The Basic of Basics

I write this post as a rant. Or maybe it’s an angry observation which rubbed me up the wrong way. Perhaps it’s the lack of respect of the simple things, the basics.

It could be that I was just irked off to such a great extent that I had to write it all down here and vent.

Every Saturday evening we like to go out for dinner, all four of us. Well, to be honest we start off as four, then Bettina is the first one who falls asleep, leaving three on the table. Cesca lasts an hour and then she rests her head on the table and is asleep within minutes, leaving Anthony and myself to finally have an hour or two all to ourselves.

It is that hour or two which I look forward to the whole week. It’s us two, with good food and better wine. Simple.

So when both girls are sleeping and I am enjoying the night, the one thing I do not want to hear or see, are running, noisy children. I do not want them whizzing past our table, ducking underneath our chairs or shouting right next to us. I feel my nerves slowly slowly rising upwards to the surface with each passing minute and as much as I try to ignore them, they do get on my nerves in the most irritating way ever.

Last Saturday we were enjoying our night out when three children started doing just that. They were young children and their parents were nowhere to be seen. We politely told them to go run and play somewhere else, but that was advice they adhered to for a couple of minutes because they were soon back. They were yelling to such an extent I was sure the girls would wake up. Luckily for the playing children, they didn’t.

Now I do err with the girls. Sometimes fatigue makes me give in to their whims too easily. I find it very hard saying no to them and I choose my battles with them very wisely because I know that I can not expect them to do all that I want them to.

But the one thing I try my utmost at, are manners. I am constantly correcting the girls, reminding them of their “pleases’ and ‘thank-you’s”. I do not tolerate rudeness. For me, nothing is more attractive or rewarding than good manners. I am not impressed by scholastic achievements if they are not accompanied by basic manners. And if there’s one thing I am trying to drill into the girls’ heads it’s exactly that. Sometimes I see them following my example. Other times I need to remind them about it, and repeat for days at end before it finally sets in.

My girls are noisy. They’re messy, chaotic and sometimes act like a pair of monkeys who do not get along at all. But I try and keep trying.

Which brings me back to last Saturday. After asking them to take their unwelcome screaming party elsewhere for well over an hour, they finally retreated back to their parents. Their parents, who never – not even once, came to check on them or ask them to behave, or at least not to go screaming and shouting next to sleeping children and resting adults, remained at their own table, totally oblivious to their children’s behaviour. These were not old children, I’m guessing they were around 6-7 year olds.

After a couple of minutes, the child sitting down on the table right next to us decided to switch on Youtube on what seemed like full volume, and we spent the rest of the evening listening to an online fighting cartoon episode.

Children are children and having two, I know how hard it is to control them. But to ignore their blatant disrespect and lack of basis manners? I fault the parents. The basic of basics of manners ought to be taught and emphasized and acted upon. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to go out on a Saturday night and not be surrounded by screaming children and loud cartoons playing right next to you. I am in that environment every day, seven days a week. I just need a break, especially if the ruckus isn’t my own.

Rant over, apologies.

When you’re wronged/When you’re wrong

What do you do when you’re wronged?

Are you the sort of person who fights back a personal wrongdoing? Or do you back down and choose personal peace over a full-blown argument?

A couple of months back I found myself in such a predicament. Along with the personal hurt and disappointment in people I thought knew better, I found myself angry and totally enraged.

My first instinct was to fight the hurt. When the initial shock passed me over, I felt offended and hurt. I chose to activate those feelings, and although the feeling of vindication and knowing that I was actively doing something to fight the lies and wrongs that had been thrown at me did fuel me on, from a mental point of view these emotions were not helping me.

So when things calmed down and just recently another smaller, similar incident popped up, I chose the other road. I did nothing. I am still hurt and let down, I still pray for justice and the truth to prevail, but I am doing nothing else. Actively pursuing the road of revenge and fighting had led me to some dark moments, and it was only with the help of my close ones, friends, and a strong determination from my part to change and better things, did I finally come out of a dark circle and learnt to embrace the simple and the peaceful.

I am no saint. I still get angry when I think about things. I still doubt whether the decision to not do anything was the correct one or not, because nothing bothers me more than remaining inactive.

But I chose peace this time round. I chose to ignore everything and march on forward. And even though I can never wish harm or any negativity onto anyone, I do believe in karma. I strongly believe that what you throw in the universe comes back to you tenfold.

Prayers, strong affirmations and positive thinking fuel me nowadays. Actively choosing not to pursue a negative path does not mean I do not care about the wrongs that happened. It just means I care about myself much, much more.

About bloody time

After starting and deleting and discarding unfinished posts, I have now decided to stop procrastinating and actually finish and publish a post – the first in what has been ages! I miss my happy place, my own personal space where I can say what I feel like saying and interact with people who share their thoughts and opinions with me.

Finally!

I have been busy and life has been hectic but then again so is anyone’s who works and has young children at home. School has just finished, another year done and dusted. The girls are growing up so quickly, a fact I only tend to truly realize when a birthday is approaching because somehow, apart from the fact that they’re growing at an alarming rate, they’re still my little girls. So I acknowledge that they’re growing and that Cesca’s sudden eruptions of young-girl-drama are nothing but a phase of her age, and try to accept that time is passing. And I try really, really hard to stay in the moment. To not think how I can’t stop them growing up and changing. So I bask in Bettina’s kisses and Cesca telling me I’m the best mama’ ever, and enjoy the here and now.

That, perhaps has been something I have been working on lately. To stay focused on the now. You can’t stay worried over something which might never be, or fixate over things you have no control over. I am trying to start letting go, of going with the flow, enjoying the present and let the future play out by itself. I want to be present during the present, and although sometimes my mind doesn’t let me, I keep on trying.

What grounds me?

Controlling my breaths, spending time with the girls and having the most random conversations ever, having a coffee with mum, my crazy-hour training sessions and my  beautiful friends there, chatting and going out with A. When I find a few free minutes, I clean my crystals and meditate. Other times it’s housework which just frees my mind and lets me lose myself in what I’m doing. Reading is always a welcome distraction.

And sometimes, when nothing works and my mind keeps wandering, I just try and live it all out. I try and let all my fears and worries come out into the open, because when I manage that, I realize that they’re not really that serious or scary to begin with. Because when I worry about the girls growing up, getting hurt, leaving home, I then realize that they might grow up, but that doesn’t mean I will lose them. They might leave home, but our home will always be their home. And I realize that everyday I have them in my life is a day where we can make new memories. Memories for them and for me.

Thank you dear friends for encouraging me, all in your own ways, to start using this page again. I had honestly forgotten how positive and encouraging all this feels. It may sound silly, but I get a liberating feeling doing this. Friends and strangers reading this, thank you.

March On

Up until some time ago, I never really gave the concept of friendship that  much thought. I was never one to have a whole list of friends. Quite to the contrary, I always had a small number of friends I counted as real ones, and the rest were just acquaintances – people I would not share more than a ‘hello’ or a smile with.

The younger you are, the more important it seems to have lots of friends. The number of friends you have seems to be directly proportionate to how popular or unpopular you are at school. The bigger the posse, the more high-up the fame-scale you find yourself.

With university, your friends change. Friends you leave behind for different courses or work are soon replaced with new ones, and only the treasured few remain as true friends. It only makes sense that the new people you share new experiences with become new friends, ones who can understand what you are going through, and who you find yourself confiding more and more in.

And then you start dating, and you get married and you have children, and suddenly you realize  that you have become isolated from everyone and everything. When children come in the scene, you are so involved as a mother, that all the rest seems unimportant. You lose yourself as a person at times, and the only conversation you can hold seems to revolve around feeds, nappy changes and the colour of the baby’s stools. When I had Cesca I was not working at the time. I was a stay-at-home wife, still discovering a new country and being happy with baking and watching television. When she arrived, my life was all hers. I used to force myself to shower, change and get out of the house, and when we visited Malta, I found that I had lost so much of myself. My conversation was boringly all about babies. I had become the person I never wanted to be. Only then did I realize how important working and being round people was for me.

So I did what I could and changed that. I found a new line of work, I met new people and I very slowly began finding myself again. Being a mother is a gift, but it is also very tiring and draining. I was ‘mummy’ all the time, and I had truly forgotten what the old “Josepha” liked and who she was.

And so came another change. I found new me-time, I made new friends, and I started opening up more and more. I made a new set of friends and realized that adults need friends. We need to be around similar-minded grown-ups and be able to moan, complain, joke and laugh around them. Life is so crazy at times, we need to know that it is not only us and our situation which are chaotic, but others are actually going through the same things.

There is something liberating in being able to meet up with a group of friends over dinner and a bottle of wine, or even a quick cup of coffee and discussing every topic under the sun, without feeling guilty about leaving the husband or children behind.

I do believe in balance. Between work and family, I had so little time for myself. So I did what I could and I made the time. And I threw all the guilt I could possibly feel out of the window.

Take yourself as a whole. Now remove the mother part of you, the wife part of you, the daughter part of you, the worker part of you. What are you left with? I am still not left with much, but I am content that the little I now have is much more than what I had a couple of years ago. And it fulfills me a hundred times more.

So any opportunity I have to be just me, I seize. Being able to recharge as a person after meeting up with friends, or going out with my husband alone, makes me a calmer and better person for it.

Again, no guilt.

None.

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

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.

Own It!

Have you ever found yourself starting to say something and stop yourself before you do? There are many situations when I think something, disagree with someone or really want to say something but don’t. I keep quiet and keep my thoughts to myself.

And then I ask myself why I don’t just say what I want and mean to say.

Maybe it’s the looks I am afraid of gathering, maybe it’s the reaction I don’t want to see. Whatever it is, this holding back bothers me. I have always been a strong believer of saying what you believe in and owning it. Yet sometimes I can’t even practice what I believe in.

So yes, I do spend time on Facebook, and yes I do play Candy Crush Saga. I also buy ridiculous items on sale which I never use and I then remove tags and receipts to make it less obvious to anyone other than me.

I still love reading a trashy fiction book every once in a while, and deep down I know I’m not the ideal housewife. Cooking is sometimes a chore, and I do sometimes keep the girls quiet with sweets in order to get something done round the house.

I love seeing other people’s photos on Facebooks, more so if they’re not my friends. I am constantly filling up online shopping bags on every site I know of, not necessarily resulting in a purchase. And I procrastinate, too much for my own good at times.

Phew!

What about you?