Spring-Cleaning

I love this time of the year. It’s just the right time for the cold weather to calm down a bit, and we get to enjoy some beautiful sunshine without the sticky and stinky humidity our summers bring.

Whilst March is always a tough month, one I do not like at all, it also heralds the beginning of spring. And of all four seasons, it is most definitely my favourite.

I associate spring with new beginnings. After March, April starts with the promise of warmer breezes and bluer skies. I finally put my heavy jackets to rest and take out my cardigans and lighter layers, with the hope that I am not tempting the fates into throwing at us more wind and cold. I set my boots aside with a huge sigh of relief. I can finally wear sock-less flats and perhaps even dare to show my feet if the weather permits. That is after getting a pedicure, with a pretty coral colour perhaps. I slowly start removing layers and layers of clothes, scarves and socks. Skin is scrubbed and buffed, dead and dry skin discarded of,  and body parts hidden by the winter cold start getting properly prepared for the outer world to see. I start pushing myself that bit harder at training because visions of me in a bathing suit start popping up every morning at 6am whilst squatting, and panic starts kicking in. The days become longer, and so can our walks. Gozo at this time of the year still stubbornly holds on to the last of the green grass, before the brown, dried-up ambience sets in – typical of our summer.

Now is also the time when I start pining after a new hairstyle, look up new, fad diets and amazing superfoods. I restart my Bucilla kit for the tenth time because I suddenly realize that I can finish it in time for next Christmas…but only if I continue working on it for more than a couple of days.  I start a frenzy period of internet shopping because suddenly not one single female in our household has any single item of clothing to wear. I go through the girls’ wardrobes with a heavy heart because I have to empty the winter clothing, half of which will never be worn again.

After reading Island Fairy’s post, I immediately downloaded the Headspace app. Today is Day 2 of my meditation practice. With it just being ten minutes long, it’s something I can find the time for more easily than an hour-long session. I have also grabbed hold of my copy of The Universe Has Your Back, and started reading it again. I go through periods when I can not read some books. They just do not appeal to me and I physically hide them away till I feel ready to give them another go. After reading the reviews on this book, after eagerly waiting for it to arrive, once it did, I was just put off it. I read the first chapter, found myself blocking over it, and I had to stop. I now feel that the time is right to give it another go. I’m thinking that ten minutes of meditation a day and some pages of this book, will help my mind go along with the sense of new and fresh beginnings this time of the year brings.

This is perhaps my own version of spring-cleaning. I think we all have our rituals this at this time of the year. Some which we perhaps do not realize unless we sit down and think about it. I can go through spring with a clear head. It is perhaps the only season where my energy levels are higher than usual, and things are that bit more possible and happier. Summer is too hot for me to muster any enthusiasm, autumn is too busy for clarity, and winter I do not particularly like. I guess spring is my season.

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Chasing the Sun

Stuck

It was inevitable that the sick bugs would catch up with us. We are still not in the clear, but going on and on about the negative won’t help us with anything, so enough of that. Onwards and upwards, onwards and upwards.

I do not like this time of the year. The first three months of the year carry too much sadness for me, for one particular reason. I honestly wish I could blink and be in April, but that is just wishful thinking on my part. So I am trying to be as upbeat as I can, I am trying to focus on the positive and move forward. But I do get my moments when things just weigh me down. Bettina contracting a nasty virus, Cesca with the fever and me with a cold and foot and ligament pains which do not seem to get any better. Then there are birthdays, anniversaries and other moments I do wish I could forget and erase.

So in a bid to try and pull myself out of a sad rut that this time of the year always brings for me, I am looking out for positive things, words, images, stories. Anything.

  • I read. I go with whatever flow my mind tells me to follow. Be it a steaming romance, a tear-jerker or a self-help book, I just go where I feel I must.
  • I let Cesca brush my hair and call me the prettiest mama’ ever.
  • I take the painting set out and let the girls make a mess, focusing on their giggles and silly drawings instead of the dirty clothes and messy floors.
  • I lose myself in television series which make ma laugh and cry. I imagine myself living in Downton and being as snobbish and annoyingly correct as the Dowager herself.
  • I try to find more time to spend with the girls and stop myself from complaining when it’s bedtime and they want me to read them a book. I shut up and cuddle up with them in bed.
  • I buy things for myself. After years of neglecting my wardrobe to my daughers’, I now enter a shop and go to the women’s section first. And horror of horrors I sometimes steer out before my legs lead me to the children’s section.
  • Online shopping. Always works wonders.

And if all that fails, I just sit still and let myself be overwhelmed with whatever I’m feeling at that moment. Be it pain, sorrow, a strong sense of loss, anxiety, grief. It literally feels like heavy waves hitting you where it hurts most. I have learnt that some things are too strong and sensitive to just escape from. You need to feel some things, let them hurt you and temporarily take over your all.

Then when the waves stop and I feel calmer, I start feeling better. Sometimes you just have to really hurt, feel the pain in order to start getting better. It works with me.

That’s the rest of my month figured out. April can not come soon enough.

* Speaking of waves, Gozo has just lost a national landmark today! Weather and nature finally took their toll on our treasured Azure Window and what once stood so proudly as Dwejra’s main attraction, has now collapsed and disappeared. 

 

milk and honey

A couple of weeks after writing about the importance of running, of how running equals a healthy lifestyle, I go round to spraining my ankle. And I was not running (in the literal or figurative sense of the word) when doing so. I was planking – the one and only exercise which probably does not involve any movement. So I have (literally) stopped running for a couple of days now and I’m going crazy (just a little bit of that and lots of exaggeration perhaps). But I do miss it.

The upside of not training is getting a couple of extra minutes of sleep in the morning. Which for me translates as a couple of extra minutes of reading the night before. And I have to share and recommend a book I have just started, but which I am breezing through.

The book is called milk and honey by Rupi Kaur. I read some amazing reviews of it on Goodreads and it got me all curious. And a couple of pages in, I am hooked. It is a collection of poetry – long and short verses which tackle hurting, loving, breaking and healing. I do not read poetry but these lines just struck me in a way that I have to share with you.

Running

That’s all I seem to be doing most of the time. Running, chasing things, chasing time, catching up on everything, dashing around, checking my watch and hurrying around.

My running starts early in the morning, but at that time the running is welcome. In fact, it’s my morning exercise session which keeps me going for the rest of the day. Then there’s playschool, school, school-bus runs, work, housework, homework, cooking, religious lessons, ballet lessons, meetings, errands, empty kitchen shelves…it’s all about running.

I often complain about the running and the errands, about the busy life I lead, and the feeling of always having something else to do. I am awake for more than 17 hours everyday, and yet I never find half an hour to wash my hair or clear the shoes wardrobe.

But if the running stops, then what happens? As much as I am rushed off my feet every day, I crave the running. The running keeps me going.

The running means everything is good.

The girls are healthy and active. They’re playing, emptying toy chests and sprawling small bits of Lego around. They’re eating and making messes everywhere. The television has sticky handprints on it, which we only see when they’re finally sleeping and we’re semi-comatose on the sofa. We have at least one screaming match a day, some hair-pulling, a couple of face scratches here and there, and then lots of giggles and laughs. We are never quiet. We are never tidy.

We are working, we’re busy, we leave home early to make a better life for us all. We communicate via our mobiles till we meet late at night. We rarely eat together because of our busy lifestyles, but we never miss out on our chats. They’re quite hasty at times, and they usually end halfway through with one of us sleeping on the sofa, but they happen. We sometimes manage a bottle of wine on weekends, even dinner with friends, and we are enjoying building a home we will hopefully move into soon. Everything at its’ own pace, but happening. We’re lucky enough to make the best out of any family-time we have, and when that happens that gives us a short breather before being thrown back in into everyday routine.

The running means everything is functioning as it should be.

There is a reason I write this on a Wednesday. Tuesday is my busy day. I wake up on Wednesday thanking the skies that Tuesday has passed with everything being done and everyone in one piece. It’s a short-lived feeling, a couple of hours long, but enough to keep me going on.

When the running is paused, something is amiss. Someone is sick or something is cancelled. It is then that I crave the routine, the running and the feeling of being rushed off your feet.

So here’s to running. Let’s do a lot of that in 2017.

 

 

Loose Tooth

A couple of days ago Cesca returned home from school all excited and bubbly, jumping up and down, barely able to talk and nearly screaming out, “Mama, mama, I have a loose tooth!”

I got that awful feeling of your gut becoming locked in place and then free-falling to the ground.

She’s my little baby, how can she even be talking about loose tooth and tooth fairies? Wasn’t that supposed to be happening till a couple of months more – enough time to prepare myself for this awful thing called growing-up? What difference does a couple of months make you ask me? Not much, true. But for me, at this time in my children’s lives, it means the world and that bit more.

The girls are growing too much, too fast, too quickly. We just attended Cesca’s school Christmas Concert, and realized it was her third one to date. Already! And next September, Bettina starts school. Bettina, whom I still regard as my little one, is soon off to mingle with new children in uniform, in a new school. I can honestly say that at times all these changes just make my head spin.

The rest of the times I just give in to the inevitable and realize that notwithstanding my wishing and praying, they just grow. I cherish our moments, I try to take as many photos as I can, and I want them to make as many beautiful memories as possible. I teach them what they need to know, especially with Cesca, given her age. I teach her that it is okay to be that bit different from all the rest. It is okay to dress up as Batwoman if she wants to, and if she does not like pink then that really does not matter. She does not need to have the exact same pair of school tights as the rest of her friends, and if she wants a fringe, then it’s okay to have one even if her friends do not. I try my best to let her be her own person and go from there. If there is one lesson I want her to learn at this point, it’s that it’s okay to be different.  Moulding her into something she is not was never something I wanted with my children. And with Cesca, I could never do that – not even if I tried.

I hope she keeps surprising me with her words, making me laugh with her spontaneous dancing moves, and giving big hugs to her ‘bestest friend in the whole wide world’ 🙂

 

 

Love Warrior

I don’t know if you following this blog’s Facebook page, but if you do you might have read how I recently got hold of a book I had been wanted to read for a while. Love Warrior was a book which I got to know of through social media and my book buddy L, who sent me links after videos after links about it and its’ author Glennon Doyle Melton. She also runs Momastery, a blog with a Facebook page, which is inspiring to say the very least. Curiosity got the best of me and I got the book.

Love Warrior is everything every single critic I read said about the book. There are certain books which do not suit everyone. There were periods in my life where I would not have been able to read this book. I started The Secret many times, but for the life of me I could not read it – it made me feel too uncomfortable. And I know that if I had read Love Warrior a couple of years ago, I would not have been able to.

Love Warrior is a flowing read. There are however passages which I found myself reading and re-reading because they were so simply-worded yet so true, and it struck me how sometimes the so-obvious is the last thing to hit us as humans. It starts off with the author narrating the broken-down state of her marriage, but then kicks off in a deeper level, unearthing issues which led her to be the person she was, resulting in some serious changes who led her to be warrior that she is.

I have marked favourite parts of the books. I feel that this is a book to keep, not to lend, but to mark it, scribble on it and make it yours. It is a book to keep for reference, for guidance at times, and to go back to when you need assurance on certain things.

Let me share my favourite quotes. There are many, so many more, but these make the cut:

You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t’ avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth”

Remember, don’t be a lady – be a Warrior. The Warrior feeds all three of her selves: mind, spirit, body”.

And this…God’s words to us:

“You! You are my beloved! I made you and everything you have ever been or are or will become is already approved. Nothing you can ever do will make me love you more, and nothing you can ever do will make me love you less. That is finished”.

My lovely L has now lent me her The Universe Has Your Back and reading the reviews, I have to admit that I’m really curious about starting it.

I think now is my time to read these books. I would not have been able to read them a while ago. But now – yes.

If you can read Love Warrior I urge you to. It’s thought-provoking and raises some really good points for discussion. I’d love to know what you think if you’ve read it!

 

Choices

When we make a choice, we are choosing something over something else. We choose A over B.  And in that split second we make a decision, we are setting the path for that part of our life.

Do you ever think of the path you didn’t choose? I very rarely do. The temptation is great but I do not see much sense dwelling on that which did not happen.

The way I see it is that every decision is taken in a particular moment. It is one instance, with a background of events going on around it, and with a specific mind frame and set of emotions. Every choice is made in that arena, in that moment. A choice made a second later could lead to a hundred, different results.

Actually, thinking about it is pretty intimidating. We make on-the-spur decisions, in a moment, and they are binding ones. We rarely get second chances.

Thinking about the untaken choice is unfair, because all those factors which featured in making the first choice might not be present the second time round. Thinking in retrospect is a bitch. We are all experts afterwards.

My friend L and I were talking about this the other day. That question, “What if?…” Is it worth anything? We can’t live life thinking about the choices we didn’t choose. Think of all the useless energy we would be wasting!

My comment earlier on about not revisiting the past? Confession time.Here goes.

There is one instance which remains with me always. It took me 8 years to fully understand how much it had affected me. The minute it happened, I very conveniently forced myself to forget it and I went on living as if it had never happened.

And then my 2014 life upheaval happened and I had to face the facts head-on, without any cushioning or downplaying.

One Monday evening back in 2006, my father called us from New York. He talked to my mother, then my brother and he then asked to talk to me. For a silly reason, I didn’t want to. I had just returned from America a couple of weeks before with luggages and luggages of things, all sponsored by him. So when I asked for something else for him to bring me, his, “Didn’t she buy enough yet?” made me angry. Mum told me not act in that childish manner, but I kept on refusing.

He hung up and the next day he passed away.

I remember blaming myself for what happened, hating myself for not talking to him on the phone, and yearning to turn the clock back a couple of hours. The guilt added to the pain and suffering of those days was too much for me, so I made myself forget and dismiss the incident. It came up later on (oh yes it did), I dealt with it and life was clearer and lighter in a way.

The choice I made back then was insignificant at that time. I did not think about it again till the moment my life shattered into a million pieces. With hindsight of course I would have done things differently, but I learnt that I could not undo a choice, and I could not judge myself over something which had already happened under different circumstances.

So I stopped judging myself,  I accepted the fact that it was a choice I made, a very bad one as it turned out, but I would not feel guilty about it anymore. Because that was the way it was meant to be. That was the way things had to turn out.

And if life has taught me anything so far it is that we are the sum total of our choices and decisions. They shape us and make us. We are where we are now because of our choices. Stop blaming yourself. Again, hindsight is a bitch. A Bitch.