Parenting, Socialising and WORK

I’m part time single parenting a single child in a small town. It’s nothing like when I was growing up. I had mum and dad, 2 siblings, no technology and the family only had one car. It was used by dad going to work. We walked or biked everywhere, on our own, from an early age on. I was the oldest so I looked after the younger ones. We had the choice of going outside or stay in our room. Most of the time we were outside, in the garden or out on the streets with the neighbour kids and friends.

We romantizise the old days, I don’t remember enough details to be able to apply it to today, all I have is what feels right. Which of course is shaped by the social surroundings and conditioning as well. And it depends totally on where the child is at. Now at almost 11 our son is showing the urge to be more independent, so much that I am leaving the house early to let him get himself ready and walk the short distance to school. It’s teaching him to watch the clock, remember his stuff and take responsibility to start the day. It also saves my sanity, as I’m painfully aware how different his self-organisation is to mine.

He is not getting the spontaneous catchups with his friends that I had. Playdates and appointments are made with back and forth texting until something is set up that both parents can rely on. He’s not the type of kid who just makes friends in the neighbourhood, not many kids out and about, possibly thanks to technology and after school commitments.

Now I’m thinking to chat to other parents to make a regular day for catching up with his friends, to hang out after school together. Sometimes not so easy because kids are jumping on school buses when they live a bit further out and we’re too close to school for buses. Maybe they all come to my house. But most parent’s organising skills can overcome these hurdles, I feel it’s very beneficial to have regular social catchups. I have seen where kids meet in school, in the same class, become friends, don’t get enough time together other than in class, become disruptive and get separated.

My parenting tip coming from these ponderings is to have regular catchups with friends, set the stage and let it evolve organically. I also remember hearing and reading about how former school friends get us into careers or jobs or businesses. Many great success stories come from great friendships.

And my takeaway is that I need to also work on my social ties, make time to catch up with friends or pick up the phone to check in. It’s work we have to do and stay connected, which is a major factor for a long and happy life.

Excellent listening on the podcast on how technology can help human interaction instead of disrupting it.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Winter bugs, self-care of thoughts

It’s spring in New Zealand, the blossom trees are full of pink and white flowers. Together with yellow and creamy white daffodils and the birds chirping it’s a reminder of new things to come. When I’m outside in the sunshine and I move my body I feel part of something bigger coming to life.

I have not had the autumn and early winter to acclimatise to winter, we visited family in Europe and America and enjoyed a long, hot summer. So coming into the end of winter in New Zealand, we got a bit hammered with bugs, a persistent cold with coughing, sneezing that makes my tiny house shake, and runny noses. Low appetites and motivation, disrupted sleep.

It’s been good for me to be able to relax and more importantly, to accept that my body needs rest and nourishment. Sleep, slow movement, healthy food, plenty of fluids but mainly self-care in the form of kindness to myself.

Not being annoyed at my sneezing and sniffling, feeling when to back off in a yoga session, not getting upset when others wonder why I’m getting sick when I’m eating and living so healthily. Maybe the last one is most important in times when our bodies are not the normal regulated comfortable skin we’re in. I normally feel really good in my body, seldom any aches and pains, I know what to eat and how to move to feel at peak. Because I’ve felt it before, when everything is flowing, the movement of body and soul is in harmony. When this balance is out, I’m much more receptive to other’s opinions and attitudes, and I start second-guessing and judging myself. That I’m weak and unfocused, irrational and crazy, it can really cascade and get out of hand quickly. I end up in a dark night of the soul.

So I’ve plastered my bathroom mirror with reminders: Don’t believe everything you think. Let go of the outcome. Remember to play, dance, sing.

Reading more of my favourite inspirational blogs, I think of kindness and write. All this helps me to maintain a calm and stable brain. I eat more greens and fresh food, I drink more herbal tea.

Maybe when you’re coming across someone who is ill or not at their peak, hold back speculations about the reason why they’re ill. Maybe offer a gem you might have to help healing, like your grandmothers hot toddy recipe.

Houses and Homes

The system of living in a home in New Zealand is likely the same as elsewhere in the world. On my recent trip to Germany and the USA I realised, yes, it’s the same:

One rents a house and fills it up with stuff. Or one buys a house and fills it up with stuff. Then there’s always the option to extend the mortgage and buy more stuff. Hopefully the market has gone up by the time we like to upgrade the house so the capital gain will pay for the new pad. The question in the back of my mind has always been: for how long can this go on?

My home town in New Zealand is a holiday destination and the prices have skyrocketed, the property median for the whole area was lifted in big jumps. Great for the ones who bought at a crazy low price, no capital gains tax, the gain made is now free for a bigger better property. Or move to a cheap area and have some change.

For me, a few curveballs have contributed to not having a property to own at this point in time. My answer to the living hell as a tenant under a property manager, was to build a tiny house on a trailer. It’s 22 square meters living area and a very comfortable home for me and my 10 year old son. The land use is a bit of a tricky situation, but it works well with my desire to let go of needing clarity and certainty. I’ve developed the attitude of Wait and See… and if all fails move to the campground until something comes up, and it usually does. The house is solar & water off-grid, well insulated and it tows well by a truck. We are loving our own space and use it well. It’s a big part of our happy memories from past and being made now.

It’s the family life that’s taking place in a safe and warm house, aka the home. House letting as a business is fine, done by landlords who see that they are being the provider for people’s homes, and not just own houses as investments. Our society relies on solid homes, more in the metaphorical sense because the smallest shack can provide a stable home and upbringing. But society also relies on community. The have and have not’s (or the tenant vs mortgagor) gap is increasing due to the unproportional rise in property prices vs income. Some have not’s hope the government steps in with affordable housing solutions. Some work and save harder to get on the property ladder. Some buy lotto tickets. Maybe some people put their thinking caps on together and look for different ideas. Co-housing is one of my favourites, I like to learn more about. It makes me think of the tribe living situations humans survived in for a long time. With a modern twist, like sharing of key items such as big appliances, vehicles, vegetable gardens, unlimited Wi-Fi.

Rubbish and Responsibility

Reading about the storm that uncovered a sealed up landfill site, blowing rubbish from 50 years ago across a riverbed on the West Coast of New Zealand.

Pondering if the volunteers were to take photos of the packaging that shows up and constantly fed it into Social Media. Would companies involved take some responsibility for their product desintegrating in volunteers hands and poisoning the land, river and ocean?

I can’t help but wonder about back then when products and packaging were designed, then sold by corporates and there was likely never a thought about the impact on the local communities who have to deal with the rubbish. These corporates made and are still making incredible amounts of money, their CEO’s earning in a year what a small school could pay for more teachers to make class sizes smaller and educate about environment and stewardship.

Did the corporates collaborate with councils who are in charge of creating places to safely dispose of rubbish? Or was it more like “Let’s not talk about the end of life impacts of our products”? City services are dating back to ancient civilizations, to keep streets clear and clean, more or less.

Millions are being spent on advertising to sell single-use items that have nowhere to go but the landfill or the ocean. The advertising budget for alcohol alone would be incredibly helpful in designing products that do not in ANY way compromise land, water, animals and communities. The world is full of highly skilled people with a great talent for problem solving who are wasting away in jobs with a purpose that doesn’t help the human race advance through the climate crisis we face.

It can start with us, the consumer to make better choices but businesses and councils have responsibility in this too. Yes, there will be costs, there will be hardships, there will be suffering. And I’m not saying that as in someone else’s life, it will affect me and my family. And I’m trying to prepare for it without fear and panic.

Sustainability, Responsibility and Self-Discipline

My aim was to write more regular about my experiences getting my body used to running and lake swimming, or pondering shifts in my mind. So what was not sustainable? The running and swimming while travelling with my 10 year old son or pondering without responsibility and self-discipline?

Is it the same sustainability approach we can all take to sustain our way of living as a human race?

The world today seems good for some, good enough to live a happy life. To be able to earn a good living and save up for retirement. Even though, some studies find that the richer the country the more unhappy the citizens. So are people not thinking about sustainability? To be able to sustain a way of living beyond one’s own life and for children and grandchildren? Likely not always from one’s own motivation because life is so busy. We were travelling in places with much denser populations than New Zealand and my son made the very interesting observation: Everyone is in it for themselves. We got shoved and pushed and regarded as an obstacle on people’s quests to get places fast, especially in train stations and airports.

In some sprawling urban parts in the US saving on plastic bags is not on anyone’s radar. When I politely refused plastic bags, most agreed and said: true we don’t need so many plastic bags. It seems a small thing when the US has huge coal and fuel subsidies. The lack of footpaths, cyclists and public transport is astonishing. I can see that walking or cycling is a dangerous thing and driving is safer (and cheaper than public transport). It seems the country has not adopted electric cars much. On my trip around Northern Michigan and urban outer Chicago and Detroit I did not see one electric car or charging station. I’m sure there are some around but not like in New Zealand with almost every town signposting a charging station. Maybe everyone is charging at home.

For lots of people in developed countries, the world is already not good for lots of reasons. Add eco anxiety, I can see where the feeling of being helpless becomes overwhelming. Money could probably fix everything but it hasn’t so far. Anxiety and overwhelm are not helpful so it’s important to get professional help when it’s experienced.

Thinking about sustainability opens the door to taking responsibility. Not only environmental responsibility. Responsibility for oneself and our actions. For one’s mental attitudes and physical requirements and to see the power one has. Observing and listening into one’s own ability to sustain the approach taken. It’s not like being at fault. Fault is a word for a thing that’s misbehaving, like a faulty switch, I suggested to my son. The responsibility-fault thinking can lead to the negative spiral leading to anxiety and overwhelm because it focuses on mistakes. Will Smith explains it very well.

Once I take responsibility I can apply self-discipline. Like making sure I get enough sleep and enough fresh air. To turn the phone off, to recognise the desire for a quick fix of entertainment and instant gratification and let it go. To take a deep breath and enjoy the wonderful nature in New Zealand and the power we all have to sustain a beautiful life.

Selfish, Selfless and truths in between

The 200 hour yoga training I did in March this year introduced me to non-duality. Simply said: everything is, as in there’s only one and not two. Two creates opposites, like good or bad. Every day I’m trying to detach a bit more from forming dualistic opinions because they usually are based on thoughts coming from the ego and our own personal truth. What helps me is the realisation that every fact has numerous truths and also that every truth has numerous facts. It gets easier to zoom out and become aware of facts without personal truths and so things become “Interesting”.

When we are selfish we have a hard time seeing the other’s truths because we are not that person. When we are selfless we are putting aside our self that forms opinions. Sometimes we are putting ourselves aside completely, it’s easy to do in today’s society with daily obstacles to negotiate like work, children, school runs, meals, mortgages, commuting, wellbeing, leisure time etc. We sometimes “do” self-care and measure, how far we have come, how much weight we have lost, how much better we got at something.

When we measure ourselves against anything we are finding facts to align to our truths. Today we did so much better than the coworker who did not take the elevator and ate fast food for lunch. Our truth is that we “know” what’s healthy. We know our identity within our cultural boundaries. We tend to measure against other’s achievements, body composition, capability, success, character, and numerous other factors when it’s easier to measure our own growth. The veil of personal comparison can be so thin that it’s barely noticeable. We might think we don’t measure up when things happen that don’t fit into our personal truth. Once we realise the veil is non-existent we have stepped a little bit closer to personal freedom that is personal growth. To speak our truth based on our own observed essence with ego stripped away. The more I let my ego and my identity fall away, the more I feel at home in myself. I am not selfish or selfless, I just am.

On Consistency and Stagnation

Travelling gives opportunity to escape routines. My routine at home was loose anyway, going with the flow of my son’s school days, a few appointments here and there, catchups with friends and classes available at my yoga studio. For the last year I have not worked in the traditional sense of having a job, office, schedule and it has been fun. Now that I’m living out of a suitcase for 2 months and sleep in different places every 3-4 nights, I like the idea of a routine I intend to develop when I return to my normal way of life at home. Maybe people who know me will disagree with me being normal: I live in a Tiny House offgrid. I walked away from a business and a surefire way to earn a good salary. I’m drifting careerwise, I can’t see myself ever working in a corporate professional way again, but who knows. I wonder what to do other than yoga and talking about sustainability.

I like to think I am normal in the way that humans work on themselves to become a better versions. It might mean I embrace the pain of getting off the couch and start moving. Or it could mean I think about the impact I’m having as a human being. Impact on the planet and the environment, impact on my loved ones, on my friends and on shop assistants. It might be uncomfortable trying to grasp the enormity of the impact the human race has on the planet, but it’s also something that can be tackled by concerted and consistent actions. We humans need to get this massive project sorted to save our way of living and preserve what’s good for generations to come. It starts with consistency in our thinking. It doesn’t mean that there is not good in everything consistent, there’s also people who are consistently being assholes.

I’ve been wrong fearing stagnation in consistency. Maybe it’s a language thing for me, somehow being inconsistent had a cool ring, maybe I confused it with being spontaneous. Reading or listening to people’s personal routines and what they do to push themselves and move towards goals has turned on some lights for me. Consistency in a mindful and aware way is the opposite of stagnation. It’s needed for writing. It’s needed for thinking about growing as a person.

So maybe that is why I haven’t written about my ponderings for a while, I fear consistency? But while I’m travelling with my 10 year old son for 2 months spending time with family and friends in Germany and the USA I’m still being consistent about my inner state of calm, my choice of foods because I know the effects when I don’t eat plant based and whole foods. My consistent tapping into my internal source of Love for the time we’re spending together, for the opportunity to see different cultures and communities, for the memories of special people and moments back home. Love as a state can easily be maintained outside a routine.

Seeing other people’s consistency in their life is fascinating to me, most of us are really trying our best to become better versions of ourselves. Maybe if we detect stagnation in others we can gently ask questions about goals and dreams. The best thing seems to be encouraging and supporting to avoid stagnation. Maybe throw a little spontaneity into the consistency, just for fun 🙂

On Learning more and knowing less

I’ve been drifting. Not in a motorcar on a dirt road but within myself. A three week intensive Yoga immersion saturated my brain with information and self-talk. I was supposed to become a capable teacher of yoga, that’s what I paid money towards, right?! Turns out it’s a much longer road, not really a surprise… but somehow I thought I come out feeling better about my yoga practice and not worse. And worse I feel … in body, mind and spirit. I’m explaining to myself that I am exhausted, 10 hour days with 3 hours yoga practice and 7 hours of study for 20 days is probably a valid reason to feel exhausted in the body and mind. The mental intake is big, analysing & refining poses, class sequencing, anatomy and physiology. To learn about the mindblowing and incredible beauty in the body’s efficiency, how all the parts work together and how nothing is useless and without purpose.

Then the philosophy, simply said: we are waves in the ocean and sometimes we forget that we are part of the same ocean. Words fail me to describe the huge amount of possibilities we are encountering on a daily basis to make this life better for us and the world around us.

My spirit came out tired because I tied the outcome to expectations, taking on other people’s experiences in their yoga journey and using it for myself, again. But it’s good to see how my own thought patterns have created the excitement and the disappointment. Now I can learn from it, it’s always about learning!

Slowly I’m getting out of the head stuff and back into the body and feel stuff, now I’m a bit more tuned into the why and how behind my body and my mind. I glimpsed a new horizon to reach for, to keep learning. I know now that I need some digestion time afterwards, to let knowledge settle. Like Savasana, the corpse pose at the end of a yoga class, total relaxation and taking yourself away from what just happened to let it all integrate.

Forever learning and expanding horizons is fun, now that the expectations got kicked out.


Love as a state

My attitude to Love has shifted in the last few years. Why I thought love is like in Hollywood movies is another story. It’s hard to say what was wrong with my attitude to love but what’s easy to say is that now it’s …. easy.

Maybe it’s the regular Yoga practice that helped me come into stillness. In my stillness I strip away all labels and just am. This is how I experience the state of Love: Like moving outside in nature. When I’m walking and I notice birds, wind, sunshine, rain, clouds, light. When the amazing human body we all have, is exposed to nature and performs so well. It takes time to build a muscle so maybe it takes time to learn to be still and in awe of it all.

I can feel a source of Love bubbling out of me, unstoppable. Internal and eternal. Which makes me think about the connections we have to others, how connected our consciousness is. Or uncanny events, synchronicity as if sometimes with a little twinkle the universe shows itself.

Moving my body and speaking my truth is what this blog is about. Lately the moving has consisted of regular walks on the local Mt Iron. A 250 meter rise and a nice uphill section, on top magic views around my home area. Out on the local track Deans Bank with varied terrain to play on my beloved mountainbike. Lake swimming with my 10 year old son coming along in the kayak. We chat lots so I do more breast and backstroke than freestyle. Thinking about these activities alone puts me in a state of Love.

Yoga has been on my daily activity list without much thought, planning, reminders needed or feelings of obligation. After a year of regular practice with an awesome teacher it all starts to make sense: the lines of energy in our body, the breathing, the beauty of the stillness inside, and Love. I’m preparing for a 3 week 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in mid March. Maybe I can be a teacher … the immersion into stillness and movement will be great.

The Love inside me can now shine out to the world. And it’s easy.