A rather wonderful new family 'tradition' was instigated a few months ago among the women in my family. In fact, we stumbled upon it during a birthday conversation. It began when I shared a personal story, a story that unleashed similar stories from my sisters and nieces, and we found ourselves sharing some of the 'skeletons in our closets'...
Listening to each other's secrets is a very bonding process but I feel its power goes beyond that. Our secrets often carry shame and guilt, and by sharing them we invariably discover that others have experienced something similar, and some of the shame and guilt is dissolved. We discover that we are all human beings facing challenges, feeling confused, making choices, sometimes regretting them... By revealing our inner selves, we validate each other's journeys in ways that can't happen when we hold those secrets close to our chests.
My partner's family holds their family Christmas on Boxing Day, and this year we received an intriguing invitation to start a new tradition. The Rawson family had recently agreed to give a donation to charity instead of giving Christmas gifts; a few days before we were due to meet, my sister-in-law, Jo, came up with another new idea: to evolve the old tradition of exchanging boxes filled with gifts into a new tradition of sharing boxes filled with personal thoughts and insights and wishes.
Coming from a Jewish family, Christmas was never part of my childhood identity, and when I 'married into' the tradition, I was struck by many contradictions. In particular the much commented on commercialisation of Christmas. I always found it odd to hear people talking about Christmas shopping as if it was an expected duty (read: burden) – 'Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?'
I've been experiencing a little rash of minor health issues in the last few months. Looking back on the year, I notice that it's been pretty full on. You know how they measure stress and reckon that separation and moving house are high on the Stress Richter Scale? Well, here's my list (so far!) ...
I'm so proud of my son, Jeremy. A few weeks ago he moved out of home for the first time, bursting with the excitement of being truly independent. (The rest of the household quickly reorganised the house so that our daughters now have their own rooms – they're rapt! – and we have more efficient office space, and so we were hoping he wouldn't find that he couldn't manage and had to come back home, as there isn't any room for him anymore... A bit like that ad on TV where the 'young adult-child' returns home only to find his old bedroom is now a new bathroom.)
In Jeremy's case, I'm pretty sure that, no matter how tough it gets, he won't be back. He is determined to live independently. And he is certainly stepping up to the challenge.
Last week I went shopping with my 16 year old twin daughters to buy new shoes for their respective hobbies: ballet pointe shoes for one daughter and soccer boots for the other. I rather loved that outing because it was such a confirmation of our trust in our kids.
Having twins brings up all sorts of issues that we don't have to consider with children that come by-one-one. In particular, their individuality. Does one deliberately put twins into different classes and hobbies, or even schools, so that they develop their individuality, or does one allow them to decide how soon they are ready to diverge?
Last night Derek and I headed to an event at the Emerging Writer's Festival. The topic was 'sex in literature', which interested us for reasons that I'll share down the track, however the actual event was titled 'Dirty Words' and this proved to be the theme of the day.
I'd been hoping to hear a wide-ranging sample of writings about sex – some raunchy, some thoughtful, some 'dirty', some sacred – but most of what was presented was comic, sad or tacky. And it was all contemporary. The comic skits were, mostly, quite enjoyable, but by the time we got to the end we both left feeling flat and disappointed. It seemed to us that most people view sex as sex; there was nothing about making love, nothing about the sacredness or intimacy of that connection. I've decided that I must offer myself as a speaker next time and represent the 'Other Side'!
If you've been following my blogs, you'll be aware that Derek, my partner of 22 years, headed off to follow his dreams a few weeks ago. Last week my daughters and I travelled to NSW to visit him, expecting that we would then return to Melbourne and not see him again for another 10 weeks or so. (See previous blog entries: 'Trusting Our Paths', 'House Hunting', and 'Amazing Synchronicity').
Derek is returning home. His willingness to trust that urge to go north and not resist it allowed him to fully feel and experience what he needed to up there, and he is now complete with that journey and will be heading back home soon.
Well, it's happening! Derek, my life-partner of 22 years, headed off last weekend to follow his dreams, as described in my 'Trusting Our Paths' blog of a few weeks ago.
So he's now in northern NSW and I'm here in Melbourne with our kids, and we are all stepping forward into the unknown. Saturday was pretty tearful for both of us, as we did those last few things and said our goodbyes and he drove away, but we are so certain that we are each doing the right thing that, aside from the sadness of diverging directions, we literally are 'trusting our paths'.
I recently came upon some information that suggests that the earthquake in Japan was man-made by an American organisation called HAARP, which is able to vibrationally affect the earth and thus trigger off earthquakes.
This sort of thing is very shocking, not just physically (for Japan), but emotionally and mentally for all of us when we consider the implications of either climate change or human bullying (if the 'man-made' claim is true). I know that I reacted emotionally to the clip I posted when I first watched it, and I'm grateful to my Demartini-trained coach and friend Rowan Burn for a conversation that rebalanced my perspective on it.