Recently my days have been starting with the somewhat comedically frustrating process of preparing breakfast for my son, L (who has just turned 4).
Me: What would you like for breakfast?
L: Hmmm..... something round and that starts with E [note that he doesn't actually know how to spell yet]
Me: Um... eggs?
Me: [Throwing out other options, now focusing on the 'round' clue] Some corn thins?
Me: [Giving up on both the ‘round’ and the ‘E’] Toast?
Me: Some yoghurt?
L: No, no, no
L: I want something yummy to eat.
Me: Well I'm out of guesses. You tell me. What do you want for breakfast?
L: [Exasperated] I don't know what I want!
And this whole experience, repeated on a daily basis, has highlighted how frustrating and difficult it is to try to help someone who, while wanting to be helped, lacks clarity about what they actually want/need or is unable to articulate it.
But while I'm experiencing this frustration with my son, I also know that there are many places and relationships in my own life where I may be the cause of some similar frustration! I have to keep reminding myself that if I assume that most people in the world are wanting to help me (or at the very least not get in my way) then being clear about what I want/need actually helps others to help me. It means they don't have waste time or energy trying to figure out what I want and whether they can help. Less assumptions, less misunderstanding, less disappointment. Getting clear and communicating with intention is not selfish or demanding or a burden on others - rather it is a gift.
(Five things that are bringing me joy, comfort, wisdom or relief right now...)
I'm Not Languishing, I'm Dormant. I'm a big fan of Austin Kleon's work and I thought his recent post, I’m not languishing, I’m dormant, perfectly captured (and provided some reassurance for) how many people are feeling right now. His follow-up piece on wintering and dormancy was also great.
HomePod mini. One of my goals at the start of the year was to bring more music and dancing and general fun and silliness into our home. We've had various kinds of portable speakers in the past but they were always a bit fiddly to connect via Bluetooth and I had to stream music from my phone. I wanted something that was super easy and quick to operate. I've been really happy with the HomePod mini and it's so much easier just to ask Siri to play something rather than having to search for it on my phone and connect devices etc (we're pretty bought into the Apple ecosystem and have an Apple Music subscription which makes it very straightforward). The kids can also easily operate it (well E can, it still struggles to recognise L's commands) which is mostly a good thing (except when they choose to play The Chipmunks version of Uptown Funk on repeat)!
Bean & barley stew. I'm attempting to get a bit more organised on the food front and do some batch meals that I can just reheat (rather than trying to deal with the after school + tired kids + hungry mum + cooking chaos). This bean and barley stew is so easy but feels like a really lovely hearty comfort food for this cooler weather.
Kids’ meditations on Calm. I recently remembered that I have a subscription for the Calm meditation app, so E and I have been trying out some of the kids’ meditations as a way to wind down before bed. Lying together listening to a meditation for 10 minutes before she goes to sleep is such a great way for both of us to switch off. Although I know the value of meditation I often struggle to make it a priority so this is a good way for me to make it happen. The Calm app is lovely and easy to use but I'm sure there are a bazillion other apps or kids’ meditations on podcasts/You Tube.
The Mitchells vs the Machines. Finding a movie for Friday night movie night that appeals to everyone is never easy but The Mitchells vs the Machines (on Netflix) got thumbs up from us all (the kids loved it so much they've watched it about 4 times over the last couple of weeks).
Some other things I've been reading/watching/listening to lately.... E (age almost 8) and I loved watching The Speed Cubers on Netflix and it's prompted us to buy a Rubik's Cube and learn how to solve one. I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I didn't know who Kate Jennings was until I read news of her recent death, so I delved into one of her classics Moral Hazard. New episodes of WorkLife with Adam Grant are out (I really enjoyed recent interviews with Glennon Doyle and with Dax Shepard). After listening to an interview with Nir Eyal on Greg McKeown's What's Essential podcast, I read Indistractable which has provided lots of practical ideas about getting more intentional with my time (and has led me to experiment with Focusmate). Tim Minchin is always a delight to listen to and this interview with David Tennant was no exception. Chat 10 Looks 3 never fails to make me smile (as a lover of metaphor I can't stop thinking about the comment from the most recent episode about one's inner critic being a sock puppet animated by your own self-loathing). This little reminder/confidence-boost was one that I needed! On a more serious note, I’ve been trying to improve my woefully ignorant knowledge of the history behind what’s happening in Israel & Palestine right now. It’s a few years old, but this Vox guide is one of the most comprehensive but digestible resources I’ve found.
Although this newsletter has been dormant for a little over a year, I have been sharing some more coaching/work related stuff over on Instagram and LinkedIn, so if it’s of interest I’d love for you to follow me there.
Photo: After-school playdates in the best possible backyard, Normanville, South Australia (on Kaurna land).