June 2015 archive

Accentuate the Positive

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I wouldn’t describe myself as a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of girl. I am definitely not Pollyanna in my approach to life (being a social worker for almost 18 years will pretty much take care of that!) but neither would I describe myself as having a doom and gloom take of the world. I like to think I can see some light through the crap – or at the very least have some hope of the light approaching eventually.

But at the moment that is feeling like a bloody hard struggle. Life feels tough. And the reality is that my life is far from tough.

So, in an attempt to bring myself back to MY reality and focus on what is actually going along ok in this world of mine I am going to indulge in a little Oprah style gratitude listing! Some positive things to focus on when life doesn’t feel all that positive…

1. I have a gorgeous, funny, bright, healthy and (mostly!) happy daughter. She pushes my limits every. single. day but that’s normal (or so the books, websites and blogs I keep devouring tell me!)

2. I have a partner who I love and who loves me – despite my flaws, OCD tendencies and type A organisational manic behaviour!

3. I have a great support network, friends and family who will help out when the going gets tough – I just need to ask.

4. I am pretty healthy – sure, I could stand to lose a bit of weight, eat better and exercise more but I have a body and mind that lets me do the things I want and need to.

5. I have great colleagues – work mates who make going to some tough jobs so much easier.

6. I do not live in poverty or surrounded by war and conflict. My daughter is growing up in a relatively safe environment – something I take for granted but at the same time am grateful for every day

7. I can pay my bills and I have food in my cupboard – I know a lot of people for whom this is a daily struggle and worry

8. I have choices. When my mind is overcome by stress and busyness this is often the thing I forget first. I have choices about what happens in my life and what direction I take from here.

9. I laugh every day. There is a lot of funny shit in the world – and a lot of it just happens to take place in my house!

10. I have hope. A lot of people who I work with as a social worker don’t have this and I have seen first hand how detrimental and soul destroying it is for people. I always have hope, Hope that things will change but most of all, hope that the 10 things I have just listed stay exactly the same.

How about you? Do you need a little bit of positive in your day? What do you focus on when life feels shit?

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Reading the Year – May

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The year is starting to get busy – you know how I can tell? My reading is slowing down. I feel as though I have less and less time to delve into a book. Less time to devote to a heavy novel. Less time to take my time and read what I really want to. I hate that!

Reading is my one true love outside of my family and friends. When people ask the inevitable question “what do you like to do?” my first response, without hesitation, is always “to read”. Reading is my escape, but also my grounding. Without it I just don’t feel like me.

So I am making a commitment to myself to come back to my reading over the next couple of months – to take the time to do the one thing I love above all else. To put down the phone, to stop channel surfing and to pick up my book. Let’s see how it goes…

Even though I have been slowing down I have still read some great books this month:

A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson – This is Atkinson’s newly released companion novel to her best seller Life after Life which I wrote about here. After loving Life after Life so much I was wondering if A God in Ruins would live up to my expectations – but it did. In some ways I think it is even a better book, more developed and intricate somehow. The book focuses on the brother of the main character in the first novel and so while some of the same events are covered they are told from a completely different perspective. Atkinson has a wonderful way of developing her characters for a reader – they are fully formed people who you are invested in from the very beginning. I loved this book – the only problem I had with it was that it ended and I just wanted more!

Persuasion – Jane Austen – This is my favourite Austen book, and one of my all time favourite novels, so re-reading it for possibly the 20th time was far from a chore! This was a selection for a book club I belong to with a group of colleagues and it created quite a bit of debate. I feel it is Austen’s most “mature” book, the character of Anne is more reserved, although no less bright and engaging than a Lizzy Bennett or a Marianne Dashwood. I love the theme of second chances that is woven throughout and it has possibly one of the most enchanting and romantic lines in literature from Captain Wentworth; “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope”. He had me at hello!

The Beginners Goodbye – Anne Tyler – After falling in love with Tyler’s writing in A Spool of Blue Thread which I wrote about here I was keen to read another one of her books. The Beginners Goodbye is the story of Aaron and his response to the sudden death of his wife, Dorothy. I have to say the story in this one didn’t capture my heart as much as Blue Thread but I still absolutely adore Tyler’s writing – she can turn the every day into magic so I will definitely be reading more of her work.

The First Stone – Helen Garner – And for a complete change of pace I have re-read a book from my favourite Australian writer. Garner controversially tackles the subject of sexual harassment in this book which was first published just as I was in the midst of completing my social work degree. I do think Garner misses (or is oblivious to??) some aspects of power and gender but I still love her writing style and her ability to question herself in the midst of her writing. I always feel engaged with her work even if I am not agreeing with her point of view.

How about you – what have you been reading lately? Do you feel like you have enough time in your life to read?

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