Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Fighting the negative

I've been surrounded recently with negativity.

There's been plenty of complaining about people not doing what they should, not telling others what they need to know, not treating others the way they should, not having the same opinions... it goes on and on.

Along with this has been the stress of the "silly season" and the hot weather.

I've also been hearing of hard times that friends and acquaintances are suffering through.

Then there's all the craziness that's going on in the world at large, along with the fears and deeply-held convictions and conflicts it stirs.

And I find myself fighting desperately against this vortex of negativity.  I don't want it to suck me in and suck the life from me!

So how can I fight the tide?

I try to start with a little self-care.  You can't fight anything if you've got nothing in your tank, so I try to get enough sleep, nutritious (and delicious!) sustenance, and soaking the stress away at the end of the day in the pool is a good start (if it was winter, I'd be running a bubbly bath and lighting a couple of scented candles).

Next I try to remember how much good is in my life, and the things I like about the people around me.

This can be exceptionally hard when the people around me are making my life difficult and adding stress to my day, so it helps to have a list in the back of my head from when times aren't so stressed that I can whip out on days like these!

That person who just turned a busy patch into insanity, may also be the person who takes the time to ask about your life, adds laughter to the day, and contributes significantly to the great environment that normally exists.

You can't go past the power of music in the fight against the negative!  For me, the most effective is a bit of Michael Bubl'e, Meghan Trainor, Human Nature, or good Christmas carols.  Although, a bit of P!nk is often great, too!

Find something that makes you feel good, move, sing (even if it's out of tune!) and lifts the tension.

Finally, doing something for others is SO good for the soul and is a powerful weapon on the war against negativity.

Grabbing a cheap box of icy poles and distributing them to over-heated, cranky workers out in the sun, delivering a care-package to a friend who's having a bad time, making a call to someone who's lonely, or sending a letter to a loved one (a hand-written, snail-mail posted letter is incredibly special!) - it all takes your focus away from the negativity you're surrounded by, and lifts your vision to the "possible".  It reminds you that there's more to life than the current period of stress, and that people are worthy of love and respect.

I don't always win this battle.  There are moments, days, sometimes months when I succumb and dump my bleuch all over the world along with everyone else.

But I will keep fighting because I want my life to be full of the positive, the life-affirming, the reality that life is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Summer's here!!!

You might be forgiven for thinking it's the middle of Summer here in Central Queensland!  But, apparently it's still Spring!

This week has seen temperatures hovering close to 40 degrees Celsius (about 104 Fahrenheit), with it only dropping to mid-twenties overnight.

We are exceptionally grateful to have a pool at the moment!  The Fellas have spent several hours each afternoon in it, playing, wallowing and drinking fizzy drinks.

At work the poor guys are repairing our mine machines (dozers, dump trucks etc.) out in the direct sun and you can tell how much it's wearing them down.  We've taken icy poles around to them in the afternoons to attempt a little relief, and they've been wearing those neck ties that you keep in the fridge or freezer for cooling you down.

I'm looking forward to the other side of a Queensland summer - the thoroughly drenching rains!

A couple of weekends ago we had 18mm (about 3/4") in one afternoon, with a bit of rain the few days before and after.  The ground has suddenly come to life again!  Just a few weeks ago I couldn't even remember what it looked like around here when the grass was green - it had seemed SO long ago!

But we went to visit friends at our little town down the road and the paddocks were rich with green grass!

I can't tell you what that does for the soul around here!

Don't get me wrong!  Farmers are still suffering - there has still been no rain further West - but a little greenery adds hope where little could be seen or felt.

I do love Summer, although Autumn (Fall) is my favourite.  Summer has the long days, the relaxed pace, swimming and ice-cream and the freedom of dresses and shorts.  Sitting outside and having a BBQ with family or friends (whilst being devoured by mosquitoes - definitely not my favourite!!).

And here in Australia, Summer is also Christmas and New Year.  And y'all know how much I love Christmas!!!  This year I'm extra excited because we'll be spending it with my family in Victoria for the first time in 9 years!

We went out to dinner tonight at the local tavern and they occasionally brought up a count-down until the end of 2015.  It's been a big, good year for us

And I have to say that I'm excited about what might happen in 2016!  At the start of the year I wouldn't have thought we'd buy a house, I couldn't have imagined what a funny, intelligent child I would have at this end of the year, and I didn't think I'd love my husband more still!

So, I wonder what Summer will bring and how 2016 will change and refine us.  I'm looking forward to finding out!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Now what?

"Here it comes", I thought.  The conversation that I knew would take place in my office following the attacks on Paris had begun.

The boys were saying that all Muslims, Syrians, fill-in-the-blank should be taken out and shot because there's no way they're ever going to stop.

The girls were saying that you can't lump everyone in the same boat (pardon the pun) just because some are lunatics.

I don't normally write about events like this because 1, I don't have anything original to contribute to the conversation, and 2, because I don't see any point taking sides - it is rare to see anyone change their opinion!

So why now?  Why put something in the public arena that could be completely shot down?

Probably partly because I need to write to sort my own head out.

And I guess because I am a strong conflict-avoider in my own life and I'm desperately hoping that things will not go in the way I fear is almost inevitable.

See, the thing is that I can completely see both (the bazillion?) sides of the argument.  Radical extremists cannot be convinced to change their opinion and there is a case for ridding the world of them.

But if ridding the world of them involves destroying "innocent" lives along the way, up to what point is that acceptable?

There's a graphic that has been floating around Facebook that says something along the lines of there being 6 million Muslims in France and that only a tiny fraction of a percentage were involved in this series of attacks.

It's true!  Not every Muslim is a psychotic, fanatical killer!

But how do you find the ones who are and protect everyone else?

My problem with almost all of the comments I've heard and read in the past 24 hours (has it only been that long???) is that they are completely black and white.  Kill them all or don't hurt anyone in case that person is innocent.

But the world is not, has never been and will never be black and white!  It is grey and blue and red and yellow and a myriad of colours that meld to be both beautiful and horrific.

I'm sorry folks, but there is no simple answer.

I think part of the reason that these attacks in Paris have rocked our world so much is that, unlike Beirut and Baghdad, Paris feels like us.  It could have been in Australia or England or America.  France is part of the accepted West - a culture of intelligence and freedom.  Which, unfortunately is not how the majority of people view other places where atrocities have occurred recently.

So, now what?

We can't create another Holocaust and attempt to destroy every Muslim in the world.

But we can't let these fanatics get away with murder and the creation of fear and panic, and the destruction of our way of life (and our economy wink wink).

I don't have any answers.  Sorry.  If you got this far into this post and were hoping for them, I sincerely apologise for disappointing you.

But I think those who pray need to pray not only for the victims and their families and friends who feel so keenly their loss.  I think those who are perpetrating these unspeakably horrible acts, and those who are training them or planning to carry out similar attacks in the future, these people need our prayers too!

Perhaps the power of prayer can change hearts and minds!

Perhaps the power of prayer can remind these people of the humanity of their victims!

Perhaps the power of prayer can find a way through this awful mess to a peaceful solution.

What else?  What if prayer isn't your thing?

I think questioning any statement or solution that is black and white is a great place to start.

Don't be lulled into the false sense of security that "moral outrage" provides.  Think about the meme or photo or quote that you're sharing on social media and ask if it's helpful or informative or already been shared a bazillion times.

Try to understand the validity of people's arguments, while acknowledging that most statements at a time like this (including the apparently peaceful ones) come from a place of fear.

I don't have the answers.  I'm just a girl who is afraid of the potential effects of the mean-spiritedness of humanity, which shows itself both in acts of terrorism, and in words of bigotry and parochialism.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Rambling on

It's warm here tonight, although it's cooled significantly since the sun has gone down.  I got home from work and had a swim with the Little Big Fella and I'm still in my swimmers, five hours later.

The weather forecast is for storms this weekend and I really hope we get some rain.  The land is so dry.  Rain brings hope and the ability to keep going for another season.

The Christmas spirit sparked for me this week.  I'm not sure that it sparked for me at all last year, so it's nice to have it popping up so early this year.  I'd be playing Christmas carols if it didn't bug everyone around me!

It all started when I popped into our local "cheap shop".  You know the kind; plenty of junk and cheap variations of every day "necessities", craft products, hair and makeup, gardening, pet items... you get the gist.

I'd actually left the office for my lunch break (!) and dropped into the cheap shop because I'd seen a great idea for a teacher gift on Pinterest.  The Little Big Fella absolutely loves his teacher, so I've been thinking I'd love to give her something a little special as a Christmas/end-of-year gift.

I didn't find what I was hoping for, but I did wander my way through the Christmas aisle and found a couple of exciting ideas amongst the junk items.  I started imagining the various things I could put together fairly easily that would (hopefully) be somewhat meaningful for the receivers.

And the thought of giving sparked my Christmas spirit.

I came home that afternoon and pulled out my outdoor decoration project.  It's something I hope people in the community will enjoy seeing, and possibly interacting with.

Again, the thought of others enjoying the fruits of my efforts boosted my spirit.

I called my parents and they were both home and not busy, and we had a great chat.  They're SO excited about us spending Christmas with them, and I know it's going to be another great time with the people I love so dearly.

My not-so-little boy has been riding to school with the older boy from next door for the past few weeks.  I wasn't ready for him to not need me already.  After spending so much time with him it's been quite odd to have such short evenings with him.  And he's been playing and swimming so hard that he often falls asleep very quickly in the evenings.  I've missed our bedtime chats and stories.  I guess it's time to find new ways to connect with him.

We received a quote from the electrician today for installing ceiling fans in the bedrooms and replacing the living area ones that don't work.  The house is slowly starting to feel like our home, but I keep having these odd moments where I think the "owners" are going to come back and our holiday will be over.

The Big Fella will be working all of this weekend.  I hate the parts of his roster cycle that feel as though we don't see him.

I started exercising again four weeks ago.  I'm getting stronger each week, which I definitely like.  But my self-control with food definitely needs some more work :-}

I'm tired and rambling so that will do for tonight.  Hopefully it will be stormy over the weekend and I can show you all some pictures of our home because I won't be outside swimming or whatever else.

Sleep well, friends!