I went to the laundry twice on holiday. Hoping to forestall at least some of the post-holiday pile of washing. But no matter how hard I try, no matter what hopeful strategies I put in place, a few hours after we’ve arrived back home, my laundry looks like a volcano that’s spewing smelly, slightly damp, filthy clothes, whose aroma indicates that new life is beginning to burgeon within its mass.
I met a lovely young woman on holiday recently, who proudly announced to me that she does an average of five loads of washing a week. FIVE! Most of her friends have two loads of washing a week maximum, but she has five. I think she mistook my stunned silence for admiration at the amount of washing she produces, and I was definitely admiring, but not in the way she thought, just in a more wistful, wouldn’t-it-be-wonderful kind of way. Five loads of washing A WEEK! It’s unimaginable. Three days of hard work and approximately 18 loads of washing later, I got to the bottom of this weeks’ pongy post-holiday volcano.
I was a little cross with my husband because he had 14 pairs of shorts in that pile of washing when I’d specifically asked him whether he had any washing when I did the laundry three days before we left Bali and he said no, he didn’t. He was probably trying not to give me any work while I was on holiday, but it’s a Catch-22 situation: I either work a little on holiday or I work even more when we get home.
The largest laundry volcano in my family’s history was after a 2-week holiday over Christmas and New Year, with 4 young children in a resort that didn’t have any laundry facilities. That time, I had 33 loads of washing. That is the Crowning Glory in my long and laborious history of Laundry Tasks. It took 5 or 6 days of me and the washing machine working hard for 18 hours a day to clear that pile.
Apparently, when Miele test their washing machines and guarantee them for 20 years, they base it on my friend’s five loads of washing a week. Or less. The Miele repair guy confirmed that I’d gone past that number in 4 years. My average for washing (the repair man kindly worked out) was between 25 & 30 loads a week. That’s 1,300 – 1,500 loads a year. Which means that, making allowances for the number of children increasing over the years, since Jamie was born, I’ve probably done somewhere close to thirty thousand loads of washing.
Now, bear with me here while I extrapolate a little; if each load takes an average of 20 minutes to sort, put in the washer, hang out or put in the dryer, fold and put away (I’m not even going to look at the ironing here), that means that I’ve spent 375 DAYS - as in 24 hour days – more than a YEAR – doing nothing but laundry. 375 full days! Jesus Christ. No wonder I feel like time is slipping away from me and I have no idea where it’s gone. Now I know: it’s that bloody washing volcano that’s continuously erupting and reproducing in my laundry.
PS I was just looking for a picture to go with this article and I came across numerous posts about how to clear your laundry pile. Really? Do people actually need to be told how to do the laundry? And of course the laundry isn’t completed till it’s dried, ironed, folded and put away. OF COURSE it isn’t. Do people actually leave piles of laundry around, waiting to be folded or ironed? That is a sure-fire way to overwhelm, people. Just put the washing away already. If you want any tips on how to stay organised, message me, I have an abundance of experience in this area!
PPS My Miele washing machine lasted for 12 years before it finally went to the big scrapheap in the sky. Actually, it was still working but I got a new one (another Miele) because I felt that it had done its job and it was due a well-deserved rest/retirement.
One of the wonderful things about living in Perth is the Fremantle Doctor. Every afternoon… actually, I’ll rephrase that, MOST afternoons he comes to visit the sweltering suburbs, bringing relief in the form of what the Sand Gropers (Western Australians) call “a light breeze”. It quickly became blatantly obvious that my idea of a “light breeze” is completely different to that of a Western Australians’. Personally, I’d describe the Fremantle Doctor as anything from a brisk wind to a howling gale, but it’s just an opinion.
Since we lived on the escarpment overlooking Perth, we received the full benefit of the doctor almost every afternoon. The only days the doctor doesn’t do his rounds are during a week in February when, like every other doctor in Australia, he decided to leave his patients to their own devices and go on holiday. Unlike most other doctors in Australia, though, the Fremantle doctor only takes a weeks’ holiday. Most specialists seem to leave their patients for six weeks.
Unfortunately, the Fremantle Doctor’s holidays coincide with the hottest summer temperatures and I can only conclude that the incessant 45 degree daily highs finally get the better of him and (heat) exhaustion force him to take a short break, leaving the rest of us to sizzle and suffer in the scorching heat.
We took a drive out to a place called Toodyay on one of these summer days, comfortably – and more importantly, coolly - ensconced in our air-conditioned four wheel drive, as we entered town, we passed the local outdoor swimming pool. It was obviously the easiest and cheapest way for the local populace to keep cool because I swear that the entire town was in that pool. It looked like the crowd from a Manchester United game had been plucked from the packed stands at Old Trafford and dropped in this pool, en masse. No one was more than an arms’ length from their watery neighbour in any direction. The temperature in that pool must have been hot enough for a warming winter bath.
Over here on the eastern seaboard of the country, we don’t have the pleasure of the Fremantle Doctor. What we get instead are out-of-the-blue squalls. John & I are fortunate/misfortunate enough to live across the road from our local Bowling Club. Neither of us bowls but that doesn’t stop us, and most of our neighbours, from enjoying the noisy hospitality available in the club house. The Club House being an old-fashioned, fibro shed that’s been painted and had a couple of air con units put in there so it’s at least bearable in the summer months.
We’d gone across to the club with some of the neighbours for a pre-Christmas drink and were happily sitting in the covered area outside, vaguely wondering whether we should risk having one of the sausages from the Christmas barbie stand that the club had set up that afternoon, when all of a sudden, there was a boom and the wind hit us! The sausages, bread, napkins, plates and ketchup went sailing past us and plastic chairs literally flew the full length of the bowling green without ever touching the ground. People ran to help the guys on the barbecue to rescue the food and furniture and we all took shelter as the heavens opened and the rain came belting down like a waterfall. I quickly called the girls to place a bucket under the leaky roof in the dining room (that’s another story) and we went inside to finish our evening.
I really must be getting old because I spent most of the rest of the evening lip reading. The fibro walls of the club house, coupled with a tin roof and zero noise insulation, mean that as the evenings go on and the drink starts to go to people’s heads, there is no protection or dampening of the racket that a group of semi-inebriated people make. It is LOUD in there. I couldn’t hear a thing. I spent an exhausting evening trying to hear enough of people’s conversations so that I could fill in the gaps and understand what they were saying. Hopefully. I’m sure I got it wrong once or twice, judging from the weird looks the others gave me.
What I didn’t consider during that entire evening was how our brand new Gazebo had fared in the storm. We bought it a couple of weeks ago, somewhere to shelter when we’re in the pool area, a nice place to have an evening drink, a bit of shade when we’ve had enough sun. It’s a big thing and John half-filled the legs with ricks because we don’t want to permanently fix it to the tiles. When we got home that evening, the girls could hardly wait to show us what the storm did. The bucket under the leak was half full of water, but the best bit was in the pool. The Gazebo was in the pool. Still intact, curtains still on, rocks still in the legs, upside down in the pool area.
We spent several hours of the following day underwater, unhooking curtains and covers, unscrewing fixings and getting rocks from the bottom of the pool.
I’m not talking about leaving your lunch behind when you head off for school or work here, I’m talking about vomiting. Puking. Barfing. Chundering. Praying to the Porcelain God. Regurgitating. Spewing. Upchucking. Throwing Up. Doing the technicolour yawn.
I have been blessed with a child who can do all of these things WITH STYLE. The girl has class. She can hit a moving target at three paces with a steady stream of highly toxic, foul smelling, stomach contents, the stench of which no washing machine or cleaning compound has ever been able to remove. This girl is a Master Hurler. Literally. She makes the kid in the exorcist look exactly like what she is: a kid. A mere novice in apprenticeship to renowned Masters of the high art of expelling one’s lunch with velocity.
I was under the happy illusion when Ryan was young that I knew all about projectile vomiting. As a very young baby, I’d have a Catching Cloth ready and waiting, optimum placement about two feet directly opposite his face, as I sat him up, ready to catch the excess contents of his stomach. I could never figure out whether he was just greedy and didn’t know when to stop eating or whether he actually had a problem swallowing his milk. He put on weight and he seemed happy, even the barfing didn’t bother him, so I just left him.
When he was about two weeks old, I went into Monsoon to buy a dress for a works Christmas dinner that we were going to. Ryan was screaming as I tried the dress on in the shop, and, like a moron, I picked him up to comfort him, at which point he vomited down the back of the dress, completely removing the dye from the fabric where the puke touched it. Needless to say, I had to buy the dress.
So, when Kira came along, a few smelly years later, I thought I knew all about baby puke. The boys had their fair share of tummy bugs, too, so even toddler and young child puking was old hat by then. Oh, the bliss of the ignorant.
Kira’s keen to remind me of the humiliation she suffered at my hands when she was sick one time at the age of about 8 or 9. We were in the car, having dropped the boys off at school. Kira wasn’t well but I couldn’t leave her at home by herself, so I popped her in the car in her nightie. As we were driving past chapel at school, in front of the senior school, Kira announced that she was going to be sick. I was well used to the split second warning that kids seem to think is enough time for their parents to help stop them be sick or get them to a puke-safe space, so oblivious to the long line of parents in their cars behind me, I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the car and ran round to the passenger side, screaming, “Get out of the car! Now! Get out of the car!” I all but dragged Kira from her car seat and just about managed the save my car from stinking of puke for the next three years anytime it got even slightly warm inside, and since we live in Australia, that’s pretty much every day. Poor Kira was standing there, in her nightie, vomiting her guts up in full view of the 600 or so boys heading in for their days’ education. They, of course, thought it was great viewing and yelled encouragement for Kira to see how far she could get the cascade of stomach contents to go.
As she got older, Kira decided that merely vomiting wasn’t enough, after all, anyone could vomit. So, Kira added another dimension to it: vomit and then pass out. She was at breakfast one day in the boarding house and told the boarding mother that she didn’t feel well. Unaware of Kira’s propensity for stylish spewing, the boarding mother told Kira to finish her breakfast and then go and see Sister if she still didn’t feel well. Kira took another mouthful of breakfast and vomited all over the table, the other seven people and their breakfasts. Then she passed out. It was all that effort, see?
It was the start of the following school year and the new art block was finished. Kira’s class had their first lesson in the new classrooms, but Kira wasn’t feeling too good. She put her hand up to tell the teacher, but the teacher just told her to go and see Sister after class. Again, the bliss of the ignorant. Unfortunately, the proud new occupier of a brand new classroom was about to find out exactly what happens when Kira says she “doesn’t feel well”. Not ten seconds later, Kira spews forth and “incredible amount” (the teachers’ words) of vomit all over the new desks, chairs, floor, other students, the work that was on the desks, everyone’s shoes, and then passes out and falls off the chair onto the floor.
See what I mean? Style. The girl has style. I was called in to school to pick her up and because she was still feeling very wobbly from all that effort, I pushed her to the car in a wheelchair. Mobile phones are great. By the end of the day, the stories whizzing round the kids had gone from “Kira’s sick” through “she fell over and hurt herself” to “She’s got a broken leg! I saw them wheel her past to the ambulance!”
The crowning glory in this foul, smelly story happened when she was about six years old. We landed in Sydney after a holiday and for some reason known only to himself, John decided to put us all in a backpackers’ bus to take us to the five star hotel in Darling Harbour where we were staying. It was as hot as Hades outside and even hotter in the van. There was no air con, we were in the rush hour traffic, stopping and starting and lurching around, we couldn’t open the windows because of the fumes from the other cars and I was sitting on the back seat with Kira, wishing all sorts of slow, painful deaths would rain down on my idiot husband. The longer the journey went on, the greener Kira got. I grabbed the sand toys and wedged the biggest bucket I could find between the poor kids’ knees, all while telling my husband what I thought of his shite idea.
As soon as we pulled up at the hotel, I jumped out of the van, telling the others to get Kira out and into the shade. I wanted to check in as quickly as I could and get her into a cool bath in a cool room. I was trying to hurry the reception staff along, explaining the situation to them, when a tap came on my shoulder.
“Mum!” Jamie said
“Not now! Give me a minute, I’m almost done.”
Jamie was insistent, “Mum, Mum, you really need to look!”
I sighed impatiently, wondering what the hell it was that John couldn’t handle this time, and turned to look on a scene indelibly etched into my memory forever. This five star hotel had a huge, gorgeous, glass revolving door with brass fittings, lovingly kept clean and shiny at all times by the porters and concierge, and Kira had projectile vomited right into it. There was puke from the bottom to the top of this door, it had splattered over the glass surrounds and was happily spraying its way both into and out of the hotel with every rotation of the door, covering the floor, several guests and the door staff.
It’s Christmas, the time of year when all my angst and anxieties about money are dusted off, dragged into the spotlight, dressed up in tinsel and baubles, and sprinkled with glitter. I buy too many presents for too many people who don’t really matter to me, there’s always those little (or not so little) things I get for our loved ones even when I’ve already bought all the presents that I planned for them, I buy in enough food and drink to end a small famine and we all spend the next week (or two) eating leftovers. As time goes on and the preparations for the Big Day get more frantic, I grow more anxious and stressed, and there’s this underlying feeling of overwhelming guilt and fear lurking just beneath the surface of my seasonal cheer, that I desperately try to pretend isn’t happening.
I’m very lucky in one way because I don’t have to do the whole invite-people-round-that-you-don’t-get-on-with-but-you-have-to-because-it’s-Christmas thing. We live in Australia, a long way from most of our family members, and people tend to stay with their families or go away for the holidays over here. I am heartily glad that I don’t have to invite people round that I wouldn’t normally see, just because it’s Christmas. I’ve never been much of a one for doing what people say I ought to anyway, but inviting people that I don’t get on with, just because it’s Christmas, seems like a really stupid idea. Like, I’m not stressed enough with all the overspending and preparations and overeating that I’m doing, without having some arsehole come in and irritate the crap out of me like they do every time I see them? I don’t think so. I’m not going to put myself through that, regardless of who they are. I’m not going to invite someone over that I don’t like just because they’re family or attached to someone else that I do want to invite. It’s not going to happen. There are any number of horror stories about ‘Uncle so-and-so’ or ‘our xxx’s girlfriend’ whose idea of Christmas cheer doesn’t involve goodwill to all men in general and the Christmas party host in particular.
To help alleviate the stress of all this goodwill and cheer (not to mention overindulgence and overspending), I head for the Boxing Day sales, happy in the knowledge that since I’m buying things at a massive markdown - a total bargain and well below the retail value of the item - THIS spending doesn’t affect my bank balance at all. I have a friend who is convinced that buying bargains only affects her bank balance if she buys more than one of them because when you buy something in a sale, you actually SAVE money, therefore the money stays in your account. There is some kind of weird logic in there somewhere.
This year, though, after decades of this pre- and post-Christmas trauma, I decided that maybe I could do things a little differently (sometimes I’m a slow learner), so I made a conscious effort not to overdo things. I’ve spent decades going through the cycle of overspending on presents, buying too many people too many things, overdoing the food (which I do whether it’s Christmas or not), and spending the whole Christmas period (and most of January and some of February) feeling depressed, stressed, guilty and ashamed, not enjoying myself, and each and every year, I swear that I’ll never do it again. Till it comes to the following year and then, in an effort to make sure the kids enjoy themselves and have an ever better (and bigger) Christmas than the previous year. It’s exhausting. And depressing. And not much fun.
I see all of these posts about how people should stop spending money, about how this isn’t what Christmas is about, even one which was talking about not buying your own kids expensive things because other people couldn’t afford to buy their kids those things, which is like saying ‘don’t eat because someone else is going hungry’. I hate that kind of thing, the whole scarcity-there-isn’t-enough-to-go-around, rich-people-are-greedy-and-immoral stuff and the excuse it gives people to be completely judgemental and hypocritical. I say “hypocritical” because pretty much every person that makes that kind of statement wouldn’t be at all upset if they won the lottery.
Then this article that I wrote on Christmas Eve last year appeared as a memory in my newsfeed:
I put up a post [about the money we’ve created doing property developing] last night and someone commented “Why do you need so much money???”
It’s not about the money. It never is. I don’t “need so much” money, I want to live a life of freedom and choice. Money gives me that freedom and choice. It’s as simple as that.
“Well,” I can hear some people say, “I don’t want that much, I’m happy with what I’ve got, maybe a little bit more would be nice.”
There are very few people in the world for whom that statement is really true. Most people who say that are doing one of two things: they’re either trying to take some perceived moral high ground to prove that they’re above this whole ‘materialistic thing’ and they don’t need any money. And/or they have self-worth issues. Or maybe both. Actually, most of the time, it’s both. I know that from personal experience: I spent many years justifying why I didn’t want/need any more than what I had until I finally got honest with myself and asked myself, truly, if there were no limitations, would I want more? And once I’d moved beyond the initial, ‘ok, if I won the lottery, I’d buy… and go to… and do… and take them to…’ and gotten down to the deep stuff, I realised that the experience that I wanted in my life is one of freedom and choice.
It’s not about the money. It’s about something else: the freedom to do whatever I want to do and to choose how to do it. It’s about being (feeling) unlimited. Being rich and building a business/property empire is about expanding and growing, and giving myself every opportunity to learn and explore. I want to do more than work a job, save money in order to do things, and live a steady, careful life. I want to be carefree, to be able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I want to live a life of unlimited abundance. I’m not going to be able to do any of those things unless I can create money easily and effortlessly, not because there’s something special about money – there isn’t – but because money provides the access to what that freedom and choice.
As a society, though, we believe that money is difficult to get and having lots of money has all sorts of negative connotations attached to it, as though money itself somehow more and more morally reprehensible as the amount of money increases. Mind you, to some people, wanting lots of ANYTHING is morally reprehensible because they believe there’s a shortage of absolutely everything (personally, I don’t like being around that kind of people. It’s probably very judgemental and discriminatory of me, but I find they tend to be unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives and they tend to want to spread their misery around). People who want lots of money are seen as greedy and selfish, money itself is seen as being tarnished, evil even, but if we can move beyond that to the point where we’ve released all of those beliefs, restrictions and boundaries to create money freely and effortlessly, then everything else falls into place that much more easily.
It’s not about the money. It’s about moving my life forwards. If I can create as much money as I like, particularly in the face of so much criticism and negative judgement, then I can create anything. It’s the biggest block I can move beyond and it’s the one that stands between me and freedom, choice and abundance.
Almost everyone who says they’re happy with where they are, and they don’t need much, also dream of winning the lottery. Hmm. Interesting.
When I finished reading the article, I had another think about what it is that really irritates and depresses me about the whole Christmas thing. It isn’t the actual spending or giving or overdoing or anything like that. It’s because I feel like I’m compelled to do things that, if I stopped and thought about it for a moment, I wouldn’t choose to do.
I wouldn’t choose to have a day where we all do nothing except eat and drink. That’s a recipe for disaster (particularly since I turned into a caged tiger if I try to spend an hour doing nothing, never mind a day). If wouldn’t spend time with a particular person normally, then why would I choose to invite them round to my place or go out with them just because it’s a particular time of year? I’m already stressed out because of doing all this stuff that I don’t really want to do and then I add in the extra stress of inviting someone that I only see once a year because they’re a complete prat, to my place. It’s just not going to end well. It’s a guaranteed excuse for me to vent all my pent-up irritations. Why do I think that doing all of this stuff, just because it’s a certain day of the year, is going to make me feel good? It’s just not going to. I’m setting myself up for failure (and misery, guilt and shame). I’m guaranteeing anxiety and depression because I’m doing things that don’t make me feel good. And that includes – bizarrely enough – spending money.
I like spending money (I love it, in fact, as John will attest), but in this situation (i.e. at Christmas) I’m spending money in a way that isn’t positive, I’m spending money because I OUGHT to, not because I want to, and that’s the cause of the angst: I’m not doing things that I feel are right for me. It’s not about how much I’m spending, it’s about how much I’m spending out of obligation. I can spend the same money on people at other times and not bat an eyelid. My only problem is that I’m spending because I HAVE to because it’s Christmas and that’s what we’re all supposed to do, right? Maybe it’s time for me to do something different?
(written Christmas 2018 but not published till now)
Keeley is very, very clever, with a wicked sense of humour and a knack of seeing the absurdity in people’s behaviour, but she also has a few areas of… let’s call it confusion.
We were in the car on the way back from our diving trip, salty, tired, thirsty and in dire need of a shower, but Keeley was on top form, entertaining us with stories of school and life in the boarding house. “I love Ms P [the boarding mother who’s now moved to another school], right, but I won’t miss the prayers she used to do. [Keeley’s voice drops a couple of octaves and takes on a solemn, sonorous tone] Dear God, thank you for all the girls in the boarding house. Thank you for Annabelle and her English exam. Thank you for Jessie and her Maths HSC. Thank you for Lucy who played really well in hockey this week, she did an amazing job [pause], even though we didn’t win and we’re bottom of the table. Thank you for Sophie, who washed the dishes for the first time on Tuesday without being asked…”
After this was an ongoing conversation between the girls about Kira fostering children. Kira wants kids but doesn’t want to give birth, so she’s decided she’s going to go down the adoption route. Keeley’s decided that “foster kids” sounds better than “adopted kids”, so no matter how much she’s told that she’s saying it wrong, “foster kids” it is.
It was a long and convoluted conversation about just how many kids Kira was going to adopt/foster, then Keeley suddenly got a brainwave. She drew a sharp intake of breath and slapped her sisters’ arm, “Oh my god, Kira! You could have twelve kids and then you could name them after those rocks in Victoria, the Twelve Apostles!”
Kira’s a lot more cluey than her sister on this kind of thing but tends to go along with these conversations because they’re a lot of fun. Sometimes, though, she feels that her sister needs a little guidance. “The rocks are named after Jesus’s apostles, Keeley.”
“What, really? Why didn’t they just name them after his disciples?” A bit of verbal scuffling ensued as Kira tried to explain that apostles and disciples are one and the same thing, till Keeley exclaimed, “But that works out really well! We know the names of the apostles/disciples, whatever they are.” She turned to me, “Mum, what are the names of the twelve disciples?”
Like I’d know? I haven’t been to church in a very long time, and I definitely can't remember the names of the disciples, but in my job description as a mother, I am required to know everything at all times. I'm well versed in thinking on my feet when the kids ask me a knotty question, so I rattled off the names of the books in the New Testament, fully aware that most of them weren’t disciples, but also certain that Keeley would neither know nor care about a minor detail such as that. “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John...” then I had to start thinking a little harder and switch my foggy and ancient Religious Education memory on, “Peter, Paul, James, Judas…”
“Wow,” says Keeley, “they sound like a bunch of Aussie kids. It’s funny that they’ve got the same names. Oh, I’ve got another one: Corinthians! I’ve never heard of anyone being called Corinthians, though, what would you call it for short? Corrie?”
I made a half-hearted commitment to myself that I’d kind of journal/write every day during these holidays so I could record what’s happened better. I haven’t managed it yet. Been too busy. This is Club Med, there’s a gazillion things to do all the time! In fact, in just sitting here, writing this piece, I’m missing yoga. Okay, that’s not something heartbreaking for me, I must be one of the few people in the world who doesn’t find yoga relaxing and rejuvenating. Personally, I just find it boring and dull. That’s not very enlightened of me, I know, but I suspect that, all things told, I’m not very enlightened anyway, so we’re all good, I can miss yoga and my soul will still be just as unenlightened s it was before.
That paragraph was as far as I got before getting distracted again. I have no idea what with, snorkelling or Pilates or trapeze or swimming or maybe even a spa treatment. It is very hot at the moment (and I’m not talking about some hunky guy lying next to me), so hot that even the Balinese are complaining about it: 29 degrees, feels like 36, with off-the-charts humidity. I think I’ve found the optimum combination to enjoy the weather: 10 minutes pottering about in the pool followed by 30 minutes lying on a sun bed seems to be the go. As long as the sunbed is in the shade. If it isn’t, you’re screwed.
The resort is built along Balinese style, with heaven wooden doors to all the rooms. I was walking into the ladies behind this tiny, tiny Asian woman and her child yesterday, but when she tried to push open the door to the room, she couldn’t. I patronisingly assumed that the door was too heavy for her. But when I tried to come to her rescue and show her how big and strong I was by opening the heavy wooden door, I found that the reason she was struggling, wasn’t, in actual fact, a lack of strength. It was because there was a three-year old Aussie kid wedged behind the door, pushing it closed with all his might, and yelling abuse at anyone who tried to enter his domain.
This morning, I went out snorkelling on the boat from the resort for the first time this holiday and I was really saddened by how much the reefs nearby have died off. We last went snorkelling here eight years ago and it’s completely different now; there’s no coral, no colours and so much plastic rubbish everywhere. It’s heartbreaking. The fish are still abundant but I don’t know how they’re affected with the demise of the coral. We’re going out to dive with Manta rays tomorrow, watch out for the pictures when we get home; Keeley got a GoPro for Christmas so hopefully, we’ll get some good footage, which I’ll post when we get back to Aus.
John always finds this kind of holiday a real struggle; he doesn’t cope well with the heat and he’s a good red-haired Celt, so when he and the sun get together, I end up with a tomato-coloured husband. Which is exactly what’s happened. He decided yesterday that he wanted to recreate his one-and-only hole in one that he achieved on our last visit to the resort and persuaded Keeley to accompany him to the golf course. In 36 degree temperatures. Keeley was understandably unenthusiastic about the whole thing but play they did. For five holes. After which, Keeley threw down her club and told her dad she was going back to her room because this was ridiculous. John admitted later that she was absolutely right; he wasn’t enjoying himself, either.
Tomorrow, we’re off on a boat to dive with Manta rays. I’m excited/terrified…
Just over a year ago, I decided to write a book about how we went from having ordinary jobs to being property developers and turning over a hefty amount of money annually. I wanted to explain to people, maybe “tell” people is a better expression, what we did to make the necessary changes in the way we think that allowed us to make that transition.
Before we started doing all this wealth creation stuff, we thought it was all just about making money, having a business, lots of employees, sell stuff and somehow the money will come. It isn’t about that at all. It was very hard to believe for a long time, but it’s actually about the thoughts we have about money that make the difference. That sounded really bizarre and we felt like we were being totally led astray and up some fairy garden path for a while, but enough books & people said the same thing that we began to pay attention and eventually give the whole “money mindset” thing a try.
The book was intended as a guide on how to go from normal, average jobs to wealthy, and to have people see that if we can do it, anyone can because we’re just run-of-the-mill, bog standard, ordinary people.
The book got as far as final draft prior to launch & publishing. I never gave the go ahead to launch it. It just didn’t feel right. I felt like I was preaching and the whole thing just felt… off, as though the book wasn’t meant to be printed. The people that read it said it was great, an easy read and insightful. My dad said I was very hard on myself, my brother said it put things into a whole different perspective. Friends said they had no idea what we’d created and gone through. About four or five months ago, I decided to rewrite the whole thing, take out all the lessons and anything to do with wealth creation, and recreate the whole thing as a novel-style version of what’s happened in the past 18 or so years because it’s really interesting. The point of the book was still about wealth creation, going from jobs to fairly wealthy, but there was more information, more background stuff in there, more stories.
Then the other morning, just before I woke, I dreamt that my book was being made into a film with Russell Crowe playing the part of John! I actually thought that was an inspired choice, personally. I couldn’t decide who I wanted to play the role of me, though. The problem was that I only had six months to live, so it was imperative that the movie contained all the things from my life that I felt were important, the things that moved me or made a difference, the things that changed me, memorable things, things that made me laugh or cry or feel proud or happy, and I realised that while I’m very glad we went along the path to wealth, it’s really not the most significant or important thing in my life. All of that stuff, while it’s shaped who I am, it isn’t the core of me. I realised that I needed to rewrite the whole thing.
I also realised that I didn’t need to justify writing about myself and my life. I realised that the wealth creation thing gave me what I saw to be a legitimate reason for people to read about me, a “look at me, I’ve done something special” validation, a Unique Selling Point, something to get people interested enough to want to read about me. This is why I didn’t feel comfortable with the book as a teaching tool: I was justifying myself. Er… that’s a bit obscure, you’ll have to trust me on that.
The thing is, my life is interesting. I don’t do boring, tedious, run-of-the-mill, steady, predictable anything. I also notice things. I remember things and I find the humour in them. Take yesterday, for example. There I am, driving along, taking the car to the garage to be repaired after a young woman ran into me on a very curvy (would ‘curvaceous’ be appropriate here?) mountain road. The woman didn’t see the 90 degree bend coming up and if I hadn’t been in her way, she would have gone over the edge and very probably come to a flat and grisly end. Just call me the Angel in the Beamer, thank you.
Anyhow, as I’m turning yet another corner yesterday, a woman standing at the traffic lights just keeled over and passed out. I pulled over and ran to help her, as did a young couple in a car going the other way. The guy and I helped the woman up, while his partner went back to the car. After a few minutes talking to her, we called an ambulance. It turned out that she was on all sorts of medication (some legal, others not) and had decided to have a drink. Or two. Possibly three. Maybe four. She was a mess, incoherent and drifting in and out of delirium, shaking and not really able to get her bearings at first. As she began to recover (apart from everything else, she’d cracked her head hard on the pavement when she went down), suddenly she focused with pinpoint clarity on the young woman waiting in the car. The couple had come up to the coast for an afternoon out and she was dressed in a nice outfit. The injured woman looked at her, her face changing into a mask of fury as she desperately tried to stand up (and failed), yelling furiously, “Who does she think she is, pushing her tits into my face? She’d better put them away or I’ll go over there and smash her face in!” Excellent. Right. Better get my diplomatic skills into action then. I suspect that the couple were just as relieved as I was when the ambos arrived and we could hand her over to them, safe in the knowledge that she would be taken care of.
As I was walking past the couple’s car, the young woman said goodbye to me, and I couldn’t resist giggling and saying, “You’d better put those tits away or you never know what will happen!”
“I wouldn’t mind,” she laughed, “but I don’t really have any! I couldn’t believe she was talking to me!”
This kind of stuff happens all the time. I remember it. I love it. If I had six months to live (and hopefully, I have a lot longer than that to go!), I wouldn’t want people at my funeral to be talking about how we’d changed the way we thought and gone on to make money. I don’t think that’s what they’d talk about anyway. At someone’s funeral, you remember the humanity, the incidents, the laughter, the shared times. Everyone has them but it’s as though we (I!) discount them completely. I didn’t feel like I could justify writing about the ordinary things, the daily things, little things, I had to have a Purpose to my writing, there had to be a point to it. What if there isn’t a point? What if my writing is simply about getting my memories down? Shit happens to me all the time, it’s the same for everyone, that’s life. It’s also worth recording just because. I would dearly love to know what the lives of my grandparents and great grandparents was like, what their daily experiences were, what were the highlights and lowlights of their lives, what their friends and family said about them, who they were as people. That’s the stuff that will be remembered at our funerals, which is a pretty depressing way of saying that all the ordinary things matter. I don’t have to justify myself of my writing, none of us do, and I can guarantee that others – our family and friends – will definitely find it interesting.
Note to self: just write as though you’re having a conversation with friends. You don’t go into a conversation with an outcome in mind, you go into it with the sole purpose of connecting and sharing.
Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...