A little time ago I quit a degree. Not because I don’t value university education – I already have two degrees in education – it’s just that I realised that I want a different kind of education now, and that this kind of education is all around me, not just in the university.
I want to become accomplished at nonviolent communication and I am getting a powerful education in this via an informal online course and weekly calls to my lovely empathy buddy, and by practicing nvc whenever I remember to… I aspire to become self-sufficient in vegetables and am learning why my zucchini flowers fall off and how to grow bigger beetroot and yummier pumpkins from an online guru and through a gardening group.
I learn about growing native trees and bush regeneration by doing it with my bushcare group. I learn about caring for chooks by hopping over the fence and asking my dear neighbour, what’s up with this old girl then? I am becoming a master crocheter by chatting to little old ladies on the train and youtube and Ravelry. And I get awesome professional development from my many generous colleagues at work.
Even better, I learn all sorts of wonderful things about people and humanity and the thousands of meanings of life by just chatting to people who come to the library helpdesk with all their questions, their comments and their stuff.
I am a lifelong learner. Anyone who is curious, a bit of a dreamer and willing to ask questions can join me.
Yeah you hear it all the time – don’t feed the wildlife blah blah blah
well we didn’t listen
and Lizzie – that little water dragon that lives up the block and loves sausages…
she’s a big girl now
she’s bored of sausages
bacon doesn’t tempt her anymore
she likes the look of toes
and she knows where we keep them
we wear our gumboots on the verandah now
seriously, we have to.
Yesterday, I picked up an old notebook to start a post for this blog on the morning train. Sitting on the train, I flipped through the notebook to find some clear space and came across an old ‘to do’ list.
*Sunday – PEM
*Monday – walk
*Tuesday – sprint
*Wednesday – pilates
*Thursday – X
*Friday – skate
*Saturday – walk
I cannot remember what PEM is and I have never attended a Pilates class in my life. But I know that all of my old notebooks will be chockers with these exercise lists – most of which were probably forgotten before I put the pen down… and now I wonder – just what was the purpose of these lists – and what was I communicating to myself?
I suspect something like…
*Sunday – hey you great sloth get up and do some fantastic P-E-M!
*Monday – hello fatso – get moving
*Tuesday – do this and you won’t get oooooold and ugly
*Wednesday – OOoooOOoh…tuckshop arms are on their way
*Thursday – ok, full time work, study, and sole parenting is a bit tiring – rest
*Friday – get out on the rink and burn off some fat – and NO snack bar
*Saturday – get up lazy bones – no work today – no excuses
Sound familiar? Kinda like an episode of Biggest Loser? Today I doubt anyone could get healthy with that crap running around inside.
I also notice that my lists are all pretty old… This is not something I feel the urge to do any more. I think maybe it’s an impact of nonviolent communication – years of practising getting to the heart of feelings and needs rather than being preoccupied with what people might think, with what people might say – getting more and more gentle… some days I can still be a bit rough on myself, but my week is much more likely to sound like this…
*Sunday – Oh! gorgeous morning – how about a cuppa outside in the birdsong?
*Monday – what can I pack for lunch – something yummy and filling…
*Tuesday – oh dear – feeling shitty? Wanna try some gentle yoga?
*Wednesday – to the garden with the birds and the bees!
*Thursday – a walk across the river today…
*Friday – mmm – how about I get off the train a stop early and explore a bit?
*Saturday – hey lovely – do you want to sleep in or get up and wander round the neighbourhood for a bit …
It isn’t perfect, but my head is a much nicer place to be now C:
When my partner and I got back together after years happily apart most of my family had the shits and one of my sisters just dumped me. I kidded myself for a bit that she would get over it and then got mad and sad when she didn’t. And mad at myself for caring about it anyway. And sad with my family because they wanted us to get over it but I didn’t know how. And sometimes scared because I was going to see her at some family thing and when I did see her I always felt like I was going to be sick. This went on for years, about five years actually. And one day after practicing nonviolent communication for quite a while I actually thought to use it and I asked myself – what is it that I want from her anyway? And the answer was so clear and beautiful – love and acceptance and a little fun. And in that very same moment I knew I had all these things already – with my partner and my daughters, with my workmates and with my friends and I just felt all warm and loved up just walking to work in the morning sunshine on a daggy concrete path, with a straggly jasmine vine climbing over a crumbly wall alongside
there is so much that you have missed
each morning the sun still rises to touch the clouds with gold
that place that sells the good kebabs is making real lemonade again
and Sara’s baby girl giggles in her sleep
they say she couldn’t see that anymore she lived in a world with no colour
but last night, in a world bleached by fog I saw
two white foxes in the headlights
how I miss you
one day I accidentally looked at myself in the mirror, naked.
I thought, what would I call myself if there was no such thing as ugly?
— you are fat and old
OK, no fat and no old. Ha ha!
— gross. Your breasts sag so does your tummy and your chin is hairy
well that may be but there is no gross, no hideous, no misshapen and
no unattractive either.
a searching, groping, a casting about
a small space forms, a gap into which other words now tumble…
— strong, resilient, enduring
And a feeling too:
the light is soft, the sky ablaze in the east, sun rising over my sister’s empty house
the neighbour’s roosters are crowing, highway a-humming, small birds whistle
tweet a-twitter peep-peep pittering
a chirup a chirup a chirup
the hens squabble up the hill over breakfast
except for chee chee who grizzles at my feet about the too-cold water
in little groups the rest come join her – ranga2, bonnet, julie2, lovely, dovely, bandit-the-pizzle, and ember
now crowd at my feet whinging for scraps
My feet are damp from the dew and coolish
hands are warm from the coffee cup perched on the table in front of the laptop
The early crows get up and call the rest to murder
the last of the chooks’ breakfast
Soon my sister will be home from night shift. I will get up and make her a cuppa if she drops in
and be careful where I tread.
really soft tissues
a soft hug
sitting in the morning sun drinking tea
being able to say no thankyou
people popping in for a wee visit
my dressing gown
a steaming hot cup of tea
my badass middle aged lady beard
the desire to carry tweezers everywhere
no caffeine after midday
waking up in a sweat at 2am after drinking caffeine at 3pm
the dog is incontinent
i still love the dog
the steam mop given to me by my mother-in-law really is the best present ever
Our guineapigs who art in heaven hallowed be thy names. Please say g’day to the goat who ate the lantana, to silver, the fat brown pony who never wanted to cross the road, to old trinity who pigrooted and farted, to my gorgeous chooky-girls, to munted bill who said wanna scratch? and bit the hand that fed, to wendy who looked into my eyes and sighed, to the cats who tried to teach me to hunt by leaving hell-spitting snakes in my bed, to gentle ben, and to faithful willie who cried and cried when ben died. May you all be living in green pastures, may you all ever-experience the love, companionship and fun that you bought to my life. amen