Monday, September 27, 2021

Living well in challenging times....#2 Conflict management


Hello beautiful....

How are things today?

Did you complete the tasks from my last post? Did you find ways to give AND receive? If you didn't, if you're just here to read, then read along. If you did, I hope that there was strength and empowerment in just that little exercise. 

Strength and empowerment. Aren't these just so important in times where we feel we have lost control?

This pandemic thing has just been the craziest of times we've ever lived through, right? I never expected to see the likes of it in my lifetime, nor the lifetimes of my children. I guess I thought that modern medicine kind of had viruses under control. The other stuff was the stuff of Stephen King novels and movie thrillers. How could we have been equipped for what has ultimately transpired? In fact, weren't we all just so comfortable, that we couldn't have been LESS ably equipped???



There we all were, dancing along, flowers in our hair, minding our own business and generally having a whale of a time.....then....not. Just. Like. That.

How does one even deal with that? And this was the whole entire planet. Not just a suburb, or a city, or a country. E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y. 

It bends my brain even typing it, never mind living through it. And many of us continue to live through it, ongoing. Any wonder we're all a bit twisted and deranged. Really. 

From my side, we were fortunate. We have a spacious house and at that time, three people living in it. Myself, Hubster, and Daughter. But even then, we had our challenges. Hubster and I were both working from home. Daughter was in second year of an intense performing arts degree. We all had our own timetables. There was more than one occasion when I, as the Matriarch, needed to call an intervention.

Our interventions looked something like this:

Rules....

1. Only one person speaks at a time, and you must wait for them to finish before commenting. Interrupting is not allowed.

2. Scoffing, minimizing, or poking fun at each others concerns is also not permitted.

3. No matter how small or innocuous the other persons concerns may be to you, they are big enough to them, to raise them, so they must be acknowledged and a solution negotiated.



Negotiating Solutions....

As each point was raised, solutions were discussed. 

Problem: Many issues revolved around reallocation of household duties, or perceived invasions of personal space. 

Solution: Duties were allocated according to each of our timetables, and everyone promised to be more mindful of allowing privacy according to need. We all also agreed that exercise time, was not at this point assumed to be bonding time, unless one was invited. Some days, we all just needed our head space.

Problem: Some issues were around just getting in each others way 24/7, and as you would all know, there was just no way around that one. 

Solution: We all voiced our frustrations on this point, and agreed to just accept that it was the new normal for now. We also agreed to allow each person exclusive use of areas like the kitchen and the television room at designated times. We could each invite the others at those times if we wanted company, but this was not to be assumed either. 

Problem: One issue was that some people who shall not be named nor shamed, were eating for lunch, what other more responsible people, had out defrosting for dinner. 

Solution: A menu plan was swiftly reinstated to avert this behaviour. I usually had one, but due to the pressures of working from home, had neglected this habit, as I'd imagined it unnecessary.

Problem: One particular family member who shall also not be identified, thought that because the other family members were home, they were 'available'. Available for chats, making coffees, and general interactions. 

Solution: Said family member was simply told in no uncertain terms, that the other two, were not as available as imagined, and to go make their own coffee and find other ways to entertain themselves. Sometimes being blunt IS the only solution.

Challenge: In the midst of all this, one person involved in the conversation had a complete and utter meltdown. A tantrum of toddler proportions. The other two, merely looked on in interested fascination, and let them carry on for a while, as one would with a toddler. When they'd finished, they were told in the same blunt terms that whilst others were sympathetic to their angst, that sort of outburst would not be tolerated. Tantrum person then removed themselves to their vehicle and drove around for a while, before returning, suitably chastened, and we experienced no further outbursts.

Was any of this pleasant?

Definitely not.

Was it necessary?

It most certainly was. 

Had we all continued on the path we were on, someone, likely all of us, was going to suffer emotionally and psychologically. And we are a happy family in the scheme of things. What happened, or is happening, to people who already had family challenges?? What happened or is happening, in families where alcohol or drug abuse or mental health issues or domestic violence was an ongoing occurrence? I struggle with that hugely. If you are struggling with any of those mentioned issues, you can find support at:


I do not have the qualifications, nor the experience to advise on issues of that gravity.

I do however have 61 years of life experience, and 30+ years experience in managing people in the workplace, with the accompanying university qualifications, so I do know a little. And I am happy to report, that thus armed with highlighted problems, and accompanying solutions, that Lockdown and the pressures of a Pandemic generally, went a little smoother here.

In a nutshell, ignoring problems such as those mentioned, does not make them go away. They just fester, until the inevitable and unpleasant explosion occurs. 

The best way to deal with the tensions of any situation, and particularly this one, is to tackle them head on. People may yell, some people may cry, some people will likely try to wheedle negotiations to fall in their favour, some people may throw tantrums, as they did in my situation. 

Stay strong and resolute. If you're even reading this, then you are probably the peacemaker in the family anyway. Do not be intimidated by the wants and desires of others. Compromise by everyone is crucial, and airing and acknowledging everyones concerns, an absolute necessity.

1. Call the family together.
2. Outline the rules. Use a prop like a 'talking stick' if it helps.
3. Discuss solutions and do not rule ANY idea out as being too outlandish. Use and encourage words like 'if you can do abc, I am willing to compromise on xyz'.
4. Implement the solutions and check in with all parties regularly to measure the success of those solutions.

Maybe this advice is too little, too late for you. Maybe it's a bit of locking the gate after the horse has bolted and all that. As far as the Pandemic and Lockdowns go at least.

Nonetheless, this remains useful advice for other times yet to come, where you might feel the need for an 'intervention'. I hope it helps.

Meanwhile, I'm sending you a hug and a kiss from me, and the knowledge from a long life, lived well, that things will return to something safer and more familiar. I'm sure of it.



...Mimi...

Other posts in this series:

Living well in challenging times #1

Friday, September 24, 2021

Living well in challenging times #1




Hello you.

How are you? How are you really? How's life travelling in your home? 

Are you all living well?

And what is that anyway? What does 'living well' look like when we are still a motley crew dealing with a Pandemic?

Two years ago, if you asked many folks, what they need to live well, they might rattle off a list like, a fancy home with a view, European car, nice clothes, easy access to restaurants, and so forth.

More recently, thanks to pandemic life, living well, has come to mean simpler things. Things like spending time with loved ones, being involved in significant life events, and learning how to get along with others in less than ideal circumstances are common themes.

If you do an internet search on 'living well in challenging times', you get a heap of stuff about mental health, and the psychology of living in challenging times. Very necessary information, no doubt. Stuff that I am not qualified to deal with.

There's a wealth of information on stocking up, and growing food, and being more self-sufficient. That's very useful too. I could go there, but others like some of the ladies blogs you'll see in the column here to your right, others are better at that than I am.

Sadly, nobody is addressing the practicalities of 24/7 life together, and how to just make day to day tasks and routines easier.

To live well, I believe, is far different to living 'luxuriously'.

The next several blog posts will address what I believe, are essential to living well in both good times and less good times. 

First of all, no human being, can live well, if their basic needs are not being met. For most of us, shelter comes first. We cannot even begin to contemplate other higher needs, until this need is met. If your 'shelter', or in other words, where you live, and with whom you live to feel safe, is threatened, you are going to have a heck of a time fulfilling other needs.

What does that mean to you? 

Does it mean trying to maintain a mortgage on a home, on what is now a limited income? 

Is your 'shelter' under threat due to lockdowns, downturn in your income, or other circumstances beyond your control? 

Do you feel unsafe where you live, either financially, physically or emotionally, due to the pressures of continued effects of a pandemic?

These are serious issues, that need to be dealt with by professionals. Organisations such as Lifeline, The Salvation Army, and Beyond Blue, and Homelessness Australia (or your local equivalent), may be able to help you. Please, please, do not hesitate to contact them if you require assistance.

On the other hand, if it's just day to day routines and getting stuff done, and making life a bit easier, then I CAN help. That's something that I AM good at.

Are you with me?

Today, I want you to do one thing.

Find a quiet corner, or a noisy one and pop in your earbuds, if that's the best you can manage at the moment.

Now....

List three things that you do well. It can be anything. Anything at all. Maybe you give great hugs. Perhaps your choc chip cookies get rave reviews. It could be that you are the glue holding your family together just now. It just might be that you are the Calm in everyone elses Storm.

Then....

List three things that are bothering you. Again it could be anything. Is it being out of routine? Is it just the fear that 'things may never be the same'? Is it that you feel like you spend all your time 'doing' for others, but no-one is 'doing' for you?

Action plan....

Now, this weekend, DO and BE the three things at which you are most accomplished. Give hugs freely. Bake choc chip cookies, be The Glue and The Calm. GIVE freely. Soak up the good in life that comes with giving. It's all there for you.

And then, make sure you RECEIVE. Ask for help and support. Have a family meeting, and explain where you need help and why. Assess the things in your life that are the constants, and know that they will always be there, no matter what happens. I bet there are plenty.

Use your spiritual, and emotional supports, whatever they may be, to be at peace. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Breathe more deeply and slowly. Do two full minutes of that.

The common thread here, is to preserve YOU. To nurture YOU. 

Self-care has been fruitlessly promoted as spa treatments and walks along the beach. All well and good when you can accomplish those things. 

Really, self-care is making sure you have the physical, emotional, and psychological stamina, to meet what comes next. Today, and all of the todays after that.

Today is the only day you have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn't here, and when it is here, it's no longer Tomorrow. It's Today.

Today, do the things, some of which may be easy, some of which may be more difficult, to preserve YOU.

If YOU are not 'living well', then how can you help others do so? 

Please feel free to share your thoughts, or lists, or outcomes with me, either in the comments below, or privately at atrayofbliss@yahoo.com.

Our next post will explore this idea further. See you then.

Warmly,

Mimi


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Gateau Opera....no singing required...


Son number two (in birth order, not in affections), requested a Gateau Opera as birthday cake a while back.

I, being the adventurous type, took on the baking and assembling of this monster. It's a bit like a Tiramisu, but not, if you know what I mean.

Description:

Opera cake (French: Gâteau opéra) is a French cake. It is made with layers of almond sponge cake (known as Joconde in French) soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee (or Grand Marnier) French buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze.

Yeah, nah, no worries as we Aussies say. *cough*


First of all, could someone, anyone, have told me that Gateau Opera is usually served in individual portions. I could have thus baked and assembled them that way, rather than in Jack and The Beanstalk giant terms.

After wrestling the layers into submission, soaking them in caffeinated beverage, and coating them with enough buttercream and chocolate to feed all of Paris, it was done.

Still, no harm done. Apart from several near nervous breakdowns in ensuring that said layers of Jacone remained in one piece, given their gargantuan proportions.


In the end, it was yet another lesson in 'if you build it, they will come', or 'try anything once', or 'made with love is best', or any number of other heart warming homilies.


Edible gold dashes were added for dramatic effect, and Son declared the ensuing cake a success. He enjoyed it with a cold Corona, as men will. No palate, I tell you.


I hope he liked it, 'cause I ain't making another one....lol!

Here's the main recipe I followed, although, as ever, I added my own touches...



What's been your most adventurous cake making escapade?

...Mimi...



Monday, August 23, 2021

Insourcing to stay sane in insane times...




 If there's one thing I've learned since, at the age of 61,  I transitioned into my seventh decade on this Earth, it's to be myself. Find what I like, in the sea of being told what to like. It's liberating.

It's only when you remove yourself from all of the external influences in your life, that the Real Self, sometimes comes into clearer focus. I think this has been the case for many of us, as we negotiate lockdowns.

These days, if I want to eat home made Enchiladas in the middle of Summer, and Sashimi in the dead of Winter....I do.


I'll eat pasta for breakfast....


...and fresh hot off the pan flatbread for lunch, all by itself if you don't mind.


Muesli and yoghurt for dinner? Sure.


Chocolate mousse for afternoon tea? Why not?


Surely at this moment in time, we should all do whatever we need to do to keep our spirits up.

Bubble bath at lunch time when you work from home? A sanity saver if you ask me.


What about this idea....

Give yourself a hand massage. Go on. Slather on some hand lotion. Or even better, make a hand scrub with equal parts raw sugar, olive oil and a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Now, don't just rub it on haphazardly. Pay attention to the back of your hand, your palms, each of your fingers and your thumb. Massage your wrist and up to the crook of your elbow. Use long strokes, and take your time. Rinse with warm water to activate the scent of the essential oil. Pat dry. Nice, right?


Give yourself a head massage. Particularly nice if you have a bit of length on your fingernails. Why do we wait for 'someone else' to do these things that we can do for ourselves?

See how here.

Curl up with a really good read. Something totally escapist. Certainly nothing to do with pandemics, thankyou. This is not the time for a Stephen King novel.

Can't go to the gym? Find an online workout or app that works for you. There are thousands. Gyms are not a good insourcing idea anyway. 

Compile a new playlist on Spotify and dance at home, instead of attending a class.

Weights are your thing? Improvise with weights at home, logs of firewood, bags of clothing (those ones you've just decluttered). Get creative. Previous generations got their cardio by doing what needed doing around the place. They didn't pay someone else to do their chores, wash their car, walk their dog, and clean their gutters, and then also pay to go somewhere to exercise. It's a special madness, I tell you.

The Universe is trying to tell us something. And all respect to anyone with different beliefs, but it is NOT that the government is trying to kill us or take away our liberties.

We need to return to a slower way of life. A more authentic one. 

Until we do that, nothing much will change.

How sad.

Look after yourself. Give yourself a break from the news and social media. Whatever is happening out there will continue to happen whether you engage with it or not. Rest your weary mind.

This storm will pass.

Stay safe. Stay calm. Breathe.

...Mimi...