words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the category “Family life”

My extraordinary life

A riddle: What is more precious than gold, but cannot be bought, earned or saved?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s something we often say we don’t have enough of, particularly when we are busy. Yet when we stop and take a breath, we wonder where it went.

Time.

Time is a funny thing.

A minute of sprinting (when you’re not very good at it), can seem like an hour.

A 30-minute filling at the dentist can feel like years.

Waiting several weeks for a special celebration can seem like an eternity.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

I have made so many different cakes over the years.

Yet 10 years can go in an instant.

We have just celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday.

To celebrate her ‘double-figures’, she had a special party with nine of her friends. We spent months planning it, organising invitations and lolly bags.

The day of her birthday I spent hours making her cake, and organising her special birthday dinner.

The following weekend, we hosted an extended family celebration, and spent days preparing food and getting the house ready.

By the time we took a breath, it was all over, and our little girl — the baby of our family — had turned 10.

We wondered aloud: “Where did the last 10 years go?”

After all the presents had been unwrapped and the leftover cake put away, I looked through the countless photos of birthdays past, including the plethora of cakes that I had made over the years — 12 years in fact.

There were cupcakes and fairy cakes, lolly cakes and monster cakes, flowers and butterflies, a tennis court, a house, a piano and even an artist’s palette.

I remember making every one of them, each time thinking, “this is taking a forever”, or something along those lines. Yet the only thing remaining of those cakes is photographic evidence that they ever existed.

I am sure all of us are caught in this time warp of sorts — impatient for a moment to pass, yet reminisce about time gone by, because it happened all too quickly.

Mindfulness experts often bang on about being ‘present in the moment’. They believe it is a way to improve happiness and deal with difficult times. However mindfulness is not always possible, or desirable. I for one like to think about something else while the dentist drills my tooth for a filling. Furthermore, finding a quiet coffee shop is much preferable to wandering around a shopping centre focusing on the screams of a 2 year-old having a tantrum.

But I understand the point. We should be ‘present in the moment’, and filing it in our memory bank, rather than focusing on rushing to the next moment.

One of my favourite movies is About Time. It’s the story of a young man called Tim, who is told shortly after his 21st birthday that every male in his family has the ability to travel back in time — but only to a point in time that they have already been in.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

The artist’s palette, tennis court and house were particular favourites.

All they have to do is enter a dark place (like a cupboard), close their eyes, think of where they’d like to go, squeeze their fists and there they are. Once they are in that moment, they have the opportunity to correct any ‘wrong’. Some of these ‘wrongs’ are small, embarrassing moments that happen to most of us. Some have wider-reaching consequences.

Towards the end of the movie, Tim’s father shares of how he used the gift of time travel. He used to live his day with all the anxiety, stress, frustration and busyness that it brought. Then he would go back and do it again, knowing that things would work out, and therefore able to enjoy the moment, enjoy his life and the interactions he had with people throughout the day. To experience the pure joy of living and making the most of the time he had.

Tim follows his advice for a while and lives each day twice. Eventually he stops travelling in time.

The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life.”

We all have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. We just need to show up, and notice it. We need to look for the enjoyment of it and actively participate in it.

It may be noticing the scenery when you travel in the car.

It may be watching your child’s soccer game, instead of playing on your phone.

It might be holding your partner’s hand while you watch TV.

Perhaps it’s making eye contact with the person you are having coffee with, instead of looking at everyone else in the coffee shop.

It may even be focusing on the simple task of icing and decorating a birthday cake.

As I look back over the last 12 years’ worth of birthday cakes, I am blessed to remember making each one of them. They were not just cakes and icing. They represent joyful celebrations of my kids’ lives. They represent their interests and passion at differing stages of their life. They represent joy and happiness and blessings — two blessings in the shape of my children.

They also serve as reminders, that I have indeed been blessed with an extraordinary life.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa 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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Lessons for living

Most parents look out for the lessons we can teach our kids.

We take the opportunity to teach them about fractions when they are helping us bake.

While reading a story we ask them to think of words that rhyme with a word on the page.

When going for a bush walk, we encourage them to look around to see how many different animals they can find.

Yet every now and then, our kids teach us lessons — if we just take the time to watch, listen and learn.

Today was my daughter’s school athletics carnival. It also doubled as selection trials for District Athletics.

For those of you who know my daughter well, she’s not a naturally gifted athlete. She’s always happy to be involved and give it a go, but athletics is not her passion. She’s more at home with a song in her heart, or her hands on the keyboard.

However, today she was more than happy to be involved. In fact, she had entered as many events as she could and was really looking forward to competing.

On the way to school, I asked her if she thought she’d make a District team.

“Maybe,” she said. “We practiced high jump yesterday.”

“How did you go?”

“Really good! I didn’t get out until the second time the rope went up.”

“Oh that’s good,” I said, secretly thinking she didn’t have a chance.

So I asked: “Will you be disappointed if you don’t make a team?”

“Nope!” she said. “I just want to go along, represent my house, have fun, do my best and try to be better than I was last year.”

As I dropped her off at school I promised to see her out on the field.

An hour or so later and we were ready to get underway.

Event number one was the 100m sprint. Ready, set, go! They were off. Down the track she runs, big smile on her face and only just scrapes in at second last.

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Over we go on the high jump

Event number two was high jump. While she’s lining up waiting to jump, she gives me a wave and a big smile. Time to jump. Over she goes. Another big smile. Fast forward a few jumps later and she ends up finishing fourth and wins her very first ribbon for a solo event. She was ecstatic!

Event number three rolls around. 200m sprint. She’s in the last heat with some fast runners. And they’re off. She’s leading initially, but only because she’s in the outside lane (LOL). Overtaken by one, overtaken by two. Soon, she’s running last. The other runners are getting faster and she seems like she’s slowing down. But all I can see is the smile on her face. It was so big it made my heart swell. As she crossed the finish line, the other girls cheer and pat her on the back with a “good job, Laura” or a “well done”. She is beaming. However, the best surprise is yet to come. Based on their times, she finishes 8th out of all the girls. I was shocked!

Event number four is the long jump. Once again she’s ready to compete and gives it her best. She comes away with nothing, not even a PB. Yet the smile doesn’t leave her face.

Event number five is the discus. She’s never thrown a discus before. She enters the cage and asks the teacher “What do I do?” I, (perhaps inappropriately), burst out laughing. She looks at me and laughs too. Then she swings the discus around and lets it fly, feeling very proud that she has done something new. On her second attempt, she betters her distance by more than 2 metres, and ends up finishing around 6th or 7th place!

After a break for lunch, it’s back out onto the field for the shot put. She’s never done that before either so I was interested to see how she’d go. She gets out there and her technique is fantastic for someone who has never thrown it before. Her best distance after three throws was 4 metres. Not good enough to win a ribbon, but her delight in improving with every throw is priceless.

The last event, number seven, is the triple jump. I don’t know if you have watched many kids attempt the triple jump but many of them struggle with the technique. Some kids get it and other kids don’t. Laura did and after three rounds finished with a PB of 4.95m and a fourth place ribbon.

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Throwing the discus for the first time

Two individual ribbons in one day! Neither of us expected that.

As I reflect back on the athletics carnival, there are five key lessons that I learned from my daughter:

LESSON No. 1. Always have a plan and know what you want to achieve. Laura’s goal was to “represent my house, have fun, do my best and try to be better than I was last year.” She wasn’t trying to ‘beat’ anyone. She wasn’t aiming to ‘win’. Those things weren’t important to her, so she focused on what did matter. As well as having fun, she achieved 3 PBs and won 2 individual ribbons.

LESSON No. 2. Don’t compare yourself. How many of us compare ourselves to other people and find ourselves wanting? A number of Laura’s friends are great athletes and usually win ribbons in most events. One of her best friends always cleans up at sports days. Today that girl entered 6 events and achieved 4 firsts, 1 second and 1 third. If Laura compared herself with her friends, she would have come home feeling discouraged and ‘not good enough’. Instead, she came home on a high, being proud of what SHE achieved.

LESSON No. 3. Always smile. One of the best things from today was Laura’s smile. She smiled before her events. She smiled during her events. She smiled when she came last. She smiled when she came fourth. She smiled for the whole day. She didn’t think about how slow she was while running. She didn’t worry about whether she was ‘winning’. She was just happy to be there in the moment, giving it her best.

LESSON No.4. Be proud of what you achieve. Laura is still beaming and is so proud of herself for ‘her best results ever’. On the way home from the carnival, she had to ring several family members to tell them how she went. When her dad came home from work, the first thing she did was show him her ribbons and the scrap piece of paper on which she recorded her PBs. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook our achievements, particularly when we focus on what others have achieved. But today Laura showed me just how happy you can be, by being proud of what YOU achieve.

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So proud of what she had achieved today.

LESSON No. 5. Cheer for others. Sometimes it’s difficult to cheer for other people. Sometimes we feel they don’t need it, or deserve it. Sometimes jealousy causes us to stay silent. However, when someone is cheering for you, it can mean so much. When Laura crossed the finish line of her 200m race, in last place and a long way behind the others, the other girls cheered for her. And I could tell in that moment, it meant the world to her, because the smile that was upon her face became even bigger.

Today was a good day. Actually, today was a great day.

While Laura didn’t qualify for the District athletics team, she taught me that with the right attitude, we can always feel like a winner.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa 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

 

How many jellybeans do you have?

words by nerissaHow do you spend your time?

How valuable is it to you?

That’s something I have been challenged by lately, especially in the last month before Christmas.

As we all enter the ‘silly season’, time seems like such a precious commodity. All of a sudden, our time seems to be eaten up by attending extra events — school Christmas concerts, sporting club breakups, work Christmas parties, etc. etc.

When you add to this the list of things you need to do to get ready for Christmas itself, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Your catch-cry becomes “I don’t have time”.

However, the beauty about time is that it doesn’t discriminate. Whether you are rich or poor, single or married, old or young, we all have 24 hours in the day. It’s what we do with our time that matters.

Recently, I saw this video. It really made me think about what I do with my time.

Take a look.

As the video says, we all are given a set amount of time. Some of us have more time than others, but we really don’t know just how much time we do have.

And yes, it’s true that we need to spend a great chunk of time doing certain things such as going to work, household chores, preparing and eating food, sleeping and travelling. After you take out all of those things, it really doesn’t look like we have that much time left.

But really, we do. I think the key is to find enjoyment in all the things we have to spend time doing. If you have to spend time preparing food, then prepare food that you enjoy, that will nourish your body and soul. When you eat that food, make it special — set the table or light some candles. If you have to travel in the car, then listen to the music you love, or take time at the traffic lights to look at your child’s beautiful face. If you have to go to work, then find something you love.

And while we can’t really control what happens during our sleep, we can make our bedtime rituals a relaxing and blissful experience. Maybe having a bath, reading a novel, or simply curling up in your favourite pyjamas with a cup of tea is what takes your fancy

Many of us, particularly at this time of the year, stress out about ticking the next thing off our list. But as the video above shows, none of us know how much time we have left.

When we rush around and forget to live, we are really rushing towards the end of our lives.

How valuable is your time? And what would you do, if you only had one jellybean left?

Is nothing changing?

words by nerissa blogHave you ever wanted something to change?

Have you ever worked towards something, thinking that nothing is happening, your goal is no closer, or your circumstances are no different, despite the hard yards you are putting in?

Let me tell you, changes ARE happening.

The other week, I took my kids to get their hair cut. On the way, my  son spoke up.

“You know what’s weird?” he asked.

“What?”

“Well, your hair is growing all the time, but you can’t really see it growing when you look at it. It’s only when you look at it after some time has gone by that you notice it’s different. That it needs cutting.”

WOW!

Often we get impatient and want to see results now.

Society has conditioned us to expect things straight away. A typical example is the weight-loss industry. How many ‘quick-fixes’ are doing the rounds? (Countless) How many of them work? (None — at least not for the long-term) How many people still buy into them? (Millions).

Why? Because people want an instant result. Even though their head may tell them it won’t work, in their heart they are desperate for it to. They can’t bear the thought of weight-loss taking time.

Similarly, how many people spend money on the lottery every week? (I’m not sure, but I’d guess the number is in the thousands). Why? Because they want to ‘get rich quick’.

The same thing with tax-returns. Some accounting firms now offer ‘instant tax returns’ — some even promising cash within the hour! Why? Because as a society we have forgotten the art of being patient.

Sometimes we can get so caught up with ‘seeing immediate results’, that we miss the other things that may be happening around us.

My beautiful boy, (like millions of other kids) is a living testament that hundreds or even thousands of changes are happening all the time.

As he is about to transition from primary school to high school, I can’t help but think back to when he was a baby. I remember the day he came home from hospital — so tiny and helpless. His legs and arms were long and thin, reminding me of a skinned rabbit. His hands so tiny in mine.

From this...to this

From this…to this

Day after day I would care for him, talk to him, read to him, walk with him, and it seemed as if he gave nothing in return. It seemed like all he did was eat, sleep (although he didn’t do much of that!) and require plenty of nappy changes. But bit by bit, little changes were happening. His hair grew, his eyelashes grew and he needed the next size in clothes. After a few months he rolled over. A few months later he sat up, began to talk and once he was walking our little baby had gone and in his place was a toddler.

Like many parents, I would catch myself thinking that I couldn’t wait for a certain stage to be over — “I can’t wait until he sleeps through the night”. “Won’t it be great when he is out of nappies?” “Imagine when he can get in the car by himself and do up his own seat belt.”

Some of the stages were difficult and some were delightful. However, all of them were necessary in his growth as a boy.

Fast forward almost 12 years and he is now only a centimetre or two off my height. Over the past 12 years, countless changes have occurred. Some of them I noticed along the way yet others have snuck up on me.

These changes may be almost 12 years in the making, but in some ways, they have all happened too quickly. When I take a step back, it’s hard to believe the young man in front of me was the same little bundle I brought home from hospital.

Things in our lives are changing all the time. Yet when we look for changes we never seem to see them. Sometimes all we can see is the difficult stage and we find ourselves wishing for the next stage — “I can’t wait until my business is profitable.” “Won’t it be great when we own our own house?” “I wish I was a size 10 NOW!”

But the difficult stage is necessary, just as the delightful stage is necessary. In every stage there are lessons to learn, foundations to build, and changes to consolidate. Even though we may not be seeing many changes (or the changes we want to see), they are happening regardless.

If you are impatiently waiting for something to change in your life, then keep waiting. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey you are on. Don’t forget to look at everything else that is happening in your life. Everything that is good and even the stuff that’s not so good.

If all you ever do is focus on what is NOT happening, you’ll go through your life miserable and frustrated.

So take a step back and look around you. Take it all in. And when you glance back at the thing you are hoping will change, I’m sure you’ll find that it has.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa 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

Love letters to my daughter

Love letters to my daughter

Me and my girl – before she left for camp

It never ceases to amaze me how different my two children are.

My son is outgoing, confident and very social. He is confident in his abilities and strengths and is willing to ‘put himself out there’ and ‘have a go’ at anything. He never seems to be nervous of new situations — rather he embraces them as opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and do new things.

My daughter on the other hand is quite the opposite. She is quiet and reserved (until she is very comfortable with you). She approaches new situations tentatively and tends to worry about things. I’m sure this is partly to do with her lack of confidence in her own abilities (she often surprises herself with what she achieves). However, I have also come to realise and accept that part of who she is.

This week my daughter went on school camp. It was a big deal for her. There have been many weeks of worrying, surmising, thinking about ‘what if’. However, the biggest deal for her was being away from home for two nights, and not having me to tuck her in.

While she has had sleepovers at friends’ houses and with grandparents, she recently admitted to me that when it came to going to bed, she always ‘had water in her eyes’ when I wasn’t there to tuck her in.

Love letters for my daughterAs you can imagine, the anticipation of school camp has been a mixture of excitement and trepidation. —excitement for the adventure ahead, but trepidation about going to bed.

Before she left, she asked me to write her some notes.

“I want you to write me one for the first night, one for the second night and one each for the mornings,” she said.

When I asked her why she wanted notes, she answered simply: “Because it will sort of be like you are there”.

So the night before she went on camp, I got busy looking for some notepaper and envelopes. Would you believe it, I couldn’t find anything — and me a writer!

Finally, I found some blank cards and some stickers, so I designed my own cards and matching envelopes.

Love letters to my daughterAnd then I wrote the notes. When I was done, I sealed them, tied them up with ribbon and put them on top of her bag to find in the morning.

When she saw them, her smile was huge.

“Thanks so so so much,” she said. “You are the best mum ever. That is EXACTLY what I wanted.”

Of course, when it was time to get on the bus and leave me behind, there were floods of tears. But I know she took solace in the fact that a little piece of me was going on camp with her.

Last night and this morning, I imagined her reading my love letters to her… and I smiled.

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

 

Do less and do it well

words by nerissa

Lots of sorting got done today

Once again, it’s school holiday time.

As someone who runs a business from home, this can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’. Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with two noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

Really? You won’t believe it. Honestly, no sooner had I typed the words above, my eldest comes in and says “Mum, I’m hungry!”….so I’ll be right back……

(insert 37 minutes….)

Right — where was I? Oh that’s right, being interrupted!!

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

So these holidays, I decided to do something different. I didn’t take on any work.

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The art of cake decorating

Yes — I said ‘no’.

Instead, I am working intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They are important, but not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

Tasks such as updating my website, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. I haven’t worked at night, or early in the morning. I spent last weekend attending a personal development workshop, visiting friends and sleeping in. This weekend we are spending time with more friends (celebrating the end of AFL season, to be honest!) and taking the kids to the Melbourne Show.

Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. For the past three days, my son has been at a tennis clinic, and my daughter was occupied either watching a movie, playing with her barbies or at my parents’ house — so that’s when I worked.

This morning, the kids sorted out a plethora of books, pens, pencils and other ‘crafty’ activities that have been accumulating throughout the house, so I took myself off to the study to work. This afternoon’s activity was cup-cake making — something we all did doing together.

The great thing about my new approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

words by nerissa

What wonderful creativity

The other positive, is the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than how I’m going to fit it all in. There is also a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines do not exist for these two weeks. It’s an arrangement that seems to be working, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life. It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

Sometimes we need to do less, so we can do it well.

And on that note, it’s time to enjoy those cupcakes!

Until next time. xx

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

 

My greatest inspiration

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My two biggest inspirations.

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you run a taxi service to your kids in your spare time? Why do you go to church?

Why do you REALLY do these things?

Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’ve never taken the time to think about it before. Maybe you think you know, but you really don’t. Maybe you don’t even care.

However, if you don’t know the real reason behind the choices you make every day, then what you are doing is not really a choice. It’s either a habit, something you feel you ‘have to’ or ‘should do’, or something you do because everyone else is doing it.

When you know your real reason — your ‘WHY’ for doing the things you do, then the actual performing of these tasks (no matter how unpleasant/boring/time-wasting they may be), has a little more meaning, and therefore a purpose. It becomes easier to ‘roll with life’, because you are no longer just going through the motions, wondering what it’s all for.

Instead, your life becomes more focused, more meaningful and a lot happier. Because all of a sudden, you’re not just ‘going to work to pay the bills’. Instead, you ‘re ‘working so you can take that overseas trip’, or you’re driving the kids around ‘so they have an opportunity to develop friendships’.

See the difference?

The same goes for taking care of your health. Many of us say we ‘need to lose weight’ or ‘want to get fit’. Why?

If you ‘need to lose weight’ because everyone else is on a diet, then that’s not a good reason. If you ‘want to get fit’ because Cross-fit is the new best thing, then that’s not a reason either. Even a doctor telling you that you need to do something about your health is not a reason, unless it is YOUR reason. You have to own your reason. You have to really understand WHY you do the things you do.

I have recently done this with regard to my health. What started out as ‘wanting to lose weight’ has evolved into something more meaningful. I no longer care about my ‘weight’, because I have learnt that weight is only a small measure of the kind of person I am. Sure, I want to be living in a body that can continue to move as I age. I want to feel healthy and vibrant and enjoy life as I get older. I do want to feel good and happy about who I am. And the vainer part of me wants to look good! But my real reason — my WHY for training and eating and changing my life for the better, is not about me anymore.

It’s about the dream I have for my kids.

I don’t want them to bury me before my time or to watch me die from a disease I can prevent. I don’t want them to spend their adulthood caring for me, because I haven’t taken good care of myself. I don’t want them to spend their time taking me to doctors, hospitals and medical appointments, or worrying about my health. I want to know my grandkids and have a quality relationship with them. I want to do things with my family, rather than just watch from the sidelines. I want our time together on this earth to be of the highest quality it can be, doing things that matter and things that make us happy. Making happy memories instead of sad ones.

I want my kids to be happy. I want them to know what makes them happy. I want them to be strong enough in themselves to be who THEY want to be, not what the world tells them they should be. I want them to follow their own dreams and passions, whatever they are, and regardless of what others may say about it.

I want my kids to love and value themselves, and to see value in everyone they meet. I want them to inspire and encourage others to be better people. I want them to bring joy to the lives of others, simply by being themselves. I want them to respect themselves and those around them.

I want them to develop a love for healthy food and exercise, so they can live healthy lives. I don’t want them fighting disease, illness or depression. Instead, I want them to make the most out of life.

don't tell people your dreamsI want my kids to be the best they can be and know it’s okay to aspire to greatness. I want them to be proud of who they are as people and what they contribute to the world. I want them to value their uniqueness and special gifts they have been blessed with, and to use those gifts to help others.

I want them to be resilient enough to rise above negativity and hate, and know that when they experience that, it is not a reflection of them, but rather the person who is being negative and hateful. I want them to be confident in who they are, and to never, ever let others’ negativity get the better of them, or cause them to think negatively of themselves.

I want them to seize opportunities when they come along, without worrying about whether they are ‘good enough’ to follow through. I want them to be confident in themselves and their abilities. I want them to trust themselves, and know that they will always find a solution to a problem.

I realise that is a pretty big dream I have for my kids. But I believe it is a worthy dream.

While it’s true that none of us can control how our kids’ lives turn out, we do have an opportunity to model to them what we value in life.

I’m not saying that I am all of the above — but I am working on being so.

The interesting thing about all of this is that since writing down WHY I am making positive changes in my life, I find myself reflecting on the above while I am doing other seemingly mundane and meaningless things such as cleaning the bathroom, doing the grocery shopping and taking out the rubbish.

Although I am not fully embracing the less appealing tasks involved in raising kids, every now and then I catch myself thinking “Why am I REALLY doing this?” And it causes me to turn my negative feelings about these jobs into more meaningful ones.

Why do you do what you do?

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

Find your bliss

IMG_0001

My daughter made this for me last year.

As I sit here and write this, I am surrounded by a myriad of things.

There are reminders of my children — photos of them when they were younger, their first drawings, paintings they did for Mother’s Days past, handmade coasters and little notes they leave on my desk from time to time.

There are also books. Lots and lots of books on my desk. Some I have read, some are in the ‘to-read’ category. Some of them are related to my work, and some of them are for pleasure. Books give me a lot of pleasure.

I also have calendars, a diary, planners, paper, journals and lots of pens.  I love to plan and be organised. And being an old-fashioned girl, I like to do it the old-fashioned way — using pen and paper.

My favourite coffee cup sits on my desk, next to my hand cream, a candle and my ipod — things that I use on a daily basis.

Also sitting on my desk is my training program for the next 12 weeks, along with the goals I have set myself.

QUESTION: What do they all have in common?

ANSWER: They all make me happy.

One of my most favourite pictures of my kids, which sits on my desk.

One of my most favourite pictures of my kids, which sits on my desk.

Each day, we have choices to make. Very few of us are free to do whatever we like, whenever we like. We all have responsibilities and things we have to attend to on a daily basis — whether that means going to work to earn our living, raising a family, caring for loved ones, ferrying kids back and forth.

However, there is something that ALL of us can do to bring a little happiness to our days. Even if it is only having a coffee in your favourite cup, or listening to your ipod while you clean toothpaste off every surface in the children’s bathroom.

We all have different things that we love. Things we use, things we do, life choices we make that keep us happy.

We may not always understand why something makes someone else happy, but that’s okay.

For example, I don’t understand what part of bike riding is enjoyable. All I seem to get from it is a very sore backside. However, friends of mine are avid bike riders. They just about live in lycra. It’s their thing, their passion. One of my friends rides “Around the Bay in a Day” every year. That’s 250km in a day ‘for fun’. And he rides his bike from home to the start line, and then home from the finish line. So that’s more like 300km. I don’t get it. I admire him, but I don’t get it.

Just like some people don’t get why I love to lift weights. In some ways I don’t get it either. In my younger days I hated weight training. I would start a program but I would perform it half-heartedly, always having an ‘excuse’ not to do it. As I got older I knew I really should incorporate it into my exercise routine, if I wanted to stay healthy but I kept putting it off. When I was ready to tackle it, I told my trainer that I hated weights and that she would have to make it interesting if I was to stick at it.

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I had to include my son’s art work.

More than two years later, I now lift three times a week (soon to be four – WHOO HOO!) and I love it. In fact, I live for it. I love getting strong. I love feeling my muscles working. I love setting goals and working towards them. I love the place I have to go to in my mind before I lift something heavy. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get from lifting something that I thought was too heavy. And the masochist in me loves the sore muscles over the next two days.

(Some of you won’t get it. That’s okay.)

It’s part of my bliss. It’s also something new that I have found that I love.

But it’s not all of my bliss.

There are lots of other things that make me happy, some of which have made me happy for years.

Bliss for me is reading a book while enjoying a good red wine.

It’s a good coffee and some dark chocolate.

It’s planning and making lists and writing with pens and paper.

It’s a day on my own, just for me.

It’s a relaxing massage. Total bliss!

It’s cuddles in the bed with my kids.

It’s a great conversation with a good friend.

It’s sitting at my computer, free to write what I feel like.

My favourite beach.

My favourite beach – Caloundra.

It’s watching the ocean crash on the rocks.

It’s sitting in front of a campfire and laughing with friends.

It’s a warm bath at the end of a busy day.

It’s sitting on the couch, watching a great movie with my husband.

And it’s definitely all the reminders of the two little people in my life.

Bliss can be different things for different people. It’s not our job to judge whether the things that make others happy are good or bad, right or wrong. We just need to accept that sometimes other people do ‘crazy’ things because it makes them happy.

We all have a chance to have bliss in our days, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

The trick is working out what makes you happy, and working it into each day.

Where do you find your bliss?

follow your bliss2

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

Head in the sand? Absolutely!

I’m usually not one for avoiding the facts. Sometimes I might put off unpleasant tasks (just take a look at my ironing basket), but most of the time, my attitude is ‘if it needs to be done, just get on and do it’.

However, there is something I have been putting off, and putting off. I’ve been burying my head in the sand and living in denial. I’ve been pushing the thought of it out of my mind over and over again. For now, it is working. But I know that one day all too soon, I won’t be able to deny it anymore.

You see, my oldest is about to finish primary school.

What a difference 6 years makes

What a difference 6 years makes

I know that some of you reading this have been through this in the past couple of years — and you can empathise with me. Thank you.

I know that some of you have children who haven’t even started school yet, so cannot possibly comprehend them being old enough to head off to high school. But think for a moment of your little one starting primary school. It’s a little like that — only worse.

And then there are some of you who are wondering why is it such a big deal.

I too am wondering the same. After all, my son is ready to go off to high school. He is looking forward to new things, making new friends and beginning a new chapter in his life.

So if he is happy, why aren’t I?

Well, I am happy — sort of. I’m happy that he is ready to go, I’m happy that he wants to go. I’m happy that he has the confidence and sense of adventure that enables him to look forward to high school rather than be afraid of it. But that’s where it ends.

Truth be told, I’m not really ready for my boy to grow up.

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t enjoy absolutely EVERY single primary school activity. I mean, standing out in the driving rain, watching district cross-country is not much fun. Nor is being squashed in a gym for over an hour in 40+ degree heat watching over 100 kids receive basketball medals.

But overall, primary school has been a wonderful experience for both of us.

Events and activities such as the Prep Alphabet Concert, the Grade 1 Fairy Tale Ball, right through to the annual Christmas Concert, provided us with many laughs and fond memories (despite the headaches involved in sorting out costumes!).

Then there was the seemingly endless array of sporting activities — School cross country, District cross country, School athletics, District athletics, District tennis, Inter-school sport, After-school basketball, swimming, skip-a-thons, fun runs, etc. At the time, it seemed a big chunk out of my week to attend all these things. But really, they have come and gone in a blink of an eye and the only reminder is a bunch of ribbons and medals, and some photographs that showed just how little my boy was when he started school.

If the first year of primary school is a series of ‘firsts’, then the last year is a series of ‘lasts’. The last cross country, the last athletics day, the last school production, the last season of basketball.

I’m trying very hard not to think about these events as ‘the last’. For the most part I am succeeding. However, I know that when the school production is done and the last goal has been scored in basketball, a part of me will wish we could do it over again. I am sure there will be a tear in my eye.

As I sit here and write this, we have just under 18 weeks of school left for the year.

head in the sand18 weeks to enjoy.

18 weeks to savour.

18 weeks to pull my head out of the sand … somehow.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll go and tackle my ironing basket.

 

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

 

 

Is there still magic in your day?

IMG_4063As a kid I used to love it when mum cooked a roast chicken for dinner. The skin would be really crispy and she would make gravy from all the lovely juices. There would usually be roast potatoes too — one of my favourite foods. It was always such a special dinner, and usually saved for a special treat.

What made it extra special was the wishbone the next day.

This particular part of a chicken can make all your wishes come true.

According to my research on google (and who knows how accurate that may be), this tradition is thousands of years old, stemming from the Etruscan (ancient Italians) people’s belief that a fowl could predict the future. The birds were placed into a circle divided into twenty wedges, with each wedge representing a letter of the Etruscan alphabet. Grain was placed in each wedge and scribes would note which letters of the alphabet the chicken would eat from. The high priest would then use the order of letters to solve questions and predict the future.

Even in death, the birds had powers. The wishbone (or collarbone) was thought to be sacred and was dried out in the sun. People would gather around the dried bone and make a wish. As tradition spread to the Romans, they began to break the bones with two ‘wishers’ each pulling on the sides of the bone with their little fingers. Tradition says that the person left with the larger piece was to have their wish granted.

Thousands of years later, my brother, sister and I would argue over whose turn it was to pull on the bones. Usually the ‘loser’ of this particular game of tug-o-war would be outraged: “it’s not fair” or “you pulled when I wasn’t ready” or “you used too much force”.

Honestly, I don’t know why my mother bothered to keep the jolly bone. It was often worse when my Nan saved us a wishbone. For some reason, her wishbone was extra special. And two pieces of bone never did divide into three children easily.

A few weeks ago I made a roast chicken for the family. It wasn’t the first roast chicken that I’d made, but I realised that I had never introduced my kids to the tradition of a wishbone.

IMG_4065Why was that?

I realised that when supermarkets introduced BBQ chickens (complete with wishbones) to their shelves, the humble roast chicken lost some of its shine. And over time, the wishbone lost its magical properties.

It made me wonder about other special things that blend into the ordinary, once we begin to take them for granted.

 

  • Our children’s (sometimes incessant) chatter
  • A rainy day
  • The first coffee of the day
  • The comfort of our bed at night
  • The warmth of a crackling fire on a wintery day
  • The sound of birds chirping early in the morning
  • Hand-written mail that is just for you
  • Taking off shoes that have pinched your feet all day
  • The soft glow as the sun goes down
  • The smell of freshly mown grass.

This week, I made another roast chicken and I explained to my kids about the wish bone. (I also told them about three children I used to know who fought over the bones!) The kids were quite excited to make their wish.

After a bit of working out how to hold it, and which angle was the better one to pull on, they snapped the bone made their wishes. Of course, one of them was not particularly happy at the outcome. Overall, however they were both excited about the magic of a dried up bit of bone.

I wonder, are there any ‘once magical’ things in your life that you now take for granted?

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Nerissa 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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