A Gift for My Love

Tea - Exocomics 190

We used to celebrate Valentine’s Day, back in life BC. Remember?

Although our first Valentine’s Day together will never be topped… The chauffeur driven Rolls and the cheap bubbles that we thought were the best we’d ever tasted. The luxury apartment, with a balcony overlooking the sea, because there were no standard rooms available. The amazing seafood dinner. The stagger along the beach back to our hotel. Room service ice cream…

Each year, we noticed the magic disappearing a little more, not because we loved each other any less, but because the world around us wanted us to bend to their ideas of love, romance and set menu seafood dinners.

Things that were never US!

We’ve let the Valentines Day thing slide a bit now. Tonight will hardly be romantic. We will help entertain a friend whose hubby is travelling for business. We’ll pop a Munchkin to bed and probably tell him to go to sleep a dozen times. We might watch crazy young golden girls and boys battle with big mountains on TV.

A normal life.

After all we have been through this past year or so, I cannot express how grateful I am that you are still here. Lesser men wouldn’t have been. Men who cared more about money, or status or their toys would have been gone by now. But not you…

We may not be as rich as others we know, but we still live our dreams, you and I, even if those dreams have changed from conquering mountains to moving them (literally!) We still do crazy stuff together. We don’t dance around the kitchen quite so much any more, (note to self, need a bigger kitchen), but we convert fallen trees into pondscapes and turn gas heater hoods into viking shields.

We’ve welcomed a child into our midst who could only be OUR creation… so much a mingling of the absolute best of us – your intelligence, independence, energy and empathy… my creativity, determination, passion and eyebrows!

We have been fortunate, you and I. We have travelled to the farthest reaches of the earth. We have enjoyed the best things that life could offer us – food, wine, music, experiences. We have been surrounded constantly by friendship, love and laughter.

It’s been a good life so far. It will be a good life for many years to come. I don’t think we’re capable of anything else 😉

I loved you that first Valentine’s Day. I love you so much more now.

To you who have supported me, believed in me and stood by me even when you didn’t always agree with me… Thank you.

Today I am grateful.

Image: One of our mutual favourites from Extra Ordinary by Exocomics.

Ten little froglets sitting on a wall…


Actually, they are sitting on the top rim of their tank, under a layer of flyscreen that is not securely held down by the lid. They are about to escape all over the Munchkin’s bedroom. I just know it!

It all started on Saturday, when Hubby decided it was finally time to clean out the bottom pond and do some landscaping work he’d been wanting to do for some time. Not that the pond didn’t need a clean out… it was giving the Rio Negro a run for its money in underwater visibility! I also think he wanted to see if any of the Murray River Rainbows we’d released several weeks ago to solve the mozzie problem were still there, or if we’d just spent $75 on kookaburra food. It had been the subject of some disagreement between us.

“It’s OK”, he said. “I’ve only spotted a few tadpoles. Shouldn’t be a problem.” He wasn’t feeling quite so cocky after he’d rescued over 100 of them!

Transferred into their temporary tank in the Munchkin’s room, we settled into the idea of having pets for a few days. Pets that, as it turned out, were rapidly growing limbs!

Hubby released the first lot of froglets into the top pond on Saturday, and a second lot on Sunday. Despite the heat, he worked fast to fix up the bottom pond and refilled it, the plan being to let it sit for a day or two to settle and allow the chlorine to dissipate before releasing them back into “the wild”.

Which leads me to today’s dilemma. Do I wait until Hubby and Munchkin get home so they can be part of the frog-releasing adventure, or do I act now in the best interests of these little guys, who will come to all sorts of disastrous ends if they get out?

Tough decision! I think I’d better go check up on them again.

For our gorgeous ponds that we created from scratch and now attract a diverse range of local wildlife, for these cute little froglets and for finding all six fish, alive, well and looking totally satiated… Today I am grateful.

The book that’s gotten under my skin

One must always be careful of books

I would NEVER have read Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. I’d heard bad feedback about his previous book, The Slap – characters without any redeeming features, violence, pettiness, suburban ugliness – stuff I prefer to live without. I knew he wrote gritty books, full of bad language and dark psychological places (and don’t get me wrong, Barracuda still delivers!) And the story, of a teenage boy striving and failing to achieve Olympic Gold, was of little interest.

Except… it was my book club selection this month, and I’d joined the book club specifically to discover new authors and extend my reading adventures.

I put off reading it until I’d run out of everything else… three library books, the other fiction in my Santa sack (the excellent Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent), Munchkin’s new Horrible Histories Annual… The truth is, it had me scared!

Which is understandable. It’s a raw and confronting read. The anger of its lead character, Danny Kelly, is truly frightening (is this what I have to look forward to when the Munchkin hits teenage years?) It pokes fun at my middle-class Australian life. It holds up a dark mirror to a national culture that I do not feel part of… I wonder if that is because I am so entrenched in it.

But that’s not why it got under my skin.

This is a book about achievement… and failure. Through its lead character, a young, talented swimmer with the potential to achieve Olympic Gold, we come to ask the difficult questions.

  • What happens when we strive to be the best, put in everything we have, and still miss out?
  • Are our kids resilient enough to handle disappointment when we keep telling them they’re awesome?
  • Can we still be passionate and committed to a goal when we’re only aiming for “good enough”, rather than “perfect”?
  • Should we be competing and comparing ourselves with others at all?

Sport is the obvious medium for creating unreasonable expectations within a competitive environment, but it applies equally to academic pursuits, the arts, popularity, appearance.

I look at my own unrealistic goals as a girl and young woman. Just like Danny’s single-minded ambition to be “the strongest, the fastest, the best”, I wanted to be “the most talented, the smartest, the best”.

This crazy ambition all but destroyed the pure joy I once had for my two greatest childhood passions – design (not that I knew it was called that when I was a kid) and singing. It prevented me from pursuing paths that would have brought great happiness and fulfillment. It’s been a long, hard, painful lesson.

As the epiphany came this week, I finally got back in touch with that young girl who had the whole world ahead of her… the one who added her designer’s touch to everything she could get her hands on… her school projects, her friends’ school projects, her stamp club posters, her colouring books, her doll house, her cubby and bedroom. The one who sang with confidence. ALL. THE. TIME. For the sheer JOY of it.

It’s time to bring her back…

As we see Danny gradually find a purpose for his talent and passion for swimming – one that helps others and offers meaning to his life – so I too need to rediscover my gifts and passions with new eyes. Not to be the best, or for glory or reward, but to bring richness to my own life, and joy and abundance to others.

For this book, which despite its rawness (and maybe because of it), brought about a personal epiphany, plus some valuable lessons to apply to how I raise the Munchkin… Today I am grateful!

Have you read it? What did you think?
What books have gotten under your skin?

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Hi, I’m Cath

Cath Connell

Creating my amazing life one tiny moment at a time. Bringing the Hubby, a Munchkin and about a dozen tomato plants along for the ride.

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