Pruning the roses

484 words. 5 minutes to read.

When I was tiny, all I wanted to be was a ballerina. My parents humoured me, and somehow rustled up enough money to send me to dance classes.

Dad found a record in his collection of The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. I played it endlessly, listening to the beautiful Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy over and over again until the LP was scratched and unplayable.

I pranced around the rumpus room at home, spinning in what I imagined were stately ballerina-like moves.

My dancing dreams came to an end when I was six. I clearly remember my dance teacher taking my parents aside, and saying, “She’s never going to be a ballerina. She has no co-ordination, and she’s going to be six feet tall. Look at her shoulders! I need petite girls. Graceful girls. Perhaps…perhaps basketball instead.”

I was devastated.

Even now, a tiny part of me deep inside wishes she could have been a ballerina. I still adore the ballet. But my dance teacher was right to break my fantasy early before it took hold too strongly.

She pruned her roses well, and I was a stem that need to be cut away.

Letting go of dreams is something all of us must do to grow up and become adults. We need to let go of old dreams that don’t work to make space for new ones that do.

I had to let go of the dream of being a bad ballerina so I could make room to become a good writer, a good teacher, a good mother to my kids and partner to the man I love.

Life rarely works out the way we imagine. Sometimes it works out way better, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes we work out way better, and sometimes we don’t. Growing pains hurt, and having our dreams crash down always hurts.

Today I am a different person to that little girl who wanted to dance.

You are a different person to the child you once were too. You probably had dreams you had to let go of, just like me. That’s absolutely okay. You’re meant to be an adult now. That’s what growing up is for.

Find contentment in who you are, here are now. Be happy with your choices – the good, and the bad. We’ve all stuffed up, and we’ve all done things we wish we could change. But now it’s time to move on. Throw away the clutter, and be free of the past. Let old dreams go.

So who are you today? I’m Lee. I try to write, and I try to parent, and I try to be a decent person. Sometimes I fail at all three. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying.

Don’t stop trying. Trying is what life is all about. Figure out who you are, and run with it.

Prune your dead wood, and let your roses bloom.

pruning roses

Time to have “The Talk” about Christmas

304 words. 3 minutes to read.

Christmas gifts from relatives and friends are always awkward.

Will they spend too much? Too little? Am I a cheapskate?

Are they going to buy something horrible and tasteless I have to pretend I like?

Am I going to get yet another pair of Homer Simpson socks?

Homer Simpson socks

Homer Simpson socks…do you REALLY need another pair?

It’s time to have The Talk.

Years ago, my brother and I agreed to stop buying each other Christmas gifts. It was a great decision that has made my Christmas better every year since.

We’ve both saved a lot of money and a lot of stress of having to work out what the other wants and likes.

Now, as adults who have pretty much everything we need, The Talk has saved us buying useless stuff that neither of us needs.

Over time, I’ve had The Talk with friends and other family members. I receive few gifts at Christmas, and it makes me much happier. I don’t feel indebted to anyone, and I don’t receive stuff I don’t want or need.

Likewise, we’ve encouraged our children to not buy each other gifts at Christmas and birthdays.

It has been a breath of fresh air in our lives.

Christmas should be about family getting together and sharing good times. If you’re religious, it’s about Church and Christ.

It should never be about guilt, consumerism and stress.

Chances are that some of your loved ones would love to have a No Gifts policy with you, they’re just not ready to take the first step. They’re afraid of what you might think. They’re afraid you might think they’re a cheapskate.

So be brave. Make your lives better. Quit the craziness. Find some peace this holidays.

Isn’t is time for you to have The Talk with people you love this Christmas?

Isn't it time you had The Talk?

Isn’t it time you had The Talk?

Treasure moments, not stuff.

320 words. 3 minutes to read.

My son turns 13 this week. He’s almost taller than me.

It seems no time since we brought him home from the hospital. He was so tiny, all swaddled up, his eyes so dark, his eyelashes so long. He was the most beautiful baby imaginable. I was immediately besotted.

I think every parent feels this way about their baby, when we meet our child for the first time.

He’s turning 13 now, and I’m very proud of the man he is growing to be.

We’ve had a bumpy road – a diagnosis of autism (Asperger syndrome), which has developed into him just being an extreme geek with a strong talent for anything computer-related. He’s doing very well at school, he has a strong family, friends that care.

Life is good right now.

Things haven’t been easy, but when I look at the hurdles we’ve jumped, I know that they are easier than some other families have dealt with.

I also know that these same hurdles have given us purpose and a strong relationship between us that will stand us firm in the years to come.

When I look back on our time with him so far – the time he has been alive on this world – it hasn’t been the stuff that made life great. It has been the moments.

His first day of kindergarten.
His first day of school.
His first fight.
Him making friends, and sometimes losing them.
The times we’ve shared an in-joke, or just relaxed at the beach with an ice cream.
The hugs at night, when I tuck him into bed, and tell him I love him.

All of it learning, growing, changing.

I’m speaking from the perspective of a parent proud of her son, but the lesson holds true for all of us: Treasure moments, not stuff. Life is short.

Spend your energy where it will bloom. Then you’ll see the roses grow 🙂

Treasure moments, not stuff

Life is short. Treasure moments, not stuff.