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

Missing the obvious

There is nothing unusual about missing the obvious. We forget that sometimes as adults, especially as parents. So determined to be examples for our kids we lose sight of the frequency of our stumbles. We forget, in our strength, to be humble.

I was frustrated this week by my son’s struggle to learn what seemed like a simple case of cause and effect. Obviously this choice will lead to that outcome, I mean why wouldn’t it? It has hundreds of times before. We had talked about it, explained it, acted it out and tried every other version of making it click. It was so simple really, wasn’t it?

Then I thought about myself. About how many times I have repeated choices whose outcomes I knew with my eyes closed.

I thought about us, all of us, and how many times we have made choices that have affected our health – what we put in our mouth every day even as we lament our weight or energy levels, the choice to procrastinate precious time away when we could be moving, sweating, breathing more fully.

How many people have chosen to get drunk, wasting their bank accounts, their pride and precious brain cells only to spend nights they can’t remember with people they don’t particularly like.

How all of us have wasted – our money, our time, our friendships, our love, before we learned how to choose experiences with value.

How often we still act with instinct, rather than the minds and hearts we pride ourselves on, only to end up exactly where we expected and nowhere near where we wanted to be.

And how many of us, right in this very moment, could change so many things if we chose, and revolutionise our lives.

None of us are victims, not of habit, not of circumstance and not of fortune. We’re a beautiful messy collection of choices and we’re creating ourselves, right now.

I don’t expect you to get this today, don’t worry, I probably wont either, not totally. I’ll think I will, with the false confidence of being an adult, until the next time little boys playing duplo remind me to be humble.

One day they’ll be tall enough and wise enough to call me on my choices, just as I help guide them through theirs. Until then I’m thankful for the push parenting gives me. The way it reminds me how very much growing up we all have to do, and how simple our beautiful messy choices really are.

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 Copyright 2014 Nirvana Dawson

 

 

 

What does your courage look like?

On any given day, across the country there are thousands of parks and playgrounds filled with children. And on any given day, in most of those parks, there is a familiar pattern. It doesn’t always look the same, in fact most people would miss it if they weren’t paying attention – but they should be.

In these playgrounds across the country there is a child or two, who is different. Maybe they’re rich, while the others are poor, or perhaps their clothes are old or out of fashion in a suburb accustomed to more. Maybe they have anxiety, or learning difficulties. Maybe they’re uncoordinated or speak with a lisp. Maybe they have Down Syndrome, Autism or Aspergers. Maybe they’re just bright, and more comfortable with books and computers than swing sets and slides.

While everyone else plays easily this child does something extraordinarily brave. They put whatever difference they feel is so obvious about them aside… and walk up to the others. They might say “Hi” or “How are you?” or “Would you like to play?” then they wait for a moment, on tenderhooks because this means a LOT to them… and more often than not, they are ignored.

It happened to me as a child all the time. It happened to my son today. He summoned everything he had to approach kids and it took ten children pretending he wasn’t even there before one even made them effort to smile and say hi back.

I’ve seen this happen time and time again and not just to my son either.

This week the media has been abuzz that our kids aren’t resilient enough anymore. That we need to toughen them up.

Bullshit.

What we need to do is raise them to be kind. We need to raise them to realize that everyone matters. We need to stop counting on the socialization of schools and parks to show our kids what it means to function in the community because it’s just not working. And we have the gall to say they should be more resilient?

Over protective school politics aside (some of the references in the media related to games/races etc) I think we focus too much on resilience and not enough on inclusion, acceptance and kindness. We expect from our kids things that we wouldn’t tolerate ourselves.

Honestly – if you walked in to a party and were completely ignored by ten people who you talked to how would you feel? At what point would that be ok for you? If you fell badly while walking and skinned your knee or hit your head would you always shrug it off? If you having lunch with a friend and you showed her your new phone or lipstick and she smashed it – would you be ok with that? Because we expect our kids not to care. We expect them to be hushed and pushed aside and sit still and do as they’re told and fit in and we don’t do it – if we do we shouldn’t. Life’s bigger than that. We’re far more interesting than arbitrary rules and social politics.

My son was fine today at the park. He told me that he found it upsetting but wasn’t overly bothered. He’s used to it, we talk about it. He’s not the one I’m worried about.

I’m actually just as bothered for those popular kids who pretended he wasn’t there. Because as they get older they’ll realize, like most of us do, that the kindest, most interesting, loyal and genuine people tend to be the unique ones. That quirks make friendships all the more delicious.

But it might take them a long time to get there. And that’s what we can change as parents. We can take our focus off resilience and put it on showing kids that they matter. That everyone matters. Even the people you don’t click with, or really want to play with. That everyone deserves good things – be it a smile or a greeting or a have a great day. Those things aren’t little, they’re huge.

We need to teach our kids that courage doesn’t look the same for everyone. For some people it’s jumping out of a plane and for others it’s walking into a crowded room. For some it’s talking in front of a thousand people and for others it’s stringing to words together when they seem to stick in your throat.

This doesn’t just apply to kids, this applies to everyone in our lives. Your brave isn’t necessarily the same as theirs. Appreciate their courage, their strength, because the enormity of their victories are no less because yours don’t look the same.

The more we teach our kids that everyone matters the more they realize that they matter too – and what a big role they have in changing someones day. Maybe they’ll do something huge with it one day… or maybe they’ll do something even bigger with it today – they’ll smile back at someone who needs it, and acknowledge the courage others missed.

That’s strength, right there, and that’s where true resilience comes from. Not from becoming hard, but from realizing what strength and courage really is.

 

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Judgment

Once upon a time there was Someone…

Someone who was kind, gentle and smart, Someone who had a heart of gold. And wherever that Someone went, people saw the good in them and they recognized it.

Then maybe this Someone did something wrong because they were hurting. Or maybe they were having a bad day and didn’t shine like they usually do. Maybe they cried or they yelled or they melted down. Maybe they were carrying around secrets or confusion or pain and it came out wrong.

And maybe everyone stopped and they stared and they looked at that Someone like they didn’t know them anymore. As though that one day, or that one meltdown, or that one hurt that lead them somewhere they didn’t expect to be had dimmed their light. As though their good could be less for a little imperfection.

Someone felt heavy. They felt the weight of stares and voices real and imagined. Maybe it was in a supermarket, with a melting down child. Maybe it was an argument with a loved one that turned to wars of words. Maybe it was the worst of them sneaking out when they were tired, or aching on the inside. Maybe it was something stupid they did without thinking it through. And for a short while they allowed themselves to believe the doubt and judgment.

Then something shifted. It might have taken a moment, or a day, a week or a month, but Someone realized that it was OK.

They realized that they were OK. That their light was so bright there wasn’t a shadow in this world that could dim it. That their good was so big no amount of hurt or bad decisions could make it less.

They realized that they were in this life to learn, and grow, and that that involved falling down as much as getting up. That feeling low, no matter how long it lasted, was a perfect place to build a foundation for something higher.

And as Someone felt stronger and breathed easier they realized something. They realized that everyone who judged them was just as kind, gentle and smart as they were, but so lost in their own imperfections that they forgot sometimes, just like that Someone did. That all those people who judged them were also judging themselves, were also hurting and had gotten it wrong too many times to count.

It reminded Someone to be kind, as they sought kindness, to recognize the good in others even as they fought to recognize it in themselves.

Someone realized that they would always be judged, just as they would always judge. They would always have moments of feeling weak, but they’d look back on them and realize that those moments built their strength more than they could have imagined.

Maybe you know this Someone. Maybe you are this Someone. Maybe you’ve seen this Someone at their worst and thought you knew them because of a misplaced moment. You’re in this story somewhere – we all are.

Judgment affects all of us at sometime or another, from inside and out. But we’re bigger than it. As people and as a society we don’t need it. Each and every one of us is so much more than any moment, any choice, any high or any low.  The more we remember that, the more we can enjoy each others light rather than wasting time casting shadows.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

The gift of misplaced words

To my Son,

You gave me a gift today, little one, and I almost didn’t notice.

We had been grocery shopping, a necessity despite you not being yourself due to a headcold… or the wind… or your teeth coming through… or maybe just getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

And I asked you to be good and to focus at a time when those ideas made as much sense to you as saving fish from drowning. So you tried, with your mind elsewhere and your hands all over your brother who was NOT in the mood to be your human stress ball. I asked you calmly to give him space, once, twice, probably five or six times before I announced the loss of a privilege for not listening. I’d handled all this pretty well so far, I was calm and in control and explained things peacefully enough for you to completely ignore.

Then you lost it, and so did I.

We all have challenges, and one of yours is magnifying life’s stresses when you’re not at your best. So this loss of privilege, which really wasn’t so bad, seemed ENORMOUS to you in that moment. You melted down, and as you did you said some really awful things.

I should be used to your use of words as weapons, and remember how quickly they fall when the moment passes. I should remember that your attempts to hurt with them just mean that you’re hurting and you need to get it outside of you as quickly as you can to lessen the burn.

But we all have challenges, and one of mine is taking what is said at face value. So I got hurt along with you. I got loud along with you. And as you fought to get all your anger out I fought right on back. Not in the same way, of course, and to an outsider I probably handled it just fine… but the truth was I lost myself in those words of yours, and that wasn’t fine at all.

We drove home with both of us fuming and not much talking going on. After a while calm returned and we talked about the reasons why what you said wasn’t ok. That was true, it wasn’t, but neither was my response.

Most of us go around as adults thinking we’re doing pretty alright. We learn to play to our strengths and push our weaknesses aside or justify them. We make beautiful masks to wear for the world and they hide a myriad of faults.

And you, little boy, are particularly skilled at making my mask slip.

Taking words at face value is fine, it’s not a fault as such, but it misses a LOT. A lot that you deserve and that I do too. It reaches to other relationships and to my marriage. Responding to someone losing their cool and over reacting by losing my cool and over reacting… well, that doesn’t work.

Your gift to me today was reminding me of something I could do better. Reminding me that sad doesn’t always have tears, and hurt doesn’t always shrink back. Reminding me that small things to me can be huge things to someone else, and that grown up concepts and instructions sometimes don’t fit little people whose minds are in the clouds that day. You showed me that anger is not always about the one who receives it, but sometimes about just getting something out before it hurts you more, and that a moment and a deep breath can change everything.

I snuggled you in bed shortly before you went to sleep tonight and we talked about today. I reminded you that just as Dad and I talk to you about things you could do better you have every right to do the same to us, because we’re all learning no matter how old we are. I acknowledged your feelings from earlier than you’d hidden behind your anger, and asked you how I could have handled it better. I reminded you that just as you owe others respect they absolutely owe it right back. Your lip trembled as you told me how I could have handled it better, and I promised you I would try my hardest next time.

Growing up isn’t easy, and the truth is we never really stop. We will get it right together so much of the time and we will get it wrong an awful lot too. It’s all part of pulling off the mask I guess. And each time we’ll get to know ourselves a little more, become more patient, more kind, more humbled by this huge life thing we’re doing together. It’s just about being honest, really, and the trust that goes with it.

So thank you for your gift of misplaced words today little one, they made my mask slip perfectly.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Spending Habits

Not long ago a friend of mine posted an image on Facebook. It was a screenshot of a spreadsheet her husband was working on to ensure that the way they were spending their time was in alignment with their core values. It was late, I scrolled past it, my brain registering a quiet grumble of protest that that sounded way too structured for me.

But my mind keeps coming back to it.

We talk to our children a lot about the spending of money. About the value we place on things. As a society we focus on a lot on those numbers, those figures we associate with value and happiness, security, intelligence. There’s a huge focus on dollars, which is interesting, because you can earn more.

You can’t earn more time, you can’t even borrow it.

We enjoy the luxury of believing we have a certain amount of it, but the truth is we don’t know. No one does. What we have with certainty is now – this day. The sad person, happy person, unfit person, healthy person, rich person and poor person, the bored person and busy person – they all have this. Their experience of it differs greatly, but we all build what we have from these moments.

We get caught up in the idea that we are what we think, that we’re our ideas, concepts and wants. It’s true, in part, but in a bigger part: we are this day. 

We’re what we do with the time we have.

How we spend it is our truth. The rest is words, assurances or excuses we use to build ourselves up or tear our dreams down. I’m talking about you, about me, about all of us.

Our time doesn’t lie, what we do with it is the most honest reflection of what matters to us.

When I was growing up my mother used to say “Whatever you’re doing, do it well. If you’re working, work hard, if you’re relaxing, relax fully.” I’m still getting the hang of this, most of us are.

I’ve admitted to myself in the past couple of weeks that I need to work on my spending habits, and not the wallet kind. I spend the most part of my days joyfully focused on my children, and I wouldn’t change that for the world, but there are still wonderful little pockets of time that I don’t use to lift myself up – and I can. There will always been housework, study or work, but in every day time exists that’s yours. How are you spending it?

That spreadsheet doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all….

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

The Paradox of Positive Thinking

We read a lot these days that our thoughts create our reality. I believe that. But I also believe that the positive thinking concept has got it a little backwards.

Our thoughts are born of feelings. They flow from where we’re at, a silent dialogue of the emotion that birthed them.

Moments of peace create peaceful thoughts, moments of joy, joyful imaginings and moments of anguish naturally give way to darker wanderings of mind.

Trying to change the natural flow of this dialogue while you’re amongst it is like standing in the rain and affirming that it’s sunny. It is wholly unauthentic to where you’re at.

Maybe, instead of pushing to think positively we should allow our minds to quiet for a moment instead. We should take a walk outside or a hot shower or drink a warm cup of tea and just breathe. Maybe we should meditate and watch our breath and let our feelings ease.

It’s from that place of ease that we come back to ourselves. We come back to the best of us, the place where we think better because our feelings naturally create the dialogue we were pushing for.

From that place of ease we can choose our thoughts authentically, or just explore where clarity takes them. This is allowing, and all you need is that moment of silence within yourself to make it happen.

Positive thinking naturally evolves from positive feelings. So next time you feel down take a breath – don’t struggle to get away from where you are. Just ease into a better feeling place however works for you… and see where that takes you.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013