The List

Tonight, when the house is quiet, I want you to give yourself a gift. I want you to give yourself the day you just lived – differently.

Take the time to make a warm drink, light a scented candle if you have one, put on those pyjamas you’d never be seen it but that are the most comfortable thing you own. Now sit down with a piece of paper…. and tell me about your day.

Tell me about how much you had to spend on yard work when you couldn’t really afford it… and how good it felt to help your mower man build his own business.

Tell me how sore your muscles are from your workout… and how incredible it is to have a body that is healthy and can move, and how happy with yourself you are to have moved it.

Tell me how much your partner pissed you off today… and how wonderful they smell. How much you love the sound of their laugh and the private jokes the two of you share.

Tell me about the mess in your house right now, no matter how much you clean… and tell me about your hot running water to wash those dishes, your washing machine to clean you clothes, and how soft your bed feels with the fresh sheets you wrestled on this morning.

Tell me how anxious you felt doing that thing today… and how you did it anyway, because no anxiety was going to hold you back.

Tell me that you’re tired… and how much life you fit into today.

I want you to think of every single thing that was hard about today. Now I want you to find something beautiful in it. I want you to find as much beauty as you can… then find more. Why? Because you can. Because it’s there. Because it’s yours.

I have had the best and worst days, but they were mine. I had power over those days. When I look back most of the days that broke me were ones where I forgot just how much power I had to rewrite my own script.

It is never to late to rewrite the script.

As you make your list tonight, I want you to take a minute to realise how GOOD you are at this. How easily it flows. The true you, the you that gets hushed when you’re too busy washing the floor or getting to that meeting on time, is naturally happy. She naturally sees the good, the fun, the positive. She naturally manifests good things because she SEES all the good things you have.

So go write this list with her, and give yourself a day lived joyfully.

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When you need to catch them

To all parents, but especially special needs parents, ASD parents, parents of the kids who don’t quite fit the mould, the anxious ones, the quirky ones, the beautifully challenging ones, the ADHD ones; this is for you.

In the moments when you are tired to your bones, when your eyes close as you take that deep breath, trying to steady your response to what has just been said or done, as though you can maybe just breathe deeply enough to undo it, remember;

Your child is not angry at you – they’re angry because in this moment, it is hard. All of it. Life. They’re directing their anger at you because you are their safety. That anger is hurt wrapped in overwhelm and they’re throwing it at you because they know that despite any of this you will catch them when they feel like they’re falling.

Often enough it will pass in a heartbeat, and you have all these years to practice bouncing back as quick as they can.

One day you might feel like you’re moving forward, the next you might feel like you’re going backwards – this is just your dance for right now. Sometimes the music is a little crazy but there are so many memories to be made on this dance floor and one day you’re going to look back on them and only see joy.

Worry about the future if you must, but pause long enough to blow bubbles, to play in the waves, to knock down sand castles, to drink hot chocolate and talk about nonsense. Your job isn’t to raise a perfect person, it’s to find the perfection right here, right now. It’s to make them laugh. It’s to find the beauty in their drawings or finger-paint messes and love them for their quirks not despite them.

Your child is not anxious at you – and sometimes there is nothing you can do in that moment to help. Listen anyway. Tell them you love them anyway. Get them outside. Build them a fort. Do whatever you need to do, because before you know it a day will come when that anxiety is a little less, and they wont remember those moments of stress, irritation or frustration – they’ll remember playing outside with you, or those amazing forts.

Don’t listen to that relative, that friend, that person on the street who tells you how it should be. Do what works for you and your child. Be unashamed of rocking the path that is just right for your child. Listen to them. Listen to them a thousand times over.

Your child’s joy does not need to look like anyone else’s. Don’t compare. If they are lost in the magnificence of pouring sand through their fingers for an hour then just keep the sand coming. Provide all the opportunities, but with the ease that they may not be taken, and thats ok.

Your child is not having a hard day at you – even though it impacts you, your family, the people you pass in the street. Your child is having a hard day, and you’re doing them the kindness of bearing witness. You’re listening, even in the moments you’d rather not be. You’re walking beside them as they feel all the things.

There is an enormity in being there with your child, when the emotions and challenges feel too big to hold, and just holding them. You’re doing it, and you’re doing fine.

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To the girl dancing by the Christmas tree

I don’t know the kind of world you’re growing into baby, but I know it’s going to be good. I know that you’re going to find the best of it wherever you look.

I trust that people will want good things for you little one, because thats what you deserve. You wont have to fight for them, because people will see the strength in your smile, the fortitude in your stance, the wisdom in your words.

You wont have to worry about getting your share baby, because whats yours can never be taken away. There’s enough. Never doubt that there’s enough.

I don’t know what the world will look like when you grow up, but I know there will be beauty in it. I know there will be blue skies and fresh air and birds that sing just for you. There may be turmoil, there could be storms, there will definitely be imperfections, but they will just make the colours more vibrant. Always look for the beauty. It will find you right back.

I don’t know what you’re going to do when you grow up baby, but I’m excited that you get to choose. Don’t ever choose for me or anyone else. Follow your heart song. Surprise the hell out of me.

I don’t know who you’re going to be when you grow up, but I trust that you’re going to be *you*. Don’t ever think that you need to be wilder, richer, thinner, smarter or more powerful. The only thing you need to be is happy. Your power lies in your peace. Your future lies in your joy.

I hope you have big ideas baby, but follow the little ones too. I hope you don’t stop noticing the ladybirds or laughing over the silly jokes.

Never stop being curious little one; all the answers you could ever want lie in that curiosity. Sometimes the best answers lead to more questions. Follow your wonderings, they’ll take you where you need to go.

Never stop exploring, be it a back street in Rome or a different way home. Life hides wonderful things for you to find and every day is a treasure hunt. How exciting that the treasure never looks the same.

Sometimes the world will scare you baby. Sometimes people will seem cruel. Sometimes people will make choices that hurt others. Don’t ever let this dim your light. Look for the helpers, the kind ones, the givers, the compassionate hearts. Listen to them. Take faith in them. Be one yourself.

This is your adventure little one and I’m so blessed to hold your hand while you grow into it. If it ever doesn’t fit you – change it. Change suits you. Change is hard, change is beautiful. Don’t fear it.

Never forget the power of your choices. What you buy, what you eat, the people you smile at, the thoughts you spend so much time with. They not only help shape little pieces of your life, but the lives of others. You may never truly know the impact of buying locally made, smiling at someone having a hard day or doing a meditation in the morning, but you can’t not impact this beautiful world, so you might as well do it well.

Today you are three, and you’re laughing as you dance around the living room to Christmas music, your hair a glorious halo of mess with a little avocado on the side. You are so utterly present in this moment.

I hope you always will be baby, even as the moment changes, even as you grow, even as the world grows with you. I hope you always dance little one, because no one does it quite like you.

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The Fire

Here is anger. A gift to rise your fire. A gift to stir your soul.

Here is a gift too hot to keep, not meant to be held, to wake you up in this moment.

Maybe you hold it strongly, or maybe it shakes you to your bones. Maybe you are rooted to the spot or your feet itch to run away.

It’s ok. You’re ok.

This fire is yours right now. Yours to burn away the weight of sadness, or the stagnation of doubt, yours to remind you how incredibly alive you are as the world turns around you.

It takes strength to feel anger like this, some people avoid it their whole lives, but there you are standing with your world ablaze and your heart trusting even as you feel so much.

Anger doesn’t own your words, anger doesn’t own your actions, anger doesn’t own you. When you’re ready just let it wash over you, it’s a gift too hot to keep for long and you don’t need to keep anything that doesn’t serve you.

And it goes. Maybe because everything is alright, or maybe because you realised that everything doesn’t have to be. Maybe you found peace – maybe it burned away all the stuff that kept you from finding the peace you already had.

Trust it, when it comes, this fire in you is a powerful teacher. But know you are bigger than this anger, than these clenched fists or racing heart. You are big enough to find kind words, even when they seem lost in the heat of this moment, you are big enough to find forgiveness, even when you are hurt, and you are big enough to find calm in the heat of this storm.

Here is anger. A gift to rise your fire. It’s ok to need it from time to time. May it bring you peace.

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To the woman with the broken heart

I’m sorry you’re hurting right now. I’m sorry he left, but if he wasn’t going to love you with every fibre of his being I’m so glad he set you free.

You see you weren’t put on this earth by accident. Your heart isn’t one of the kindest, most genuine and loving hearts by chance. You weren’t put here to hurt, or feel alone. You are here to love and be loved, to laugh so hard you forget everything else, to help people, to discover things you didn’t even know you were looking for, to adventure. You were put here to have a life of stories, and one day you’ll tell the one you’re living right now… and it will have a happy ending.

There are so many things waiting for you. Friends who you haven’t laid eyes on yet, books you will get lost in, cats to purr on your lap, foods that wake up every single taste bud, and somewhere someone who’s heart beats in time with yours, who has spent his whole life looking for you.

Someone you can’t even imagine yet, but one day wont be able to imagine your life without.

Maybe you’ll meet him in the supermarket or a far off land, maybe you’ll bump into him in the rain, maybe you’ll find you share friends and recognise each other with a lightness that shows you that your souls lined everything in your lives up to bring you to that moment. And you’ll think “Wow. So this is what I was missing?”

He’s not the point though, you know that? The point is you. And in losing someone else you get to find yourself even more. You’ve known hurt before and you shouldn’t have to know more, but there are treasures in this pain right now.

Don’t regret one single tear you shed, because every damn one of them is a poem about how hard you love.

Don’t regret not seeing it coming because thats a testament to how beautifully you trust. Never stop.

Don’t think you’re weak for grieving this loss – it takes guts to feel so deeply.

Don’t think you’ve lost the love of your life because there is SO much life left for you yet, and there’s no way the best parts are over. You were put here for joy. It’s coming. It’s yours.

Know that it’s ok to love someone and still let them go. You’ll get there. There’s no rush.

It’s ok to feel broken, but know that you can’t be. You are strong, you are smart, and you got this. You really, really do.

Pour yourself a cup of tea tonight and sip it slowly. Feel the warmth as it fills you. Know that it’s going to be alright. That feeling might only stay for a moment today, and thats fine, don’t force it, because tomorrow it will stay for a little longer, the next day a little longer than that. One day the moment will come when you couldn’t get rid of it if you tried. When you know that not only are you going to be alright, but you are, you’re better than alright, in fact you’re better than you ever thought you could be.

This is your story beautiful friend, and I’m on the edge of my seat about what comes next as much as you are. Know that seat’s a long one. You have lots of us on your team. At the moment you probably feel anxious about what comes next, but sooner or later things are going to get better. That anxiety will melt away to excitement. The day will come, before you know it, when you can’t wait to see the next twist in your story.

Love to you always x

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What happens next?

I want to tell you a story about a girl, a girl who does something wonderful. I don’t know exactly what she does yet, and besides thats not really the point, the point is that she does it.

She’s short of time and big of ideas, and she finds it easy to get… comfortable. She finds it easy to dig her toes in to where she is and think it’s perfectly ok. But inside she’s burning a bit too brightly for ok.

She doesn’t ask for much, but she should. She should demand it, because it’s all there for her and it suits her.

She has spent a lot of time accepting things that weren’t what she really wanted and talking about tomorrow…. but she’s beginning to realise that tomorrow feels an awful lot like today, and that she doesn’t want to wait anymore. She’s realizing that this is her time and she’s starting to look at things a little more closely.

She’s examining her dreams, the ones she’s carried around neatly for years and looking at them with grown up eyes. She’s deciding if they are what she really wants and if they’re going to feel as good lived as imagined. She’s asking herself what she *wants*, allowing herself to be selfish because she deserves to from time to time, and asking what she wants to give others too.

She realises when unpacking those dreams that her something wonderful can be all of them or none of them. Her something wonderful doesn’t have to be doing anything grand, it can simply be joy. Here, now.

She is done with brushing her shortcomings under the rug and even more done with feeling guilty about them. She knows that a sprinkling of flaws make a character more believable, and she is a very, very believable woman. But she’s taking one of those short comings from time to time and making a project out of it. She’s breaking habits that have been there for years because she CAN. She’s doing it because it’s hard, and because it feels so good to peel off a layer of herself that was just making her feel heavy.

She listens. To the people she cares about, to the things she may not want to hear, and to her own inner voice that had grown silent from not being really listened to. She trusts it. It’s smart. She’s smart, and she knows what to do to get there, or even just to really be here.

She is not going to glorify busy or slow anymore. She doesn’t have to follow the books or magazines. She has her own pace, her own rhythm and she’s going to embrace it.

She is going to fall in love again, every day. She’s going to fall in love with the things her husband (or friend or children) does that make her feel light. The things that make her laugh or that feel like home. She’s going to be driven mad, as always, by the difficult things they do too, and be grateful for that – because the opposite of love is indifference, and those things remind her she’s not indifferent at all. She’s going to say I love you even when she’s angry, and she’s going to reach out when she’s sad. She will let go of relationships that don’t serve her, maybe not today, but when she’s ready, because she can and the empowerment of that choice makes her feel light all over again.

For all the talk of examples for her kids she knows that the best one is being happy. It’s doing this very thing that she’s starting today; this something wonderful.

This is a story about a girl… what happens next?

 

believable woman Copyright 2015 Nirvana Dawson

 

These lessons that we learn again

 

He’s seven now, my eldest. It seems a lifetime from my age and yet I remember it like the toys I held close and the certainty that I could fly if I just wished hard enough.

He’s at the age now where it’s all coming together. Not always well, not always easily, but reality is creeping in in a way that it hasn’t for him before. Things are becoming more gloriously complicated. The shades of grey are there more than they were and we question together.

This age is full of lessons that life imparts and that I try to help him put into words. He learns them for the first time of many, and I remember them, knowing that I will again.

There are many different ways to learn

One is not better or more worthy than another. Faster is not better than slower. What you’re learning matters less than the fact that you are. Discover the way that clicks for you. If you do nothing else, do this. Find the way of learning that makes you hungry to keep doing it. No matter how hard you try you will never know everything, isn’t that exciting? But try. Try fiercely. Because if you try you are already winning.

 

Time management is important

We all have the same amount of time in a given day and all of it is precious. It’s up to you how you use it. Learn this now while you’re young. Be prepared to relearn it as you get busier and older. 

 

People want to feel good

Most things they do are round about ways to get to this end. If you’re enjoyable to be around people will want to be around you. If you’re kind people will admire you. If you see the good in people it will lift them up, and everyone needs lifting up from time to time. The world will forgive naivety, awkwardness and uncertainty. It will forgive most anything if there is a spark in you that makes others remember their own. 

 

The villain and the hero are in you

Not just in the story books and movies. They’re archetypes of parts of yourself and they battle in you quietly. The bully is not a cruel child without light, and the good samaritan is not an angel without darkness, they’re people who make choices when they feel too much. The small choices win the battle.

 

Don’t underestimate the power of walking away

It gets to be a lot sometimes. A lot of noise or a lot of closeness or a lot of emotion. Anger burns, sadness twists your heart and overwhelm makes you panic. Take a minute. Walk away. Breathe. Nothing is too big or little for this. Space, even for a moment, makes you remember who you were before ‘a lot’ got in your way. Space lets you choose wisely.

 

Life is both

Life is hard: it always will be. Life is beautiful: it always will be. It will exhaust you to your very soul and make you fly with joy. I hope you have enough of both so that you can experience their richness.

 

Remember the gates when you speak

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

You will forget these a million times over when ‘a lot’ gets in your way, but try to come back to them. These gates will define how others see you. And they will define how you see yourself.

 

Gifts are often disguised as challenges

Everyone has something that feels hard. Everyone has something that feels easy. Your hard things aren’t in your way; they’re gifts. They’re opportunities to be brave. You don’t know all the people you’ll meet in your life just yet, but that bravery will help them. There are so many different kinds of courage in the world and your special brand of it is perfect.

 

You don’t have to be good at everything, you just need to feel good doing what makes you happy

Don’t give in to the pressure of the world that’s always waiting with a never-ending to do list. You don’t need to be good at sports and music and art and cooking and acting and dance. You can be. You can put your mind to any of it and make it beautiful. But no ‘shoulds’ apply here. The world is full of people trying to do everything and not feeling any of it deeply. You might go through life with a hundred passions or a handful. They are your loves, no one can choose them for you. Fall into them joyfully and trust your heart.

 

There will always be have to’s

That’s okay. They make the want to’s so much sweeter.

 

Always question

Question your parents and society and the rules. Follow them, by all means, but question, because anything or anyone worth following will welcome your questions and get stronger with the answers. 

 

You can’t control the things outside yourself

Isn’t it scary? Isn’t it wonderful? 

 

Take holidays in your imagination

No matter how old or young you are. There are worlds waiting for you there. Beautiful and terrible and exciting and calm. You can control them… but you may choose to let them take you on a journey from time to time.

 

Motherhood is a strange creature, both tiring and wonderful. And a perfect time to dig your toes in to the present and let the lessons you’ve forgotten to wash over you. I’m grateful to learn and learn again.

 

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2015

Small and beautiful

I’ve been prone to waiting for the right time to do things. A lot of us are I guess. We get used to the idea of new years resolutions, new beginnings, perfect circumstances falling into our laps like lotto wins.

And they don’t. Which isn’t misfortune, it’s very fortunate indeed.

Because eventually, if we’re lucky, we realize that that idea of perfect circumstances is our finest form of sabotage, and that most really amazing things start small and they start right now.

For a while now I’ve been lamenting that I didn’t have time to exercise. I know, perhaps I could have gotten up before the baby and ran into the sunrise, but it felt too hard, so I didn’t. And I got more annoyed, at the circumstances I thought, then I realised I was actually frustrated at myself for getting in my own way.

It turns out you can fit an entire workout in over a day of chasing kids. Squats can be done while the kettle boils, push ups off the kitchen bench, situps can be spread out across the day when you can squeeze them in, your core can be worked with posture, and a little yoga or weights before bed or when waking aren’t hard to fit in at all. It’s not perfect, but it’s *good*, and more importantly it’s getting better.

I’m also realizing that trying to do everything is as much of a trap as doing nothing.

I love the *idea* of my vegetable garden. I love freshly picked produce and my hands in the dirt. But right now, with three small children and a busy life I’m not getting to it. With each week my frustration has grown with the weeds.

I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re nourished, that we’re happy, that the time we have together isn’t constantly spent trying to get to something else.

The lawn has been fighting to claim my hill garden for as long as it’s been planted. I am graciously allowing it to win for now.

My garden beds will soon be covered in cardboard and mulch.

The ground can rest, along with my frustration.

 

I’m exercising more, I’m moving.

I’m becoming more organised in ways that will give me time and ease, and letting go of the rest.

I’m reading more, even a page or two before bed when I thought I couldn’t fit it in.

I’m slowly finding colour, the splashes I’d dreamt of decorating my home with all at once “when I had the money”. I’m bringing brightness in with beach towels and nailpolish, colourful salads or walls of photos. It’s not all at once, but why did I think it had to be? It’s not matching, but that’s not as interesting anyway is it?

I’m saving more for the kids, remembering how much a couple of dollars you didn’t know you had adds up to over time.

And I’m trying, in that way that will organically ebb and flow, to let go of the things I put so much importance on that weren’t making us happier.

I’m looking around my life right now and seeing how many things I let get in my way. How many wonderful things I can be creating slowly right now, and how many I’ve been distracting myself from the good stuff with.

I’m not making any new years resolutions this coming year. I’m starting small things now instead, and at the same time letting other things go.

Sometimes we look at everything we want to have in place and it can weigh us down, when really, what we want is to feel light. We want to laugh, to feel rich, to feel nourished and loved. Those things start now, small and beautiful.

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Hey Mumma, You’re Doing Fine

 

I hope you had a great day today. One of those days where you’re woken with a kiss and your coffee tastes just right. One of those days where the sun is particularly warming and your kids make you laugh over breakfast. An easy day. A day where you walk down the street and people see you. The relaxed you, the real you, the you that radiates all the good stuff and makes everyone smile back.

I hope it was one of those days where strangers took a moment to tell you what a good job you’re doing with your beautiful kids, or where family gave you an extra hug and told you how valued you are.

But days can be fickle sometimes, just like people.

Maybe you didn’t get your dose of wonderful today, so let me share some with you now.

Mumma, you’re doing great. Amazing. Freakin’ fantastic. And no tantrum in the supermarket or homework disaster can change that. The messy kitchen, unfolded laundry or weeds in the garden? They don’t matter. Trust me. They don’t. You’ll get to them, you always do. But you rocked at today Mumma, because you loved fiercely today. Not perfectly, but that’s ok, we don’t aim for that, perfect’s too stiff, real is better. You loved your family today in that real fierce Mumma love where you saw the good stuff in them even if they were hiding it.

You took time to explain kindly, even if you wanted to yell. You were patient, even if you felt rushed.  You found time for a game, even if you were busy. You made them smile even if they were making you frown. And you also probably stuffed up Mumma and that was the best bit of all, because NO ONE gets it right all the time, not you or your kids and when you picked yourself back up again and owned it you taught them courage, and humility and that it’s ok for them to be human too.

Some days you’re going to be adventures and crafts and freshly baked muffins and other days you’re going to be pajama pants and baked beans. It doesn’t matter. Life has its rhythms and you’re allowed to as well. But you laughed with them today, didn’t you? And you probably danced, or sang or made an animal noise at least once. You found something that was impossibly lost forever in their room or turned balled up socks into a football.

You gave them something good today. You. And they love you to the moon and back for it.

Yep, even during the tantrum in the supermarket.

So sleep sweetly Mumma, because if life didn’t show you how beautiful you are today it will tomorrow.

You’re doing fine.

 

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Father’s Day

To my Husband,

Today is father’s day, and in a lot of ways it will be a day just like any other. You will be woken too early by the wild enthusiasm of a toddler, you will be asked to find Lego pieces as though life depends on it and your baby girl will coo at you in the voice she’s just beginning to find.

This day may not feel different, but I want to tell you why this day, and all the others that you’re in our lives, is exceptional.

Our boys watch you, more than you know. They watch your dedication to your work, they watch you do the dishes and see you dance with me in the kitchen. They see you choose kindness even when you’re angry, and patience even when you feel frayed. Those moments when you make them the centre of your world? That builds them up. The games when they laugh so much they need to catch their breath? That’s more precious than any toy they could own. They’re learning how to be men from every day they spend with you.

Your actions teach them in ways words never could.

Sometimes they act up for you. They shout too loud, they dig their heels in, they argue just because. I know that feels heavy at times, so I want to remind you something. To those two little boys the world seems enormous. There is so much they don’t understand, so much they can’t control. They’re strong boys, your sons, just like their Dad, and they can’t always find a place for their strength in that big world just yet. So they turn to you and they let it out like a breath they’ve been holding. Because you’re their safe place, Daddy, and knowing that you’ll love them no matter what gives them wings.

A lot of things might feel unremarkable now, but those moments are making something. The back scratches before bed, the games of monster trucks on the living room floor and the cuddles that scare away bad dreams. You’re weaving them a childhood from those moments, and that’s remarkable indeed.

They’ll grow up to be men one day and pass on traditions you didn’t even know you shared with them. They’ll tell their children jokes you told them in passing, and remember stories you made up that made them laugh. They’ll remember how comforting your hugs felt, and be determined to give their children the same.

They’re learning family from you.

Your daughter is little now, only eight weeks old. She knows you as warm arms, the gentle smell of cologne and a prickly beard. She knows your smile and funny faces and is just beginning to realize what “Daddy” means. Before you know it her head wont fit in your palm quite so easily and her hand wont wrap so neatly around one finger. Her laugh will be louder, her smile toothy and she’ll run at you like a cyclone when you get home of an afternoon, just like her brothers, her face lighting up just like theirs do.

Yes, in a lot of ways today will feel normal, but I want you to know that fatherhood is anything but. Thank you for giving our kids ‘Daddy’.

You are loved.

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