words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

How to avoid feeling old

IMG_3836Why is it that a five minutes of running on a treadmill can seem like an eternity, but 10 years can pass in a flash?

Or that 30 minute appointment at the dentist seems like hours, but a night out with friends is over before you know it.

Why is it, that your child’s first day at school seemed to last longer than the many years they actually spend at school?

It truly is one of life’s great mysteries to me. That time can go by at different speeds even though it is a finite entity.

Time is something that continues to tick on, one minute after the next, slowly adding up until a substantial amount of time has passed. It doesn’t slow down or speed up as many of us think it does. In fact, the speed of time passing seems to be relative to its significance or enjoyment.

Albert Einstein (the clever man that he was), summed it up perfectly:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

Last week, two things happened made me realise just how quickly time can pass.

The first was when my son lost his last baby tooth. The last visit from the Tooth Fairy left me wondering where did that time go? How did we get here all of a sudden? It wasn’t that long ago we were waiting for his first tooth to come through. It seemed like yesterday when he lost his very first tooth (at his Nana Jude’s house!) Yet here he was, with none of his original teeth left.

The second was the form we received from school for my son to apply to attend high school next year. Hang on! Haven’t we just settled him in primary school? Why is it time for him to think about heading off to high school?

However, the series of school photos on my desk tells me that it is time for us to fill in this form. That he is indeed in his final year of primary school, and time is not playing a trick on us.

Psychologists call this tendency to think past events have happened more recently than they actually have, ‘forward telescoping’. It happens to us all. Often, we are surprised that significant events happened so long ago. Case in point — my son starting primary school and losing his first tooth.

There seem to be a few theories as to why time speeds up as we get older, which are interesting to read. However, the existence of these theories doesn’t change the fact that time marches on.

If the speed at which the last ten years has gone by is anything to go by, I’d say that I will be nearing retirement age before I know it! In fact, while having dinner with friends a few weeks ago, one of them ‘kindly’ pointed out that it is only 15 years until some of us would be in our 60s…. That was truly shocking.

It made me realise that time isn’t an endless commodity that can be squandered. I also realised that thinking about all the things that had already passed, made me feel a little old.

Many of us fail to realise that getting older is a privilege. I know I am guilty of that sometimes. A part of me can’t help wishing my kids would stay little. Sometimes I feel sad that the things we did together when they were small are all in the past, never to happen again. However, the fact that time has disappeared so quickly is surely an indication that we have all had a great time along the way.

While it’s great to look back and relive memories, spending most of our time looking back and wishing things were different is not great. It means we miss a new lot of experiences — things that are happening now, and things that will happen in the future, new friends and new opportunities.

don't regret growing olderMy son is not upset that his last tooth has gone. In fact, it means that he is now a step closer to getting his braces on (which is kind of a cool thing these days). As for going to high school, well he can’t wait to meet a whole lot of new friends and learn new things. He’s more than willing to embrace the next phase of his life.

The challenge for me is to embrace the next phase too — in particular, accepting that my children are getting older. Instead of wondering where my ‘little kids’ have gone, I should be engaged in the new experiences that await them, eagerly anticipating the future alongside them, rather than feeling sad (and old) for what has passed.

And maybe, just maybe, I will be so busy having a ball with them (like I have for the last 10 years), that I won’t have time to realise that I am getting older as well.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copy writing, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

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Life is like….hurdles!

IMG_3512

Sometimes you fly…

Today I attended our school Athletics Day, which also doubles as our District Athletics selection trials. Grades 3 to 6 children compete in up to five events that they select, and the winner of each event goes on to represent our school in the District Athletics competition held each year.

This was the first year that my daughter was old enough to be involved. My son, had participated in previous years and had been selected to represent the school in high jump and triple jump in the past. Being an ‘old hand’ at it, he knew what he wanted to achieve for the day, the events he knew he was good at, and what he enjoyed doing.

My daughter on the other hand is somewhat more hesitant, and is happy to be involved in anything really. However, she’s not particularly gifted when it comes to athletics. I’m not saying she’s hopeless, because she’s not. She’s just happy to stand around and chat to her friends and ‘have a go’, when it’s her turn. She doesn’t have natural talent, and she doesn’t have a passion to improve her skills. And that’s okay, because her talents lie elsewhere. Her goal for the day was ‘to maybe win a ribbon, and not fall over’.

When she told me she had selected hurdles, I couldn’t believe it. She knew my opinion of that particular track event (and it isn’t very favourable, having had a bad experience at high school. But that’s another story).

“Why hurdles?” I asked.

“Because I like jumping,” she said. Fair enough.

It soon became clear that the grade 3 kids were going to jump the same height hurdle as the grade 6 kids. None of these ‘little’ hurdles that they used to trot out. I felt sick to my stomach.

You see, the track they were doing the hurdles on is very unforgiving. In past years, many a child has come to grief doing hurdles, limping off with patches of skin missing from various parts of their bodies. My daughter fell during the 800m on that track about 18 months prior. Not only did she end up with bandages on most parts of her body, including her chin, but there was a visit to the hospital afterwards to make sure she hadn’t broken a finger.

No wonder her goal was to ‘not fall over’.

So as time ticked by, I watched the groups of kids run their hurdles race.

Some of the kids were like gazelles. Running fast, leaping gracefully over hurdle after hurdle. It really was a beautiful thing to watch. I for one, was amazed at their courage and ability.

Then there were others who were a bit more hesitant. They’d run, get to the hurdle, slow down, psych themselves up and go over it. Sometimes they’d take the hurdle with them and sometimes they wouldn’t. There were even children who stopped and walked over them.

And then there were the poor kids who tripped and fell, and lay bleeding and broken on the track.

But the most inspiring were those who tripped, fell and picked themselves up again, only to keep going. They didn’t care that they were last. They didn’t even care that they were bleeding. They just wanted to get up and keep going.

It occurred to me that life is sort of like a hurdles race. We all have hurdles to get over. Sometimes we fly over them, hardly noticing they are there.

Sometimes we need to psych ourselves up because all we see is this barrier between us and where we need to go. However, the hesitating and psyching ourselves up is sometimes what causes us to fall and in hindsight, we’d be better to just run fast and take a leap of faith.

But other times, like those kids today, we fall. We trip and land with a thud. Sometimes the fall is brutal. We may feel like our whole body is bleeding. And the easy thing would be to just lay there and not go on.

But those who do go on, despite their ‘failings’, despite the fall and despite the embarrassment, are the ones who are the true winners. They are the ones who get the most applause and admiration. They are the ones who show us that it’s okay to fall over. They are the ones who bring tears to our eyes as they continue the race, despite the pain they are in. Despite the fear that they may fall again, and again.

For the record, my daughter’s experience of her hurdle race was a combination of the above. She flew over the first hurdle, and just missed tripping over the girl who fell in front of her. She hesitated a moment while she asked the girl if she was okay, and then continued on. She walked over the second hurdle, jumped over the third, and then tripped and fell on the fourth. I watched her, knowing that she would be hurting, yet wondering what she would do next.

She got up, looked at her knee, brushed her hands together, and kept going! She stepped over the next couple of hurdles, taking one down with her, but she finished with a smile on her face!

I was so proud of her.

IMG_3513

…and sometimes you don’t

When I tucked her in bed tonight, I asked her what was the hardest thing about today.

“The hurdles,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because I fell over and it really hurt.”

“So why did you keep going then?”

“Because I wanted to be brave. I like being brave, and when I’m brave, it helps other people be brave. Anyway, lots of people fell over today and some of them kept going, so I knew I could too.”

“Do you think you’ll do hurdles again, next time?” I asked, fully expecting an emphatic ‘no’.

“Well, maybe,” she said.

WHAT?!

I had to ask why she would volunteer to do them again.

“Because I want to get better at them. Because if I’m better at them, I won’t be so scared of them.”

My daughter is 8. They are some wise words from an 8-year old.

So what will you do, next time you fall over your hurdle? Will you lay there and pull out of the race because you’re hurt and afraid? Or will you brush yourself off and finish the race, no matter how far behind the others you are? No matter how scared you are, to carry on?

The choice is yours.

 

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

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