The Great A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal: Perfectly Imperfect

To prove that bloggers are not only creative but also ingenious, the folks at #TeamDamyanti are hosting the A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal. A blog hop within a blog fest, today is the day that more than three hundred bloggers reveal their theme for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge. A to Z Theme Reveal They have answered the age old question of to Theme or not to Theme with a resounding yes and have put their theme out there.

Last year, I decided to run with a theme for the first time. It was so much fun, that I’m doing it again this year. Last year I blogged a twenty six step permission slip, allowing myself to do, experience and think about things in a way I had never done before. The whole April journey was enjoyable, revealing and cathartic. In a similar vein, my theme for this year is….

The A to Z of Living Imperfectly

In today’s world there is a real pressure to try to have it all and be it all. Society pressures us into acting and thinking a certain way and whilst there is some wriggle room within those confines, it is not always enough. From what we do for a living, to what we wear, what we eat, how we parent and how we spend our leisure time there are enduring expectations. If you are a certain age you are expected to behave a certain way (or not to behave in a certain way), if you are a parent there is incredible pressure for perfection, a pressure we tend to project onto our children’s’ lives all too readily.

If perfection is the key to success or the road to happiness, then I have failed miserably to find that key. And yet I feel successful and happy. This spurs me even more to push my personal boundaries and grow, much to the chagrin of my peers who have certain  views on the perfect midlife hair, fashion, etiquette, social activities and more. My views are somewhat different, no better or worse, and it just means that I have eschewed perfection for authenticity. When I talk about perfection in this context, I mean acting or thinking in such a way that is generally regarded as the best way to act or think.

To my mind perfection is an illusion sort of like the equation X +1. You think you have hit X only to find there is always one more step so you keep on striving and others keep on judging. This is not to say don’t do your best, but making perfection one’s life quest is fraught.

In April, I am going to explore the concept of perfection looking at certain areas where society expects perfection and conclude why it is more than acceptable not to be perfect. I hope it will serve as a beacon or a flair for those who have decided that perfection is not all that it is cracked up to be or who are thinking about taking their first tentative steps away from perfection.

perfectly fine

I hope that my struggles with perfection will give you some insights and demonstrate that we all have our individual struggles with it and that is OK.

Come join me in April for some imperfect living.

And to wet your appetites just a little more, here are a few more WordPress bloggers who are partaking in the Challenge and who revealed their themes today:

  • Carrie Anne, who blogs at That Dizzy Chick revealed her Challenge theme of inspirational quotes. Get set for a whole month of inspiration
  • Linda Maye Adams who blogs at her site of the same name, revealed her theme of what is it like to be in the military. According to Linda’s blog she is an author and a soldier having spent 12 years in the Army. Sounds like some unique insights in store for us in April
  • A Short A Day is an author’s blog and in April this author will blog a story. One hundred words every day starting with the relevant letter of the alphabet.
  • Lainey who blogs at laineyrain, revealed her Challenge theme of be braver . This will be a series of blogs about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Go Lainey!
  • Precari0us who blogs at Sumptuous Living revealed her theme of letters to my daughter, a fictional series.

With this sort of variety April is shaping up to be a great blogging month. Sign ups for the Challenge have now reached the 1400 mark and it’s still not too late if you want to join in. You can sign up here.

Eight days to go to A Day!!

Its Christmas Night and the Holidays Can Begin

Here’s my blog for this year’s Company for Christmas. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Come for Company

I’m the Curtain Raiser (aka Judy) and I normally blog at Raising The Curtain. After being inspired by Rule of Stupid and Rarasaur to be part of the inaugural Company for Christmas crew last year, I didn’t have to think twice about coming back to C4C and doing it all again in 2013. It was through C4C that I met one of the best blogging buddies a girl could have and we have kept the friendship going ever since. So thank you to C4C and thank you to Rambly, for connecting through C4C.

I hope your experiences with this site prove just as positive. Any connection no matter how small or brief adds to the fabric of who we are and our life journey. If this site connects only two people in any given season for only two minutes then it has done its job.

Being an Aussie, there is…

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The Service for the man I called my ‘Uncle Les’

More wonderful feedback and I’m glad it went well. You’ll look back at this fondly from your 20th and 200th services. Also good to hear your dad is doing better.

Ramblings From A Mum

Yesterday conducting the Service for the dear family friend, who I have called my ‘Uncle Les’ was a very proud day for me.

I could not write about the day (only in prose) last night as I was mentally and physically drained.

I arrived at 12:15 with mum in toe (I had to collect her) as my brother had to remain home with Pop to look after him. For those following Pop – he’s feeling much better.

The FD Assistant also a Celebrant took me under her wing – she was lovely. I told her it was only my second service and she said it takes ‘guts’ to do it for someone you know.

The entrance song was Josh Groban – To where you are – – this song gets me EVERY TIME.

I read the Eulogy, the family liked two of my poems that I wrote, so I…

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When Graduation Feels Right: Congratulations Class Of 2012

The parenting journey is littered with stages and milestones that mark the passage of time and the getting of wisdom. Some of these milestones also represent significant gateways that irrevocably empower the individual and change the family dynamic. Our little family passed through one such gateway earlier this week, the one called high school graduation.

Two days ago we celebrated the Valedictorian Day of my eldest son, Future Baseball Star. It was a day filled with school tradition, of saying farewell to youth and a clearly defined path and embracing seniority and the responsibility that comes with empowerment for making decisions about the future. A day of hope and laughter, filled with promise and belonging.

The decision of where to send your child to high school is a weighty one. In this town it is usually decided and acted on at birth at which time your child becomes a name on a waiting list. We didn’t go down that road, largely because I wanted to choose a school that would match my child’s needs and personality and to make that call I needed something more to guide me than a bunch of foetal cells. In this town, the choice of high school is a favourite dinner party conversation topic and securing a place in a good high school is a competitive business.

We chose the boys’ high school because it felt right. Not because it was close, not because there was a family connection but because it’s student body comprised boys from all over Sydney and from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and nationalities. It felt right.

The traditions in which we participated on Valedictorian Day felt right.

The farewell song sung by the graduating year 12 class to the rest of the school at the Valedictorian assembly felt right. The engaging farewell speech given by the Head Prefect felt right. The announcement by the year 12 leadership of their year 11 successors and the symbolic handing over of their seats to the newly elected leaders felt right.

The farewell tunnel formed by the student body down which the boys of the graduating class marched to the beat of drums felt right. Watching the year 12 boys making their way through the tunnel whilst they embraced those teachers and mentors that impacted positively on their lives and shook the hands of the boys whose memories they wished to preserve felt right. Seeing little brother playfully punch his big graduating brother in the stomach at the start of the tunnel walk felt right.

Attending the boys’ final school chapel service at which the year 12 Head Prefect passed on a symbolic candle to a year 7 boy felt right. Certain year 12 boys each presenting to the school a symbol representing the areas of academic learning, pastoral care, community giving and co-curricular activities felt right. Hearing the year 12 boys shouting and clapping their way through their final war cry felt right. Sharing a valedictory lunch with our sons and watching them make the passing from “New Boy” to “New Old Boy” felt right.

Being forever part of the “New Boy” community and cheering on the black and white feels right. Being the mother of a high school graduate feels right. Delighting in the fact that I will have 50% less grey socks to fold and white shirts to iron feels right. Watching my child blossom and grow feels right. Handing my child the keys to controlling his destiny feels right. Supporting my son in the lead up to his final exams starting in three short weeks feels right.

Future Baseball Star reaching this milestone has created a new family dynamic. We now have a child with one foot firmly in the adult world and this is cause for celebration. Our stewardship as parents now enters a new phase and it feels right.

Congratulations to all of the boys who are part of the class of 2012, we honour your graduating achievement. It is now time for that last sprint to the final exams and to the destiny that you have worked towards for the past seventeen years, but more particularly during the last thirteen of them. You were the starting class of 2000 and reaching year 12 in 2012 is only fitting and feels right.

Good luck in the exams ahead!

Image courtesy of

Do you have any graduating day memories? If you have children who have graduated how did you feel about them passing that milestone? Please share.

Good Oral Hygene And The Art of Salemanship

Confession: I have always had an uneasy relationship with dentists and the dental profession. There’s just something about someone poking in your mouth and causing you pain whilst trying hard not to look up your nose that just doesn’t have me wringing my hands in delight at upcoming dental appointments. Apologies to any dentists or dental hygienists. As the Donald would say, it’s not personal it’s my oral pain threshold.

This week was one of those biannual dental check up weeks.  I’ve concluded that dentists are great sales people. How clever is it that they convince you to make the next appointment just moments after you have escaped from THAT chair and are basking in post dental after-glow?  Seriously, if I smoked, I would reach for a cigarette then and there! And having made the appointment for six months time (because the dental gods have been known to shine on occasion), you insert it in your diary and happily forget until about two weeks beforehand when your stomach reminds you that your trip to the torture chamber looms.

I have had the same dental hygienist for more than a decade. She’s great despite my forgivings about a trip to her torture chamber.  Leaving aside her plaque removal techniques (which of course are second to none), we have some great conversations. No, really..we do, despite the immobilization of my implement filled mouth and the taste of fluoride. You can say a lot with a simple, well-timed “ahamurf”.

My dental reluctance/phobia.. whatever you want to call it… had its genesis in my formative years when I became VERY well acquainted with my first dentist at the age of six. We had to drive over three bridges and an hour and half each way for each apointment and I had to take a friend. This was so because it was the only way my mother knew how to deal with my catatonic fear. My poor wit-ended mother had found the only dentist within cooee who was a child specialist.  I suppose I would have felt really special had I not always had the feeling like I was about to toss my lunch every time. This dentist was a rather formidable, orange haired lady who countered her sternness by wearing a dental coat covered in cartoon characters and the promise of a balloon after treatment. How’s that for high tech distraction? This relationship lasted until I was 13 when I was told that I had to move on.  As a graduation gift I got the opportunity to become acquainted with the BIG adult dentist.

Visions of Ms Sterntist and BIG adult dentist have stayed with me all of these years. They are not fond memories and I am happy to say I am replacing them with memories of Good Conversationalist Hygienist.  GCH always does an initial thorough exam… there’s some poking, then some prodding…the mirror swish and that blast of cold water. Treatment then ensues culminating in the absolutely AWFUL taste of fluoride. How is it that we live in the twenty-first century and have not come up with better tasting fluoride that one can rinse?

But just before the fluoride hit, GCH always delivers her pronouncement on my quality of oral care over the last six months. This always makes me nervous… yes, ma’am I really do floss every day, really. How ridiculous is it that a simple “you’ve been doing well lately, your mouth looks really good” makes me feel ten feet tall? But it does and I pass with honours. Let the angels sing, I have impressed my hygienist!

So contemplating my new found oral care goddess status, I arise from the chair and happily make my next appointment. Walking on air and notionally smoking my cigarette, I even pay for the privilege to be tortured. I have made my dental hygienist happy!

Photo from

Seriously, how good ARE these people?

Do you ever worry about impressing a health care professional?

Mid-Life: Where Empowerment Meets Confusion

The Universe has been sending me a few signals lately that I need to return to the original theme of my blog, namely the journey through middle age. OK, Universe, I hear you and as always I am your humble servant.

Firstly, the ladies at Lipstick Rhetoric wrote two wonderful blog posts about middle life. In one they ask whether a mid-life crisis is tied to paid employment and whether as a result it is only a recent phenomenon in women  and in the other they write about a mid-life career crisis and whether this is attributable to the general midlife crisis phenomenon. Both of these posts resonated and I believe that the more people talk about this topic the better. All of us may be pioneers in our own lives and journeys, but none of us are pioneers in the wider sense. Ask enough questions, read and hang out long enough and you will come across those experiencing the same feelings, asking the same questions. Let’s use this wonderful technology to laugh, communicate and support each other and I don’t just mean the women. Men, your input into this issue is important, valuable and extremely necessary. I know it’s difficult for men to overcome the notion that they must remain strong, but men, let me tell you, there is no weakness in talking about this. Rather there is an honesty and level of self awareness that should be applauded. After all, that is the first step to change.

Furthermore, the only certainty in life besides death and taxes is that nothing is actually certain. Anything can change in a blink of an eye. To me, middle age, more than any other stage, teaches you how to deal with uncertainty to prepare you for the trials and tribulations you are bound to encounter in old age. It teaches you to question more deeply and that good planning will only get you so far. It gives you the confidence necessary to deal with the consequences of your decisions and to shed those parts of your skin that no longer work for you. Those that use middle age wisely can be reborn. Those that don’t will continue to struggle. Wisdom will usually require some tough decision and facing of fears.

There are some days when I feel like this

The second sign came from an article in our popular press over the weekend on how some Australian high-profile women are positively facing middle age. The article focused on women aged between their early forties to their early fifties, which of itself was an eye opener for me. I always wrongly held the notion that mid-life crisis point was only reached from the age of forty five but I suspect that soon we will be dropping the word “mid” from “mid-life crisis” and that more and more people will start their questioning and catharsis at an earlier age.  The impetus for this comes from several areas  – there are many more life style options that are available today and society in general has a more tolerant view on people embracing lifestyles and workstyles that are not considered to be conventional, if not totally alternate.  In that sense, these are exciting times.

I agree with the article that there are a lot of positives about middle age. I admit to a degree of trepidation at turning forty after I was too exhausted preparing for children when I turned thirty. But as my forties have worn on in terms of physicality, self-confidence and energy, I am embracing this decade like none before. After decades of trying, I finally have my weight under control and am embracing everything I can about finally being in proportion, including self confidence. What joy to have finally arrived at this point!!

I have concluded that middle age is that stage when empowerment meets confusion, rather than a number. There is no doubt the search of answers can be disconcerting, particularly if you had absolute direction to this point. The difficulty lies in realigning your life’s compass, after all you know so much more now than when you initially set it. True north, though, is still true north!

The hard part for me is finding the time and space to strategize about my own life whilst still being there for my family.  These are the absolute truths I have discoved about  middle age:

    • rebirth is not easy
    • strategizing takes time
    • you can’t strategize effectively with other noise in your head
    • you can’t turn the Titanic around on a dime
    • you can’t turn the Titanic around without affecting the position of other nearby boats
    • a mid-life crisis is harder on the partner not going through it.

The reference to “Titanic” here is as a symbol for a large ship, not a sinking one!

Like I said at the start of my blog, I am not a self-help guru and I have no wish to preach at anyone. I hope by outlining my thoughts and feelings about my own journey others may feel less alone, less disconcerted. There is much strength to be gained from solidarity and discussion. And if a friendship or two develops along the way, so much the better.

Have you discovered any truths or insights about mid-life? I would love to hear from you.

Saturday Soapbox: Taking Responsibility And Owning It

Here I am feeling all mellow and inspired from my road trip only to read about this piece of litigation lunacy.

Briefly, a Victorian student (let’s call her R) is suing her former high school in Geelong for failing to provide adequate academic support to enable her to gain entry into a prestigious law school in Sydney. In addition, R’s mother is suing the school for compensation for rent and loss of income from her fortune cookie business as a result of relocating to Sydney. R claims that she never felt adequately supported academically whilst at the school to enable her to REALLY excel. R was allegedly criticised for using words that were too long in her essays which lead to R losing confidence in her essay writing abilities. This loss reportedly caused R to become “quite distressed” when her English marks began to fall.

Created by Theodore Eadman
Law School Memes

Entry into this particular law school requires a student to effectively rank in the top 0.3% of all students in the State. Places are highly sought after and the university has produced some of Australia’s greatest jurists. However, it is by no means the only law school in Sydney and certainly not the only law school in the State.

With the greatest of respect to R, she is in denial, and no… it is not that river in Egypt.  I know what R must be thinking, this must be someone’s fault, right? There has to be someone to blame, someone has to pay because R’s life plan didn’t work out to the letter?

Somehow, somewhere along the way, we as individuals seem to have lost the art of owning the consequences of our actions. The notion that we are the masters of our own destiny seems to have been usurped by a notion that our destiny is controlled by those persons and institutions with whom we have had contact, particularly those with potentially deep pockets. These persons and institutions have somehow adopted a greater responsibility to us than we have for ourselves.

I have long been concerned about the current trend to constantly reward our children for just being. When my sons were in primary school they received merit awards for “being entertaining members of the class” and “for faultless class attendance”. Whilst they also received merit awards for good behaviour and academic achievement, I found these aforementioned “token” merits disturbing. To me there was nothing meritorious about them – they served no real purpose other than to enforce a sense of entitlement. Positive enforcement is one thing, but rewards should be reserved for achievement over and above the norm (including a person’s individual norm).

There are no guarantees in life and no guarantees to entry into law school or indeed, university. Entry is handed out on academic merit and students should not feel entitled to a place. It takes hard work, persistence and sometimes a detour or two before you get to where you want to go.  And sometimes, there is just no logical reason why a person makes it or doesn’t make it. Call it bad luck, bad timing or whatever….sometimes crap happens. Crap does not necessarily justify a legal remedy.

The case continues in August.

In the meantime, I leave you with these relevant fortune cookie sayings:

The world may be your oyster but it doesn’t mean you’ll get its pearl

Skill comes from diligence

Do not mistake temptation for opportunity

None of the secrets of success will work unless you do

And remember, dear readers ….this blog has a protective coating.

Have there been any court cases that have left you scratching your head?

Life Crisis… What Life Crisis?

Umair Hardie, in his blog, The Economic Roots of Your Life Crisis – (see link below) talks about a life crisis. It’s a great blog piece for a whole lot of reasons. Firstly, given the subject matter, the fact that it’s written by a bloke is amazing. Secondly, the admission that “he thought he was the only one lucky enough to be having a life crisis” and that there is currently a life crisis epidemic is refreshing  and thirdly, his definition of a life crisis  as “a crisis of human potential foregone” … occurring when “you know you are not living up to your potential, but it’s frustratingly difficult to see what, if anything can be done about it” is highly relevant. Finally, his thesis that it is the breakdown of institutions that is partially responsible for said life crisis is interesting.

I notice that he doesn’t mention that words “mid-life” anywhere, so I assume that Mr Hardie is in a life stage that is something other (and possibly younger) than mid-life. It is actually quite heartening to realise that all sorts of people, including those of the calibre of Mr Hardie experience one (or several) life crisis. Mr Hardie’s social research which shows his friends also in the throes of a life crisis correlates with my own social research.  I have been having this sort of discussion with my social circle for a while and it is amazing to discover just how many are striving to tap back into their dreams.

So why don’t people talk about this stuff? Why isn’t it manly, dignified or barely mentionable in polite conversation?  Why is it so hard to admit that we have settled and conformed and that we aren’t comfortable in doing it? Rather than a sign of weakness, these feelings of malcontent and vulnerability are great change agents. Look at how many people have gone on to bigger and better things after a life crisis? No doubt the process is unsettling, especially if you are like me, you like to have and maintain all your ducks in a row. But, the prize at the end… the life you were destined to live whether brought about by a better job, starting  your own business, a better relationship  or whatever ….is so worthwhile.

The life crisis phenomenon is no longer confined to mid-life. Younger people are constantly questioning relevance and purpose and will more likely have no less than three career changes in their lifetimes. And so they should, so we all should. A fulfilling life has purpose, it needs to be meaningful and engaging. Thankfully, the stereotype that only middle-aged men going through the bikes and babes stage or only middle-aged plastic surgery addicted women go through life crisis seems to be changing.  Take as an example the expression “quarter life crisis” recently being introduced into our vocabularies.

There are times in life when one doesn’t have all the answers… and that’s ok. Why do we always think that everyone else has all the answers relevant to reaching their own potential? Why do we think that no-one else has to settle? Thanks to Mr Hardie and HBR for being a part of this much needed dialogue. There is certainly no shame in any of this.

Getting back to the ducks….one thing I have recently learned is that ducks are live animals with a mind of their own and can easily wander out of their row positions.  As you chase that stray duck to get her back in the row, remember that the possibility that the chase can open up a new path is very real indeed.