Stormy Weather.

This afternoon, where I live, there was a pretty decent thunder storm.

I sat out under our verandah, in my post-nightshift muddled state, with a cold beer in my hand, chatting with my family, and listening to the sound of the rainfall on the roof, amidst the intermittent thumps and booms of thunder, and I felt more rejuvenated and alive than I have in a long time.

What is it about a Summer thunderstorm that makes everything feel so fresh?

I think, for me, it’s all about perspective.

It’s that reminder that we really are at the mercy of the elements, despite our incessant need as humans to control our environment and everything within it. Somehow, through the distant rumbles of thunder, all of the fiddly little worries and day to day gripes fall back into place where they belong. Nature doesn’t have time to worry about fuel prices or groceries. Nature is too busy being awesome.

It’s the understanding that our natural world is infinitely bigger and more powerful than we will ever be, and that sometimes, to really thrive, we have to simply let go, and trust that life will be as it is meant to be, just as each tree continues to grow, without demanding reassurance that the rain will come. It either will, or it won’t, but that’s for nature to decide. So, the tree just keeps growing anyway, setting down its roots, and trying its best.

It’s the humbling recognition that we are really pretty insignificant – because no matter what, once we are gone, the storms will continue to come, and the rain will continue to fall, and life will go on, just as it has for millions of years before we ever created our footprint here. And that it’s perfectly okay for that to be the case. Really, it’s as it should be.

Oh yes, I do love a thunder storm.

Now that the rain has passed and the sun is re-emerging, the plants are glistening with fresh raindrops, and when I breathe it all in, I can smell that beautiful combination of damp earth, life, and hope.

Revival.

Renewal.

Survival.

There really is nothing quite like it, ‘eh?

Big love,

Rysie

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Christmas Gifts

December is here in full force, and all around me, I can feel the hustle and bustle increasing as each day draws nearer to Christmas Day.

My Girl Child, like many kids her age, has been circling catalogue items for weeks, amending, and re-amending her Christmas list, having written a beautiful letter to Santa, using her best manners and handwriting, with a thoughtful note added stating that she fully trusts him to choose the perfect gift for her, even if it’s not something she has requested. Oh, and that she loves him. Bless.

My Boy Child is tackling his first Christmas as a Santa non-believer, and has found himself armed with the responsibility of protecting the magic of Christmas for the little ones, while being given the privilege of choosing his own gifts, with his own budget. He’s quite giddy with the excitement of it all.

Christmas is all about the presents, at least for my kids.

For me, though? The biggest gift I could wish for this year is time.

Last month, my beautiful Nanna fell ill with a cruel bout of pneumonia, and it looked very likely that at 97 years old, she was going to leave us.

By some miracle, and despite all odds, she remains with us, although it is abundantly clear that our time is not infinite. It seems that we are into overtime, in an unexpected bonus round with her, and the hours and days that we spend together right now, are some of the most precious moments I think I’ll ever have.

Being gifted the opportunity to sit by her bedside as she rests, or to read her a few pages of a book as she drifts off to sleep, is far more valuable to me than any present that could be wrapped under the tree for me.

When you’re a child, the magic of Christmas is in the experience of leaving snacks for Santa, unwrapping presents, and being caught up in the magic of the tinsel, the carols, the late nights and the Christmas lights. Kids have an incredible capacity to sit happily in the moment, exactly as it is, and their joy is pure, because they don’t know yet that the moment is fleeting, and that it won’t always feel this way.

Perhaps this is the true innocence and magic of Christmas?

As adults, we know that despite our wishes, time marches on – subtly, yet unrelentingly. And as much as we wish to hold on to those glorious moments – frozen in time – we simply can’t. The best we can do is to make the most of them.

So, if you’re finding yourself caught up in your to-do lists, and shopping; meal planning and baking; decorating and wrapping – take a moment today to step back and reflect on the people around you.

It is the season for giving! And while beautifully wrapped gifts are lovely, they ain’t worth nothin’ when compared to your time.

You can’t get it back, you can’t store it for later, and you can’t do it over. So, spend it as wisely and as mindfully as you do your dollars.

With Festive Greetings to you and yours,

Big Love,

Rysie.

A Note for Birth Workers

This quote is exactly why I became a midwife.

My own midwife made me feel like an absolute rockstar during the births of my children, simply because she worked according to this kind of philosophy.

She taught me that women should be the absolute centre of the birthing experience. She taught me that by holding the space strongly, a woman could step into her own power, no matter what kind of birth she had chosen. She taught me that there is so much more to birth than the physical outcome.

I’ll never forget these lessons.

If you look past the machines, beyond the paperwork, around the sterile equipment, and over the policy documents, you’ll see a real, live person, right in the thick of a completely life-changing experience.

She’ll never forget what happens in this moment.

Treat her right – THAT is the priority, above everything else.

We have the privilege and responsibility to stand in that space and keep her safe – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

She MATTERS, and what we do, say, and project in that room can change everything, for better or worse.

Choose your words carefully. Check your body language. And most of all, BELIEVE IN HER. Because she knows if you don’t. And if YOU don’t believe in her, how can she believe in herself when things get hard?

No matter what is going on, she needs to know that you’ve got her back.

We can never, ever, EVER forget how important that is.

Big love,

Rysie.

Reprieve.

This past fortnight has been more intensely stressful than I can put into words, in more ways than I can tackle in this little blog of mine.

Yet here we are, seemingly at the end of the thunder, looking for the sunlight behind the clouds, and trusting that even the biggest storms can’t go on forever.

Sometimes, a picture really does speak a thousand words.

To better days, one day at a time.

Onwards and upwards, upright and breathing.

With gentle love to those who have found themselves battered by circumstance recently, as we have.

In solidarity,

Rysie.

Moments.

One of the absolute highlights of being a Mama for me has always been early morning snuggles with my babies.

As little babies, they slept by my side all night long, feeding through the night, and at times, I wondered if they’d ever sleep without me.

As toddlers, they’d wake calling for me in the dark, and I’d trundle into their room, soothing them with my words as we lay back down together, comforted and peaceful, to soften back into sleep.

As they’ve gotten older, they’ve needed me less in this regard, and to be honest, it’s an unsettling realisation!

Rarely am I woken to ease the distress of a nightmare, or to rub their backs because they awoke too hot, too cold, too lonely, or just missing me too much.

They sleep alone, in beds all of their own, and it’s been a couple of years since the Boy Child has hopped into bed with us, seeking us out for comfort . It saddens me to think that the last time he did so, I didn’t even realise that it was the last time. Thus, a chapter of his childhood ended, essentially without recognition. 💔

While he sleeps soundly all night (and in fact, now needs to be woken up each day – much to his disdain!), somewhere between 5:30am and 6:30am, almost every morning, my Girl Child will still wander downstairs, where she waits, bleary-eyed, for me to pull back the blankets and invite her into our bed, where she curls up next to me, wishes me a good morning, and promptly drifts back off to sleep.

Warm and safe, where she needs to be.

These are the moments that fill my heart with an overflowing amount of gratitude, and my eyes with happy tears.

These are the moments that seemed so distant when I was awake all night with unsettled babies, and teething toddlers, wondering if I’d ever sleep again.

These are the moments I’ll cherish until I die.

Because one day, she too will stop waiting for me to pull the blankets back, and I will realise that yet another chapter has ended.

And you know what? I’m just not ready for that yet.

Cuddle your little ones, Mamas.

These are your moments.

Big love,

Rysie.

Wear and Tear

I think I was about eight years old when I first heard the term “mental break down”.

I was watching TV with my family, and right in front of our eyes (and the eyes of the whole country), the news anchor hosting the show we were watching just…stopped. As we watched her blankly staring into the camera with unblinking eyes, mouth agape and unmoving for what seemed like an eternity before they cut to a commercial, my nanna – who was in the lounge room doing the ironing – clicked her tongue and said “oh dear. I think that poor woman might have just had a mental break down – on national TV!”

The TV show resumed after the ad with a shiny, new, unfrozen anchor, and nanna went back to her ironing, while I sat and pondered what the hell I’d just witnessed.

Whether or not it WAS a break down, I don’t actually know. But I do remember thinking that if that was what a break down was, it seemed to be an awful thing for someone to have to go through.

A quick google of the term “break down” will yield a few different results: Impaired function due to mechanical wear and tear, and damaged parts. Dissolution of communication or relationships, due to tensions, hurt or dispute. And of course, the stereotypical impaired and dysfunctional mental state that can either stand alone, or perhaps present as a result of the previous two definitions.

It all sounds a little bit relatable, doesn’t it?

Have a think about how most of us live our lives today. The amount of stressors present in every single day is phenomenal. Between paid and unpaid work commitments, raising kids, supporting family members, health concerns, financial pressures, and of course, “keeping up with the Jones’s in any multitude of ways, is it any wonder there are more than a few people showing some signs of wear and tear?

Yet, so many insist on trying to tackle it all alone – trying to be everything, to everyone, all the time.

I guarantee you that looking around a room at any given time, you’ll see someone who is slowly being eroded by all of the stuff going on in their life. But how many will actually verbalise any of it?

You see, most of us are exceptionally good at helping others – often when they’ve hit their breaking point – and do so without judgement. But when it comes to calling for similar support for ourselves, we’re more inclined to stay silent, seeking out other stuff to make us feel better: exercise, retail therapy, social media, maybe alcohol, or the old classic of just staying REALLY busy.

And all of that stuff works well, until it doesn’t. At the end of the day, we still need to talk through our shit, but….we don’t.

All of a sudden, unexpectedly, but unsurprisingly, we find ourselves worn, and torn, with broken parts, flailing amidst the chaos of a world that feels as though it’s crumbling.

After sifting through the quagmire of postnatal depression TWICE (my very own break downs, if you will), I realised the exceptional importance of talking before things get big. Of being open about what’s happening, and what the struggles are, and strategising with someone as a sounding board to keep me on track.

I learned that sometimes the people you least expect will show up as absolute angels when things get dicey, and that in nearly every instance there will be SOMEONE who gets it. And that someone may not be who you expect.

And once I was through the worst of it, I learned to watch others closely, because I realised there were probably many others out there camouflaging their own wear and tear, and hiding cleverly in amongst their to-do lists.

I certainly wasn’t on national TV when my break downs happened, but they were just as horrifying as what I remember witnessing as a kid. And I hate the thought that there are others out there going through similar things, because I know for certain that there are many.

I talk a lot in my posts about self-care, because there isn’t a single person out there who isn’t going to hit an element of struggle at some point. And if we are in the practice of valuing ourselves, taking the time to do things that make us feel good, and prioritising our need to talk things through honestly, we might just find that we are able to work through another month of bills, and sick kids, and cranky relationships, without dropping the bundle all together.

If you’re feeling flat, and someone asks how you’re going, be honest! If someone asks if you’re ok and you’re NOT, try answering truthfully. If you can’t say it verbally, text it. If you can’t text it, email it. Just start the conversation any way you can.

You don’t need to be at the point of break down to be worthy of love and support. You don’t need to be eroded beyond recognition before you qualify for some good old-fashioned care.

You’re worthy, regardless.

Start talking, and gather your people. Despite what your self-doubt might tell you, your feelings are valid and important, and there is nothing trivial or selfish about needing to talk your stuff through.

Tackle the small stuff before it gets big.

Believe me, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Big love,

Rysie.

Jump onto http://www.lifeline.org.au if you’re needing a confidential conversation to get some stuff off your chest x.

Movements Matter.

As a midwife, today I want to use this little blogging platform I have to bring your attention to an incredibly important public health campaign.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say they didn’t want to bother a midwife by calling in with reduced movements.

Too often I’ve heard women report that their baby is “slowing down” for labour.

It’s frightening how many women wait days, or even weeks, before mentioning that their baby hasn’t been moving much.

Believe me, if your baby isn’t moving as it normally would, as your midwife, I want you to tell me.

You’re never being a bother.
You’re never making a mountain out of a molehill.
You’re never silly, or irrational, or paranoid.

If you are concerned by a change in your baby’s movement pattern, please, PLEASE call and talk to your health provider.

I can’t emphasise it enough.

#movementsmatter

Big love,

Rysie.