s scrumptious creations ‘Margarita Prawns‘. Needless to say, as with anything Chef Andre makes, the prawns were absolutely divine. The next night, we were having people over and with the ingredients we used for the prawns still in my fridge and bursting with flavour, we decided to play around with this tasty recipe and change it up a bit for a bit of variety. This resulted in ‘Margarita Chicken’ and it was equally as good as the prawns and enjoyed by everyone.

So, as with anything great we manage to prepare, we wanted to share. These recipes are great for summer or those cool, crisp fall nights I am now enjoying in Australia. So, Northern Hemisphere friends take this recipe and dine Al fresco whilst we in the Southern Hemisphere will enjoy under our deck heathers.

Enjoy friends (picture beside is the actual pic of the prawns we made).

Margarita Chicken

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tequila
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lime (for zest and juice)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Method:

In a large bowl, combine cilantro, garlic, tequila, oil, lime zest, lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
Add the shrimp, tossing to coat.
Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat grill.
Grill the shrimp 6 inches from the heat, turning once, for 3 minutes, or until just opaque.

Serves 4.


Writer’s Block

Well, I’m finally here. I’m out of the house, I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafe’s ‘Glee‘ and I’m working. More to the point I’m WRITING! Yes, I have been battling the worst case of writer’s block and I feel like I’ve finally found my way out. To those of you who have been poking & pushing me to get back to writing, thank you. It’s been a journey and I’m not sure where or when it happened. Actually, I’ve always thought writer’s block was a bit of a crock but guess what, as with everything and every attitude we have or gain, my thoughts have been put to the test and I can now testify to the truth of writer’s block and how soul destroying it can be.

For someone who is moved by the written word, to not be able to write is torture.

Think of what it is you love to do and imagine not being able to do it. The runner unable to run, the singer unable to utter a sound, the musician unable to play. For me, not being able to write, even as much as words on a birthday card was almost unbelievable. So, to those who have (indeed) received cards, emails or even Facebook messages from me over the last 10 months, I apologise. I apologise for the short updates, the direct tone or whatever your experience was when reading. I was stuck.

I feel like I’ve come out of a coma. I feel like the bird that was grounded is able to fly again. I feel like I want to run to the highest peak and open my arms wide and tell the world that my words have returned. Now, here’s hoping someone cares :).

Anyway, all of this to let you know that not only have my words returned but so much has changed. GetRealLive is changing and growing. Our format both through the website and the radio show are improving and the quality of what you have been used to is returning.

Yes, we are going to be talking about THINGS THAT MATTER and we are beyond excited.

The show goes live next week and we have some amazing guests lined up for you. We are going to be ‘telling the stories’. Telling stories that impact lives and create change within because we know that lasting change (for all of us) happens from the inside out.

Get ready friends….