Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Do It

I am very limited in my abilities. It's true, I am creative - to a point. I am good with words, but I am not 'crafty'. I don't have that 'flair' to make stuff. I can cook, but I'm not competent enough to host a fancy dinner party. I mean, we won't starve, but I won't be publishing any cook books any time soon. I am OK at tennis, but I am seriously erratic and I am more bad than good, so that leads me to 'OK'. I am fairly musical, meaning I learnt the piano and cello for years but never got really good (in part because of a senile music teacher who taught me Christmas carols throughout the year). I can sing, but not well enough to do anything with it. It's true that I was a pretty competent actress through school and University, but I don't know where that girl went.

So, you see, I haven't truly challenged myself to do anything new in a long time... Unless you count motherhood, but I think of that as something that was brewing deep within me from the time I was a zygote and it isn't a challenge so much as a need, a want - a dream fulfilled. Sure, being a mommy raises challenges every day, but I know I can cope with them. I have no option really.

I think 'athletic' is about as far down the list of adjectives to describe me as possible. Maybe somewhere near 'tanned'. I am not athletic. I have never had any desire to do anything which requires flat shoes. In truth, I haven't ever even given it a chance. As a kid, my tennis teacher told my mother that I as 'uncoordinated' - and that was that. In my head, sports of all kind went out the window. Nice, hey? Teachers wield enormous power.

I have always marveled at people who can run. There is something incredible about the power and the determination to move at such speed purely for enjoyment. I have tried to run many times with personal trainers, outdoors, indoors, with James, with friends. It never felt good. I hated it. I always felt like my heart was about to explode out of my mouth and I would die - just die - in all sorts of miserable agony. In the latter part of 2009, I made an attempt at running. I had worked with a trainer for several months at that stage. Still, the running felt HARD and unnatural.

My goal for 2010 was to learn to run 5 kilometres. I set it as a personal goal and challenge. I even tweeted it so that it became a public goal. I always try harder at things when there are people who might potentially deride me or be disappointed if I fail.

I did it yesterday. I ran 5 kilometers in 32 minutes and 30 seconds. It hurt. I struggled. I felt close to cardiac arrest for about 5 minutes afterwards, but I did it. Now I want to do it in 30 minutes and feel good. I think I can.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Little Bigger Than a Venti Latte


I thought I would just give you a visual: this is MacKenzie at less than a week old at Starbucks with his very proud and tired mommy.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Little Dude - Big Personality


I had to share this picture. Mackie's godmother, Melani, sent him a Sesame Street camera for Christmas. Ever since the camera arrived, Macs has been very excited about taking pictures and having his picture taken. This is his 'say cheese' face. It makes me smile!
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


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Things I'll Miss About Dublin

I have been pretty hard on Dublin. I realise the general perception that you must all have is that I hate it here. I don't. In fact, I like the place. It has a charm, warmth (not in climate) and a gorgeous old-fashionedness about it. I have had 3 years of long walks, cappuccinos and play dates. I've had multiple trips to fabulous European destinations. We had lots of mishaps and disappointments (you'll remember the 4 months we waited for cable TV to be installed and now we've had 4 months with out a dryer)... But let me stay on track. I'm talking about the things I love about this town. So here they are, in no particular order:

1) Long walks on crisp, Sunny days - It rains a lot here and the rain goes sideways. I didn't know that was possible, but it is. These gorgeous dry days when the city is surrounded with a halo of restorative sunshine are what we LIVE for here. Bright days in Dublin make me want to walk for hours. I love the fresh air, the smiles on every one's faces, the buzz of excitement that comes with unexpected good weather... It's good enough to make me forget about sideways rain and endless days indoors.

2) Starbucks - Yes, Starbucks. Judge me if you must, but I love the place. I have had more coffees in the last 3 years than I thought was possible. I have been to Starbucks at least once a day every day that I have been in Dublin - aside from the 5 days I was in hospital having MacKenzie - but we did go there on Day 6. He was about the same size as a Venti Latte at that stage. Starbucks is where I have received fantastic news (of long-awaited pregnancies) and awful news (of passport delays which almost caused us to cancel a holiday). Starbucks is where I write, where I read, where I "regroup". It's my office, my lounge, my study. I will miss it enormously.

3) Herbert Park - Anyone with a child or a pet will know that a park is kind of essential. Basically, you'd settle for any square foot of grass nearby, but we lucked out. Herbert Park is 10 minutes from our front door and it is GORGEOUS. On top of being large, green, beautiful and close by, it has a playground AND it's near Starbucks (see number 2). My perfect day combines 1, 2 and 3.

4) The Brown Thomas Shoe Sale - This is a SERIOUS sale. None of this namby pamby 10% off rubbish. These are proper bargains on shoes ranging from Pied a Terre to Manolo Blahnik. Serious sale on SERIOUS shoes. I am just about superficial enough to forget about sideways rain when I can have a pair of Gucci pumps for under a 100 bucks. Juuuust about.

5) Herb Street - This is a little cafe near James' work which we've kind of commandeered as our personal property. They do really good coffee, sinfully good pancakes, great eggs, sublime French Toast... and they are over-the-top baby-friendly... it's like a little piece of mommy-heaven. Oh, and they do ridiculously good cupcakes. It's pretty perfect. If I time my day right, I could manage breakfast at Herb Street, a walk (1), coffee at Starbucks (2) on route to Herbert Park (3) and then pop into BTs for a wee look at the shoes (4). Awesome.

6) Ex-Pat Wives - My accomplices on these missions (1 - 5) are crucial to my enjoyment thereof. I have a few bloody amazing pals in Dublin. We're all cut from similar stuff, we all married men on missions to rule the world and none of us have jobs outside the home (I mean, we dabble, but nothing which distracts too much from 1-5)... which means we have time to hang out. I can't imagine that I will ever have this kind of set up again. I have found some GEMS in Dublin and even if 1-5 didn't exist, they would probably make it all worth it.

7) Travel - Dublin is ideally located to see the world. You can get to New York in 6 hours, London in 55 minutes... It's been a dream scenario for me. We've been to Paris, Hamburg, Charmonix, New York, Boston, Sydney, Cape Town, East London, Lincolnshire, London, Ludlow, Cheshire, Edinburgh, Kilkenny, Wales, Wexford, Belfast, Stranraer, Blackpool, Liverpool ... and more in the last 3 years. Not too shabby.

8) Full-Time Mommyhood - I have had the pleasure of spending every day and night with my son since he was born with the exception of my 48 hour jaunt in London. I am SO lucky to have witnessed every milestone, every knock and bruise, every word uttered - all of it. It has been intense, tiring and amazing - and I wouldn't change a second.

Other notable highlights of my life in Dublin include: sushi and cocktails at Ice Bar at the Four Seasons, High Tea at the Shelbourne, Salads at Milanos, Dundrum Town Centre, Waterstones Book Shop on Dawson Street, Mink Hand and Foot Spa, Donnybrook Fair and last, but certainly not least, Marks and Spencers...

So you see, I have had it pretty damn good. Is this the part where you all stop reading my blog and start to hate me? I hope not.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Yellow Brick Road Beckons

We are heading back to Oz. Have you heard already? It's hard to keep up, I know. The Gray family is a moving target. This is a move I really want to make. I like change - but this is a new kind of change. This time we're changing to something familiar and it feels so RIGHT. For the first time since I moved to London in 1999, I'm moving somewhere because it's where I want to be. The first time I moved to Sydney (in February 2002), I moved because I wanted to be with James. I had no idea about Sydney at all. I had seen pictures of the bridge and the Opera House, but I truly had no concept of what the rest of the place would look like. I knew 1 person there - ONE. Can you imagine? It was very lonely in the beginning because, to tell you the truth, James has always worked 12+ hour days. The schedule in Dublin is not new.

After 8 months apart (with me in London and James in Sydney), I didn't care that I would only see him a few hours a day - those few hours were so much better than tearful telephone conversations and eagerly awaited text messages. It took 2 or 3 years to fully immerse myself in Sydney and by the time it came to leave, I was actually close to a breakdown. I was devastated to leave the friends who had become our family and a job I not only enjoyed, but excelled at. We made a really full life there - a life anyone would be envious of. It had nothing to do with money or things, it had to do with a sense of being genuinely accepted and loved by people who we were proud to have in our lives. Nothing beats that.

Our stay in Dublin has been difficult. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. We never intended to be here forever and when one moves somewhere temporarily one just never really settles in. Everything has a transient quality, nothing seems worth huge amounts of time and effort. It's all pretty superficial and fleeting. And I am not. I don't enjoy the feeling of inauthentic relationships and pithy banter. I like to connect. I like to really listen and really be heard.

The strange thing is that we have connected within a like-minded group of fellow transients and we have formed relationships which will outlast this jaunt upon the Emerald Isle. Many of us had our babies here and I think that is the kind of major life event which forms a forever friendship. I will miss these people and I will be forever grateful for this experience because of the 2 gifts that I have received from Dublin: my son and the certainty that Sydney is where we want to be.