Category Archives: kids

20 for 2020: week 41

Week 41: Week of 5 October 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

20201006 Lost trolley in Victoria Street 2One from the #losttrolleysofhobart series on Instagram

What did I want to do better this week?
Start to try out the new ideas for planning my days that I’ve been learning about.

So, how did that go then?
I think the operative words are “start to try out” not ‘implement perfectly”. This week was a bit unsettled anyway because I had two days off work to hang out with Kramstable and do school holiday stuff.

20201006 Manicure Barb
Manicare time for me
20201006 Manicure Mark
and Kramstable

I think there is a rule in the universe that says any time I plan to sit down for a day to finish a project off at work before I have some time off, the shared mailbox that I manage (and that is the thing that I allow to contribute most to my inability to ever focus on work for extended periods) is going to explode with things that need urgent attention. It happened last time and it happened again this week. Somehow, I managed to get everything done on Thursday afternoon, though this did involve working two hours longer than I normally would and skipping my afternoon walk. It was pouring rain so it’s quite possible I wouldn’t have gone out anyway, but still, I don’t like to do that too often.I’m still working on making these ideas work for me and I’ll continue with it over coming weeks.

On to 20 for 2020
Again this week, I was focused on my uni assignment (thing 8). I didn’t work on any of my other things. I was thinking on Saturday afternoon when I was out walking how weird it was that at the same time next week, I’d only have one day of the whole course left.

20201011 Uni assignment editMuch reading matter for my assignment

It seems a bit unreal. And a lot of the time it’s not the actual work that’s weighting heavily on my mind. It’s just knowing that it’s there. Even when I’m not actively doing it or thinking about it, just knowing that I have to do it takes up a huge amount of mental energy. It will be a huge relief to free up that space in my head. At least, I hope it will be!

I spent most of Saturday sorting through the conversations I’d had with people and the questionnaires they submitted and trying to make some sort of sense of it so I could put it into my report. I am constantly amazed (and delighted) that almost every time I get up and do something else like go for a walk after I’ve been focusing for a long time, I get a new insight into what I need to do or how I can do it better.

What did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I did my weekly work on my photojournal and my street corners project. Just for this next week, I’m going to be easy on myself if I don’t do them. Being one week behind will be okay and I’ll be able to drag that back on track. But I know that if I let myself get any further behind it will be too easy to get even further behind and I’ll end up with the mess I had before I caught up.

I did get the work project to the point (again) where I could hand it back to my manager before I had my day off, so I was happy with that. It seems to be one of those projects that keeps getting worked on, forgotten about, dragged out again when someone remembers we have to do it, worked on again . . . I really want it to be over and done with. It’s another one of those things that takes up an enormous amount of mental energy just to know that it’s there and not finished.

What didn’t go so well?
I still think I’m letting myself get distracted by things instead of focusing on my work, especially my uni project. I set up Habitica so that I lose health if I check social media during the work day. This is working well (as long I as I’m honest about it) but maybe I need to change it to be for any time I’m working on something I want to focus on.

I need to revisit Indistractable (thing 13)!

What do I want to do better next week?
All I want to do next week is finish my project report and hand it in. Nothing else matters, really.

I’ll keep working with the planning system and tweaking it to suit how I work.

20201011 Pepsi 6Pepsi the chicken

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 12 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5): 7

20 for 2020: week 24

Week of 8 June

My 20 for 2020 list.

After a weekend where I put off doing any work on my uni course (thing 8) until Monday, which was a public holiday, I succeeded in not doing any work on it at all. Instead, I spent the day writing, thinking, editing photos, wrestling with my computer and doing some work on my home studio (thing 11).

I also learned that if you put a flash on a camera the wrong way round, it doesn’t work. Who knew.

After getting my 100 per cent habit score for reading last week (thing 14, which I am happy to report I am still doing and actually finished two books this week), I passed another milestone this week.

Tuesday was the 100th day since I’ve had a drink. If you’d told me back at the start of the year when I decided to go a month without alcohol (thing 5) that I’d still be alcohol-free more than two months after finishing that challenge, there’s no way I’d have believed you. Regular drinking had been firmly ingrained in my identity for many years and, although I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be, I enjoyed drinking and I couldn’t imagine a time without alcohol.

I might write about my experience later or I might not. I don’t want to sound like the preachy ex-drinker, and I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up for. But what I can say right now is that I believe that being alcohol-free is the best thing I can do for myself and I have felt better this last three months than I had done for many years as a regular drinker. I don’t feel any need to go back to where I was.

20200613 Hinsby Beach 2

Subtle afternoon colours

This week, Kramstable went back to school, which I think he was happy about. I have been really impressed by the work the schools have done to transfer students’ learning online for this last couple of months. I know I’m lucky to have a young person who is very self-directed and who adapted well to the situation and who’s old enough to be trusted to work independently. I imagine my experience working from home and supervising online learning would have been very different with a younger child or someone who isn’t as driven as Kramstable is. I’ll miss having him around during the day but I’m glad he’s able to go back to face to face learning. It makes a big difference, as I’m discovering with my uni work (thing 8). Two-hour zoom sessions aren’t anywhere near the same as the intensive three-day workshop we were supposed to have. I’m really struggling to get engaged with the work in this unit and I miss the opportunities to have the deep discussions with my fellow students that we’d been able to have in the previous units.

20200610 Workking at the Picnic Basket-1

Studying at the coffee shop

However, everyone is in the same boat and it’s just something I have to adapt to. Complaining isn’t going to get my work done!

I (re)learned a valuable lesson this week from a podcast I used to listen to regularly. This is The Productivity Show by Asian Efficiency. In this episode, they discussed the importance of focusing on only one goal at a time to avoid having fragmented effort and not really achieving anything. I could immediately see that this was something I was trying to do. Right now, I can see the Photoshop course on my list (thing 7) and I can see my uni course, both big projects that will take a lot of time and commitment to complete. But instead of focusing on one of them really intensely and getting it done, I’m dabbling in the uni course, wishing I were doing the Photoshop work, feeling bad I’m not doing that and not really focusing on the uni work either because the Photoshop work is hovering in the back of my mind. So I’m getting stressed about not doing the uni work either. This podcast was a brilliant reminder that I need to stop scattering my focus on too many things, even though I want to do them all, and acknowledge that right now is not the right time for the Photoshop work. Once I have made that space, I can focus on the uni work without feeling guilty about not doing the other work. I’m not quitting. I’m pausing, and I need to do this without guilt. Photoshop will still be there in a month when this unit is completed and I’ll be able to spend time on it then, knowing that I put my best effort into my uni work and that now it’s time to refocus on my art.

It seems such a simple concept and I think I’d forgotten it and was stretching myself too thinly. But worse than that, I wasn’t doing any of the work I needed to do on anything. I was stressing out about having so much to do that I wasn’t doing any of it. That really isn’t the way to get anything done. It’s time to put some things on hold, refocus on one thing and get to work.

But . . . (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) what about my commitment to 15 minutes of creative work every day? I had been doing that in the mornings after my walk, but with my 30-minute mindfulness practice taking up that space, I didn’t want to get up even earlier to fit that in and it’s falling through the cracks. So I had a look at my afternoons. I go for a walk after I finish work every day before my afternoon mindfulness session. Then I have a period of about two to three hours, depending on the day and whether it’s my night to cook dinner, to do whatever I want. That might include sorting photos, deleting emails, writing, paying bills, scrolling social media, reading . . . or maybe . . . working on my uni assignment (yeah, right).

20200610 Waiting at the library

Clicking and collecting at the library

None of it is particularly well-directed, which is fair enough in a way after a day’s work. It’s not a super productive time of day but it’s a couple of hours. Sure, there are some things I need to do in that time, but there are other things I don’t have to do, so there is time to fit in things I really want to do. 15 minutes of space to work on photo projects? Look no further. Having already decided not to do the Photoshop work at this time, I still have plenty of other creative work to do and one project that jumped out at me was my Hobart Street Corners project, which I have neglected for several months. Editing those photos doesn’t take a huge amount of creative energy but it still allows me to dabble in my photo art. So that’s my new focus while I’m not fully engaged in the Photoshop work. It keeps me engaged but it’s familiar work so fear and resistance are less likely to put their hands up and try to stop me.

At least, that’s the plan.

20200613 Hinsby Beach 5

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 10 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (8, 11)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (7, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 6  (2, 9, 12, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 6
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did my yoga stretches: 7

19 for 2019; week 7 update

Week of 11 February 2019

Week 7 of 19 for 2019. This is going well! I should have made “update the blog at least once a week” a thing.

After a big week last week, things were a lot slower this week. I watched one of the videos for the photo course but haven’t done the assignment yet because I haven’t been at a location that is suitable (thing 1). I also got an ND filter (thing 7) so that is now one more thing completed.

I finished reading two books, both from my 2017 to-read list, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. That’s now eight out of my 12 books finished (thing 5).

20190211 Daring Greatly

Read this book. Seriously. Do it.

I made four more photo collages for my 2018 photojournal and have 11 ready to print, so I’m up to week 30 now (thing 11). For my photo project (thing 16) I made a shortlist of about 50 photos, from which I need to choose my favourite 20. And I am continuing to use Lightroom and learn by doing (thing 19).

I entered the third book of 33 beers into the spreadsheet and have seven left to write up (thing 12).

This week’s baby step in taking better care of me (thing 6) so that I can do the things I want to do this year was to look at how I respond when something stressful happens and to try to take a pause before over-reacting and respond from a calmer place. The only situation that upset me this week I did not do that. Let’s just say I was very unhappy when my computer consistently refused to accept my new password, even though it met all the criteria, and then locked me out of my account. (Sorry, workmates within earshot of me.) I think I need someone to ring a little bell to remind me to put those deep breathing techniques into practice because these situations are exactly when I need them!

20190216 Sunrise Tarooona Beach 6 edit

Breathe!

I also forgave myself for smashing my electric oil burner a few weeks ago and found one of my old tealight powered ones so I can fill my room with lovely scents.

Completely 19 for 2019-unrelated, today was the 2019 Run The Bridge fun run and walk. I took part in the five km walk last year and Kramstable asked if he could do the five km run this year. He’d never been in a fun run before but he had been going out running over the holidays and I know kids from his class did it last year, so I saw no reason why he couldn’t. I signed up to do the walk with Lil Sis but, unfortunately, she got sick and couldn’t come so it was just me and Kramstable.

20190210 Run the Bridge

I’m doing it . . .  I did it

He took off at the start and I didn’t see him again. He texted me to say he’d finished. His time was 31:52, which is very respectable, about half-way through 1100 people in the race and faster than the average finish time for the whole field of 33 minutes. I am very proud of him.

20190217 RTB Barb & Mark 3 edit

On the bridge

I was about 1.5 km behind him when he finished, at my speedy walking pace. I had set myself a target of finishing in under 50 minutes, which I knew I would have been able to do in the past when I could walk six km in an hour but wasn’t so sure about now. My time ended up being 46:12, which I was very happy with. I was in the top 100 for the walk (91st), faster than the average time (53:07) and fourth out of the 46 women in my division (who says I’m not competitive?). To get near the winning time I’d have to be able to walk five km in 35 minutes. Somehow, I’m not seeing that ever happening at any time in my future. I’m a wanderer, not a power walker. However, I did have a look at the Female 70+ division and saw there were women there doing the five km in about the same time as I did, so that’s a life goal right there. To be able to walk 5 km in 45 minutes when I’m 70.

20190217 Tasman Bridge with no traffic edit

Something you don’t see very often . . . the bridge without any traffic

Keep on walking.

Status for week 7:

  • Things completed: 4 (7, 8, 19, 15)
  • Things completed this week: 1 (7)
  • Things I progressed this week: 7 (1, 5, 6, 11, 12, 16, 19)
  • Things I’ve started but didn’t progress this week: 1 (2)
  • Things not started: 7 (3, 4, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18)

19 for 19: week 6 update

Week of 4 February 2019

20190210 Sunrise Taroona Beach 1 edit

Happy Sunday

This was a big week. Not only was it back to school week but it was Kramstable’s first week of high school. Yes, I am the parent of a high school student! Where has that time gone? It doesn’t seem like eight years ago I was fretting over him starting Kinder and preparing him (and me) for his first day in the education system.

And now, here we were starting a whole new chapter. Only in this chapter, he will be on his own. Where at primary school I had heaps of opportunities to be involved with Kramstable’s class, from parent help in his classroom in the early years, talking to his teachers in the mornings when I dropped him off (before he put a stop to me taking him in to school) and going on excursions to places I would never have otherwise had the chance to go to, high school is different. I don’t imagine there’s anything like that, no chance to be directly involved and to see what he’s doing at school. (Though I do believe there is an online classroom that his teacher is setting up so that we will be able to see what his class is doing so I’m looking forward to that.)

He didn’t want me to walk with him to school at all. That time has long gone. I convinced him to let me come with him on the first day so I could take a photo of him outside the school, and then I’d leave him alone for the rest of the year. The rest of his high school life. That was the deal.

I ended up getting better than that because his friends’ mother wanted to take a picture of the three of them on their first day at school because we’d missed getting a photo of them on their last day of primary school. He agreed, we got our photos on the school grounds, and then, with very little in the way of goodbye, they wandered off into the throng of students to find the teacher who was pointing the grade 7s in the right direction, with not even a glance behind them.

That was my first, and last, high school drop off. I actually felt okay about it. I think I got all the emotions I was feeling out when he finished primary school and once that was out of the way, starting high school was just the next step in a process I had already come to terms with.

I think Kramstable treating it as nothing more than another school day helped too. If he’d been nervous or worried I’m sure that would have rubbed off on me. But he was very cool about it all. I left the school, confident that he’d be fine.

As I was waiting for the bus to go to work, I scanned my facebook feed. It brought up this photo from 2011. Eight years ago.

20190206 Snail IG

Eight years ago

Eight years ago, the owner of this hand started kindergarten. Today, he started high school.

So it was a big week, which ended with me coming down with a very unpleasant head cold that put me out of action most of Saturday. As a result, I didn’t get a lot done to progress my 19 for 2019 list. But that’s okay. I have a year to do it and I know some weeks will be good and others won’t be. Life happens.

This week’s baby step in taking better care of me (thing 6) so that I can do the things I want to do this year is to continue to focus on staying hydrated and doing my deep breathing. I picked up one of these klean kanteen water bottles this week, which I really like because it has the sippy top rather than a lid. I’m finding I’m reaching for it more often to take a drink, whereas with the screw top, just having to unscrew the lid was an extra step that sometimes I couldn’t be bothered to take.

20190210 New water bottle edit

Bright orange makes me smile

In Atomic Habits, James Clear describes this as the Law of Least Effort, and he says that we naturally gravitate to the option that requires the least amount of work. He says to create a habit you need to make doing the right thing as easy as possible and reduce the friction associated with good behaviours. Taking off a bottle top is a tiny thing, but it’s still something else I have to do before I can drink my water. (Yes, I could probably just leave the lid off, or use a glass, but that’s not so practical for carrying the water around with me.)

I’ve also been reviewing my breakfast options to see what works best for me. A couple of the things I’ve tried this week have been the Chocolate Coco-nutty Granola from the I Quit Sugar for Life cookbook and avocado on toast. The avocado is definitely the winner out of those two; though the granola is yummy, it’s not overly filling.

I haven’t done anything on the photo course this week (thing 1) and haven’t put any more photos into my folio (thing 2). I ordered an ND filter (thing 7).

I finished reading the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyce, which Kramstable got for Christmas. He wanted to watch the movie on Friday so I read the book in advance so I’d know what I was getting into. I’ve now completed six out of the 12 books I wanted to read this year (thing 5).20190207 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas cover

I printed three photo collages for my 2018 photo journal and made two more weekly collages (thing 11). I entered another 33 beers in my beer book spreadsheet (thing 12) and I’m continuing to get more familiar with Lightroom as I use it (thing 19).

Status for week 6:

  • Things completed: 3 (8, 19, 15)
  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things I progressed this week: 6 (5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 19)
  • Things I’ve started but didn’t progress this week: 3 (1, 2, 16)
  • Things not started: 7 (3, 4, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18)

 

19 for 2019: week 5 update

19 for 19 update: week of 28 January 2019

This week’s baby step in taking better care of me (thing 6) so that I can do the things I want to do this year is to focus on breathing. I have learned that diaphragmatic breathing helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to bring you back into a state of calm, rest and repair after a stressful situation has occurred. I am seeking out times when I can spend a couple of minutes focusing on my breathing to try and make this breath something I do more naturally, especially when something happens that I would normally react to in the moment. Using the principle of habit stacking, which James Clear explains in Atomic Habits, I’m finding existing habits that I can stick the new habit of deep breathing onto.

One of these is drinking water, which was last week’s baby step. I’ve stuck the word “breathe” onto my water bottle so that every time I pick it up I will be reminded to sit down for a moment and take a couple of deep breaths. I wished I’d had a nice fancy sticker with the word breathe but I also realised if I waited until I’d found the perfect sticker I’d never do it, so I used what I had. It doesn’t look good but it does the job. And done is better than perfect.

20190202 Water bottle edit

Remember to breathe

I was on holidays this week so I was pretty relaxed. I watched five of the photo course videos and took some photos of my chickens in lieu of “wildlife”, which was the actual assignment for one of them (thing 1). I edited some of them in Lightroom (thing 19) and as a bonus, started learning about the healing and cloning tools in Photoshop. I did another assignment after that, so I’m now up to day 16.

I finished two books this week (thing 5).

La Belle Sauvage had been on my to-read pile since last year and once I got into it I found it very hard to put down. I finished reading Let me tell you about a man I knew in a day. I don’t remember the last time I read an entire book in a day!

I made three photocollages for my 2018 photojournal (thing 11) and I set up my 33 Bottles of Beer spreadsheet in Google Sheets (thing 12),

Kramstable and I had some adventures together. On Wednesday, after the fun (not) task of buying his new high school uniform (yes high school!) we visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, which is a great place to visit. It’s always interesting to see what grabs his interest each time we go there. This week it was the museum cart, which is an ever-changing display of objects in clear perspex boxes, the history of the gay rights movement in Tasmania, the thylacines and his old favourite, the ice in the Antarctic section. I was quite taken with this chair, which is called Splash, by John Smith (2011), and the display of Tasmanian geology.

20190130 TMAG 3 edit

Splash chair

20190130 TMAG 3

Tasmanian Geology

20190130 TMAG stairs 3 edit

The always wonderful Bond Store staircase

 

20190130 TMAG 1 edit

Butterflies

I was also intrigued by the different pelvis shapes of the thylacine skeletons and asked TMAG on instagram if this was an actual difference between male and female thylacines or if the bones had been set at different angles. They said that the skeletons were put together in 1922 by a man named T.F. Moore, a Melbourne taxidermist and skeleton articulator, and that they didn’t know the reason for the different angles. They suggest that the wires may have loosened over time due to movement between museums or age, but the female (front) is more accurate. So there you go.

20190130 TMAG 2 edit

The mystery of the thylacine pelvises

TMAG isn’t on my list but it was still a fun day.

We went to kunanyi on Friday. This counts as thing 15 because I didn’t say I had to do it by myself! It takes a bit of planning to get there because we needed to catch a bus to town and then another bus to Fern Tree and those buses only go once an hour. We headed in a bit earlier than we might have needed to because we weren’t sure the later bus from home would quite get us to town before the Fern Tree bus was due to leave. That gave us enough time to go to the coffee shop before heading off on our adventure.

I wanted to do the Fern Glade circuit, which would take in Silver Falls and get us back to Fern Tree in time to have lunch at the Fern Tree Tavern. That was the plan. I got a bit confused because I’d seen two descriptions of the circuit and they were both different so I said to Kramstable that we’d just start walking and see where we ended up without worrying too much about whether we got to where I wanted to go. I figured, and he agreed, that we were there to have a nice walk on a mountain track and that just being there was the point, without any real expectation of getting to a destination.

20190201 Walk on kunanyi 04

Nice walk

As it turned out, we ended up doubling back on ourselves but we eventually found the right way to the falls, which were lovely.

20190201 Walk on kunanyi 12 edit

Silver Falls

20190201 Walk on kunanyi 19 edit

Near Silver Falls

From there it was easy to find our way back down to the park, the pub and lunch. I’m glad we did do the double back because we would have been too early for lunch if we’d gone the right way in the first place!

20190201 Lunch at the Fern Tree pub 2

Relaxing at the Fern Tree Tavern

We had a nice lunch and had 50 minutes before the bus was due so we relaxed on the very cool chairs for a bit, walked a short way along the Pipeline track, and then caught the bus back to town.

20190201 Walk on kunanyi 20

The Pipeline

Fortunately for us, we made it back just in time to catch our bus home. We saw it pull up at the stop as the bus we were on was pulling in to its stop on the other side of the road. A frantic dash to wait for the lights, cross the road and run (yes, run) to the bus, which was just late enough and had a lot of people getting on. A most satisfying end to what had been a lovely day out.

Status for week 5:

  • Things completed: 3 (1 this week)
  • Things I progressed: 7
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 2
  • Things not started: 7

Things completed

  • Thing 9 (9 January)
  • Thing 8 (21 January)
  • Thing 15 (1 February)

the end is here

After yesterday’s epic post about how I was feeling about Kramstable coming to the end of his primary school life, I started to write about his Year 6 leavers’ assembly today, the day before his last official at primary school.

I don’t need to do that.

Well, I do, but it’s just for me.

All I need to say is, after reading all the support I got from my friends when I posted it on Facebook, thank you all for your kind words and I am glad I’m not the only one to feel like I do.

The assembly was great. I cried (actually, I cried before I even got in the door) and a lot of people did. It was a beautiful farewell to a group of amazing kids, most of whom I have known since kinder, and to a wonderful principal who is also moving onto new opportunities and challenges.

It has been a joy and a privilege to watch these young people grow from little kinders in 2011 to the almost-teens that they are now through excursions, assemblies, sports carnivals, music, TOM, and everything else I’ve been involved in over the last eight years.

I wish them all the best as they move into high school. It is an exciting time full of new opportunities and experiences.

IMG_9453_2

Farwell gift

I love what their principal said in her farewell speech. The things she said to always remember make a pretty good list to live by: stretch yourself, use your strengths, show you care… and the school itself. Even though I will no longer be directly involved in the school, I guess I will always be a part of the school community. 

I wish their principal all the best too as she moves into a new role and takes on the challenge of making a contribution to education in a different way.

It’s been an intense day and I survived.

 

everything ends

IMG_9238_2

Friday | Waiting for the boy after school in this spot for the last time

About eight years ago, I wrote this piece about Kramstable, then known as Juniordwarf, getting ready to start kindergarten and how nervous I was that everything was about to change. I actually didn’t write that much because Sarah MacDonald from the ABC had just written a post on the same thing and she had written everything I was thinking so perfectly that I couldn’t have written a better post, so I copied it into my post (with permission, of course).

It is now just under eight years later. Kramstable has been at the same school all this time, moving from three days a week Kinder to full-time Prep and through the grades up to where he is now, Grade 6. During that time he, and I, have changed a lot and I am getting ready to say goodbye to the primary school where he has spent two-thirds of his life.

I don’t feel ready! I don’t feel like I should be the mother of a 12-year-old who will be starting high school in just under two months time. A near-teenager. Just like I didn’t feel ready to give up my four-year-old to the formal education system way back in 2011.

Primary school has been something that’s been constant. It’s formed part of my identity. My kid goes to that school. I’m a part of that school community (though I never was any good at participating in bake days and when I got raffle books I ended up buying all of the tickets myself). It’s something steady that has almost always been in my life and that, until this year, I had never given much thought to as being something that would one day end.

Yet it will, and that day is two days away.

I have been so incredibly lucky to have been able to participate in Kramstable’s school life in many ways. When he was little, I used to take him to his classroom and read books with him until the bell went. I used to take turns at parent help in his classroom, helping kids with their reading and other things I don’t actually remember. (It was a long time ago . . . ) I do remember leaving after these 90-minute sessions feeling happy to have been able to do it but so exhausted at having spent that much time working with a large group of four/five/six-year-olds. I was always in awe of the teachers not only doing this for six hours a day but for coming back day after day to do it again and again.

I went on excursions and never managed to lose a child, so I think I did pretty well there. I went to places I didn’t even know existed. I swung on ropes, I patted a shark (well I didn’t, but I could have), I went bushwalking, and I learned about sustainable buildings and Tasmanian Aboriginal culture. I really felt part of it, which was great, because Kramstable is one of those kids who gives away very little about what he does at school during the day. So one of my most treasured experiences was to sit in on his class waiting for an excursion to start and actually see the class in action.

As he got older, he didn’t want me to stay any more but I would still take him in most days. Some days I’d stay and talk to his teacher or chat to some of the other parents and I’d pick him up from outside his classroom. At the end of Grade 4, he said he didn’t want me to come in with him any more and that I could walk him to the school gate. The school gate quickly became the end of the street and, eventually, I hardly even saw the school in the mornings. No more chats with the teacher or catching up with other parents. That was it. I wrote about it here.

We used to catch the bus in together a couple of days a week and it got to the point earlier this year when he didn’t want me to go on the same bus with him. It wasn’t enough to leave him at the bus stop when we got off, he didn’t even want me to get on!

In the end, it worked out well because it meant I could go in earlier to work. I’d initially been reluctant because it was another thing to let go of, but there was no reason not to let him go by himself. He knew the way and was confident catching buses and it shifted into being the new normal rather quickly. One day I said to him that sometimes I might have to catch the bus with him and he said, “no mum, that’s old”. According to him, I couldn’t even catch the same bus as him, even if I wasn’t with him. He said he wouldn’t get on it if I was getting on; he’d wait for the next one. I did have the idea to leave earlier and walk to the next bus stop and get on there, after he was already on, so he’d have to be on the same bus as me but I never did it.

Now, one day a week, he’s stopped going to after school care and he comes home from school on the bus by himself. That was a big step too, though I’m home by the time he gets here so he isn’t coming home to an empty house.

In conjunction with all of the travel changes have been the new opportunities he’s had as he’s moved through the school.

In Grade 4 he joined the choir, which performed at the annual Combined Primary Schools Band and Choir concert at the Derwent Entertainment Centre, an event that has been running for over 40 years and is a wonderful celebration of primary school music. In Grade 5 he started playing the clarinet for the Year 5 band in the same event and this year he asked to take on the bass clarinet. His teacher had been concerned that he might have been too small to play this instrument but offered to let him have it at home over the holidays to practise and see if he could do it. Watching him find something he wanted to do and then devote himself to learning how to do it, and to work around his potential limitations, was something I will treasure always. And it was such a joy to go to the concert in November and to see the result of all the hard work the kids and the teachers had put in over the year.

He participated in Tournament of Minds, his team winning honours at the state final last year and winning the competition this year, which enabled them to go to Darwin for the international final, where they were awarded honours. I loved watching how well he worked with the others, how committed he was to the project and how beautifully he performed.

He applied to go to a leadership conference earlier in the year, which he was accepted for. He put himself out there as a candidate for house captain and had to make a speech to the school about why they should vote for him. Even though he didn’t win, I was so proud of him for nominating himself. It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do. He and some of his classmates auditioned for a TV show and, while they didn’t get selected, Kramstable and another classmate were invited to take part in one of the episodes. That was very exciting!

Even though I haven’t been as closely involved at school this year, it’s been an amazing final year of primary school and I’m grateful that his school gives the students so many opportunities to stretch themselves. Watching him find things he loves and go out and do them has been wonderful and so rewarding for me as a parent.

Now I have to face the reality that his time at primary school is almost over and this will all be gone in two days time. We’ve been to the high school orientation day and it’s huge, with more kids in Year 7 than there are at his entire primary school. I asked him if he’s excited and he said no, he was “interested”.

Every time I think about this stage ending, I can feel the tears well up and I know that come tomorrow, when they have the leavers’ assembly, I will be a complete mess. It feels like such a big ending, the end of everything I’ve known for the past eight years. As I said at the start, primary school has been a constant, something that has always been there. I feel really sad that it’s ending. I’ve felt like it all year, knowing that this is the last time we will do this thing, or it’s his final something else. Last sports carnival. Last Book Week costume. Last swimming carnival. Last band performance. On Friday I waited for him for the last time at the spot where we meet on Fridays after school and yesterday we caught the bus home together for the last time. Today I got the last school newsletter and he caught the bus home for the last time. Next year he’ll walk.

IMG_9385

Monday | Waiting for the bus with the boy for the last time

It’s all been such a big part of his life, and mine by extension, for the last eight years and I think it’s okay to feel like this. I feel the way I feel and I’m not going to try and squash that.

But I also remind myself that, while this stage is coming to an end, he is moving into a new stage and he will have new opportunities when he gets to high school. When he’s there he will face new challenges and he will have new experiences to explore, new things to learn and new ways to grow – and those are goals I have for my own life. To constantly explore, learn, challenge myself, and grow. What he’s about to do is exactly what I aspire to and I want that for him just as much as I want it for myself. So, while the ending is sad, this stage has to end for the next stage to begin.

Thank you Kramstable’s primary school for all of the opportunities you have given him, for getting him ready to move into the next stage of his life and for giving me so many chances to be involved and to learn new things. Thank you to all his teachers and his principal for challenging him, encouraging him to grow and for supporting him when he needed it. Or, as he put it in a note to his principal, thank you for helping him evolve. I am proud to have been part of your community and to have watched my son go through the first eight years of his formal education within your walls. I will look back on this time with great fondness. I will have beautiful memories and he will go on to high school and make new ones.

IMG_9404_2

Tuesday | After his last bus trip home from school

 

Spreading our wings

Until this year, I had taken Kramstable in to school every day that I went to work. In his early days at school, I’d stay until the bell went and we’d read stories, look at work he’d been doing, and talk to his classmates, their parents and his teacher.

As the years passed, the time I stayed with him decreased, until by the end of last year I was seeing him to the door of his classroom, and he’d be off. I think by Grade 4, I was one of not many parents who would actually go into the school with their child, but I really liked it. I liked seeing his classroom, looking at what he’d been doing, and catching up with his teacher.

But it was time for a change, and at the end of last year Kramstable said he didn’t want me to come with him to school any more. I knew this was coming, because most of the other kids weren’t being walked into school, but I still felt I like I was losing something that had been a big part of my life for six years.

He said I could walk him to the school gate, so that was OK; I’d still have a chance to go in if I needed to, but I had a feeling that as this year moved on, his drop-off point would get further and further away.

It did, but it happened so suddenly – only two weeks into term – that I’d not had time to recover from not going in with him, before he asked me to leave him at the end of the street.

Ok. That was unexpected.

And last week we’re walking from the bus stop, and we get to the place where Slabs had dropped Kramstable off the day before.

He says, “I got dropped off here yesterday. Bye.”
That’s even more unexpected. I say, “I think I’ll walk with you a bit further.”
We walk on a bit to the next intersection, him skipping ahead as always. We stop and look for cars. I say, “Don’t you want to be seen with me?”
“No,” he says, and starts to cross the road. “Bye.”
“See you this afternoon,” I say, feeling incredibly sad, but also slightly amused.
I watch him cross the road safely, and he’s on his way.
“Bye,” I say to myself.

I know that he has to become independent. I know it’s my job to equip him so that he does become independent. I know I’m not going to walk him to school forever. I’ve always known this, but it’s never been real until now.

Of course he’s not going to want to be around me forever. He’s growing up and, as he grows, he’ll need me less intensely than he has done. And that’s the way it has to be; the same way I needed my mother less as I grew up; the same way every child does.

But he’s been the main focus of my life for so long – over ten years – and it’s hard to accept that this is changing, and changing fast. He has depended on me, and I’ve given as much of myself to him as I’ve had to give.

I feel like I’m bonded to him in a way I can’t imagine being bonded to any other person, because he’s my son. He has made me laugh, made me cry, made me so very grateful and feel so very blessed. I can’t imagine life without him.

It strikes me now as I’m writing this that I’ve spent his whole life making him ready for when he’ll be able to leave me and make his own way in the world, but that I’ve done nothing to make myself ready. It’s a minor thing, leaving him to walk a bit further to school. It’s such a small thing, but it symbolises so much more than that. I wasn’t prepared for how much this would hurt.

The worst thing in the world would be for me to be clingy and to deny him the freedom he needs. To try and stifle his growing independence. He needs to grow his own wings and fly. And while I’m so proud of the young man he is becoming and I love watching him learn and grow, I am also feeling deeply, intensely, painfully his gradual transformation away from the boy he has been. The boy that called me “Mummy”, the boy that would always hold my hand, the boy that was happy for me to come into school so he could show me what he’d been working on.

I cannot, will not deny myself this pain. I acknowledge it. It is real. I accept it as part of the transformation that I too must go through over the next phase of his life from being his provider and his care-giver into a role of adviser, supporter and (I hope) positive role model. Perhaps it hurts so much because it’s such a slow transition that will continue over many years to come. I can’t just rip the bandaid off and have a fully functioning adult before my eyes. I wouldn’t want to be able to do that. We have a wonderful journey still ahead of us.

He’ll still need me, even if he thinks he doesn’t. I treasure every moment he wants to involve me in what he’s doing, perhaps even more so now than when he was younger, because there are fewer of those moments these days, so they start to mean more.

And it occurs to me that, while he is still the centre of my universe, his decreasing reliance on me gives me my own freedom to focus on becoming the person I want to be outside of being “Mum”. So while this awareness doesn’t lessen the pain I feel, at the same time it inspires me and fills me with enthusiasm for how I might create my own future. In loosening the apron strings, I’m making room for my own wings to grow.

As I’m trying to figure out how to end this post without rambling on uncontrollably, I scroll through Twitter. This quote from Maya Angelou appears in my feed:

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”.

It seems highly relevant right now. The destruction of the old, the massive upheaval and transformation, and the eventual recreation into something new and beautiful.

2011 FOLIO 19 Butterfly

Even though there’s no actual end to this transformation – Kramstable won’t wake up one morning and be a butterfly, any more than I will – this quote still rings true in relation to the changes I’m going through. People say that it’s heartbreaking and difficult to let go, but it’s hard to convey to someone else how much it hurts until they experience it for themselves.

I’ve laughed and made jokes about how this has affected me, and have tried to carry on. I think that mostly we’re expected to accept this type of change, because our job is to prepare our children for the “real world”. There isn’t anything in the job description about taking time to reflect on different stages as our children move through them and to acknowledge how we feel.

I know it’s part of the job, but I’m not an automaton, I’m not a position number. I’m a person, I have feelings, and the process of letting go is upsetting me.

I think there’s value in acknowledging any kind of transition like this, rather just sucking it up and pretending we’re ok when we aren’t. This is the first time I’ve sat down and acknowledged how I really feel about it, and I’ve been surprised to find out how much it’s deeply affecting me.

It’s not the first time that a transformation has been painful, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But I’m ok with this. I’m grateful to have had an experience in my life that has meant so much to me, that moving on from it hurts this much.

Challenge 4: Activities 21-27

I think I missed a few days after Day 18 (Thursday) when I did three activities (18-20) and learned about the Edamame Threat.

Day 19: I was home with a sick boy, so the thing I had booked to do that day didn’t happen. I had to reschedule.

Day 20: That was Saturday. I can’t remember what I did on Saturday.

Activity 21: Approach someone I met once a few years ago and reintroduce myself.

This was an opportunity activity, because I hadn’t planned to do it, but the chance came up so I went with it. I was at an event and saw someone who I follow on Twitter and who I’d met several years ago, but I wasn’t totally sure it was her. I kept staring at her to try and figure it out, and felt really awkward. Finally she and I were in each other’s vicinity so I took a deep breath and said hi. Turns out it was her and we have a brief chat.

Fearometer: 5/10. I was pretty nervous.
How I felt before doing it: Nervous and that only built up the more I thought about doing it.
How I felt while I was doing it: Awkward at first, but we had common interests so it was fine.
Would I do it again: I have introduced myself to random Twitter people in the street if I’ve interacted with them a bit, so probably. Depends on the person.

Activity 22: Get an outstanding medical check
Won’t go into details here, but in 2013 I was asked to get medical clearance so that I could do something I’d wanted to do. It has taken me this long to make the appointment.

Fearometer: 2/10 I was only slightly worried that maybe there would be some issue that had cropped up that I wasn’t aware of
How I felt before doing it: Just wanted it to be over. Doctor was running late. I had 30 minutes to get through. (Lesson for #fixwhatbugsyou – the doctor will always be late, even if you call to ask whether they are on time and are told they are. Take a book. Write a blog post. Don’t waste time with the trashy waiting room magazines. They will rot your brain.)
How I felt while I was doing it: Fine once it became apparent there wasn’t anything to worry about.

Would I do it again: Yes

Activity 23: Have a Tarot reading
This has been something on my wanna do list for ages, but I never knew how to go about organising this or what to expect. I know a little bit about the Tarot but felt very awkward about having a reading because I’m not an expert and had no idea what I might find out.

On Twitter earlier in the week one of my friends said she had had a reading and that the person doing the readings, Jodi, was giving away 20 free readings (she still is – click the link to get in touch!) to help her make sure what she was doing all worked before she went into business. I felt a bit awkward asking someone I’d never interacted with before if I could be one of her guinea pigs, but she was happy to sign me up and, striking while the iron was hot- before I could chicken out –  I set it up for the next day and we connected over Skype.

It was amazing, and I’ll write a fuller post on this a bit later because it’s inspired an upcoming challenge. The thing that grabbed me was the insight into my situation that Jodi and I read into the cards – she calls it a ‘collaborative reading’ –  and it left me feeling like I was completely on the right track with what I was doing. There are so many things that are coming together about this situation right now, I feel like a little step I took about a month ago has started to build momentum. Ad it also manifested in an unexpected way a couple of days ago, which assures me I am doing the right things and is pushing me to keep going.

Fearometer: 6/10
How I felt before doing it: Nervous about what might come out of the reading. Scared about connecting to someone online I’d never interacted with before.
How I felt while I was doing it: More and more relaxed as time passed. Jodi was very easy to talk to and I was really grateful to have had this opportunity.
Would I do it again: Absolutely

Activity 24: Go to the accountant and get my tax done
Oh the dreaded tax time. I’m not sure what I was worried about. I keep good records and most of the information gets downloaded into the ATO site anyway, so it’s really no big deal. I mainly needed to go to the accountant to get some advice on the disposal of some assets. That sounds serious. It’s not. It ended up being under $50 on a section of the tax form I never knew existed. It’s all done now and I’m expecting my snappy $80 refund any day now.

I’m almost embarrassed to put this in as a year of fear activity.

Activity 25: Ask someone for something they have no obligation to give me or expectation that I might ask for

Fearometer: 4/10. I always get a bit nervous asking this person for something
How I felt before doing it: Nervous

How I felt while I was doing it: A bit more anxious as at first they didn’t know exactly what I was asking so I had to explain myself again
Would I do it again: Probably if my desire for a thing outweighs my nerves

Activity 26: Ask to exchange a product I bought that’s the wrong one
This is a silly thing to be anxious about doing, but I always dread having to go back to a shop and ask to exchange something. It’s not as bad if the product if faulty but if I’ve stuffed up and bought the wrong thing because I didn’t check what I needed first, I feel like a bit of an idiot.
Fearometer: 2/10
How I felt before doing it: Nervous that they would say no, you got it wrong, suck it up buttercup
How I felt while I was doing it: Fine once they said yes
Would I do it again: I guess so.

Activity 27: Secret squirrel!
Activity completed. I am annoyed to have been put into the situation that made this activity happen, but it’s done now.

Photo of the week. Me 10 years ago. Who needs a professional when you have a self-timer and a black velvet sheet to throw over the book case right? Seriously I wish I had had some lovely pregnancy shots done, but it didn’t occur to me at the time, and less than three weeks after this picture, boom, all over.

BW1 huge_retouched

 

 

Challenge 4: Facing Fear – Days 8-14

I’m not going to write about everything I do this month, but I have done something outside my comfort zone every day this week. Some weren’t very far out, baby steps, so I think maybe i need to start ramping it up a bit in the second half of the challenge.

Activity 8: Introduce myself and talk to someone new at school

Following on from saying hello to new people at school last week, on Monday I had an opportunity to introduce myself to one of Kramstable’s classmate’s grandmother. We were waiting in the classroom to go with the class on a walk to an off-site program, so I went over to her and said hi, introduced myself, found out who she was and told her who I was before the teacher introduced us.

After my experiences of the last few days I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll always feel uncomfortable doing this, but that it’s a lot more uncomfortable to be in the same place as someone and not know who they are, than it is taking this step.

So far it’s been ok because it’s been one-on-one interactions. I’m not so sure about doing this in a more populated environment, such as a party, meeting, “networking” event or conference. I remember attending a work conference with a colleague some years ago and was amazed at how she simply walked over to people, held out her hand and introduced herself. I was tagging along like a terrified shadow, too scared to say anything.

I mentioned this to her at the time, and told her how impressed I was that she was doing this and how easily she was doing it. She told me that she was terrified, but had made a decision to meet people because that was the point of being at the conference in the first place, so she basically took a deep breath and just did it. I did not.

Perhaps I need a conference to go to so I can ramp this challenge up a bit.
Nooooo!

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 2/10

How I felt doing it: Nervous and a bit awkward.
How I felt after doing it: Glad I’d taken the initiative before the teacher introduced us.

Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 9: Call someone about something I would normally email them about

We got a letter from the council a few days ago about some work they are planning in our street. It’s not exactly clear (at least to me, non-town planner with plan-reading skills of approximately zero) exactly what’s proposed and why it’s changed from what we understood the original plan to be. There was a contact name in the letter if we needed further information, who we could call or email. I was going to email, since that’s normally my easy way out of dealing with an issue, but decided to actually speak to the person instead just to challenge myself a bit.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 4/10
How I felt doing it: Nervous, but I was asking for information, not asking for anything to happen or be changed, so I talked myself out of the nerves. Sort of.
How I felt after doing it: Annoyed because the contact person wasn’t the person that could answer my questions so I had to call the “expert” the next day.
Would I do this again: Well I have to don’t I?!

Activity 10: Request at work

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 7/10
How I felt doing it: Nervous because I couldn’t slot the point I really wanted to make into the conversation.
How I felt after doing it: Annoyed because I didn’t say what I wanted to say. So I didn’t complete the challenge.
Would I do this again: I will try again.

Activity 11 Make an appointment I’ve wanted to make for ages

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 2/10
How I felt doing it: A bit nervous about making the call, but the lady I spoke to was very nice.
How I felt after doing it: Relieved at having made the phone call but still anxious about the actual appointment.
Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 12: Go on a school excursion with 100+ kids

I’ve been on heaps of school excursions and they’re always fun, but I always get a little bit terrified of going because I become responsible for other people’s children, who I don’t often know very well. It’s scary trying to keep a group of 25-30 kids together while you’re walking to the venue and crossing busy roads and, while the teacher is ultimately in charge, you’re there to help them and make sure nothing goes horribly wrong.

This time was particularly scary as it was a reasonably long walk to the venue and it was a huge day with hundreds of kids from schools all over the place there. It gets easier to manage days out as the kids get older, but this was the biggest thing I’d ever been involved with.
I really needn’t have worried so much. I had a group of eight kids to watch over, I had another parent with me and the teacher floating between groups. So it was pretty chill in the end. All I had to do was gently guide the kids back on track if they looked like they were drifting away and make sure they didn’t wander off. It all went smoothly and I’m not sure what I was worried about.

20160812 FOBI 22

Maybe it’s just a little stage fright that comes with being made Responsible (and charged with reporting back to the teacher if any kids misbehave). Maybe it’s the same excitement/nerves I get before I do anything a bit unusual and isn’t really fear at all.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 3/10
How I felt doing it: I had a great time. I didn’t lose any kids. I learned stuff.
How I felt after doing it: Glad I did it.
Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 13: Write a post about a difficult subject on my blogT

his was one of my standard posts about a book I’d read as part of my 24 books in a year goal. It was Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive, and I focused on the subject of death and how she wrote about how no one speaks about it.I wondered if I should post it because it’s not a comfortable subject. But it’s my blog and it’s about what I’m learning – so if what I write doesn’t connect with anyone, that’s fine.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 4/10
How I felt doing it: Worried I might be writing about a touchy subject that might be upsetting.
How I felt after doing it: Wondering if anyone had actually read it.
Would I do this again: Yes.

 

Activity 14

Completed