FAREWELL UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

Stepping through the building’s revolving doors and swiping my work card for the last time, I felt overcome with nostalgia. My mind went for a trip down memory lane to the first time I stood in front of the security gates, desperately trying to get my visitors card to work so I that I could get to my job interview on time. I remember feeling self-conscious that I was holding up the flow of morning traffic as I did my awkward forward and backward shuffle trying to get the barriers to open. I remember rushing to the toilet to calm my nerves, flapping about trying to cool my sweaty body, and checking my armpits for embarrassing sweat stains.

I really wanted the job. At the time, this government role was what I deemed in my mind as the pinnacle of my career success in my profession. I believed that my self-worth was directly linked to my job title, and this role would be validation of that. It would satisfy my ego and dull that little insecure voice in my head telling me that my value and existence was defined by work and its accomplishments.

I remember taking extreme care in my appearance, rehearsing the lines that I would say, and trying to give myself the pep talk I needed to come across as a capable and confident person. I remember the elation I had felt at news of my success. I remember meeting my work colleagues and feeling nervous but eager to please. This job was pivotal to me feeling complete.

Over the years, I began feeling frustrated with the system, felt downtrodden with my inability to effect change, and resentment built to a point where I became an ineffectual team member. It was also around the time I was gifted with a second job title – mum – and my struggles with work-life balance, mother’s guilt and anxiety reared its ugly head.

Why did I stay, I hear you ask, if I was so unhappy?

I made excuses to myself: I needed a job, we needed the money, it was well-paid and secure, and I should have been thankful to have a job when so many others struggled to find one. In truth, I stayed for longer than I should have out of fear. I was fearful of the unknown. I didn’t believe in my own abilities or capabilities. What if I didn’t find anything better? Don’t they say the grass is always greener on the other side? My anxiety made sure to shred any remaining confidence.

And so, I stewed in my misery, negativity pouring from me like a poison, darkening my thoughts and affecting everyone around me. I was depressed and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. People were moving forward, grabbing opportunities with gusto, and surviving within the murky waters of the workplace restructures. I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore and I certainly didn’t feel I deserved to be there, taking someone else’s spot. I was lost. I was a failure as a teammate and as a parent. I was in a very bad head space. For the sake of my mental health and my family, there was only one solution and that was to resign.

Today, as I said my farewells to my friends, I felt strong emotions of grief and loss. These wonderful people had become my second family, unwavering in their support, encouraging with meaningful words and enriching my life with their presence. Today, I close this chapter of my life with fond memories that will forever be etched in my heart.

Where will my new adventures lead? What does the next chapter look like? What are my plans? I do not know.

The only thing I do know is that I am ready for the magic of new beginnings.

 


To my friends, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

FT – I will miss your hugs and infectious laughter.
MD – I will miss your jokes, even though I rarely got your punch lines.
QG – I will miss your D&Ms, you gave me strength through some of my darkest days.
WY – I will miss your tough love, no-nonsense attitude.
GS/MN – I will miss your generous and kind spirits.
MS – I will miss your inner strength and words of wisdom.
GP – I will miss your wildly inappropriate but funny comments. Don’t go changing.
JL – I will miss hearing of your small wins with coupons and freebies.
EB – I will miss your words of encouragement and support.
HS – I will miss your self-deprecating humour.

And to the rest of the branch, who are no less important to me, thank you for being a part of my life journey.


Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO

It’s a common understanding that part of good parenting involves modelling good behaviours. Children are imitators, so you can’t tell them to do something but not do it yourself. The mentality of “do as I say, not as I do” is simply unacceptable. You have to lead by example because your children look to you as their role models, they learn how to behave, act and deal with life situations by watching you. If you want your kids to have good manners, show them by saying YOUR pleases and thank-yous. If you don’t want your kids swearing, don’t curse in front of them, even if a moron cuts in front of you and nearly side swipes your car. Your children are a reflection of you, in the emotional and behavioural sense. Effectively, you are on public display, open for view and imitation twenty-four-seven.

In writing all that, I can admit that I am not a great role model. I act on whims, with logical and rational reasoning often taking a backseat. I can be a sarcastic, pessimistic, undisciplined, glass-half-empty, stubborn type of person. My epitaph would probably read “Consistent in her inconsistencies”.

So I can’t really complain when my seven-year-old throws her wet towel on the floor or grumble when I have to unravel underwear from her inside out pants while sorting laundry. I can’t call her a slob because I would essentially be calling myself one, seeing I can’t adhere to my own rules.

I’m constantly nagging my kids to drink more water but I happily drink coffee and tea instead. Talk about being a hypocrite!

How can I scold my daughter for being a hoarder, tucking away her possessions and never being able to find anything when she is a by-product of my habits? My father in-law just the other day asked where the old relic of a juicing machine he gave me was, and seriously, it could have been misplaced in the linen closet for all I knew!

And when my toddler started to point his tiny finger at me and say, “I want you to do it right this minute young lady!”, who do I have to blame for that?

Like most parents, I make sure my children feel loved and supported, are well-fed, dressed in clean clothes, help with school readers, try to volunteer where I can, take them to social events and extra-curricula activities.

I know that I’m not a terrible mother, but I struggle to focus and I find it exhausting being mindful as a parent. Despite it all, I continue to try.

This week when I found myself with homework that tested my patience and ability, I was quick to chuck a self-pity party and throw in the towel. I had spat the dummy and thrown an embarrassing toddler tantrum. My daughter started homework that same week and when prompted, her responses fell between “I don’t want to do it” and “it’s too hard”. Coincidence much?

I had to dig deep and do some self-reflection. What was I teaching my kids? What effects were my actions having on them? Am I being the role model that I want to be? How am I shaping my children for the future?

If I want my daughter to face challenges with aplomb, to learn from mistakes and not be afraid of trying, to be resilient and persevere, I had to pull my finger out and set the example.

So I sat down, batted away the self-doubt and attempted to do my homework. I tried and failed multiple times. I practiced and practiced until I produced a piece that I felt content with. I had done my homework to the best of my ability. I gave it a go.

Not surprisingly, my daughter also decided to give her homework a go.

The results got me thinking… maybe I’ll become a vegetarian. Do you reckon my children will want to eat their veggies then?

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

MY FAULTY CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

I’ve started a creative writing class. Last week we were asked to write a short piece on a profound moment in our life. Here’s the link if you missed out – A Slice of Life. This week we were asked to write a character description of someone we know well. We were told not to give a ‘description list’ where the character’s physical attributes were simply listed. Our task was to try to use some or all the five senses (taste, smell, touch, hearing, sight) to help bring alive the character to the reader. The examples given to us for reading contained lots of similes, metaphors, actions and physical details for personality.

Interestingly, I discovered that I cannot write a good character description, and I tend to delve into storytelling using scenes and dialogue. My descriptions were unnecessarily wordy without the ability to give a clear vision of the portrayed character.

In my first attempt, I tried to describe a broken woman, but instead I wrote a short story. I used a different tack with my second to seventh attempts by using stereotypes, hoping that by doing this I could narrow my focus and not waffle. I wrote bullet points of stereotypical descriptions using google search and tried linking the sentences. I ended up with vague descriptions and a scene. It was frustrating not being able to understand my barriers. It felt a lot like having writer’s block. After much discussion with my significant other, we discerned that because I don’t like the idea of stereotypes and generalisations, I couldn’t draw inspiration from this method. I simply don’t see people in that way!

In the end, I wrote bullet points of short phrases to describe someone I knew well from my childhood. Being able to visualise the person in my mind’s eye helped. I should have done that in the first place as instructed by the teacher! I think the final product was the best character description from the lot. What do you think?


My first attempt:

Broken woman

Wiping the condensation from the mirror with her freshly manicured hand, she stepped back and stared at the woman before her. No longer was she the dependent, dutiful housewife at the beck and call of a demanding and abusive man. She had thrown that dead weight from her hunched shoulders, loosened the stranglehold, and scrubbed that disease from her body and soul. She had tucked the once cowering woman and her fragmented thoughts into the dark realms of her mind, forever to be left behind.

She pinched her cheeks in an effort to brighten her sallow complexion. She cursed under her breath, as she applied the foundation to cover the dark circles that had formed under her eyes from the sleepless nights. Carefully, with an unpracticed hand, she used her new makeup to contour her eyes and cheeks, smiling triumphantly at her efforts. It was like riding a bike.

Letting the fluffy pink towel drop to the floor, she admired her perky and fulsome breasts, the result of a ten thousand dollar loan from her brother and the aftermath from a bitter divorce. It would take her years to pay the amount, but it was worth every penny in rebuilding the confidence that was systematically stripped from her over the years.

Who was she now? How would she introduce herself? What would this man see? A thirty-year-old woman with three children under five, jobless, penniless, divorcee and in a world of hurt? Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined these turns of events. She chastised herself for allowing morose thoughts to enter her mind. It would do her no good to dwell.

Tonight, she could be anyone. Tonight, she would be the strong, fun-loving, wild at heart woman she wanted desperately to be. Tonight, she would rebuild her life.

She pulled back her shoulders and took a deep fortifying breath. She had a date to meet and a new persona to slip on. She clutched the bright rouge lipstick and with a shaky hand smeared the lipstick on her plumped lips.

She slipped into the black tube dress, the one she had pulled out from deep within her closest, the one she had worn back in the days before she met HIM. She silently thanked the heavens that it still fit like a glove, even after housing and vacating three beautiful children. Pushing up her cleavage and smoothing down her flat-ironed hair, she grabbed her stilettos and clutch, and headed out.

She stopped momentarily at her children’s doors, peering in to see if they were asleep. Upon seeing her youngest, twelve-month-old baby in his cot, she paused, doubting her decision to leave, but then her vision of HIM with HER solidifies her resolve.

Shaking off the mother’s guilt, she raised her head high and strutted her new and improved version towards the inevitable.


Using stereotypes:

Old woman

Her white caterpillars connected in a frown as her beady black eyes took in the rowdy grandchildren at her door. Sinking further into her corner chair, she pulled the woollen blanket towards her droopy jowls, keeping her thin and wiry frame warm from the accompanying blast of the icy chill. The coldness crept into her osteoporotic bones and made her dentures rattle in her mouth as she shivered. She pushed her thick rimmed glasses back on her upturned nose with a skeletal finger. Clang! Screech! The sudden noise of a slammed door startled her sensitive state. A heavy blanket is placed on her, and the warmth of it envelops and entices her weary body and anxious mind for a sleep.

Hippie

His friends called him ‘Love Flower’ but his parents named him Jeremy. His home was a large commune off the grid, where like-minded people fed off the land and gave back to Mother Nature. His place of work was wherever his bare feet would carry him. His work station was any surface his scrappy frayed jeans would settle upon. His craft involved the strum of an acoustic guitar. He relied upon the good graces of passing people to throw unwanted coins into his weather-worn guitar case, thereby funding his weed smoking habit. If he was lucky, an occasional person would stop to listen, unfazed by his unkempt appearance. His lean body would bounce energetically with the beat. His head of unwashed blonde dreadlocks would sway from side to side, as his grubby fingernails strummed the guitar strings. Sometimes people walking past would curl their lips in disgust at the faded OP Shop tied-dyed shirt, his overgrown beard that brushed his chest, and at the lingering smell of unwashed body odour that was emitted from his pores as he worked up a sweat. He didn’t notice or care. He was in his element, young and carefree, unburdened by societal expectations, rejecting conventional values, and pursuing a life of enlightenment.


Final attempt:

Grandma

Her wispy white hair would sometimes peek out from under her woollen beanie as she sat in her favourite corner chair. With a red woollen blanket draped over her legs, her beady black eyes would watch her visitors like the Big Bad Wolf eyeing its prey. She wore a fearsome mask: a side glance, the slight tilt of her chin, and a furrowed brow. It was a stony expression that invited no conversation unless she was inclined to grace her company with small talk. She was the matriarch, domineering and proud, sitting on her throne ready to cast her judgements. Her progeny would come bearing gifts and seeking validation. She would award a smile for those that brought news of success and a scowl for those she thought unworthy. Like chess pieces, she would maneuver them, favouring her rooks and bishops, and carelessly discarding her pawns. Little did she realise that her game, in the end, there would be no winners as they all fall.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/