What did you expect?

Hello, I’d like to introduce you to your expectations.

Perhaps you’ve met them before. Perhaps others have too, or failed to for that matter.

Maybe Christmas met them, every last one of them and they rolled away deliciously fulfilled.

Or maybe not.

There are so many expectations at Christmas time. Big, small, anxious, wild; even those that are tucked away so incredibly well that it’s easy to forget someone is carrying them at all.

Some are small, or at least we pretend that they are, because if we can just make them small enough maybe they wont matter. They hide so well don’t they? Behind smiles, jokes, wine glasses. They can stretch uncomfortably behind silences, or jump out uninvited between words.

Kids often haven’t learned to hide theirs. Should they? The answer is probably somewhere between manners and truth, and how many people they bowl over when they run into a room expectations first.

Adults handle them dozens of different ways. Sometimes they’re as loud as their owners or downright impossible to meet. Sometimes they’ve been let down so many times they expect the worst, pre emptive disappointment might seem easier.

They tug at heartstrings with the ferocity of a candy cane hungry toddler pulling on a parents sleeve.

We can push them aside over and over again… but they don’t really go away, do they?

So why don’t we just bring them out in the open right now, and really look at them. Yours, not everyone else’s. There are too many to meet all at once so let’s be selfish for a minute.

What did you expect at this intense time of year? Did you get it?

This isn’t about gifts, but it can be, they’re your expectations after all, so they can be about anything you want and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

There’s no right or wrong – just easy or hard.

So here’s a better question; how did your expectations contribute to your enjoyment of this time of year? Did they make it easier or harder?

 

Did you meet your own expectations?

If not, ask yourself; were they kind, within your abilities and truly important?

Sometimes not meeting our own expectations means we need to make better choices, change habits or give ourselves a push. Sometimes the expectations we have for ourselves are so big they forget to allow for the beautiful mess of being human. So if you need a push, good. If you need to stop pushing and cut your expectations down to size, that’s good too. You’re never going to know if you don’t look at them.

 

Did other people meet your expectations? 

If not, let’s start with the obvious; did they know you had them? Did you tell any of the ridiculously busy people who mean the world to you that you were carrying these expectations around and how much they mattered to you? Or were you so in the habit of pushing your expectations aside that no one could meet them because they didn’t even know that they were there.

It’s ok, you know, to say that you want or need something – even if it’s just a hug or to be really truly heard.

 

Did events meet your expectations? 

This time of year is so fraught with doing things how we think we should because of society, religion or family. If the events you went to met your expectations then I’m so glad – you deserve that. But we get this idea of how things should go and sometimes it’s absolutely fine to shake those expectations up a bit, not lower them, just change what they look like.

Your easier, happier, more joyful holiday season does not have to look like anyone else’s. It shouldn’t feel like fake smiles and disappointment. It should make you feel good.

We’re about to start a brand new year and all the goals in the world wont make it joyful if you don’t bring expectations to the table too. Own them. Play with them. Change them. Be bold with them. Maybe don’t hold onto them so tight.

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Yours to carry

But darling, what if you trusted?

This thing you’re carrying, this weight that’s crushing the breath from your lungs, what if it isn’t yours to carry?

What if there are different kinds of strong?

What if the strength taken to hold onto this thing that is breaking you, is far less than the strength it would take to let it go?

You have convinced yourself that if you try hard enough you can carry not just your own reality, fears and hopes, but lighten the load on your loved ones. You are carrying the problem, how you perceive the problem and how you fear society perceives the problem. You are carrying not just what is heavy, but the weight of everyone.

Your love ends up denying them their own strength. They can do this.

And society? Can go fuck itself.

You’ve been carrying all this so long you’ve convinced yourself that this heaviness is normal. Lightness feels stolen. It feels temporary. It often is. But so is fear and struggle.

Don’t hold on so tight.

There will always be struggle. There will always be joy. Walk lightly with both.

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Today

Welcome to today. Where will you take it?

We are prone to starting the morning with distractions. A screen, a to do list, a scramble to complete perpetual chores. We start it with our mind in yesterday, at that appointment, that meeting, in next week, on Christmas morning making sure all presents are under the tree. It is ferociously hard some days just to open your eyes and breathe.

But today has something for you, and it’s worthy of filling your lungs with the breath of it.

When we feel the calling of something we often switch off. The world seems to validate what we do far more than who we are.

We try to quiet it, because growth feels uncomfortable and we have been taught for so long that discomfort is to be avoided rather than explored. It takes courage to openly wonder. It takes courage to sit in this feeling as it stretches us. To remember that this feeling that feels too big for our chest is happening for us, not to us.

Today life is calling you to growth in some way. It has plans to make you laugh, give you pleasure, fill you with music… and leave you different than the day before.

This day is not an accident; a random flip of the calendar as it moves from one to another. This day has purpose.

You are not an accident; your quirks, desires and dreams that feel too silly to say out loud. This day has a purpose for you.

Ask questions of yourself today. Big questions. Hard questions. Delicious questions.

You have the answers, they’re woven into the fibres of your being.

Listen to them.

What do you want to create in this world? In this life? In your health? In this family or work of yours?

Welcome to today. This is day one.

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Take what you need

Earlier in the week I felt the kind of sadness that feels like it’s crushing you from the inside out.

Nothing was particularly wrong; everything was ok except me.

I felt flat, like I’d let out a breath and couldn’t get it back again. Like everything was too hard. I was trying, I was trying so much and it just wasn’t working. I felt like I could break.

I’ll tell you how it turned out in a minute, but first I want to tell you a story about a woman making a fruit salad…. without having any fruit.

She wanted it. She tried. She read books about fruit salads. She meditated about the fruit salad. She was cheerful. She tried harder. She set goals. She knew she should be able to make this fruit salad happen – other people did every day. She tried even more to make it work. It didn’t work, and anyone can see why.

It seems obvious to say that you need the ingredients for what you’re trying to create.

It’s obvious about the fruit salad, not so much in our own lives. Every day intelligent people are walking around trying to make something happen without giving themselves what they need.

So back to me feeling like crap.

I tried everything. I was eating well, meditating, moving, reading great books, getting outside… but I wasn’t getting enough rest. It was only when I stopped all the trying that I realised I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t down, I was *exhausted*.

When something’s off in our bodies, other things feel off in our lives, and if we look hard enough we can always blame it on something outside of ourselves. Nothing works, and the more we try the more discouraged we become because we can’t make it happen, and it gets harder and harder to see why.

If you’re trying to make a fruit salad you need fruit. If you’re trying to make a healthy, happy life you need nourishing food, good people around you, things you care about, sunshine, movement, and rest – you need to give yourself permission to stop if you’re ever going to get anywhere.

Like thirst can disguise itself as hunger, exhaustion can disguise itself as anger, worry, anxiety, sadness, stress and little problems suddenly feeling too heavy to carry.

When I gave myself permission to really truly rest, do you know what got easier? Everything. The battles i’d been fighting weren’t won – they didn’t need to be – they weren’t even there anymore.

Maybe you’re tired too, or maybe there’s another ingredient missing in what you’re trying to create right now. Openly and honestly look for it – then go get it. You’d never kid yourself into believing you can make a fruit salad without ingredients, don’t think you can get what you want without giving yourself what you need.

fruitsaladCopyright Nirvana Dawson 2018

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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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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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

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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Outtakes

We all have nutty days, and I like to photograph them.

I’ve always taken more photos on the days that feel like chaos – in the quiet moments, in the laughing moments, the moments in between the utterly normal madness of family life.

In the evening I can sit down and look back on the day that just exhausted me, and I don’t see the tantrum over the broken stick or the kids arguing in the car, I don’t hear “he LOOKED at me!!” or two boys in mad debate about who got into the garage first… I see the joy. It’s always there. There’s always so much happiness in between the moments that drive us mad on those days. There’s always giggles between the whinging, always delight between the cranky faces. There are adventures of huge dogs or lizards eating apple by the beach, there are sand castles and hermit crabs to find and sunshine that could melt winter.

Those are the highlights and they look so good in photographs.

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Then again… what about the rest?

We always laugh at outtakes don’t we? But we often forget to laugh at our own outtake moments, the ones that don’t quite make the cut. Admittedly it’s not always funny at the time when you’re asking your toddler not to lick his shoe, or being given an extensive booger collection. It doesn’t always make you smile when your child can’t possibly poo in a public toilet because it’s not sparkly enough, or when your shopping trolley keeps going missing when you turn around, but later… I think I’m going to start capturing some of those moments too.

You see I didn’t really appreciate our outtakes today. I was tired, and they didn’t feel funny then. But tonight I went through photos and I found this one…

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It summed up today perfectly.

I think I’ve been missing a lot on these nutty days. I’ve wanted to capture the good bits to make memories, forgetting that the best memories are loud and colourful and feel a bit like madness at the time. The chaos of these days is as fleeting as the cuteness, and maybe I’ll appreciate it a little more if I mix up my highlights with the outtakes.

Because honestly, you can’t help but laugh can you?