Friendship blesses those who share it, and I am very blessed by my circle of friends. They keep me sane, support and challenge me. As well as that, they encourage, nurture and offer solace. They provide wisdom, good times and fun.
‘Friendship is a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy and trust between two people.’
Friends play a different role in our lives from our families, although there’s considerable overlap. A quick flick through my website shows that I have a large (and growing) family, including 14 great-grandchildren. My siblings and I are close. But family aren’t the subject of this blog, although I have many close bonds with them.
Strategic incompetence was far from my mind last weekend when I enjoyed the company of two of my granddaughters and their husbands in the midst of domestic action. Later, I saw them as families with each other.
They amazed me (again) as my granddaughters (sisters) and their partners often do with the way they share tasks with skill and flair.
Each couple has a baby, born two months apart. Check out my blogs here and here and here. One couple also has three older children. Both sets of parents work outside the home. (And often from home.)
One granddaughter spent the time I was at her house building glass-doored book cases. She’s good at construction, and enjoys it. Her husband cleaned and mopped the bathroom. He then changed the nappy of their nine-month old, and gave her lunch. This man delights in creating amazing meals and we often enjoy his culinary skills.
The other dad, currently on paternity leave, came home from an exciting activity he’d shared with their three older children. My granddaughter baked, something she also enjoys, and looked after the baby. The previous weekend, she constructed a massive climbing frame for the children. Her husband helped.
Recognition of First Nations people in the Australian Constitution is long overdue. But later this year, Australians will take part in a compulsory referendum to change the Australian Constitution.
If a majority of voters in a majority of States vote ‘YES’ to the First Nations Voice to Parliament, the original inhabitants of this country will be recognised in the Constitution. Until recently, that would have been unthinkable.
I’ll vote ‘Yes’ in the hope we can begin to right the wrongs of past centuries. A ‘Yes’ vote will also help to promote social justice in the present. It will be a small step on a longer journey.
My Auntie Billa owned a feather duster, a garden full of exquisite roses and a little dog called Buster. She also had a husband who loved her, a house different from ours, and kidney disease following eclampsia during pregnancy. Her baby girl died in utero a year before my birth.
Advised against another pregnancy, Auntie Billa bonded with me, her sister’s first child. I’ve never forgotten the love she showered on me or our close attachment.
Racing and racism as well as slavery in the nineteenth century in the USA are among the big themes in Horse by Geraldine Brooks. This is Brooks’ sixth work of historical fiction and she excels in the genre. She manages to weave compassionate and fascinating stories around one small aspect of history.
In Horse, she writes about an actual Kentucky horse which raced under the name of Lexington and its succession of owners as well as an artist who painted the horse. Lexington excelled as a racer, and also became a legendary thoroughbred sire.
The members of my bookclub excel in choosing books that I believe I’d never choose for myself, but which I most often enjoy reading because they push me in different directions. The person whose choice we discuss provides us with a list of about ten questions. She uses that to guide our often heated and always interesting discussions.
I couldn’t imagine choosing a book called Horse to read for enjoyment. With no affinity for horses, and an antipathy towards horse-racing, why would I bother? But I loved and recommend this book.
Feeling flat from occasionally seems part of the human condition. It’s normal for life to lose its sparkle. Problems, loneliness and pain mount up and we lose energy. Asked to describe our feelings, we might say everything feels blah!
This blog does not address medical conditions like depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses. It is not medical advice.
American author, Elizabeth Strout writes novels and short stories that make me happy to read all night. Her novels and short stories are amazing on many levels and I’ve become a delighted binge reader fan.
Olive Kitteridge, the book for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 2009, is a novel written as a series of linked short stories. I found it while searching for other similar novels. (There are links to reviews of several of them at the end of this blog.) Since Olive Ketteridge, I’ve read six of her nine books, several of them twice. I’ve ordered the rest.
Elizabeth Strout’s second last book, Oh William! was short-listed for the 2022 Man Booker Prize.
Seize the day might have been a good phrase for me for this year, 2023. My last post, the one about eating dessert first, had not been published when a new opportunity for fun presented itself. Talk about synchronicity!
Hard to believe now, but it took push, a few pushes really, from my daughter and several granddaughters, for me to see the good things in store for me.
Last year seemed especially difficult and left me feeling flat and miserable. I felt as if I’d been bleating about the need for a break from the humdrumness of it all. I felt envious of people I knew who were taking or planning holidays and those who’d been away last year.
Eat dessert first in these uncertain times. It’s an old habit, but one I’d almost forgotten. I still choose dessert from a menu before looking at the entrees and mains. But somehow I’ve lost sight of the importance of grasping pleasure when it presents itself. But now I’m back on track.
This year, it’s a phrase: ‘Eat dessert first,’ which seems much more fun. I quickly discounted, ‘The year of travel,’ or ‘The year of excitement,’ which a friend suggested yesterday. Those won’t work for me.
The mystery of 2023 hangs around, outside our knowledge. We can imagine, guess, hope, perhaps even dread what’s to come next. One thing we know: life is uncertain.
In the past, I’ve made hopeful predictions about what a new year will bring, and how I’ll face and shape it. I recognise that often I’ve been bold and brash with my plans. Sometimes, years have been full of life and spirit and I’ve accomplished much of what I wanted. Other years, not so much.
Then COVID happened. To plan seemed futile. Survival became important.
This year, perhaps because age is trying to catch up with me, or maybe because of a brush with concussion, I’m less inclined to demand too much of the next twelve months. Years of the pandemic have taught me a thing or two, and so have my changing circumstances.
The mystery of 2023 will unfold
To wait patiently for the mystery of 2023 to unfold seems more realistic this year. Being prepared, like those wise virgins in the parable in the New Testament, seems a good plan. The wise virgins had their lamps burning, ready to light the way when the master came. They also had a supply of oil so their lamps didn’t run out.
Their foolish counterparts realised how poorly they were organised. They tried to borrow oil from their sisters, who refused to share. That seems mean. But there was not enough to go around. If the wise ones shared, no one would have enough to keep their lamps burning.
My plan for 2023 includes being prepared for uncertain times. To be patient, to demand less of myself and others. To watch and respond rather than to be surprised and reactive. I may not succeed, but I will have more fun.
While no one knows what 2023 will bring, I’m happy that I can choose to wait actively rather than passively. Planning, and being prepared to change plans, seems a good tactic for uncertain times. Having things I want to do means being prepared with plenty of oil to keep my lamp burning brightly.
Twenty three things to do in 2023
So, here’s my list of some things I plan to do in 2023, not necessarily in any order.
BREATH deeply and often
CARE for my husband, who is unwell
CONNECT often with family and friends
PLAY with my great-grandchildren whenever the opportunity arises
WRITE five things I’m grateful for every night (gratitude journal)