Hindsight is a Wasteland

Last night I died my hair because today I turned another year older.

I didn’t want to wake up with my hair peppered with white; my undercut, which once served me well, now the nesting ground for the creepers that can’t be hidden.

A photo on my dressing table as I changed this morning reminded me of the fresh face I wore some seven years ago.

Each year from now I move further away from my twenties.

And each birthday I wrestle with the thoughts and wishes that I could somehow go back and do those days again knowing what I know now.

But hindsight is a wasteland.

And I’m not sure that if those days were any other way – if they somehow had’ve turned out differently – if I’d actually know what I know now. Actually, I know I wouldn’t. And even if I did, had those days turned out any different, my life would not have been so colourful, I would not have been so colourful. I simply would not be myself.

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You see hindsight is a wasteland.

So I sit here in my thirty-somethings and I wish for nothing to be any different, for it all to just be as it is. I woke up today and went to a job I love, sharing my loves. Throughout the day, I got to read messages from the people I love; the incredible, wonderful, magical people whose paths have crossed with mine. At the end of the day I picked up my incredible little man from school and got to hug him tight, wearing our matching watches, and hearing all about how he made more transformer robots with Mobilo. I got to watch him practice his loudest kia at taekwondo and then I got to go back to the place we call home and share food and noise and mess and laughter with my family. And when all that was done, I sat down at my computer and I wrote like a woman possessed. And now I will fall asleep in my thirty-somethings, my belly full of cake and my heart full of gratitude.

I wish not to waste another day in hindsight because I am blessed. And what is meant for me will not pass me by.

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The School Mum

Last Friday I became a different sort of mother.

I became the mother of a primary school child.

I have no idea how it happened. He was just a premature dot in my arms in a moment that felt like yesterday.

But somehow that small dot has grown and he no longer really fits in my arms.

And that small kid walked into the big kids’ school, still comparatively rather dot-sized against the big grade sixers, an independent and savvy little man ready to have his own whole new experience.

I won’t pretend. It was me who was a mess, not him. Sure, he was hyperactive and his listening skills had been thrown to the wind with all the excitement and curiosity bubbling inside him as we walked to school.

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Still, he was composed and confident. And I was in a heap with an anxious racing heart.

Will he make friends?

What if he was on his own in the playground?

Will he sit still and listen to his teacher?

Will his little voice be heard?

Will he want to go?

What on earth am I going to put in his lunchbox everyday? 

Was my mother’s gut right in sending him early?

Had I made the right decision about the school?

Had I done my job properly?

Knowing I had no idea of the answers to these questions racing through my head made me anxious, really bloody anxious. I wanted to vomit in my hand, an urge I thankfully contained.

We walked into his classroom, his teacher and many of his classmates already in there. There was an art and craft-making table right at the door. His little creative eyes fell on the table and he was off. Texta and glue and tape all over his hands within seconds. Another few minutes later, and my young man had forgotten I existed. He was confident and ready for me to leave. I kissed his forehead, told him I loved him and felt the tears swell in my chest.

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It was exactly the start I wanted him to have, the confident response to his new environment that I wanted him to experience.

But still my heart fluttered. And it fluttered all day as I filled my day with dazed, sweet nothings; too distracted to think or do anything much and too focused on the 3:30PM school bell.

His father was picking him after school for his weekend with him. I would not usually impede, but on his first day I wanted to see him when he came out. That in itself, the two of us being in the same place for one of our son’s special days, was massive.

The bell went. I waited at the door.

He was as hyper coming out as he was going in, his thoughts all over the place. There was no sense in how his day went, no verbal indication that he had made it through the six hours unscathed, and no confirmation that my worries were unfounded. We found his father waiting outside, our son beamed at both of us.

I kissed him once more on the forehead, told him I loved him and left none the wiser but with a little hope in my heart that his smiles and all that was unsaid was enough to know he was okay.

He returned to school on Monday, happy to go but still with little words to express his experience.

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Until 3:30PM on Monday when all of his words and feelings and experiences flooded him. I could tell the minute he came out of class that he had a lot to tell me, that he was ready to articulate what he thought about his day and the place and this new life as a school boy.

He bounced out of class. His face full of expression that he couldn’t wait to unload, and when we got in the car it burst out in a babble of fast-words and excited sentences and exaggerated pauses.

“I did sport, Mummy. A whole hour of sport and we played this really cool game with beanbags and hoola hoops and I’ll tell you what happened, mummy…” He was breathless but I was excited.

“Tell me, darling, tell me all about it.”

“Well we had these hoops on the floor and we had to throw the beanbags and try to get them in the hoops. And we ran, we ran lots and lots. Do we have any hoola hoops at home, mummy? What about beanbags? We’ll need to get some beanbags, too.”

I was right there with him, mentally racking my brain for the location of the hoola hoops in the garage and what we could use for beanbags.

I asked him about the playground and who he played with and who he talked to.

“I made friends today, mummy.”

I let out a breath of relief. Phew.

“I made three friends today. But I don’t remember their names.”

Precision. Three friends exactly. I liked it.

“That’s fantastic darling, really fantastic.”

And the stories kept coming. They came out in the activities he wanted to do when we got home, influenced by his day’s learning. They came out in the discussions he wanted to have and the vocabulary he wanted to use. They came out everywhere.

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That night we filled out the first page of his reader log. We pointed to the words, highlighted the repetition of sight words and we got excited about writing his comment, filling out the emotion face and writing the number of the days in the right hand side column. And we skipped to the sticker page to see what he had to look forward to when he hit 25 days of reading in his log.

And the rest of the week continued in this way.

The stories came. Snippets of memories scattered in conversation as we made a healthy apple cake for his lunchbox snack or built robots with mobilo.

On Friday afternoon he had his first school assembly, which I attended. I heard words like confidence, resilience, compassion and risk taking. I heard more about the IB (International Baccalaureate) values that sang to my heart when I first went on a school tour. I saw kids already presenting and sharing their ideas in front of the whole school and I heard a pianist playing uplifting music and the students exited the building at the end of assembly. My heart sang.

And by the time the end of his first week came, I realised that all I needed to do was trust and have a little faith.

Not just in the school and my son, but also in my mother’s gut.

Everything was in its right place. Everything.

Clean

Today I am going clean.

No, I’m not talking the domestic-goddess style clean. Unfortunately. The domestic goddess in me will need to wait.

Today, I started a four-week clean eating program.

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I see it as a natural extension of the past six months. What was so special about the past six months? I reformed – body and mind – changed the way I saw my body, what it could do and what I wanted. The road sort of started when I signed up for Tough Mudder last year (which I wrote about in September, on the eve of taking to the obstacle with a ferocious mind).

I had worked out religiously, six days a week, before I signed my death waiver. But TM changed the way I worked out. I stumbled upon Fitness Blender, one of the many home workout revolutions, when I was researching some training options for the Mudder. I tried a few of their videos – all free on YouTube – and fell in love. They were dynamic, tough, hard hitting and varied; strength training, plyometrics, cardio, endurance training  I never got bored working out and woke up every morning rearing to tackle another of their videos.

I quickly ditched my static training (largely cardio and half-assed weights) and started round one of their 8-week program, coupling this with the activities I still very much loved – dancing, bikram and fitness kickboxing. In a month, I started to see my body change. I did not lose weight, but instead saw muscle definition. My strength, endurance and fitness level grew in abundance.

The way I saw my body changed, too. I realised that I no longer yearned for the unrealistic measures of my body ever being waif-thin. I started to like the strength of my body, the sturdiness of it.

I fell in love with Kelly and Daniel, too. The husband and wife duo were fresh, not like the other workout videos. They weren’t ridiculously buff, with big boobs and oiled up bodies. They were normal, healthy, strong and fit people – relatable, trustable and lovable.

I’m now half way through round 3 of their 8-week program.

I am still in love and my body is still changing – stronger and more determined.

On the first of January of this new year, Fitness Blender released a four-week food and nutrition plan – an easy to follow, basic clean-eating plan that focuses on proportionate meals with a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. It’s a plan that promotes regular eating, raw and natural foods and nutrients that support a strong and healthy body.

I purchased the e-book, printed the pages and made today the day.

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I’ve done it before, many years ago when the term clean eating had yet been coined. But then, I did it for the wrong reasons and with a very different mindset – all about how many kilos I could drop, as rapidly as possible.

Today, I am not doing it to lose weight, to get thigh gap or to gain a perceived ideal body. Today, I am going to give being the strongest, healthiest and most energetic version of myself a true go. I have invested time into being a conscious person (conscious of the way I feel, what I project, what I bring in and what I leave in the world). Now it’s time to really invest into being more conscious of what I put into my body.

I’m not the unhealthiest of eaters but I do have some unhealthy habits that I’m hoping to curb, like not eating for hours and hours and then scoffing a big meal (however ‘healthy’ the food I am eating is, this is far from a healthy habit). Or eating my son’s leftovers when I really don’t need to. Or not truly ruly exercising my will power when I probably ought to. It’s also about eating the right foods to fuel the exercise I am doing.

With three more weeks left of holidays and the silly season now at my back, it’s fair to say that I can make a good go of some healthier habits before the busy kicks my ass again.

It’s 8:37PM as I post this. I have eaten six meals and my belly is full, if not slightly cranky and pissed off for not giving into its burning desire to devour a block of brie.

But day one is nearly down and I have just checked my pulse. It’s still there. I have not died of starvation as I feared. This is a good sign.

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Stay tuned for progress updates on this 2014 journey of food consciousness and about my failings in the other ‘clean’ department of domestic goddessness.