things i learned

3 Things I Learned This Week and The Weekend Rewind

Hello and welcome.to an out-of-the-ordinary Friday night blog post.  

Last week I received a lovely surprise email from Bron at Maxabella Loves asking me if I would like to be the guest co-host of The Weekend Rewind this week, along with regular hosts Bron, Kelly from A Life Less Frantic and Sonia from Love Life and Hiccups.  

Would I what?

So if you're dropping in here for the first time via TWR, welcome! It's so lovely to meet you.  It's a wonderful, friendly and supportive community that these fab ladies have created, don't you think?

In the spirit of rewind and reflection (and because reflection is critical to self-improvement and that's the kind of stuff I bang on about around here) I thought that tonight I'd share the three things I learned this week.

1. Getting out of the groove with thanks to the footy

I'm quite a fan of routine (most of the time) and there are a lot of benefits to routine for goals and wellbeing but every so often I need to get all Taylor and shake it off.  So last weekend hubby, the boys and I packed a picnic, caught the train into Melbourne and went to the footy.

We took the train rather than the car because it allows us to sit together in a pod of four facing seats.  We talked, we read and we chatted to other passengers.  We lingered in the early spring sunshine on the walk from the train station to the Stadium. We enjoyed the buzzy football crowd and once in our seats, perched high above the action, we mostly thrilled in watching Mr 7 excitedly point out all of his favourite players, beside himself at the knowledge that he was actually at the real live football with his heroes there, in the flesh.  Kids' excitement is infectious, isn't it?

While walking back to the station after the match, with the afternoon sun turning the Melbourne skyline shades of gold and bronze I had a moment of gratitude; gratitude for my family, for the beautiful city that I grew up in, for the fabulous family event that is the AFL, for the proximity of our beautiful regional home town to big city events, for the buskers playing jazz, even for the train service.  There's a lot of unhappiness in the world and it's easy to get absorbed in it.  A break from routine and an afternoon at the footy reminded me that I'm a lucky girl. 

Melbourne looking pretty in the late afternoon sun.

Melbourne looking pretty in the late afternoon sun.

2. Friends trump networks because networks don't deliver cake

I learnt something else this week and it also involved gratitude, and cake.

As someone who identifies as an introvert networking doesn't come easily. Not in the 'let's get a bunch of strangers together in sterile conference room and force them to make small talk with each other' kind of way anyway. But as I've worked for myself for 13 years and my work comes from referral, making contacts to build a 'network' is a skill that I've learned. Or at least I thought I had.

This week I had a networking epiphany, delivered in the form of a huge and delicious slice of chai-spiced cake with whipped white chocolate and orange ganache, a gorgeous little bottle of homemade Elderflower cordial and some cultured butter. These gorgeous goodies arrived on my doorstep thanks to the lovely Liv from Better Than a Bought One.  Liv is a local food blogger and wonderful cook.  We met through the Clever Cookie School of Blog.  We talked online long before we met in person. Liv is now a friend.

When this wonderful cake arrived, providing me with much needed sustenance on a serious big-client-report-deadline day, I mused on the connection between Liv and I, and I realised that every person with whom I have connected professionally, either as blogger or a psychologist, and with whom I have maintained a connection, is also a friend.  

It occurred to me that building a network of people around you - for professional or personal reasons - is about cultivating a group of friends, not anything as sterile or self serving as a 'network' sounds.  Having a group of professional friends who value each others' expertise and help each other out even if there's no obvious or direct benefit is what working well is all about.  It makes work and business a whole lot easier, and sometimes you get cake.

Yum! You must visit Liv's blog at  Better Than a Bought One  for more deliciousness and some beautiful foodie photos.

Yum! You must visit Liv's blog at Better Than a Bought One for more deliciousness and some beautiful foodie photos.

3. Parenting on the path of least resistance (or why my son wore his footy gear to school, again)

We had the school Book Week parade this week; the week after Book Week. I don't know why.  

Mr 7 went dressed as Wallaby player Israel Folau.  Last year for Book Week he went dressed as Sydney Swans player Buddy Franklin. 

Mr 7 has largely insisted on wearing a football outfit of one code or another to every single school dress up event in the almost two years that he has attended school. Sometimes there is even loose connection between his outfit and the theme.

When this first started I was agitated.  Surely we should find a costume that conveys our interesting and varied family literary interests?  We read many, many books.  We could choose Dr. Seuss, A.A. Milne, Roald Dahl, Hairy Maclary.... I made suggestions and offered ideas.  I nagged and cajoled.  

Then I realised that it wasn't about me.  It was about him.  He loves football.  He also loves to read. Mostly books about football. It turns out that there are actually some rather good children's books about football.  Including books co-authored by Israel Folau

This reminded me that parenting is often about picking your battles and sometimes travelling the path of least resistance.  I was getting agitated about Book Week costumes but the agitation was all mine.  It was up to me to change my thinking about the situation. Mr 7 just wanted to wear a football outfit to school.  So he did, and he rocked it. 

Now it's time for the link up! Add your post, pour yourself a drink and read up on the latest and greatest from Australian blogging. And tell me, what have you learned this week?

P.S. Gratuitous self promotion here with a little piece of mine published on ProBlogger this week: How to Write Brilliant Blog Posts: 5 Tips from Psychology

8 Things I Learned This Week: 15 February 2015

8 Things I Learned This Week: 15 February 2015

I'm writing this post in the great outdoors.  Our local council cleverly installed a water play park (fountains, kids water cannons, giant flowers spouting water, that kind of thing) next to a playground with both surrounded by plenty of grass. My boys are happily amused to-ing and fro-ing between the two while I enjoy sunshine, fresh air, the green surrounds and children laughing. Glorious.

The appreciation of a bit of green space is just one of the things that struck me recently so without further ado here are the eight things I learned this week:

Eight things I learned this week

8 thingsI learned this week.png

Oh holidays!  How I love thee for the first few weeks then how ready I am for you to end so that I can get stuck into some work. It's ideal in many ways. I've had a break, I'm rested, my head is clear, my goals are set, motivation is building.  I'm good to go. The fatal flaw? There are two small boys in my house who will play happily together until the moment I sit at my desk. It's at that moment that they are hungry, bored, fighting, need toilet assistance, can't operate the TV/remote/DVD player/iPad, can't open a bag/box/container or door, have lost something important that cannot be found in any of the obvious places or have just spilled something extraordinarily messy on the couch/carpet/toys/bed/themselves or each other.

Sigh.

There are two weeks until school and daycare resume and I get two and a half days child free each week thanks to my little guy starting three year old kinder (that's preschool in other parts).  Unfortunately I have at least eight days a week worth of stuff I want to get done but that's a worry for the future.  Maybe in about two weeks time.

In the meantime this is what I've learned:

  1. People don't change much. I had reason last weekend to catch up with old school friends, some of whom I had not seen for the better part of twenty five years. They were just the same. Circumstances had changed.  There had been marriages, divorces, children, new homes, new countries and new jobs but the people were unchanged.  Maybe a little older (definitely older, we're talking 25 years here), probably a little wiser but voices, faces, mannerisms, outlook and laughs; the very essence of each person remained the same.
  2. Along similar lines, good friends will remain that no matter how often you see or speak to them. I just had four fabulous days with a close friend from Sydney who came to visit with her kidlets.  We see each other every six months.  Despite the best intentions our only communication between times is the odd text message, usually to organise our next catch up. This matters not a jot. The conversation picks up where it left off and we chat, non stop, for four days before heading our separate ways again. The ease of this friendship is an absolute joy.
  3. I learned a little more about what it is to love someone with a mental health condition from this beautiful, beautiful article on psmag.com.  Read it.  It will grow you.
  4. You can buy kids screen based devices, complex plastic toys, remote controlled vehicles, huge play structures and endless things that use batteries, make noise or comprise one thousand pieces but do you know what they love to do? Pick berries.  Four kids and one tree covered in ripe mulberries and everyone is happy, if a little messy.
  5. I've been planning a garden bed. For any gardeners reading you'll appreciate the joy this brings. Unfortunately the only garden bed that can reliably be planned and planted in the face of the epic home construction exercise that we will undertake is on the southern side under the neighbours large pine trees. Hence I have been researching dry and shade loving plants that thrive in frost prone conditions with occasional searing 40 degree plus days.  There are three.
  6. We all know that kids thrive when they're read to regularly but did you know just how much difference exposure to written and spoken words make? I didn't, so this article that Your Brain Health shared on Facebook was fascinating. 
  7. It rained a lot here his week and we discovered 1950s-style concrete stepping stones in our back yard. The joy of old homes and their treasures.
  8. Finally I've learned that even in mid-January enthusiasm for new goals, new projects and a new year abounds. This week a little gang of us are setting off on a journey of self discovery via my 'Who are you in 2015?' online blog series. Things kick off officially on Monday but if you're interested you can read all about it here.

And here's the week in photos...