words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Birthday”

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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It’s Birthday Season!

I love this time of the year. In fact, Spring is my favourite season.birthday cake

In our family, it is also birthday season. October heralds the beginning of a run of birthdays that continues all the way through to the end of January. There are not so many now my beloved grandparents are no longer celebrating earthly birthdays — but still there are quite a few to get through by the time you count in immediate family, aunts and uncles and extended family. There are also a number of friends who blow out candles at this time of the year, so most weeks, there is some kind of cake on offer.

Growing up, my family always made a fuss of birthdays. There would be presents and cards, and cake and my grandparents would always come over to see us after school and stay for dinner. Mum used to ask what we would like for dinner and what type of cake we would like, and our birthday dinner was always something to look forward to. Birthdays were always exciting.

When I was young, I always knew when my birthday was coming up, simply by the changing of the seasons. I lived in Queensland, across the road from a golf course. As soon as September arrived, the golf course would get that sweet summery smell. The plovers would begin nesting and calling out at night, and the transition into summer PJs would occur.

A few days out, cards would arrive in the mail and the sense of excitement would begin to grow.

During my University years, the jacarandas would begin to bloom in October. If anyone has ever been to The University of Queensland in October, you know it’s a sight to behold. For most of my fellow students, it was a bad sign, as it meant exams were on the horizon. Me, I loved them. Not only did they remind me of the tree my grandparents had in their front yard, but they were yet another sign my birthday was almost here.

Even though the number of candles on my cake increase each year, there is still a sense of excitement. But it’s not about what presents I will get and what fuss will be made of me, as it was in my younger years.

The excitement lies in watching my children get excited when my birthday comes along. For a couple of weeks, they think about what to buy. A few days before, paper, pens and pencils come out to make birthday cards, and the night before, there is much secrecy in our bedroom as they wrap their hand-picked presents, ready to give me the next day. All part of the birthday traditions in our house.

It’s nice to carry on traditions, I think. And while each family develops their own birthday traditions, I hope that the traditional excitement that birthdays bring is one that will never die.

Tell me, what birthday traditions do you carry on?

Sorry. I’ve been too busy laughing.

This week the kids went back to school. After two weeks of not getting much writing done, I was looking forward to getting into routine. My husband was also travelling with his job that week, which meant the evenings would be even quieter than usual. (Yeah!)

My sister is one of the people in this world who can always make me laugh - big, deep belly laughs.

My sister is one of the people in this world who can always make me laugh – big, deep belly laughs.

Monday I greeted the day with enthusiasm (unlike my kids who would have loved to have another week off!). We quickly slotted back into the morning routine and got to school without any problems. I kissed them goodbye and waved them off, feeling quite cheery. I was really looking forward to my morning coffee in a quiet house.

But first, I had to go and do some grocery shopping seeing as the kids had eaten me out of house and home. By the time I shopped, brought it home and unpacked it, a few hours had disappeared. It seemed like I had only just got into the ‘zone’ for writing when it was time to down tools to pick up the kids and head off to basketball.

Tuesday I had set aside this day to go and help my sister with her business venture. My mum came as well, so I dropped off the kids, picked up my mum and drove to the other side of Melbourne (where my sister lives). Our day wasn’t as productive as we had hoped, but we did get some work done. Mostly however, it was coffee, cake and lots and lots of belly laughs.

Wednesday Not a lot of time for work today either and I felt mildly stressed that I hadn’t written this week’s blog. Up early for my workout, get the kids off to school, a quick stop at the shops, two loads of washing and a trip to the hairdresser. That was all before lunch. My parents were coming over for dinner that night for my mum’s birthday, so I whipped up a cake and got it in and out of the oven before school pickup. Then it was basketball training, get the washing in and organise dinner. Definitely no work being done today, but once again, there were smiles and laughter in my day. My two kids celebrated their Nana Jude’s birthday with their home-made cards, lots of hugs and kisses, games of cards and my daughter performed a song she had written especially for my mum.

Thursday My beautiful mum’s birthday today. My sister and I had organised to take her out for lunch with other members of our family. So up early, a quick workout, drop off the kids to school (yes, I was still hot and sweaty and looked terrible), and back home to shower and get ready. Lunch was lovely and yes, lots of laughs featured on the menu. Time flew by and all of a sudden, it was time to pack up and do school pick-up, and get my son to tennis training.

Friday What! Friday already? Where did the week go? Gym session at 5.30am, usual morning routine followed by a quick coffee with a friend and then a few more groceries. Today has been a better day work-wise, as I finally finished and submitted an article I hope to get published. Once again however, the writing time went way too quickly and before I knew it, it was off to pick up the kids and head off to my daughter’s basketball game.

And just like that, the week is gone.

As I look back over this week, it’s clear that I didn’t get done what I expected to get done. I have lots of leads and business-building activities yet to complete, articles to write, research to be done, not to mention a house that needs cleaning and a pile of ironing that is developing a life of its own!

But while my week wasn’t what I had hoped, it did yield things more valuable than what I had initially planned — time with family, time with friends and most of all the barrel-loads of laughter I shared with my mum and my sister.

And when you have laughed as much as I have this week, you know it’s been a good week.

The search for inspiration

So school holidays are over and the kids are back to school. While part of me was a little sad to see the end of pyjama days, sleep-ins and Mario Kart Wii Championships, another part was a little excited.

It meant I could have my coffee in peace. There would be time for me. Time to write! inspire

But as I pulled out the school bags and organised uniforms on Sunday night, I despaired. My inspiration was gone. Just like that. Nowhere to be seen.

Did I leave it somewhere in the movie theatre, amongst all the popcorn on the floor and the seat? Maybe it went to hide in a quiet cupboard during my daughter’s 8th birthday afternoon tea. Or perhaps it disappeared among the mess on my lounge-room floor. Wherever it was, I couldn’t find it.

So I set about looking.

Hmm. Nope. Not in the kids’ school lunch boxes and not in the evening meal.

Maybe I accidentally wrapped it up in my daughter’s birthday presents. Damn. Will have to wait for the morning to find out.

No need to panic. I’m sure after a good night’s sleep, I’ll remember where it was.

I was wrong.

Monday

It wasn’t at the gym and nor was it amongst my daughter’s birthday presents. I didn’t see it at school assembly either and nor did I spy it while getting a few groceries.

It must be here somewhere!!!!

So I roamed about the house looking for my inspiration. It certainly wasn’t in the piles of birthday gifts distributed around the house. It most definitely WAS NOT in the ironing basket.

Think. Think. Where did you leave it?

Aha! Maybe it’s in the pantry. Hmm. Let’s see. There is a lot of stuff in there….

Actually, no. It’s probably not here. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s not in the container of left-over smarties used to decorate a butterfly cake. And it’s probably not in a piece of that left-over butterfly cake either.

I sighed as I shut the pantry cupboard with empty hands.

I continued that way for most of the day. Searching, searching — looking for my inspiration.

The light faded and night fell. When it was clear that my inspiration was not going to be found in my Monday night fix of MasterChef, I decided that the search party would be disbanded until the morning.

Tuesday

To be honest, I forgot to look for my inspiration when I got up. Normal routine kicked in. Workout, shower, wake kids, breakfast, get organised for school and good-bye kisses at the door.

No time to look now because I’m off to the hairdresser. Perhaps I’ll look later.

And while I was sitting back having my hair shampooed and my scalp massaged, it hit me. My inspiration! It was back!

All of a sudden, I was writing again.

Not with a pen and paper, or a computer screen, but with words rolling around in my head. It was as if dozens of thoughts simultaneously collided with each other and exploded into smaller pieces, creating a myriad of new thoughts and ideas.

It was crazy.

My inspiration had never been in any one particular place. It had been hiding in many things.

The great feeling I had at the end of my workout. The beautiful view out of my kitchen window as the sun was rising. My warm bowl of oats and cappuccino for breakfast. It was there between the pages of my magazine. It was in the beautiful winter sunshine.

It was only when I stopped looking for my inspiration, and went about doing the things that I loved — the things that gave me peace and made me feel relaxed —  that true inspiration came flooding back.

Welcome back little one. I’ve missed you.

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