The Best Man in My Life

What a rollercoaster ride this blogging business is!  Having dived in headfirst last week, I got to Monday and suddenly realized a few things:

-       I have to do this every week

-       I have no idea what to say to the thousand (Twitter) voices in my head

-       I need to get out of bed earlier!

Then I saw Coleen Patrick’s new blog and nearly had a tear.  Leaning into the Leap is a beautiful and inspiring lesson about the things we don’t want to do (or think we can’t), and the lessons we can learn from dogs.  It was so simple, and so profound, that I simply had to share it – here, on Twitter – everywhere.

On an entirely different note, it’s the little things that keep us going, right?  The biggest buzz for a newbie is getting a Like on your page within half on hour of putting it out there!

Ellayourbella was my first Like!  I’ve seen her around a few times now, and have no idea how she finds us newbie’s, but the best surprise of all was her blog.  An uncensored, wicked-funny romp through “My Discarded Men” – with some solid advice for single women (and men) on the dating scene (did I mention Uncensored?).

Anyway, for very different reasons, this blog is dedicated to Coleen and Ella – for keeping me going :)

Relationships are funny things.  The superficial ones you always know you have to work at and so, in an odd way, you don’t take them for granted.  But then there are those other ones that stick around, so long a forgotten limb – until they’re (nearly) gone.

You’d think sixteen years might make me pay attention.  But next thing I’m sitting in the therapist’s chair and she states, as if it’s nothing, “Well, he’s probably the most consistent relationship in your life up until now!”

And that was the moment that I woke up to the fact that the best man in my life was of the fur persuasion!

Meet Pepi

I met Pepi when I was eighteen years old.  As is usually the case with these things, it wasn’t like I went looking for him.  It was my flatmate at the time who wanted a man pup – but when I saw his brother, it was love at first sight.

I didn’t realize then that he was probably too young to be brought home, so little surprise now that he has a Mommy complex.

But who could blame me?  The morning after the first night – he loved me more, not less!  Before long, he was the only one with a toe fetish that was impossible to resist :)

When I think about it now, he has always had a lot going for him on the man stakes:

-       easy to clean up after

-       relentlessly positive and chirpy

-       fiercely loyal and protective of his girl

-       able to be physically controlled restrained in volatile situations of his own making

And that’s not all.

He always notices my sense of style!  The day I shaved off all my hair, he was particularly incensed.  Whether it was because he didn’t like it, or didn’t recognize me, either way his outrage was well founded, showing he’s a man of taste.

But best of all he loves me most in my daggiest of states (Aussie slang for ‘unfashionable, untidy and dirty’).  Okay, that is probably self-serving on his part, as it means (luckily for the rest of the world) that I’m not leaving home.  Still, it’s nice to be loved for who you are.

Which brings me to the present and the reason for my visit to the Doc.  I can’t leave home anymore.  The last time I did, after four days away, he had started on his own Advanced Vetcare Directive of Nil by Mouth.

The time before that, when I left him for a day with a friend at a retirement village, he cried so hard all day the neighbours worried he’d be next.

It turns out sweet sixteen is not so sweet for the little fella, especially when I’m not around.

I’m left with two choices.  One is – forever.  The other is – ‘inconvenient’, but it is a second chance.

It requires medication for his mind, pain relief for his bones, a walk every day before breakfast, home cooked meals and treats and Me – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I think about the times I lived alone with him, huddled in front of a bar heater in the gloomy Melbourne winter, watching Xena while he gnawed my shoe.  He was there.  He was always there.  And once he’s gone, he’s gone.  At least now he has no doubt that he’s the Best Man in My Life.

What about you?  Do you have loved ones of the fur persuasion?  Do they know they’re loved?  What would you do if you had a second chance?

Karma is just another word for Genes

My first week out has been a fascinating, if overwhelming, venture into the blogosphere.  With Mother’s Day just past, the topic that stands out is mothers, children and parenting more generally.

But first, I want to dedicate this one to two bloggers who made my week:

Lynn Kelly

Lynn is an awesome lady – she was the first to comment on my blog, and her welcome was so generous and warm it made me want to keep going (instead of run away screaming back to anonymity).  She has a fantastic, quirky sense of humour and her blog on Mums’ Absent Minded Moments was hilarious.  (Note to self: since you already have those moments, DO NOT have kids – borrow someone else’s!)

It was her Blogoversary this week, too, and reading where she’s come from to now was truly inspirational.

The other was a Freshly Pressed blog by the Man of the Minivan  who wrote about the Joys of Disciplining Someone Else’s ChildIt was a totally entertaining read, and all the more refreshing because he says it how it is (Disclaimer: if you don’t like opinionated, don’t go there).  This blog obviously hit a nerve, because his post has 209 comments and counting – and he’s replied to every single one of them! He seems like a great guy, and an awesome Dad to boot.

From everything I’ve read and heard in my life, I’ve pretty much got the picture that having kids is a show-stopping, life-changing event.

For those who’ve made the decision to have them (or the decision not to do anything to stop having them), here’s the thing:

Brothers, sisters, Grans and Gramps – it affects us, too!

Here’s how I know:

There was a day, many moons ago, when a well-meaning mother in a public toilet block mistook me for my sister’s son.

I’m not sure if it was the sexy Kermit outfit….

…or the attractive haircut my sister had just given me (‘I know, I want to be a hairdresser! Let me practice…’)

Anyway, ever since then I’ve been determined to live up to the fiction that I’m adopted.

And it was all going along so well…until my sister actually had a son.

We should have sorted out our differences before that happened, but alas, Karma is just another word for Genes (coming back to bite us on the butt).

It was like the universe waited until the Sun, Moon and Rising Star were aligned exactly how they were when I was born.  Then out he popped – a few weeks overdue.

Now our family had two shy but horrifically stubborn Taureans to deal with.

Whether you believe in astrology or not, it is impossible to escape that familial connection – that uncanny ability my nephew and I have to look inside each other’s souls and know what’s there.

It’s like the time, when he was barely three, he proclaimed how “Aunty Nana’s scary.”

He said it, probably because in that moment, unlike his mother, I wasn’t buying his tantrum.

We bored into each other’s eye sockets, and then he ran away up the stairs.

And he thought HE was scared.

Having now three nephews and a niece (if only there was a single word for them, like Neephs…cute little Neephs), I’ve learned a great deal about myself.

Like the fact that my mouth has an aversion to forming actual WORDS is a genetic affliction.

It’s unnerving, the way they can look at you, and look away, and without one word just sum yours up:

Eh, phony.

I can’t blame them, really.  I’d think the same if I had to listen to me trying to make small talk.

Which is why, as a family, we are much more comfortable in silent proximity to one another, admiring the wind in the trees.

Recently, I had a birthday, and was again reminded of the connection running through our veins.  My sister’s three each drew a picture, and later, the conversation on the phone went something like this:

4 yo: ‘I dwew you LADY BIRDS!!’

6 yo: ‘I don’t wemember what I dwew…yeah, it was a TWEE HOUSE!’

Mum (for soon-to-be 8 yo): ‘He doesn’t want to talk’

And I get it.  Sometimes it’s hard to say how we feel, or to even have anything to say at all.  And that’s where Art comes in.

I write because I love my Neephs, because there are things about the world I want to share with them, because – in whatever way I can – I want their world to be a better place.

Their struggles are my struggles – to deny that connection is to deny life itself, and all the lessons that it brings.

So what about you?  Does being an Aunt, Uncle, Parent, Grandparent – any kind of child relative – scare the pants off you?  Do you see karmic patterns in those little bundled genes?  How has it rocked your world?

Thanks Kristen (from a WANA Wannabe)

Hello World…

I’m a writer who has only recently removed the word ‘aspiring’ from my bio, even though I don’t – yet – have a published work to my name.

It feels…SUBLIME…ly scary…

There are only two people in the world crazy enough to encourage me to do such a thing – so this first blog is for them.

Meet Kristen Lamb

Kristen came across my path about three weeks ago, when I was trying to figure out a self-publishing strategy that didn’t include social media.

Her Freshly Pressed blog, ‘Stress Less, Write More’, jumped out at me.  Within minutes, instead of breaking into a cold sweat, I was laughing and telling the Person sitting next to me what a ffflipping fabulous article I just read.

So I subscribed and went back to what I was doing.

Meet She-who-can’t-be-named

Unlike me, the Person sitting next to me has always taken my writing career seriously.

Not only did she read Kristen Lamb’s Blog, but she also clicked on the link to her best-selling book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

“…OMG…you have to buy this book immediately.”

Suddenly, between fits, She was reading aloud how, “…‘Most of us would rather have brain surgery with a KFC spork than learn about computers and social marketing’ – OMG, that’s just like you!” She laughed, “You have to buy this book immediately!”

So She bought the book and downloaded it to my Kindle, proving Kristen’s premise to be right (that I am not Alone).

Thanks to Her, I read We Are Not Alone and then Are You There, Blog?.  What a revelation…

Kristen’s advice to writers is more than just ‘how to’.  She explains the principles of writing, and of social media, in such a way that it becomes a life lesson.  A lesson in LOVE and the rules of FRIENDSHIP, so much so that, suddenly, Twitter and Facebook have meaning far beyond a status update on the colour of my navel dirt.

I’m SO relieved.

The last three weeks have turned me into a convert.  Kristen has even managed to convince me that I can do this thing called social media.  At least, now, I’m willing to give it a go.

If she can convince me, she can convince anyone.  I mean – seriously.

Since I read Kristen’s books, I’ve been doing somersaults trying to write my first blog.

The process is similar to figuring out what to say to the hairdresser for two long hours – the internal dialogue goes something like this:

Quick.  Talk about the weather – that’s always a good place to start – No, too lame – everyone knows that’s an act of desperation…..Think!  Talk about Whitney’s drug overdose – No, no entry point, it’ll look weird….There you go – she asked you what you’re doing on the weekend – But I don’t have any plans!  I mean, aside from cooking food for my demented dog. No-one wants to know about that….  There’s your writing – you’re setting up your platform this weekend – I’m not telling her I don’t have a Facebook account – she probably grew up on Facebook!  Too late.  Moment’s lost.  Just – keep quiet….Goddammit….

Time to take a deep breath.

Thankfully, yesterday morning, I opened my email and saw Kristen’s new blog – ‘The Age of the Artist – Time for a Revolution’.

It’s amazing how, with just a few words, Kristen can make me laugh and cry all at once.  The way she pares everything back to the bigger picture and gives us hope.

It’s not about me.  It’s about Sharing the Love.  That’s, anyway, why most of us are here, right?  Or isn’t it?

In the spirit of sharing it around, I’d love to know – what inspires you to write, and why?  More importantly, is there anyone in your life who encourages you to keep at it, when no-one else could care?

I want to meet you, and to give a plug to our supporters.  In many ways, their task is harder than our own…..

Much love,

Alarna Rose Gray