Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a row?

Well yes they are.

Literally.

Two of them in fact. We’ve added a pair of fluffy tailed ducklings to our backyard brood because its spring and we couldn’t help ourselves. They’re growing fast, there are plans for a pond and a bigger enclosure and they make our backyard farm yard feel complete.

Metaphorically?

It’s a different story

Ducks in a row. Not even nearly. Never have been really – even when I had all the time in the world I didn’t run a tight ship but now throw in:

  • working full time
  • a healthy dose of midlife forgetfulness
  • and a weird sort of inertia that hits me at odd times (that I can only put down to still feeling the loss of my mum)

– – – and right there you’ve got myself  a whole new level of crazy going on.

But that never did stop a good life from happening in the meantime.

Its struck me though whilst I seem to have little capacity to do anything more than go to work, cook dinner and keep the washing machine going that the things that bring us the most joy aren’t always the things we’ve wrestled to the ground with our super human powers and shaken the living daylights out of.

It seems to me the best of it comes on the breeze, like a gift, un bidden, as good as mercy,

The best of it comes in under the doorways and along the windowsills of our ordinary lives and surprises the heck out of us somedays.

Wearing ordinary clothes and maybe a stupid grin.

Easy to miss, easy to think of as nothing.

Theres been a few of late. Arriving without trumpet or fanfare – like a life line – some practical, some simple and sweet, some enough to make you weep.

I’ll give you the frontrunners 

The gift of good light – – – – 

I don’t ever remember a winter so sunny or filled with so much light as this last one and my room right at the front of the house seemed to catch it all. In January I took down the lined curtains that had been up at my windows for years and replaced them with filmy white ones and never guessed at the gift I was giving myself for the winter. It’s been my cozy warm bright spot over the cold winter months especially in the morning when the coffee and the quiet and the warmth and the light combined to save my sanity. That light has seemed to warm me from the inside out. And then theres the view that I don’t know I’d ever taken that much notice of before. Its nothing spectacular by any means, a few trees, a glimpse of the mountains, some rooftops and powerlines too but the window is so wide it feels like I have my very own front row seat to the sky and the trees and all that light and crazy yes but it’s felt like it’s been there just for me.

The gift of clean floors – – – – –

My brother in law loves his gadgets and high tech gizmos and the most recent one he was all in a ruffle about was one of those self operating robot vacuum cleaners. He was insistent it would do nothing less then change our lives. In the end we gave in, it was just easier. He ordered it online, it arrived on our doorstep a day or two later and true to his many words our floors have never looked so clean and shiny and gorgeous. Ken so impressed kept staring at them saying “I think it’s polishing them as well”. No Ken thats just what clean floors look like. I now come home to dust free floors that I haven’t had to clean myself – a Godsend. So no more of this.

And more of this.

I  never would have thought to buy one myself , would never have gone looking. So grateful for persistent tech head brother in laws who don’t mind telling you what he thinks you need.

The gift of my boy surprising me – – – – 

Oh you know how you worry over them, are they doing ok, are they happy, are they dreaming big dreams? will they find their place. So much worry. So many prayers. Quiet confidence somedays and then sheer panic others. But then occasionally something happens and it feels like mercy poured out. A few weeks ago I came home from work to find Ethan in the lounge room reading “The Book Thief” and if that wasn’t shock enough he had his iPad open and was writing away. He was saying words like “essay” and “narrative style” and “I talked to the teacher about it” and “it’s quite interesting”.  I thought I had a lodger.  I was so stunned I didn’t say too much less he stopped. I just helped as requested and didn’t make a big deal. But oh it did my heart good. Smart he is but an academic he isn’t and he’s fought being at school from the get go but every now when I’m wondering again what the answer is there’s a ray of light. A beacon of hope. He finds something that he enjoys, he shows that he’s trying, he reads a book !?! and I can feel my stomach unclench a little. He’s started doing woodworking as well – he’s made a new reptile cage and is working on a frog cage (don’t ask where they’ll go). Yes he’s made one hell of a mess in the back room and I’ve spent a lot of weekends driving him back and forward to Bunnings for supplies but it makes him happy, which makes me happy. Like me he likes to have a project to work on and that creative flow is something life giving. Maybe some of its coming with age but more than that it feels like all sorts of answered prayer and it’s helped this mama sleep better at night.

The gift of baby bunnies – – – – 

Yes thats right – four weeks ago now much to our extreme surprise one of our two rabbits Lavender produced a litter of bunnies. Surprised not because we didn’t know rabbits have babies but because we thought we had two females. Oh my goodness the excitement and squeals of delight and tears and oohing and ahhing on discovering those babies. Yes just nature doing it’s thing maybe but oh it’s been a treat, oh they’re so sweet. A little bit of story book magic in our back garden – who’d have thought.

Theres been oodles more  – they look like everyday life but I call them grace. I call them a kindness.

I call them a cool breeze on a hot day.

It’s all about pressure. When it comes at you from all sides equally, nothing moves. But if one side exerts more than the other, you just might find yourself in flight. Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult

So many seasons of our lives can be awkward and messy with rough edges and loose ends and nothing where we think it should be. Beginning and endings are especially so and it seems we are always at the beginning or end of something. Middle bits are messy too when we feel stuck or in a lull or a gap and not quite sure if we are moving anywhere but life is always moving, children are growing and changing, winter ends and summer comes, the garden grows, the duckings double in size and God has his eye on us, God is working His wonders in unseen places and we are seen and known by name just the same.

So we do what we can

and then we lean into the breeze.

Maybe nothing remakes everything like grace.

Maybe – wreckage always births resurrection

Maybe   

Trust that what is coming at you.

Is God coming for you.

Trust that what looks like a wave to carry you away, is the wave that will carry you to shore.

Trust and obey the one who walks on the waves

Will make a highway

Out of everything rising in your way.

Ann Voskamp

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Five Minute Friday – Stuck

Five Minute Friday = prompt word, five minutes, just write.

No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: STUCK

Now theres a word I can relate to.

“I feel stuck” is a phrase I’ll say all dramatically quite often – more often than I’d like –  to myself, to God, to anyone who’s bothered to ask or listen. It can often relate to bigger broader life issues (more drama involved)  but often it just relates to everyday what I’m doing around the house type things,  creative projects (there are many), my words, my writing – I get stuck between where I am and where I want to be and this struggle to move forward, to gain momentum feels like a common theme that I grapple with.

Sometimes its a “deer in the headlights” type stuck, a fear paralysis –  wanting so much to make the right decision that I can’t make any decision at all. Or it’s the result of wanting so much for the end result to be somehow perfect (like it ever will be) that I become immobilised. Or it relates to something put off for so long, that I’ve made such a big deal of in my head, any step forward seems inadequate.

The one thing I’ve learnt about “stuckness” though is that by putting one foot forward followed by another, and the tiniest foot will do  – you’ll find yourself moving forward even while your still feeling stuck. Small steps will get you moving – even  if feels like inch by inch at first – but your moving and that’s when things have a red hot chance of unfolding and becoming clearer. Simply put; your on your way and things look so much different from that vantage point.

I’ve written some words about the value of simple small steps that I’ll be sharing with you soon that were inspired by these words from  Leeana Tankersly.

 – – – small steps often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures.

A thousand times yes.

Grace follows every small step, every not giving up, every time we let hope  move us forward – grace follows, heaven cheers and thousands walk with us because thousands of ordinary people are taking small brave steps of their own.

Feeling stuck?

Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible  Francis of Assisi

Read what others folks have done with their five minutes here

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What I Found this Summer

Good without the bad ain’t no good at all.   Everything Must Go

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Hi friends –  if you’ve joined me here for a while you’ll be familiar with my What I Found posts. These are simply a way of paying attention to my right now life and being thankful for all of it. The lovely, the not so lovely, the inspiring, the exasperating, the trivial (that’s sometimes not so trivial) and occasionally the deep down meaningful that stops  me in my well worn tracks. It all counts. It all has a place. Today its a mixed bag of things learned and found and enjoyed and noticed  over these past  summer months.

WHAT I LEARNED

1. Letting yourself ask WHY good and loud can somehow help settle things on the inside of us even when the answers are still illusive or taking their own sweet time in coming.

In my most recent post I had a good whinge about my job. I didn’t mean to but out it came and at the end of the five minutes of writing I decided that regardless of the “whys” and “what fors” I always want hope and possibility to have the final say. Now I’d perculated on those words for a few days before I decided to hit publish but somehow writing them made me feel better about everything. That nagging on the inside, the wanting to cry if I thought about it too much, the frustration, the feeling of being sidelined –  just fizzled out. I still don’t know what will happen with this job,  I can only trust it’s somewhere good and I’m looking at it now from a different angle

Then this happened

About an hour after I published that post in my lunch break I got asked out of the blue to go back onto inbound calls for two hours because of the high call volume. I said yes in about a nano second. In that two hours I remembered how good and life giving it felt to be interacting with and helping people but – – – I also remembered how challenging and demanding and utterly exhausting it is to be interacting with and helping people. The grass isn’t always greener it’s just a different shade.

Then this

With Chinese New Year a fortune cookie arrived on my desk. Now I’m not looking for my fortune to be told, not now not ever but I was hungry so that fortune cookie was getting eaten and this  fell out.

Well let’s hope they are.

Now that made me laugh. See adventure was my “word” for last year and no it didn’t have me canoeing down the Amazon or jumping out of a plane so it was an odd word for me but there it is and I felt like it followed me into this year too but with the change in my work any chance of adventure felt well and truly trampled on. And boring well that’s a word I’ve been bandying about willy nilly since starting this role. So as random as it was, these few words  hit me right at heart level and felt a bit like God saying “get a grip it’s all under control and its better than you think”.

So what I was reminded of (again) is that our emotions rarely tell the real story. Theres always a bigger story in the making than what we can perceive with these eyes or touch with our hands. I thing hope keeps us looking for the bigger story.

2. I like white

Now its no secret how much I love a bit of colour and pattern in the home furnishings department.  Still do. Always will. And if its mismatched and vintagey and all thrown together all the better but over the last few months I’ve had a hankering for white. White walls mainly buts it seems to be spreading and yes I think it must reflect a inner hankering for some simple, clean, and calm in my life. A bit of white it seems can go a long way towards that.

It started with

Painting this  tiny wall

Then I was given this set of white sheets,

They’re microfibre, 1600 thread count – softest sheets I’ve ever had and they feel like velvet but it’s the white that really shone and brightened the room more than I could have ever imagined. Small change but a huge difference.

Then I found these beauties.

$12.00 a pack at The Reject Shop. That bright white was calling my name. Thought I was getting one curtain in each pack so bought six but nope theres two in each. The red sticker that says “2 Pack” should have given it away but no I didn’t twig. I thought I’d put them in the lounge room but they’ve ended up in the bedroom.

They couldn’t go up until I painted the walls and the difference that a) taking the lined curtains I’ve had there for years down b) painting the walls and trim Antique White USA has been nothing less than revolutionary. The sense of space and light in the room now is monumental. It feels so much bigger and brighter and it’s doing me all sorts of good. And even though I’ve got some brightly coloured frames in the works and a new gallery wall in the planning my inkling for right now except for one small painting next to the window is to leave it completely blank.

I like these words from Courtney Carver at Be More with Less.

3. BFFs are the best

“If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that’s in us, don’t you think”. Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

Seeing Olivia and her best friend Milly hang out together all summer reminded me  of what is truly good and right and lovely about having a bosom friend as Anne would say.

These two are of the same ilk, both gentle souls and because of it their friendship has stuck. Both as relaxed and sweet spirited as each other. Their only real agenda when they’re together is to giggle a lot and have themselves some fun. But heres what I’ve really noticed that means so much to me and I know to Milly’s mum as well – they’re good to each other, they have each others back, not interested in comparing or competing, they don’t put each other down or try to out do each other, theres no power plays or tantrums, their not exclusive or divisive, there’s always room for one more to join in whatever shenanigans they’re up to and all of it as refreshing as it is rare. They are each others biggest fans and first picks always when it comes to fun and having a jolly good time. And oh they certainly had themselves a good time over summer.

Let’s just say they summered hard – they swam and played and laughed and FaceTimed there way through. Giggled almost constantly and discussed every aspect of “Stranger Things” ad infinitum and still there were more things to say about it apparently. There were movies, sleepovers, endless selfies, water parks and fun park rides, fireworks and summer sized servings of ice cream and hot chips thrown in on a regular basis for good measure. A pretty perfect summer all round but like anything isn’t it really about the people you share it with.

We can worry so much about what we are giving or not giving our children, are we doing enough and in the right amounts. Are they missing out. And then it all gets put into perspective because the things they really need to be OK aren’t what we can buy. And doesn’t a good friend make just about anything OK. A true friend is somewhat rare and  as precious a thing as you’ll ever find, a gift of a thing. And this is the stuff that really counts isn’t it, this is what they’ll remember when they’re grown – having someone to jump in at the deep end with them and go on the scariest rides, someone safe to tell your secrets too and laugh with till you cry. I got me one of those. So thankful my girl has too.

And the more the merrier

WHAT I FOUND

Both my sisters visited over the summer and when they visit we do the rounds of the op shops together – it’s officially a thing. Now I seem to gravitate to the same kind of things every time- cane baskets, pretty cushions, paintings, plates, bowls , coloured glassware and books. The only non op shop find is the cream chair which I found beside the road as you do – my other favourite shopping location.

Kitchen

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Cushions

Paintings

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Roadside

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WHAT I WATCHED

I’ll confess I’m a bit of a Netflix binge watcher and I managed to watch six seasons of Longmire in an absolute jiffy. Felt like I’d only watched maybe two or three. Nope all six. but I was hooked early on. What I liked about it

  1. The scenery – set in Wyoming and oh my the mountains, that sky – just spectacular
  2. The log cabins – from cute little ones styled to perfection all the way up too huge ranch style ones which were gobsmacking
  3. The “old fashioned”  manners and morals and classic pitch of good against evil. All of it still works for me and in spades.
  4. And it didn’t hurt one little bit all the handsome fellas getting about in cowboy boots and wide brim hats.

Now heres something I learned that I didn’t know. The lead actor Robert Taylor is Australian and I’ll confess I’d never heard of him before despite him having parts in a whole slew of movies apparently. Who knew? Probably because like a lot of good actors he just does his thing and acts up a storm and doesn’t make a big fat fuss of himself. Either that or I live under a rock. Any hoo despite it being  just very slightly slow moving in parts and wanting to buy deputy Vic a more lady like sized coffee cup it was a winner all the way round.

And this movie  – all the hearts

Everything Must Go

AND SOME WORDS THAT STUCK

Show up where your feet are. Show up for the people in front of you. @hayley.e.morgan

Don’t get simpler than that. Be right where you are, whole head, whole heart for the people Gods given you. I think I needed this reminder.

I always say that the best New Year’s resolution you can make is to begin again. It will permeate every area of your life, and will remind you that the small steps often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures. Leeana Tankersley

New Year resolution or anytime resolution – begin again.  You can download “15 Ways to Begin Again” on Leeana’s  blog now. Just click right here.

And then there’s Shannan Martin and no one says things quite as straight as her

What would it be like if we all flew to the highest, riskiest branch and sang our guts out.@shannanwrites

So now what I really want to know is what you’ve been up to. Any good finds or reads or something you learnt. Would LOVE to hear. xx

Linking up today with

Inspire Me Monday Link Up

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Inspire Me Monday with Create with Joy

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Five Minute Friday – Why

Five Minute Friday= prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over complicating.This weeks prompt word: WHY

I’ve a few whys at the moment

Why does my boy leave wet towels on his floor after every shower.

Every time.

Why does my girl shove her dirty clothes into her wardrobe with her clean clothes

Small shake your head, laughable whys

A much bigger why at the moment is work related.

I was recently moved from my lovely inbound call job helping people get the care they need to back of house work adjusting and amending client records. I’ve gone from part time and a flexible sliding shift to full time 9-5 daily. Yes it’s helping people in a different way but for me its like this. Talking to clients – life giving. Staring at a computer – soul destroying. Others in the same boat consider it a promotion yet to me it feels like a punishment, like I’ve been put in the naughty corner for having too much fun. A blessing or a curse? A doorway or a sideline? or simply an opportunity to learn new skills and push myself a bit.

I don’t know, I don’t get it – it’s just a big why

And then there are the eternal universal break your heart whys that are truly important and put things in perspective as they should and they make my whys seem petty and me ungrateful so I its tempting just to stuff them down and hide them away.

Emily P Freeman though often talks about carrying our questions with us and I like that idea. Like letting them out in the light where we can pray them and feel them and give them some air.

See our questions can propel us and push us and keep us searching but have you noticed they won’t be bullied into giving up their answers, they won’t be beaten into submission and answers rarely come tied up with a bow or from the direction we think they will.

I’ve noticed this too – we can carry other things with those whys – grief maybe, some disappointment too but also thankfulness, possibility and hope. They all have a place. It’s not one or the other

but I want hope to win out

I want to err on the side of possibility and opportunity

And I want hope to have the final say.

I listened to this episode of The Next Right Thing podcastlastweek. All about the whys and the what nows So if you have yourself some whys too it’s well worth a listen.

Read what others have done with their five minutes here

Five Minute Friday – Agree

Five Minute Friday = prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over editing.

This weeks prompt word – AGREE

Can we agree together on a couple of things

Nothing ground breaking, nothing earth shattering – just simple things that I forget all the time and need reminding of always and maybe you do too.

Can we agree that we are all probably doing way better than what we give ourselves credit for.

Can we agree to be thankful for our right here right now lives whatever that looks like, whatever shape it is, however dinged up and pieced together it may feel. Can we breathe thankfulness in, deep down into our bones in, because which ever way we look at it what we have right now is pure gold.

Can we all agree to be kind to ourselves this year, this day, right now. Kind and supporting and encouraging like we would a friend. We’re good at being kind and good to others so let’s be being kind and good to ourselves.

Let’s agree to keep believing – no matter what has been and what’s gone down and what’s turned sour. Let’s believe again and believe the best and throw hope at the dark and turn it on end.

And let’s agree to do our thing and live our calling with all we’ve got and not call it nothing like it doesn’t count. Because it doesn’t have to be seen or recognised or have bells on to be called something. Its ours – our story, our people, our heartbeat and that makes it something already – so grow the garden, make the meals, paint the picture, write the words, invite the people, hang the clothes, tell your story and call it good and call it scared and call it your art.

Let’s agree that small steps are good steps and even teeny tiny minuscule ones will do and work the same way. They all add up, and forward is forward. So let’s take one small step after another and see what mountains we climb.

Its early days yet. The years still young, unsung and unsullied.

Here’s our chance.

Our moment to do things a little different.

Anyone agree?

End

You can read what other peeps have done with their five minutes here.