2015.

The archways at UWA, the university I attended way back when.

Some arches at UWA, the university I attended way back when.

Oh hi, 2015!  Where did you come from?  Once again, the new year is rolling in with quiet stealth.  It feels like I’ve just blinked and January is a fifth over already.

Last year’s resolutions were only partially successful, so this year, my resolution is to build on those successes, in addition to a general “live in the moment”-ness.

So, my resolutions have shaped up to be:

1.  Blog more regularly

I was doing so well for a short time … and then, life took over.  This year, I aim to make a rough editorial schedule and stick to it.  Hopefully.  Watch this space.

2.  Step up strength and flexibility

2014 was the year I started ballet again.  Oh, 17-year-old self, you did not know how good you had it, with limbs which flew every which way you wanted them to without complaint. (Legs: meet ears.  Please and thank you.)  Now, it is more of a case of my finger tips taking a trip to meet my toes and deciding to take an unplanned and unlimited stop at my shins.  While the weekly classes have left me feeling healthier and I love moving with the music again, this year I need to start pushing myself to improve.

3.  Learn (more of) a language

Last year, I completed Level 1 and Level 2 Spanish with a local language school, which is great, until I realise that basically, I can only speak in the present tense with an incredibly limited vocabulary (read: virtually non-existent).  Levels 3 and 4, here I come.

4.  Domestic goddess it up

I actually didn’t too badly with the keeping a tidy house in 2014, although there is definitely room for improvement.

5.  More time with Boy Robin

Or, more specifically, less nights on the couch in front of the tv, while simultaneously reading / playing games on our respective devices.  In 2014, I really improved my communication skills with Boy Robin, to the point where I hardly ever expect him to read my mind.  However, I’ve noticed that we’ve slipped into a really lazy pattern of couch potato evenings.  While down time totally has its place, there are probably definitely some better ways to relax together (rather than next to each other).  Now to convince Boy Robin that playing Just Dance 2015 (one of my favourite Christmas gifts) is a good way to relax together.

6.  Live in the moment

That is, a mish-mash of less procrastinating and more seizing opportunities as they arise, with some spontaneity thrown in for good measure.  I was made redundant at the end of last year and while I’m between jobs, I’m doing some consulting work.  It has the potential to be very successful, if only I could build up some will power to stick to self-imposed deadlines and be confident enough in my skills to take on bigger projects.  Working from home is hard and its so easy to talk yourself down (especially when you have no-one else to talk to).  But, living in the moment applies to life in general – not letting procrastination and self doubt be barriers to achieving goals, not least of all these resolutions.

Spring.

Signs of Spring on my way to and from work.

Most of the blogs I subscribe to are from the northern hemisphere. Their writers have said goodbye to Summer and have braced themselves for the cold months ahead.  They speak of spiced pumpkin lattes, cute sweaters and the onset of the festive season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas / Hannukkah / Kwanzaa).

I, on the other hand, have spent my Winter months studiously bookmarking all the Spring- and Summer-celebratory posts.  Cocktail recipes, cotton dresses and icy-cold desserts galore are temptingly twinkling in my “saved for later” list, begging me to open and make use of them.  Spring has most definitely sprung here in Western Australia.  After a few false starts, temperature ranges across the State from less than -6 degrees Celsius to more than 45 degrees Celsius and Perth’s wettest September for 40 years, we are now about to bid Spring goodbye and are gearing up for Summer.

Although just over 6 months into marriage is a little early to be touting the new beginnings that Spring signifies, it is a good time to take stock and reflect.

I am thankful for having someone who loves me so unconditionally.  We may have our not infrequent sharp words, but they quickly blow over, leaving no trace.  I am comfortable in my skin with Boy Robin.  However, sometimes I think I am so comfortable, I am selfish and I need to be mindful of not unthinkingly lashing out at Boy Robin as proxy for something else that is bothering me just because he makes me feel so comfortable in my skin.  It is something I need to work on, as the infinitely shared “Marriage Isn’t For You” suggests.

Admittedly, I do not completely agree with the article.  If you are suffering within yourself, it will affect your relationship, no matter how happy the other person is.  In fact, it can be even more disruptive to your relationship.

I found that to be true before we were married, when I was working in a job that made me completely miserable.  That misery was exacerbated as I saw Boy Robin happily excelling in his career, leaving me wondering what was wrong with me.  Maybe if I tried a little harder and worked a little longer, then I too would excel and be happy.  (Spoiler: I did not and was not.)  Ultimately, my misery overflowed into our relationship, sparking arguments about things completely unrelated to my job, but stemming from my innate unhappiness.

I disagree with the inflexible premise that “a true marriage (and true love) is never about you.”  I needed to “selfishly” reflect on my job and “what’s in it for me?”  Once I realised there was nothing of value for me if I stayed in that job, I decided to resign.

However, I also agree with the premise that a true marriage (and true love) “is about the person you love – their wants, their needs, their hopes and their dreams.”  Boy Robin supported for my decision to resign, giving me the courage to carry out that decision, despite not having a new job lined up.

As much as Boy Robin supported me, I had to ask myself what made me happy and make that change for myself, not just revel in Boy Robin’s happiness and hope for the best for my own happiness.  And so I think a true marriage (and true love) is about both people as equal partners, figuring out what makes themselves happy and unselfishly supporting each other in their quest for happiness, especially when life throws misery in the other’s path.  Not so much a focus on directly making them happy (although, surprising Boy Robin with dessert and seeing his happiness also inspires joy in my heart), but by ensuring that you do not selfishly make them unhappy.  You do not selfishly lash out at their happiness as a remedy to your own unhappiness.

52 shades of love.

Bread

My previous post could easily lead you to believe that once the honeymoon period is over, marriage stretches out like a monotonous wet blanket, smothering all pleasure and spontaneity in life.

This is very untrue and I am reminded of Manya’sHow to be in Love” post on A Practical Wedding (which, as an aside, was an absolute God-send when on the brink of a wedding-planning-induced meltdown) in April 2013.  Manya describes her piece as “a loving mediation about [her] husband, [their] vibe, and a few of the nice little things [she enjoys] about [their] relationship.”  A letter to her future self in case she ever needs to be reassured that her relationship is “good enough”.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and four months into my marriage, I am inspired to do the same.  I do not wish to hold myself out as having the beautiful eloquence of Manya’s piece, but it is a reminder to cherish everything that is good, rather than being led to think that the mundane and everyday are bad and need to be fixed.

Most days start with you turning over, just asking for “five minutes more”.  Though the alarm has long since sounded and you’re likely to be late, he agrees.  Snuggling in for one last cuddle at the same time probably helps.

Remember to cuddle.  In bed, on the couch, while waiting in line for the taxi after a long night out.  Don’t just lean in and let him to all the work either, as you are wont to do.  Revel in the simple act of enveloping him in your arms while at the same time you lay your head on his chest.  It is one of the warmest, safest places you know.

Remember to talk as well.  And keep talking, even when your instinct is to turn away, close your eyes and clamp your mouth shut.  Sometimes it is difficult to find the words, but it will help you both understand each other.

On the weekends, he’ll bring you a cup of tea in bed with a gingernut – he knows your love of bed and lets you lounge a little longer.  He also knows your love of cups of tea and will make them for you often, especially when you’re feeling under the weather, despite your chronic tendency to forget to drink them until they are cold.

Cook together most nights, often with a tumbler of wine (because, as opposed to wine glasses, tumblers fit in the dishwasher) and a glass of water (because you are both getting older and want to avoid that hangover-like dehydration the next morning).  Marvel at how you both learn to seamlessly move around each other in your tiny kitchen and as he becomes more and more confident, you work together more instead of you mostly instructing him.

You are the yin to his yang.  You edit his thesis, work documents and other written work.  He rescues you from the quagmire of excel and math.  Together, you are unstoppable.

Love that he comes (less and less begrudgingly) to shows and may even enjoy them.  The ballet, not so much, but theatre, even the crazy, left of centre stuff that you want to go to just to see what it will be like.  You will come to watch the football and cricket, even if you do fall asleep.  You might even get excited in the last five minutes, when one point is all that stands between a team’s victory or defeat.  Ashton Agar was pretty damn good as well.

Appreciate his easy-going-ness in the face of your highly-strong, stressed, over-sensitive, verging on panic attack tendencies.  He will teach you to have a calmer attitude, rather than always going straight to a “Henny Penny” imitation, while you will teach him your passion for causes, ideas and beliefs.  Some things are worth a “Henny Penny” imitation.

Be quietly proud when his father says you have helped him become a better, more compassionate person.

It does not matter if sometimes you go to bed angry with each other.  You will inevitably wake up and the storm has passed and see each other with clear eyes again.

Hold each other’s hand, especially when out and about.  That simple act is aid, comfort, strength, relief, tenderness, affection, devotion and above all love, all rolled into one.

It is an effort, sometimes, to love each other.  But it is worth it.

Moving in.

Little House 2

Well, to be exact, why I wanted to wait until we were married to live together and Boy Robin gracefully gave in to me, but really, did not really care, except to kind of lean towards sooner rather than later because, when all is said and done, wouldn’t it be more convenient?

I’m not adverse to living together before marriage.  Family and friends do it and I respect their choice to do so.  And I feel for those who have outside pressures which force their decision one way or the other against what they would prefer.  The familial, societal or religious pressure to marry first.  Or the decision to move in together to alleviate financial strain.

For me, it didn’t feel right.  Not only because I had a brilliant house mate for more than six years and I wasn’t ready to kick her out.  But also because for me, marriage is a sacred institution.  I say “for me” because marriage is such a heavily loaded concept with different meanings for different people.  My own view and definition of marriage influenced and shaped my decision about living with Boy Robin, but that it not to say that my view is true for anyone else.

For me, marriage is a public declaration to unite “as long as you both shall live” because of your love for and commitment to the other.  If I was not willing to take that vow with that public acknowledgement, if I did not think our relationship has the strength to withstand the inevitable strain that that commitment entails, why would I want to live with that person?  To commit to a kind of semi-permanence, with the unspoken escape clause of moving out when things became difficult?

A few words about living with people, whether you are expecting to say (or be told) “yes” any day now, you casually day dream of marriage some time down the track, the other person is a friend and it just makes sense, or an advertisement on Gumtree for house mates was involved: I know from experience that there is nothing like living with someone to sour a relationship.

If you do not have the capacity to forgive the other person’s shortcomings.  If every idiosyncrasy, without the buffer of space and time apart, grates on your every nerve until they are red raw and inflamed.  And the mundane chore of taking out the rubbish starts a bitter “who did it last and, who, even if they didn’t do it last, does it the most”.  It can damage a relationship.  Friendships have dissolved over such things.  There is a reason why siblings tend to get along after they have left home.  And so, a decision to share a home with someone is not something that should be taken lightly.

Boy Robin is pretty forgiving and laid back (second only to his brother, who, if he were any more laid back, would be horizontal).  Not much phases him and if it does, he’s pretty good at not letting it get to him.  Contrast me, who has a tendency to descend into childish stubbornness and irrationality, especially when tired.  This is probably not going to change any time soon.  But I think our relationship is robust enough to withstand my crabbiness and influence us to be more indulgent of each other’s shortcomings.

Personally, moving in together seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our public declaration and start of our new life together.  A milestone of sorts.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.