Monthly Archives: December 2014

Jess'n'Nickbaby

What would you tell your kids if this was your last day on earth?

As 2014 draws to a close there’ll be many a Sydney-sider sparing a thought for mother-of-three Katrina Dawson, when the Harbour Bridge fireworks pay tribute to the two victims of the Sydney siege.

Along with the rest of my city, my country, and the world, I sat horrified when I learned of these deaths. Particularly that of Katrina, a fellow working mother, who – as the result of a split-second decision to order her coffee from one particular cafe that morning – never returned home to her kids.

What would she have said, if she had her chance to hold her babies one last time?

My 2014 has been pretty remarkable. I’ve grown a new human inside me, and introduced him to the world. Wow. I’m sure 2015 is going to be something special too. But, if there’s something coming for me, I don’t want my children to be left wondering, years from now, what would mum have said to me if we had the time? 

And so, here goes. This is a letter to my children….. just incase it’s ever needed. 

To my darling daughter and son,

Sometimes we take the little things for granted. And by little, I mean real little. Like the quick breath of air that you’re pulling in through your nose right now – see? Gone. And usually forgotten. Rarely celebrated. And yet that teeny tiny breath – like the billions of other teeny tiny breaths that you’ve taken in your lifetime is what has kept you alive all this time. But that goes without saying, right?

Well, I’m not going to let this go without saying. I might have another day ahead of me to live, another thousand, or another thirty thousand. But if my days all end today, I want you to know about me. And I want you to know what you mean to me. I don’t want you to hear it second hand, because no one knows me like I know me, and anything else will be inauthentic. 

I guess I should start with where you will find me if you’re searching for me. If you’re on your knees, sobbing on your bathroom floor one day and wishing you had your mum, you do. You will find me in song. In music. In melody.

I sang to both of you as you lay curled inside my womb. You knew my song long before you ever knew my face. And when you can no longer remember the colour of my eyes, or that dimples peppered both my cheeks, you will find me inside the music that makes your heart happy. Always sing loudly. I will hear you from wherever I am, and I will join in with you. You will never sing alone, my children.

I want you to know that I place no expectations upon you. I have hopes for your future (high ones) but never feel guilty that perhaps you have let me – or the memory of me – down. This is not possible. As you are, right now, in this second, in this breath, enough.

You were enough to make me happy when you were unable to focus your eyes, or hold an object in your pudgy little hands.

You were enough to make me believe in the beauty of life when you didn’t have hair, or teeth.

You were enough to sustain me every day. You are enough just as you are. So seek only what makes your heart feel happy. Seek only what you know will bring you joy, and joy to those you love. You don’t need things to make you complete. 

I have never been perfect and you need to know this. I have a temper. I am anxious. I doubt myself and my abilities on a daily basis. I’m scared of success AND I am scared of failure. This often leaves me feeling as though I live my life in a state of purgatory and paralysis. But at the same time, I am full of life and laughter. I’m a chatterbox. I love to sing. I am loyal and loving and find it hard to restrain myself from kissing you every second of every day. If I am not around long enough for you to know these things about me, well…that’s a shame. But you may have seen me in a different way to the way I see myself and that’s OK too. 

I believe that we will meet again one day. I do. But if the fates, and the Gods, and the Universe are so unkind that we never do, then know this.

My family is my everything. You, my daughter, you are my air. And you, my son, you are my water.

I lived a happy life before you. A life full of highs and lows as I discovered who I was deep down (and made many – MANY a mistake – on this journey of self-discovery). A life which led me to find love with your father. But the life I led after you? Well, that life was blessed. 

Thank you doing nothing but being yourselves, and for giving me something beautiful to sing about.

Love,

Your Mama

Paris
Your Dad and I in Paris.

Frank'n'NickFrank Jess'n'Nick Jess'n'Nickbaby Dad'n'Daughter Jess'N'FrankCoogee

Here’s why I am not wishing you a happy holiday

Have we been sold a lemon by advertisers who propose that happiness can be bought? And is happiness really all it’s cracked up to be?

We had mates over the other night for dinner and pondered these questions over pizza.

My girlfriend said something that stuck with me. “I spend so much bloody time in the pursuit of happiness, that I end up feeling short-changed when it arrives. It’s so fleeting in comparison to all that waiting“.

Good point, I reckon.

Happiness is annoying. Despite what marketers may have us believe, it is temporary. Being happy is simply unsustainable. Once we have what we believe we want, we start the search all over again for something new.

We chase happiness (isn’t it exhausting?!). We buy happiness (isn’t it expensive?!). Then we work harder – which doesn’t make us happy – in order to chase and pay for more things that temporarily make us happy. It’s a not-so-merry merry-go-round.

The true blessing is in happiness’s lesser-known cousin – contentment.

You can be content for a lot longer than you can be happy.

With contentment comes peace, acceptance, and love.

Quotation-Socrates-contentment-happiness-greed-Meetville-Quotes-111629

When you are content, you are calm. You feel like you have enough. That the world is abundant, and that you lack for nothing.

But with happiness, you are always reaching for something. Happiness is very needy. Happiness is a high maintenance lover.

We want things in order to MAKE us happy.

But we can simply BE content. And is there anything more enjoyable for your soul than just BEING?

Happiness is conditional…  Happiness lives in the future. When I have XYZ, then I will be happy.

Contentment is here. It is now. It is real. And it’s usually unconditional. With contentment, you can breathe.

Babies know the secret. They're content with their lot, and demand very little in order to be happy.
Babies know the secret. They’re content with their lot, and demand very little in order to be happy.

So this holiday season, I don’t want you to be happy. I want you to be content. To be grateful.

Actually, I take that back.

I do want you to be happy. I want you to be happy for what you have. Take a look around you; surrounded by the people who love you, with amazing food on your plate, your health, and your blessing to live in a peaceful nation. Look around you, and in this precise moment, be happy.

This momentary happiness will bring you the bigger gift that is contentment, and that is my holiday wish for everyone.

Xxx

Here’s why I wish I hadn’t scored 98 in my HSC

 

Congrats to all the students across NSW who woke up this morning to their HSC results.

028513-hsc
Source – Courier Mail

Many of you, I’m sure, will be ecstatic. You’ll have your future mapped out, and one step closer to realising your dreams.

And others, I’m equally sure, will be softly crying into your pillows in bed, as you contemplate your mark. One that is lower than what you’d hoped for. One that won’t let you into your preferred course, and therefore, has stopped your dreams in their tracks. It’s even left skidmarks.

I remember the day I woke up to get my HSC results. Times were a little different in 1999. I had to call an automatic phone service and punch my student ID into a landline telephone (yes, a landline. Google them).

When the robotic voice announced my result, I was floored.

98.15%

I had to call back again. Perhaps I’d entered the wrong ID.

Nope. 98.15% it was.

Even my mum and dad (who I woke abruptly at 7.05am, just five minutes after the lines had opened) wouldn’t believe me. They asked me to call back “just to check”. To this day, they blame the early hour on their lack of belief in my result. Hmmm, thanks for the vote of confidence, Ma!

But there it was. A mark that was much higher than I’d anticipated. One that opened up many more doors. As people kept telling me, “you can do anything”. And (apart from medicine), it would seem they were right.

But I had always planned on being a teacher. I’d put teaching down as my preference for University. And suddenly, here I was, feeling the pressure to be something bigger. To do something better. Ahhh, how naive.

Here I am 15 years later, realising that there is nothing better, or bigger, than following your heart. The wisest of us won’t chase money or status; we’ll chase happiness within our souls.

But I was not wise when I was 18. And so I undertook a degree that didn’t fulfil me, and embarked on a career in Advertising that never felt ‘right’.

I also felt like such a high mark pigeon-holed me. Suddenly, I was expected to be smart. To achieve. And with every single mistake I’ve made ever since, either professionally or personally, I feel like I am a fraud. “See, Jess” I think. “You aren’t really clever at all. They’re going to find you out one day. You’re such an imposter“.

All this pressure….It’s all in my head. No one ever needed to know my mark. To this day, no one has ever hired me based on the result I got in high school. Sure, it helped me get into a degree at University that thousands of others were excluded from. But I know people who got into the same degree via perseverance – not their HSC score – and these same people have gone on to do brilliant things, because they don’t let things like systemised scores define them.

I don’t regret a single thing I’ve done in my life apart from the course I chose at University because I believed it was expected of me to do something “clever” like Law, or Communications, or Engineering. Truth is, teachers are just as clever. And there are plenty of people out there getting similarly high HSC scores who go on to become teachers. But I was young, and – despite what you might think from a girl who got 98.15% – I was a fool. I let a mark define me.

Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College - My school
Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College – My school

So go on, kids. Go out and party like it’s 1999. We sure did. Look at your mark as a rite of passage. High school is over and you really CAN be anything you want to be. Just promise me you’ll be smart enough to look beyond a set of numbers when the time comes for you to plan your future, and embark on a new set of adventures that will fulfil, excite and reward you.

Well done, class of 2014.