Books read in May

The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Strong Medicine by J K Hogan *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Rendezvous With Yesterday by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Seven Years by Dannika Dark *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tracking You by Kelly Moran *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*


“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

Have you ever had someone say something, ask something or do something that has suddenly catapulted you into an epiphany?  Suddenly everything makes sense.

I was talking to someone at work a few weeks ago about passions. Very few people actually make a living following their passion, and if you do, you’re damn lucky. One of my colleagues has a passion for health and fitness, and he’s starting a part-time business he does outside of work hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it ends up being his primary source of income. It’s funny, because he didn’t have to tell me that it was his passion, even after only working with him for a few months, it was obvious. Some people’s passions are like that. Others run quiet, I guess. Like mine.

One of my colleagues said that often the reason we didn’t follow our passion was a weak excuse. Like, we just let life get in the way. We didn’t fight hard enough for it. That may well be true. I said that my passion wasn’t really something that earned a lot of money, and that of course triggered the obvious question – what is mine?

I actually had to think about it. I enjoy writing. I enjoy photography. I enjoy family history. I enjoy scrapbooking, journalling, blogging, etc. I have a million projects on the go at any one time. It still amuses me to remember that a friend on once told me I needed to get a hobby. I have way too many. Well, maybe not hobbies, but projects. I definitely have too many projects. But which of these is my passion? Well, all of them. Because they all have something in common, and I hadn’t realised it until this question catapulted me into this epiphany.

My passion is preserving memories.

All my projects are about preserving memories. Blogging is about preserving memories. Scrapbooking is about preserving memories. Photography is about preserving memories. Family history is about preserving memories. I’m obsessed with preserving memories.

When people ask what my ultimate fear is, I usually answer that it is losing a loved one. This isn’t a cop out, this is genuinely my biggest fear. But putting aside that obvious (and unoriginal) answer, I have to confess that one of my greatest fears is leaving my projects unfinished. I hate the idea that the memories will be lost because I didn’t get a chance to complete the project.

There is definitely a part of me that wants to leave very clear instructions on how to complete my projects so that they’ll never been left unfinished, whatever happens to me. Is that weird? Am I totally nuts? I can’t see my husband ever completing them for me. Maybe my little sister would, but she’s got kids and a life on the other side of the ocean, she doesn’t have time for my projects. Maybe my daughter would one day. *shrugs* Maybe I should stop procrastinating and finish them myself!  After all, they’re my passion, right?

Pressure, perfection and parenting

Prompt: ‘We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.’ ~ Joan Halifax

A friend of mine recently wrote Sunday Funday — Bad Mum Cooking, about her struggles to be the perfect mother.

Everything I do is to try and be super mum, super business partner, super partner, super ‘Stepmother’ (oh and no one can say that with a tone quite like an 11 year old girl).

The school lunches, the dinners, the healthy treats .. it’s a big part of it. Like if I can just make the gluten free, nut free, low sodium, sugar free crackers that taste just like BBQ Shapes (aka kid crack), then I can take a break. Everyone will be happy and I will be a good mum.

On Sunday I wrote a letter to a friend of mine from, who is expecting her first child. I dared to give her advice, even knowing that soon-to-be mothers are inundated with so much advice (and much of it contradictory) that they can’t possibly use or even remember it all. I still couldn’t help myself.

The advice I gave Aly was much the same as I wrote in my comment on my friend’s entry.

There is no such thing as the perfect mother.  That person doesn’t exist. If you persist in trying to be that person, you are setting yourself up to fail. You will exhaust and depress yourself trying to achieve something that simply cannot exist.

I remember my in-laws telling me about a friend of theirs who insisted on making all her own baby food from scratch.  She was exhausted.  And with exhaustion comes stress and depression.  How can you being exhausted, stressed and depressed possibly be good for your child?  It can’t.  I can understand wanting to give your child the best possible start in life.  I’m a mother.  Trust me, I get that.  I’m not immune from the internal pressure.  If you think I haven’t cried because I thought I wasn’t good enough at this motherhood gig, you’re dead fucking wrong.  Maybe that’ll surprise some people.  But it’s true.

I’ve cried after shouting at my kids.  What sort of mother shouts at her children like a fucking fishwife?  A bad one, right?

I’ve cried when I’ve run out of money and my child had to eat sandwiches for dinner for a week because we had no money for hot meals.

I cried when my teenage son told me he’d been suicidal for a while in primary school, thanks to bullying.  I cried because I hadn’t intervened early enough to prevent him going through that anguish.

I cried when I left my three month old daughter with a caregiver and went to work, and then read on Facebook that a friend had written ‘No amount of money is worth more to me than this time with my children’.  Clearly working mums are bad mums.

I still make mistakes.  I always will.  Because no one is perfect.  No one is a perfect mother.  A perfect father.  A perfect wife or husband.  A perfect sibling or child.  My children are not perfect, my husband is not perfect and I am not fucking perfect.  But my children know I love them.  My children know they are important to me.  My children know that I will always do what I think is best for them, even if sometimes I’m wrong and it doesn’t turn out to be best for them.  My children won’t remember the week of sandwiches.  They’ll remember that I fell on my ass trying to ice skate with them.  My children won’t remember that I shouted at them.  They’ll remember how I nearly threw up after going on the scary rides with them at Rainbows End.  My children won’t remember that I wasn’t able to help out on school trips because I was working.  They’ll remember me spending hours helping them make a journal, bake a cake, do homework, draw a picture, do a cartwheel, whistle, or a thousand other things.

Ultimately, I believe that what children truly cherish is your time and attention.  The rest is important, yes.  But only up to a point.  It’s not worth making yourself miserable over. It’s okay to be the fun mum.  Honest.

History in the making

Prompt: What event in history do you wish you could have witnessed, and why?

There are so many moments in history that people live through, and it is only on reflection that we realise how significant and important they were. I saw the 9/11 terror attack unfold on my television screen, and although the events were shocking and dramatic and, yes, I wrote about them in my blog at the time, I could never have guessed that the date would become synonymous with that event forever after. There was the Global Financial Crisis, but that didn’t feel like an historical event, it just… It was something we lived through, and it lasted a while, and it trailed off, there was no sudden end, but… I lived through the Global Financial Crisis. It has a name and everything.

For me personally, one moment that screamed historical significance at the time was when New Zealand gave gay couples the right to marry.

Others we realise at the time. For me personally, one moment that screamed historical significance at the time was when New Zealand gave gay couples the right to marry. I was cheering from the sidelines and so pleased to witness that moment in history. When Barrack Obama was voted in as President of the United States, I knew that was an historical moment.

Many historical events in history are negative things. Wars. Tragedies of all kinds. Very few monumental moments in history are positive.

The prompt is worded in an interesting way. I was alive when Prince William and Kate Middleton married, but I sure as hell didn’t ‘witness’ the occasion. Unless you mean I saw it on TV. Does that even count?

When I first read this prompt, one event came to mind. Then I went and Googled historical events and waffled back and forth, but ultimately I ended up back where I started. I did consider personal events, like meeting my older brother who passed away before I was born, meeting my maternal grandmother who passed away before I was born, and so on and so forth. But I figured that’s not really the idea behind the prompt. So here goes…

On 19th September 1893, 87 years before I was born, New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant ALL women the right to vote, irrespective of race, class or wealth.

On 19th September 1893, 87 years before I was born, New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant ALL women the right to vote, irrespective of race, class or wealth. That was a pretty epic moment in history right there, and what’s more, it was MY country that did it. I think witnessing that moment would be seriously cool. While I was on Wikipedia, I also found this fun fact: From March 2005 to August 2006, the Head of State (the Queen), the Prime Minister, the Governor General, the Chief Justice and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Zealand were ALL women. That fucking rocks. Right? The five highest positions in the country all held by women at the same time.

So yeah, that’s my answer to the question. Witnessing the actual moment with my own eyes, or just being a citizen of this country when this historic moment occurred. Either way, that was pretty cool, and I’m pretty damn proud of my country.

The consummate host

There’s dust on the welcome mat
but the door stands ajar,
that awkward push-pull dynamic
as your people pleaser battles
(oh so politely)
with the introvert screaming at us
to fuck off.

The commentator on the telly
rolls out the old cliche
about it being a game of two halves,
and I gratefully accept a drink
while noting that the door remains     ajar,
a reminder
that I haven’t left yet.