It is Autumn now here in our part of the world. All the farmers (and actually a lot of other people) have been waiting on rain. Historically we normally get the opening rains around Anzac Day, which is the 25th of April. It will be a month today that we have been talking about rain and when it may arrive.
The opening rains are needed by most farmers in order for them to start putting the seed into the ground. “Handsome farmer husband” starts his seeding on a specific date every year and the seed goes into the ground that day, be it wet or be it dry. In our district it varies between every farmer with their starting times, some have started, some have finished, some wait for the rain and are still servicing their machinery. No matter what stage they are at rain is always a main discussion when farmers get together.
Today, (well last night) we had rain, which is wonderful. Depending on where you live on our little Peninsula can also relate to how much rain you receive. It is a talking point for days, even between the farming wives. It will fill rainwater tanks and water gardens. Most importantly it will soak into the land and give the crops a drink and everyone will be happy. For me, it was lovely to be able to drive through puddles and sit inside and watch the rain come down and finally water my poor sad looking lawn. Also, it finally feels like soup weather.
So thankfully it has rained, which in our case means that we can keep seeding, if all goes to plan. All going to plan means no machinery breakdowns or too much rain, dare I say it. So five days and hopefully we will finish seeding. The boys have been working steadily, they have a roster of early mornings and late nights. Sometimes “Handsome farmer husband” or myself take a hot dinner out to our “number one son” while he has been driving the tractor and seeder in the evenings. I enjoy the drive out to the paddock at night. It makes me a little nostalgic as it is something I used to do when our family was younger and “handsome farmer husband” was the main tractor driver. It is always amazing to see the lights of all the neighbours tractors going around in the paddocks and the bright stars overhead in the dark sky.
I love seeding because it is the beginning again. The earth is fresh and it smells amazing. The days are cool and damp outside and then sometimes the sun shines through making it sunshine and perfect. Then we get to wait for the crops to come up. It is such a joy to see the first glimpse of green. Walking through the paddocks, watching and waiting for the crops to come poking through the soil. Then as all farmers and their wives do we go back to the discussions of rain, and when it will come next.
On the weekend I was helping my mum and dad and uncles and aunties sell things at my Grandparents garage sale.
My Grandpa died in February this year, at 98 years of age. My Grandma died six years before, at 92 years of age. The house they built and have lived in all their life is now in the process of being sold. Every item, big or small that had a special place in their house is now out in the garage or in a box for people to go through.
It is strange, to say the least. Watching people pour over my grandparents possesions. Some of the things I have actually never seen before, other items are ingrained into my memories. It is hard to watch. It is hard not to take everything home. I see the bowls we ate our breakfast cereal out of, the cutlery set that was pure 70’s and the clock from the lounge room wall, all are amongst the many things that have never changed from when I was a young child. All the little things have a memory that goes with them.
I wasn’t emotional, it was what had to happen. I had accepted that it was not their home any more. It was a house which is empty and clean. Until I sat in the toilet looking at the back of the toilet door. It took me back. It hasn’t changed for about 40 years. It has a calendar picture taped haphazardly taped to it. A picture of a rose that my Grandma obviously admired. At that moment I could almost believe that Grandma was out in the kitchen fussing at the sink, making me a glass of cordial or a cold milk milo. I felt like I was 10 years old, I could almost hear my Grandpa coming in the back door, the screen slamming as he calls out “I’m home”. Grandpa Harry is here all is well.
My Grandparents owned a pear orchard in the Adelaide Hills and their house was on the property, literally surrounded by pear trees. My family and I lived on the property. We lived in the original house, only 800 metres away from my Grandparents. After school I could walk from our house down the track which wandered along the side of the orchard to Grandmas. There Grandma would feed us biscuits, cordial and whatever fruit she had growing in her garden, fresh strawberries, plumbs, cherries and of course pears and apples. For me it was an idillic childhood. Freedom in a rural setting. Mum knew if I wasn’t at home or the packing shed I was at Grandma’s place.
As I drive up the winding roads through the hills to my Grandparents house and property there are giant green gum trees lining the roads. Every time I drive up there I feel like I am coming home, back to my childhood. I soak in the sights of the hilly green lush countryside with creeks full of blackberry bushes. My childhood home is always colder than the plains and I always forget to bring enough warm clothes when I come back. When I get there and get out of the car I am putting on extra jumpers, rugging myself up for a “normal” spring day in the hills. It is then that I remember that I never did like the cold that much. Fortunately it is the complete opposite of where I now live with my handsome farmer husband.
While we held the garage sale I stayed in my Grandparents house for the last time. I spent the two nights laying in the tiny single bed in the spare room (still the original bed head) remembering moments lost in time, the everyday things, more feelings than memories. Remembering all the little things they did for me that were forgotten over time. I know how fortunate we were to have our grandparents close and involved in our lives. As I looked at all of their belongings in the car shed I kept having connections to the many wonderful childhood memories. It was such a blessing that as a child I always felt safe and loved at my Grandparents and we never went hungry. Grandma always had chocolate in her pantry and cream biscuits in a biscuit tin, juice or cordial in the fridge and milo or strawberry quick. We were very spoilt. Even when my dad and his brothers dropped in to see their mum they would head straight into the pantry for a treat.
So, another era has passed. All we have now is memories to hold onto. Memories tucked into my heart. Memories of my kind, gentle, loving Grandma and of my Grandpa; larger than life and always busy in the orchard. They will always be there when I smell the crisp cold mornings and they go hand in hand with the sight of the giant gum trees, the creeks and the hills dotted with pear trees. I am so grateful.
The other day I was watching my two young adult sons walking from the shed back towards the house after a day of work. It was lovely to see them chatting to each other as they finished their workday on the farm. I am sure they weren’t talking about anything much but it was a nice feeling seeing them get along.
Some families don’t get along. I hear people saying that they don’t talk to their brother, or sister, or mother or father and it breaks my heart. I just hope that we have brought our kids up with enough generosity and thoughtfulness and love that they will respect their siblings no matter what life sends them.
Brothers and sisters will always be there. Since you first enter the family nucleus they teach you patience and sharing and how to be thoughtful of other peoples feelings. They know all your secrets. They were the first people you shared the bathroon with, the first people you holidayed with. In my case we endured hours in the car on the weekends driving to little rural towns where we watched my Dad play cricket. Three of us in the back seat, for the most part annoying the heck out of each other. You can always connect with your siblings when reminiscing about those trips and can always bond over the idiosyncracies of your parents.
Family are a very important support. Through good times and bad. I think the quote “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family” means you are lucky to get those people as your family. I hope that my kids will choose their siblings to be their friends for the rest of their lives.
When running a farming business there can be extra pressure on relationships as the siblings grow up. Who wants to be a farmer? who gets the farm? Who might want to be a farmer but leaves to make their own way, because they know there can only be one person taking over the business. I have seen this cause rifts, anxiety and sometimes siblings just drift apart. As our children get older that is foremost on my mind. I want to make sure the farming business doesn’t affect them as friends.
The inheritance of a farming business can be tricky. We are trying to keep all our four children involved; with lots of communication, discussions at the dinner table and eventually they will be at the business meetings. They know that they are part of our business whether they are here on the farm, involved with the day to day running or off pursuing their career in the ‘big city’. All of our children know they will be involved and supported in the future, the best way we can.
I am lucky to have one brother and one sister, both whom I love and respect and actually like to spend time with socially. Mind you it has taken a few years for me to realise that they are very important to me. It wasn’t that we never got along, more the fact that we didn’t realise how much we liked each other and we all just click. My sister and I have many things in common, we both love Yoga to name just one interest. My brother and I both have a love of the sea, surfing and swimming. Unfortunately I live about three hours travel away from both my brother and my sister but we see each other as much as possible. I am grateful for any time we get together. I am blessed to have such a beautiful family. It will bring me joy seeing my kids liking their siblings company as much as I like mine.
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.” – Mario Puzo
So, I have been laid up for almost three weeks now with a “bulging disc” in my lower back. It is a frustrating thing for me as I like to think I am a fit active person who loves Yoga and Pilates, walking, my morning swims and bike rides with “handsome farmer husband” when he nags me enough and it isn’t windy or rainy (I have my rules). Like most people I know, having a sore back wasn’t ever going to happen to me. It was a shock when it did.
At its worst sitting was painful, I couldn’t stand for long and I struggled to sit down on the toilet without pain. I could not put pants on without help (thanks amazing child number four) and had to let my legs ‘drip dry’ after I got out of the shower. The worst thing was I could not drive my car. For me that is like cutting my legs off. Living on a farm, out of town is difficult enough but if you can’t get in your car and drive to the shop to get food, the mail and most importantly, a decent barista made coffee, it is like life itself has ended. Bottom line, I was relying on other people to help me with all manner of things; my children, my mum and dad, my friends and neighbours and my ‘handsome farmer husband’. I had to learn to ask for help and had accepted that I would not be able to do any normal day to day activities for an indefinite time. So this was all fine and dandy, for a while.
It had been about a week since the initial back pain had started and it was definitely getting better. I had seen a chiropractor who relieved some pressure. I was taking it easy, no bending or picking things up off the floor. No packing the dishwasher, loading the washing machine or unloading the washing machine. I was struggling to lie down comfortably, but once I got there I was OK. I had resigned myself to taking anti-inflammatorys and pain relief constantly and was resting as much as I could. One week to the initial day and I was feeling heaps better. I felt great as I got out of bed, gingerly, but much easier than the few days before. I felt so good that I had made a few plans for the day. Make some pies for lunch, maybe even do some washing, perhaps re-edit a blog I had started.
As I was standing at my sink I had an urge to sneeze, without even thinking of the consequences, I did. Oh dear. Oh dear. There were a lot more interesting words coming out of my mouth than that, but they cannot be printed here. I could not move. I was in so much pain I could barely breathe. I held onto the sink and broke out in a sweat, the pain was intense and I actually thought I might vomit right into my kitchen sink. So I breathed through the pain, or tried to. Looking back I now liken it to labour pains, but I knew darn well they weren’t going to end and I wasn’t going to get a reward, like a beautiful little baby.
So, I thought I would lie down on the floor, that will help settle it. Ah, Nup. Now instead of standing up in pain I was lying on my floor in pain. More pain, which would not go away. So just so that you can see my dilemma here, I was actually in my dressing gown and that was all. I was actually busting to go to the toilet but couldn’t move. Luckily two of my boys were in the house so I yelled out to them and asked them to help try and roll me over. In my pain affected brain I thought I would crawl to the toilet. Ah, Nup again, was I stupid or just optimistic? I am not sure. It hurt so much and it had started to spasm. I was panting through the pain, breathing similar to birthing my kids. It stopped me from passing out, lucky I remembered that, lucky I was already on the floor.
Long story short, the boys got my ‘handsome farmer husband’ who was fortunately close by in the shed and he then called the ambulance. Much to my embarrassment three ambulances turned up. (Another long story). Obviously they didn’t want to miss out on anything. I met some beautiful, caring, wonderful people, who gave me some major pain relief in the form of a ‘green whistle’ or two and some other stuff which I cannot remember, then they whisked me off to hospital. Before the ambulance people came I had to ask my ‘handsome farmer husband’ to help put my underwear on. It was bad enough I was going to the hospital in my dressing gown, I was not going anywhere without my knickers. It hurt but it was worth it.
So my morning sneeze set me back to even worse than the beginning back pain. I spent a few hours in hospital being monitored by nurses who tried to keep my pain level as low as they could. After a few hours a lovely young doctor looked me over, gave me a referral for a CT Scan a few more pain killers and and sent me home. Back to the couch, more rest, more anti-inflammatories and very strong pain relief. Lucky me, I got a walker. It helped me walk, albeit, slowly. I felt older and slower than my 98 year old grandpa but the walker was invaluable. For the first three days back at home I didn’t go anywhere without it.
Eventually my back has calmed down. I am walking without my walker. I have had my scan and I am heading off to see my doctor next week. It seems I have a bulging disc, which requires rest but also gentle movement that does not antagonise the issue. Fortunately for me (or unfortunately) still no bending or lifting allowed; eg, washing, dishwasher stacking, cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming etc, etc, etc. There is less pain when I am sitting and I am trying to help out by cooking. It has been a challenge. I have to ask for help just to get a plate out of the cupboard. Most of the time I feel useless. I am judging myself harshly. Who knows why this happened, but my sister always says there is a reason for everything.
I found many intetesting articles to read while looking for information on the internet. Videos on how to support my back while sleeping and and activities which will help strengthen my back without doing more damage. I also found many interesting articles to read. One was Spiritual Meanings behind Physical Aches by MindJournal. Their meaning is as follows; “lower back pain indicates that we have taken on more than we think we can handle’. And truth be know I may have thought that recently. I may have been overwhelmed with the things I wanted to get done and probably quietly wondering how I could manage everything even though I had managed quite easily in the past.
Also while totally incapacitated I came across this verse by Safire Rose. I will leave it here for you to read. It is called She Let Go.
And so that is what I am now trying to do. Let go of the self judgement that I have back pain and a health issue. Let go of what I think people think of me. Let go that the dishwasher is not loaded the way I do it. Let go of the sight of socks and shoes cluttering around the door way of our home. Let go that the bread is not back where it lives but just dumped on the bench. Let go of everything not being done my way which I like to do my way. I just had to let it all go and hope for the best. And you know what? I am still here and the world is still turning and I am grateful for my body and family and everything is OK. Not perfect but definitely OK.
It has been a week since we have had our youngest son home from boarding school. He was home for school holidays. We get to hang out with him for two whole weeks. It is always nice to have him home as he likes everything I cook him and he enjoys doing things with us. I am sure this would be different for any other normal 15 year old boy who doesn’t go away to boarding school.
As they all did, while away at boarding school, when they come home they appreciated their family, their home cooked meals and their freedom on the farm. And from my experience over the years I am certain that when they get back to school they are happy to be there with their mates, doing things with them 24/7. Some holidays we go away and they love that but they also appreciate just being at home in their own bed.
We are lucky we are only three hours drive away from the city where they are schooled. We are also lucky to have the technology of mobile phones so we can keep in contact with our kids at any time we like. Unlike the old days when ‘handsome farmer husband,’ was away at school. Once a week, they had to line up to ring their parents from a big old black phone that was stuck on the wall and letters were the regular way of communication. If they were lucky they would see their parents through the school term, but more often than not it would be the end of term when their parents came to collect them that they finally saw them.
All of our children went to boarding school. It was something I thought was important, even though I never attended one myself. I had to argue my case strongly and would bring it up regularly when the kids were young. It was a much discussed subject while driving to the big city with my ‘handsome farmer husband’. Even though he went away for schooling himself, he wasnt sure about it being possible. Obviously cost was a big factor and we had to send four of them. We did have to make some sacrifices in the early days.
I know he knew well the benefits, because during his 4 years at boarding school he made long lasting friends from far and wide, his education improved along with his confidence and and back in those days he had lots of fun experiences. There are many stories he tells about his time there. Many will stay untold until all the children are actually finished school, just in case they want to follow his example.
With hindsight, my children are not exactly the same personalities as their father and so I should not have presumed they would all be fine like he was. I was so confident that it would be good for them all to learn some independence away from their mother, who by the way is a pushover and does way too much for them still.
It was a learning experience for all of us. Our eldest probably had it tougher, being the first cab off the rank, but the youngest was like a duck to water. Every child gained something important from their time away. They are all confident, independant people. We now have three who have finished their Year 12 successfully and since finishing boarding school none of them have looked back.
For two years we only had our youngest child at home. Three at boarding school and one at home. It was very peaceful and there were no arguments over who was doing what jobs around the house. We also had plenty of hot water and the grocery bill was very low.
Now we are back to three at home and one away and it is a very different story. With three big (sort of adult) children home it is interesting. We have a big house, but sometimes its not big enough. We have a big hot water service but sometimes, not big enough. We have a reasonable size fridge but not big enough and the list goes on.
Recently there have been many discussions about the length of peoples showers, why they are always in their rooms and who unpacked the dishwasher last, who cooked last, who fed the cats and the chooks, brought the wood over, who did or didn’t put the rubbish out, who didn’t flush the toilet or put the toilet seat down and the list goes on.
We are teaching them to cook so they can at least feed themselves once they leave the nest. It has been challenging but fun. Everyone cooks once a week. The meal gets a rating out of 10. It is rated on taste and appearance and we try some new recipes along the way. Cooking dinner also entails the clean up and tidy the kitchen and pack and put on the dishwasher as well. ‘Number one son’ is very clever as he tries to pick a Friday night to cook, this is very often the night he is out with his mates. Generally everyone has a go, without too much complaining.
I am grateful to have them home for as long as I can. It is lovely to see my boys walking back from the shed chatting to each other after a day at work or hearing my daughter laughing with her big brother while they are cleaning their teeth at night. Sometimes they even help each other cook. I will make the most of those little things, store them in my memory bank. Soon they will be out of our house, back out into the world, independant young adults. Then before we know it ‘number four’ will be home from boarding school. The countdown is on.
We have had a tragedy in our family. For those with pets who are part of the family I know you will understand.
My sons’ puppy dog, Bruce, was accidentally hit by a truck. We had to have him put down. He was a beautiful, energetic, black and white border collie who was only 10 months old. It was sad. It was very sad for every member of the family.
Even though he was “son number 2’s” dog, we all spent time with Bruce. We all, in turn, took him walking, running or bicycling and threw sticks and balls to him. Both my sons taught Bruce to sit, stay and come to them when he was a little puppy. I would see them working together on the back lawn, calling Bruce between them, giving him a big pat and a treat when he listened. Watching him bounce energetically to each of them in turn. It was a joy to see.
He was our sons’ dog, but he belonged to the family too. He came in the ute when we went out in the paddock and loved to sit ‘up front’ with me while we checked the crops. Also I let him ride in my car. This was something I thought I would never, ever do. He loved beach walks and I was happy to take him, when I had time. He wriggled his little puppy nose right into my heart and I will miss him a lot.
As all dogs, Bruce loved people, he loved being around people and he loved balls and sticks of any kind. If you had a stick in your hand, he was your best friend. He also loved the cats, unfortunately for him they declined to join his chasing games and more often than not he would get a scratch on his nose for being too close to them. When you got him out of his yard in the morning he bounced all around you, with the sheer joy and happiness only dogs can show.
Someone said to us after they heard about him dying. “No more dogs for your family” “It is too hard”. I had to disagree. Yes, it is devastating when your pet dies, but also, having a pet is a lesson about life and about love. Bruce taught us to work with each other, he taught us to never say never. He taught my son responsibility and thoughtfulness for another soul.
I am glad we got Bruce in our family, even though his time was short, he will be sorely missed. When the time is right I will be pleased if any of our children get another dog because dogs teach us many things, but most of all they teach us how easy it is to love.
We are now officially into Spring here in rural South Australia. It is a pretty time of the year both in the gardens and the paddocks.
We have lots of Canola crops growing around our District. It is such a bright and cheerful crop when it flowers. The paddocks are like patchwork. Everyone is posting photos, lots of them, everywhere, with the blast of yellow covering the huge paddocks.
Luckily in the last few weeks we have had plenty of rain to keep the crops growing. Everyone is happy. Farming is always dependant on the rain and sunshine coming at the right time. I know that is something that can make farming quite stressful for some, but most farmers I know are both grateful and accepting. To be able to run a business which highly depends on when, and if the rain falls, you have to be very resilient and confident in your farming abilities. Some years the rain does not turn up at the right time or even at all.
Hopefully we have had enough rain in the past month, to get the crops through until the next rain does come. When the ever elusive rain is arriving can be a never ending discussion; with neighbours, friends and the community you meet while in town getting the mail.
Both farmers and their wives are now experts with their weather apps. It is quite common for me to be chatting with the farmers wives about the rain and they will check their phones, “oh yes, it looks like rain is coming in three days time. It says there is a 70 percent chance of 1-5mm.” It hasn’t always been this way. In the old days, it was just the blokes, in the paddocks, talking to their neighbour. A chin-wag over the fence included guessing when the “next drop” will arrive. Nowdays the weather experts can let us know at the tap of a finger. I like the technology, it may save my washing from the rain, but I still think it is ‘hit and miss’ most times.
The weather is always a good discussion starter when you are in town shopping. In winter, “gosh it is cold today, had much rain?” in summer, “hot enough for you?” During all seasons we get a lot of wind on our Peninsula being so close to the coast. There are very few days when it is not windy. Being windy is a given and not really talked about much. A calm spring day is one of the best things we get here. That does get people talking and smiling.
Luckily, today has been a beautiful calm spring day. The birds are tweeting, my fruit trees are flowering and the ‘never ending washing’ is drying. With all the crops looking very healthy, ‘handsome farmer husband’ is very happy. The calm spring day just makes life that little bit better.
Shopping for groceries, some people love it, some people hate it.
When the kids were young, a trip to the supermarket was not an enjoyable outing for me and something I definitely didnt look forward to.
Living out on the farm meant loading the kids into the car and driving into town. The timing had to be right and all the loading and unloading was exhausting. I had to load two babies and one toddler into the car and buckle them in. Make sure I had the pram, the nappy bag, a spare change of clothes (you really just never know) three favourite toys, a drink bottle or two, my list and my purse.
When I got to the supermarket I then had to unload. It was a bonus to get a park out the front. I got the pram out, two into the pram, then the eldest beautiful child out last, so he didnt run off. The nappy bag, drinks, favourite toys, my list and my purse. This took around 20 minutes and I hadn’t even got into the supermarket.
In my supermarket they had a twin trolley. It was very helpful when my twins were babies. They sat up top and their older brother sat in the trolley, until we ran out of room for food, then he had to walk. This mostly worked well. I remember saying a lot of “no put that back” “Don’t touch that” “stop poking your brother”. “No you can’t sit in the front”. “No you can’t push the trolley” “You can have some fruit, you do not need lollies”.
Even on the good days when no one was crying, or there were no tantrums, I rushed through the list as quickly as I could. There was a small window of calm with ‘three under three’, some days I made it, others I didnt.
Being able to shop in our little country town supermarket was both a blessing and a curse. It was embarrassing when the two year old toddler had a tantrum, because everyone knew who you were. It didnt matter which one it was, at some stage they all had a turn (yes, all four of them). My only, ‘favourite’ daughter, may dispute this.
I can clearly remember my eldest son howling on the floor in the fruit and vegie section because I wouldn’t buy him some cherries at $16 a kilo, he didnt like cherries. He wouldn’t move and screamed louder when I tried to touch him. Because I was a local in this little country town the blessing was they all knew I hadn’t kidnapped him or anything like that. No police were called, instead a couple of lovely girls tried to help. They just watched him lay on the floor crying while I rushed through two isles getting the essentials. The whole shop could hear him screaming. I was mortified. No one else took any notice. Finally I went back and got him, I paid for our groceries and got out. ‘Number one son’ didn’t calm down until I got him in the car. Then as every normal two year old does after a tantrum, he promptly fell asleep.
On the good days, shopping in the supermarket where I knew everyone was also a blessing. Locals shopping and staff, always said hello to the kids. They would stop and ‘goo and gaa’ at the twins and give chocolate frogs to my ‘number one son’. This was lovely, but also, in turn made the whole experience an hour longer because not just one person stopped to chat but every person you came across wanted to say hello to us.
I think the experiences of taking four children shopping have scarred me. Even now that my children are grown up, stay home and look after themselves, grocery shopping is still something I do not look forward to. I have a list. I get in and get out. Head down, don’t make any eye contact with anyone, get my food and go home. Its not because I am in a rush or because I don’t like to chat. I think it is an old habit from when the kids were little. I do not ‘dilly dally’ in supermarkets.
The other day in the supermarket I stopped to chat to another ‘beautiful farmers wife’ who was shopping with her young boy, he is a cute little rascal. She was very calm about the many things that he kept bringing her to put in the shopping trolley. She kept chatting to me as she told him to put each item back, every time he came up to her with something clutched in his hands and a big smile on his face. She was so calm and had all the time in the world for me. I admired her relaxed attitude. That day my ‘farmers wife friend’ was an inspiration. She could have taught me a thing or two in my early years.
It seems like a hundred years ago that I was in the middle of the time warp of having four young children. Every little outing took a long time and lots of organisation. Shopping with small, busy children was always interesting, to say the least. Some days were easy, some days were hard. The harder ones seem to stay stuck in my memories.
Lately I have tried to change my anti-social shopping habits. I try not to rush, I take my time and try and walk each isle. I make eye contact and chat with the staff and other people who I know. I am starting to see shopping as a nicer job and to be grateful that I have time to slow down a little. It is certainly still not my favourite outing, but these days I am trying not to hate it as much.
A quote from the Minimalists “Once you’ve created something and tossed it into the world, it’s impossible to know how far the ripples will undulate.”
I saw this quote right after my very short, very fresh, early morning swim in the sea. This quote was relevant to me; to my new blog and also to my first winter swim. Sometimes I don’t put myself out there to the world. I am often worried about what people think. It can be difficult to get past the feeling of being judged, especially when you live in a small country town. I am trying to be braver now. It may help someone else do what they love no matter what people say. So, with that in mind, after our swim I put a photo on Instagram and for the rest of the day I was replying to all the comments. It is amazing how many people are interested in swimming in the sea during winter. I feel good about putting it out there. We might start a club, with all three of us.
Before now, I have had many, but brief thoughts about swimming in the ocean during winter. I just hadn’t got around to getting myself down to the beach and apart from the cold factor, it actually just seemed too difficult. Then, thankfully, I had a conversation with one of my neighbours, my ‘best buddy jetty jumping girlfriend’. She told me how her sister has been getting up at the break of dawn, jumping off a jetty and then swimming for 5-10 minutes and because of it, is feeling fantastic. The discussion with my ‘best buddy girlfriend’ was actually very short and she ended it with “I am going swimming off of the jetty in the morning and I know you will come too. By the way, it is really good for you”. I wasn’t that hard to convince. I needed the nudge.
I have been dabbling with cold exposure in the last 12 or so months. I have been fortunate enough to experience the joy and challenges of the “Whim Hof Method”. I went to a workshop run by a very lovely bloke called Kym Burls who lives in the big city closest to us. For those who haven’t heard of this method, it is a breathing technique followed by an ice bath. Kym went and trained with this dude called Whim Hof and brought the technique back home to Australia. I actually loved the first workshop that Kym ran, so much so, that when he ran another I took my sister and my brother with me. Although I still struggle with being disciplined with the breathing aspect, I do try and take a cold shower for about two minutes every day. Since winter has started that has been a challenge for me and some days are easier than others. So I figured, how hard can it be to swim in the sea on a cold winters’ day?
This morning at the jetty, in our nice little coastal town the temperature was about 13 degrees. I guess the water temperature is about the same. It was blowing a very strong north westerly which whipped the waves up around the jetty. The sea was tumultuous and not very inviting. You could almost surf it. It was stormy and lovely to look at but quite a different aspect once you got in.
This being the first time I attempted a swim in the winter sea I thought it was a good idea to set a minimum time to be in the water. Two minutes would be a good enough start. It is called, ‘working my way into it’. Well I did my two minutes and then got out. It was good. I am not lying, I promise. I really did enjoy it. When I got out I couldn’t feel the cold wind on my legs because I couldn’t actually feel my legs. Standing on the top of the jetty I did some warming exercises that Kym had taught me to get the blood flowing through my muscles again. My girlfriend, the initiator, was still in the water floating around in her element, absolutely enjoying herself. A mermaid in disguise? I aim to be like her next time.
Well we did toss our experience out into the world, our social media world. I am surprised how many people have shown interested in this. Lots of positive comments, lots of people who like the idea of it and from my more humorous friends I am getting videos of sharks swimming around jetties with “Jaws” music. Anyway, I am lining up again tomorrow to see if I can increase my time in the water and I am excited to see if anyone else will be there with us enjoying the winter sea.
Thanks again to one of my ‘best buddy girlfriends’ who initiated this. I have been recently trying to make time to do something for myself, my health and wellbeing. So to do this and spend some time with my girlfriend is a double bonus.
Would you come with me? I would love to hear from you.
Why is it as women; wifes, mothers and daughters, we find it hard to take the time to invest in ourselves. Our needs, whether it be; exercise, having a massage or a facial, quiet time (away from the family), lunch with our girlfriends or reading a book. Taking time for ourselves seems to be the last thing on the list.
Recently I have been having slightly annoying back pain. So during the ensuing treatments, physiotherapy etc, I have been chatting. It is a re-occurring theme. Before we do anything for ourselves and our physical or mental health we will; go to our paid job, clean the house, fold the washing, buy the groceries, cook dinner, do jobs for the kids, our husbands or partners and even our parents (if we are fortunate enough to still have them around). For some reason we are last and if you are anything like me there is always something else that has to be done around the house before I let myself go for a walk.
I love the idea of getting up early so I can have some time to myself. As my ‘handsome farmer husband’ is an early riser that means I need to be getting up at 5.30am. In winter it is cold and dark and did I say cold. Honestly, I am quite happy to lay in my nice, warm bed and watch the sun come up. Being up and dressed and doing Yoga and meditation at 5.30am rarely happens. Sorry, that is a complete lie, it never happens. The intention is there. So is my intention to walk 30 minutes every day, eat raw foods, drink more hot water and less coffee and not indulge in alcohol. All very good intentions I must say.
Currently my spare room in the house where I can do some yoga or exercise is full of clothes drying on a rack. (See previous blog). Therefore, no space to stretch. Unfortunately the washing needs to be folded and put away before I can get to my stretching and or yoga. Is that just an excuse? Yes, probably. Is it just my self-discipline or is it because it feels self indulgent to look after myself?
It seems that I am not alone. The women I have been talking to find the same thing. I wonder, is it because we have had children who have been reliant on us for 20 years, for some mums and grand-mums actually more. Is it generational, did we see our mothers doing everything for their husbands and family and nothing for themselves? Is it maternal instinct from thousands of years ago for the woman to support the hunter and food provider and to protect our offspring so that the human race can continue to survive.
I am sure all women are not the same but I have been seeing it everywhere, in all age groups. Only when all the ducks are in a row, then do we have time to do ‘our thing’. Why can’t we just leave the house to go for a walk before dinner is cooked? Why do we feel the need to get everyone off to work and school before we do our Yoga stretches. Why do we have to get up earlier than all the family to do Yoga? Why do we feel responsible for so much? What does it take for us to invest in ourselves without feeling guilty? It is very obvious to me that if I am not healthy and happy then the whole family unit is affected but I still tend to put myself last.
So my new intention is to do at least 10 minutes a day of something for my physical and mental health and well-being and if that is sitting down to have a cup of tea and a block of chocolate, then so be it. I will work my way up to 20 minutes of yoga, meditation and even a walk.
Have a lovely day and do something for yourself. I am now going to boil the kettle and hunt down some chocolate.