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

Home

To My Boys,

I heard a Mumma talking today as she cradled her little ones on her lap. “I can’t wait until they move out.” she said, full of enthusiasm. “I’m going to make sure they leave home as soon as they possibly physically can.”

She wasn’t having a hard week or feeling tired or overwhelmed, she just wanted them gone, she explained, and couldn’t wait to have her home back.

All of us love differently, and none of us perfectly. This Mumma loved her kids her way, and that’s alright, but it made me realize how much I’m looking forward to the future – a very different one than she has planned.

Home to me is not just a place, it’s a feeling. It’s the breath you let out when you walk in the door on tired legs at the end of a long day. It’s where you wear comfy track pants and savor moments of silence surrounded by the treasures you’ve collected along the way.

It’s the pencil marks that measure height on the kitchen wall. It’s the dints on the floor from dropped toys and secret spots used over and over again for hide and seek.

It’s noisy games of chasey and giggling kids jumping between fresh sheets as the bed is made. It’s toys in a pile on the couch right where I want to sit every single night.

It’s a kitchen bench full of flowers picked by little hands from the garden, and that mysterious orange juice stain on the ceiling.

It’s love. Messy, beautiful perfect love.

Home, for me, is family.

And I want you to know that life is going to give you so many adventures. It might take you around the world, or to your dream job in our own neighbourhood. Maybe you’ll be social butterflies or crave solitude. You might move into an apartment with friends or choose to live at home longer and save your money for a car or a house or a trip around Australia.  Perhaps you’ll study, here or abroad. Maybe you’ll fall madly in love with someone as a teenager and follow them… or maybe you’ll wait a while and take the time to fall in love with yourselves first.

The thing is boys, it’s your adventure, not mine. And I have no right to tell you how it’s going to go. I’ll dream with you, plan with you, listen to you and be excited for it every step along the way, but I am not going to plan out your future for you.

I just want you to know that no matter where your adventures take you – you have this place, wherever we are. I want you to know that you always have a home with us, no matter what.

You’re going to make a lot of places special in your lives, but this place, this family – you’ve brought it to life – and you are always welcome here. There’s no expiry date, no caveat, just a space to call your own for as long as you want it, and a home that will evolve, change, and grow along with you.

One day the orange juice stain will be long forgotten, the pencil marks on the wall faded, and the enormous piles of lego packed away. I wont be woken in the middle of the night by little arms wrapping around my neck for a hug, or called in at bedtime to check under the bed for monsters. The games of hide and seek will be replaced with board games, and I’ll get to put those sheets on the bed without anyone jumping in between them.

A lot is going to change around here over time, and as you grow into men I’ll grow older and my grey hairs will be a little harder to pluck out without going bald ;)

But you have a home here, whenever, however and for whatever reason you need. We built this home out of family together, and it’s yours as long as you want it.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2014

The things you teach me

My babies,

Before me you are growing every day. Now and again I go a week or so without noticing just how much, then I stroke your head or hold your hand and the weight of it is different in mine, your hair wilder, your fingers stronger as they entwine with my own, your sigh deeper as you lean in for a hug. I wish I could take a snapshot in those times, photos I could feel back to, to remember your scent, your lopsided grin or the oh too many kisses you assault me with while the housework mounts just outside of our moment.

I am struck by so much about this time, and even with this I know there is more I’ll find later, like a treasure hunt you set up every day without me knowing. There is wisdom and laughter in this and it’s right there for years to come when the deepening of my perspective makes it obvious to look back on.

There are many things I’m learning from you now, from both of you. I’m learning that you are my mirrors – much kinder, wiser and more honest than the ones under harsh lighting in the bathroom. I am learning to accept the flowers and sticky fingered cuddles and whispers of “you’re my princess” like gifts, and to cherish that view of myself through your wide eyes. I am humbled by that love, and try to tell you the same every day with actions and laughter as much as the words I whisper into your soft hair.

I am learning that your bad moments are just as much of a gift to me as your good ones. That the hard is just as good as the easy, even if it doesn’t feel as smooth at the time. As I teach you about life you teach me right back. You teach me not to lose myself in overwhelm if you scream in a tantrum, you teach me to be aware of each moment so I can piece your preferences together like a jigsaw, and that more often than not, your state is a reflection of my own. Even when it isn’t, me being in a place of ease and happiness relaxes you like a hug you probably wouldn’t want me to give you at the time.

I have learned that minds are naturally hungry, but are picky as the eaters they are attached to, and that information, properly prepared can be just as sweet as your favourite dish. You teach me that mischief is actually curiosity, ‘getting into things’ is actually exploration, and that looking me in the eye while you do what you shouldn’t is actually learning the arts of persuasion.

You teach me to be patient, even when I’m not.

I see every day from you that we learn what we love, so love is the thing most worth fostering because learning follows impossibly close behind without fail.

I am discovering that the magic I find in words may be hidden for you in patterns of lego or the great outdoors, so not to try to force my own magic on you, but rather follow, heart in my throat, hoping to catch a glimpse of what I can learn of yours.

I am discovering that good and bad, tired and relaxed, stressed and happy can and often do coexist in the same moment, but that we choose which one we see. This is such an important lesson that we’re teaching each other a little of it each day.

I am learning to stretch, with you, because of you and for you. And I am better for it.

That the best example I can give you is to be the best of who I am, which doesn’t mean being perfect, it means being wildly curious, joyful, playful and kind.

You show me the absurd in the world around us, and the fierceness in myself as I rise to protect you from anything less than you deserve. All the while we find the good together in places we often didn’t expect.

You are both so whole and fascinating before me, and I am relaxing into seeing you with the richness of now, rather than the hopes, pressures and fears of the future. I do not need to see the men in you in right now, that’s not my role, my role is to see the spark in you right now and let it light something of your future each day.

So thank you, little boys, for the muchness of all that you are.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

When I Grow Up…

She was bubbly and giggly. “Oh you’re so cool. I want to be just like you when I grow up!” she said. She was 25, to my 32. And my first reaction to this compliment was to feel old.

Then I thought about it.

The term ‘grown up’ infers a completeness, and I consider myself gloriously incomplete. I hope that I will continue to be. As we grow up, all that we are comes together. We are the sum off all our parts, all our experiences, our achievements, our flaws, our skills… but we continue to want… it is that wanting, that niggling incompletion that makes us hungry to keep on growing.

I like that hunger.

When I was younger I had a list of things to do by the time I was grown up. I would speak three languages fluently, I would have written a couple of novels, I would be this perfect being that I had dreamed up when I got there.

With the blessing of growing older my goals have changed, because my mind has too. I have realized the importance of the little things – the enormity of patience, of thoughtfulness, of being humble enough to put another’s needs before your own while holding onto who you are. I have found satisfaction in a well dug garden, and reward beyond measure in the smile of a child.

Through motherhood I have realized the superficiality of my teenage worries, that my feet were too big, my breasts were too small and I had freckles. FRECKLES dammit!! This was enormous stuff.

Isn’t it an exciting thought, that one day today’s enormous stuff will feel just as small? That one day the goals we have, fulfilled or not, will look so very different from where we’re standing?

That there are new goals just around the corner? New revelations to be found? New experiences to be had that are just waiting to blow the old ones out of the water?

I still want to speak three languages one day, and I will write those novels, but the perfect being I had dreamed up will probably continue to elude me. Not because I’m not good enough, but because it’s meant to. As long as I keep reaching for it I will keep growing… and the sum of my parts will be greater for it.

I try not to ask my children what they want to be when they grow up, we aim for happiness every day instead. I will teach them to set goals, just as I do, but the most important thing I want to teach them is to not see any age – any achievement – as the place where you’re “done”. It’s the doing we’re here for.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

A Story of Two

This is a story of two. An older one, and a younger one.

The older one was wise, kind and full of knowledge. The younger one loved her very much, and looked up to her.

As the younger one grew she followed the older ones wisdom, was blessed with her gifts of kindness and relied much on her knowledge.

There were times when the younger one doubted her own inner voice, or quietened it against the older ones’, because she trusted so much in that wisdom and knowledge. She would hesitate as the older one did, mirror her fears and pause with her doubts.

The younger one explored the world, laughed much and grew her own wisdom with every passing day. But still she looked up to the older one so very much, always believing the older ones’ wisdom to be more than her own, her inner voice to be more versed in the insights she needed.

The older one frequently shared gifts of things or ideas. They were plentiful and precious, and perhaps this was why the younger one almost missed it.

Then one day, the younger one stumbled across a gift she had been given. Oh it was grand, so grand that it couldn’t be touched or seen. It was wrapped in time.

You see over the years the older one had given the younger one much of herself; she had given her much of her perfection and joy, much of her wisdom and knowledge, much of her advice and her thoughts. But she had also presented her with something else, the gift that the younger one almost hadn’t recognized the value of. She had given her her flaws.

She hadn’t hidden them, for honestly was important to the older one, they had always been there, scattered amoungst the rest, but the younger one had not yet come into her own wisdom, so had missed them, and seen instead her own flaws in their place. She had worried over them, and wished them gone.

But this day, the younger one saw just how precious the older ones flaws were. They were like facets of a diamond that all came together to make the older one sparkle just the right away.

Those flaws were how the older one gifted her things that she couldn’t offer with words or advice.

They contained reassurance; because if she could love the older one so with all her glorious flaws then surely she could be loved with her own. And the younger one relaxed.

They contained a mirror; for it is so much easier to see in others that which we would improve in ourselves. And the younger one became hungrier for her own greatness.

They contained madness; because without it we are never pushed to new ways of thinking, of feeling, of experimenting. And the younger one’s mind expanded.

They contained vulnerability; reminding her the importance of being soft with her strength. And the younger one gave every morsel of this to her own little ones.

And they contained confidence; in her own inner voice, which she had put second because she had thought it unworthy. These perfect flaws had reminded her to embrace her own intuition with every ounce of her being and never second guess it just because she was not perfect.

So it was with this gift that the younger one grew up, just that little more, into someone worthy of being somebody else’s older one, to be wise, kind and full of knowledge. And she hoped so very much that she could give her little ones the same special gift as they grew, and that they too would take such pleasure in unwrapping it when they were ready.