Week One – Thucydides

In my political science major for university one of my papers gives 20% of the grade for contributing weekly to an online discussion board. Kind of like a forum for pols geeks. I love it.

Each week you can gain up to 3 marks – 0 being ‘no contribution’ and 3 being ‘particularly insightful’, and you need to gain 24 marks for the full 20%.

We began with Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War

Overall I found the document – especially Thucydides rare interjections of personal opinion to be insightful, and strikingly valid not only for his time frame, but throughout history.

He warns in his opening paragraph to ‘not be misled by the exaggerated fancies of the poets’ and, although he feels his account will be an ‘account for all ages’ he recognizes that any mans writing will have flaws and gaps for ‘eye-witnesses of the same occurrences gave different accounts of them’. His point that any onlookers would be more interested in the actions of one side over another, and therefore will have recounted the same occurrence from an entirely different lens was such a simple point, yet so very very valid. How often do we get wrapped up in our own stories without stopping to think how it might be affecting other people.

Through Pericle’s Funeral Oration he makes the point that ‘mankind are tolerant of the praises of others so long as each hearer thinks he can do as well or nearly as well himself’. This same idea of ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome is still commented on as part of the New Zealand culture as well. (It is certainly something I have experienced and noticed growing up, particularly in rural areas). It does seem important that this strain of jealousy has been important enough in human culture and history to be commented on in some of the most lasting works of literacy throughout our written history both in works of fiction (Shakespeare’s Iago springs to mind) and non-fiction.

Yet in saying this, Pericles goes on the mention how Athens grows great in the image of it’s fallen warriors, and how it’s warriors grow great in the light of the state. It would seem he is commenting that it is not ok for a single man to become great on his own merits, but when done for the good of the state it is justifiable, and only those who were truly selfless in their devotion to Athens would be worthy of praise.

To link these points however, in his introduction, Thucydides mentioned he felt the true cause of the war was the Lacedaemonian’s fear/jealousy of Athens great power – Is tall poppy syndrome not merely confined to our individual interactions? Are then the actions of states pure representations of the realities of human nature? And in saying this, if humanity were more accepting of each others differences/points of weakness/points of strength on the domestic level, would that translate into less inter-state conflict? I guess what I am trying to say is that the state is merely the overarching expression of human nature – so rather that looking for causes of war and large scale conflict, perhaps we should be looking a little closer to home, looking at ourselves as individuals. Like Thucydides says, there are always other, publicly alleged reasons to justify conflict. Are these merely excuses to cover our own fear and jealousy?

If only it were that simple… if humanity learned to overcome fear/insecurity/jealousy there would be no more war and conflict….

To my own Stepmum

Dear Stepmum

I was having a think about the random path my life is going down and it has really woken me up to what you dealt with when you signed up for our dysfunctional instant-family.

I have never thanked you properly for everything you have ever done for me, and for my dad too.

I really appreciate the constant presence you are in my life, and I truly feel like you have been a very positive influence on me growing up – so thank you.

Thank you for giving me second chances. And for caring. And for our many long and random conversations in the kitchen – I loved those. Thank you for being there for dad since the beginning, even though it has been really really hard for you, too.

Thank you for being an amazing step mum and for bringing so many experiences into my life that I never would have had without you. I really respect your work ethic, and your commitment (or stubbornness, whatever you want to call it).

Thank you for being so funny! and for being honest with me, that’s important. I feel like I have always known where I stand with you.

Thank you for putting up with my crap and attitude when I was living in your home. Thank you for being so willing to open your home to me.

Thank you for my little brother. I cannot believe he is ten now. What a beautiful and thoughtful young man you have raised, I am so proud to call him my brother.

Thank you for taking such a big chance to come and be a part of our family. I love having you in my life.

I really appreciate you.

Thank you

My prolems don’t mean any thing, because I am not a starving child in Africa.

Okay so maybe that was a little melodramatic.

Yes, a little self realisation that other people have issues in their lives too is definitely a bonus in helping us take stock of our problems and put things into perspective. (In my opinion). No one likes a self-absorbed brat.

But it does not, will not and SHOULD NOT EVER be a strategy for making someone feel like whatever is going on in their world is in some way ‘less important’.

Sometimes I have difficulty empathising with situations or feelings that I am not familiar with. I have to remind myself that not everyone reacts in the same way that I do, and it is unfair to hold everyone to MY standards – it is only fair to hold people to their own standards.

The thing is, when something bad happens to us, it might actually be the WORST thing we have ever experienced, and just because that isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone in the universe ever, has no relevance to the fact that it might be the worse thing that has happened in our own personal universe. So on our own personal scale, we react in a way or hurt in a way that might be on par with how someone else may react to something much worse.

Every person’s reactions are VALID. Every emotion, every sentiment is exactly their personal truth in that moment. What some one else’s personal truth is, has no bearing. Life is subjective.

We don’t have to understand, but simply because it is not how we would react, is not a good enough reason to invalidate someone.

Dear Fiance

I’ve realized that it isn’t about forgiving you. For the rest of our lives I am going to forgive you over and over again for things you do, and you will have to forgive me over and over again too, so while forgiving you is important, it isn’t really the point.

What I really needed to realize was, regardless of anything that happened, whether we are still good for each other.

I fell in love with you a long time ago but im not still with you by default because of that. I’m still with you because I choose to be with you, every day that I wake up, every day that we are happy, every day that we have good times and every day that we have tough moments. I choose you over and over again.

I’m choosing you because you make me feel respected and loved and worth loving. I’m choosing you because even though its hard, I know how good we are together and because you bring out my best and I think I bring out your best too. I’m choosing you because you are my best friend.

I never want to stop thriving to be my best, for you.

Que sera sera…

I recently found out that my hairdresser is friends with the mother (BM) of my fiances son. I found out through facebook so I doubt either of them know this, but it lead to a realisation about my place in step-parent land.

I try really hard not to talk badly about BM, for several reasons; firstly of course because as a stepchild myself, I know how damaging it is to hear that while growing up – it doesn’t matter what your parents did, they are still and always will be your heroes (even if it is very deep down inside). And secondly because I firmly believe that positive re-affirmation can make a world of difference – if I talk about a situation negatively, it will be negative, if I talk about a situation positively, it will be positive.

Anyway. My realisation was that I worry of what other people think of me because of our situation. From BM’s perspective, I broke up her family (unfortunately this wasn’t the case, as my fiance always told me they were never together. Messy situation.) And in fairness to her, I did betray her trust by using some emails she sent me against her in court. (On a side note, although I recognise it was a betrayal of trust, I would still do it again, I was protecting the man I love most and his son.)

But we live in a small community, everyone knows someone who grew up with someone else who talks to so and so. As evidenced by the hair dresser situation. I am way too caught up in how people might judge me, if they only know her side of the story.

My first reaction was, oh my gosh, I need to find a new hairdresser!

Sad. I don’t want to close off my community because of my choice to be with the man I love and his adorable son. I want my community to be wholesome and rich and filled with all sorts of people. Also I really like my hairdresser, she does a great job.

I need to learn to let go, I think. To accept that what will be, will be. I don’t think BM is a bad person – sure we all have our conflict from time to time, but we are also human…

So. Working on acceptance, openness and unity. Anyone got any strategies?

Tribute.

A is for amazing, arty, amorous, adventurous, alcoholic, alone, antagonistic, arresting.

A is for ageless.

A is for Anna.

Anna is for mum, godmother, friend, angel, nightmare, lady, aunt, teacher, role-model, confidant.

Do you know we still think about you, still eat edamame for you, still drink wine for you, still laugh at you, still cry about you?

I wish you could have met my fiance, I wish you would be there at my wedding, I wish you could meet my children, I wish I could hear you laugh, I wish I could hear your stories, I wish you could give me advice.

Thank you for teaching me how to do my make-up, thank you for showing me that life is precious, thank you for being my mum’s best friend, thank you for teaching me that it is ok not to be friends with everyone, thank you for saying what was on your mind.

I knew you my whole life – I wish I had known you more.

3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Marriage

I find it so useful to remind myself of the important things, and where my priorities should be. It is far too easy to get tangled up in smaller irrelevant details of life and neglect the bigger picture…

love story from the male perspective

3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married by Tyler Ward .

I used to think I had my stuff together. Then I got married.

Marriage is great—but it rocked everything I knew. I quickly realized my basic goal in life, prior to getting married, was to simply 3_things_Marriage_RECTremain undisturbed.

This “disruption” came suddenly and was disguised as a 5-foot-nothing Swedish-Filipino woman. When I decided I’d rather not live without her, I proceeded to ask her to marry me—that is, to officially invite someone who wasn’t me to be in my personal space for the rest of my life.

This decision introduced my most significant experiences and most challenging experiences—none of which I would trade for the world.

However, I wish I had a bit more insight on the front end of our marriage to help me navigate it all.

According to most research, more than 50…

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Creative Writing

I was lucky enough in High School to have really good English teachers, especially in my senior years, that made me want to do well in a subject that I already enjoyed and was good at and English quickly became one of my favourite subjects.

Growing up in the country, with no TV or mobile phone reception meant I read. A lot. I had finished the school library and the children’s/teens section of the town library by the time I was 12 (I moved towns shortly after so it wasn’t such a bad thing), and had a reading age of 16, when I was 10.

I have always loved to read, and to write – poetry, stories, essays, fiction, non-fiction, and most recently this blog. I love words, where they come from, what they mean, other languages, and how they all fit together in so many different ways. I love how a word can mean nothing, but if you change your tone of voice, it can mean everything.

So I want to share with you something I wrote, several years ago when I was experiencing a lot of anger over my parents lack of communication and thought in their separation.

Tear Stained Eye

The little girl sat stiffly in her chair. Tiny hands clenched at her sides, making frown like creases in the edges of her new dress. Her blonde ringlets were pulled into matching pink bows and her feet hung in mid-air, cased in small, shining black, leatherette shoes. She was the picture of innocence, a perfect angel until you saw her eyes.

Large blue orbs, the centres filled with a fathomless black, so deep, too dark to belong to a small child. They stared into nothingness, searching for the answers she needed. She blinked, just too late, unable to prevent the small, completely symmetrical tear from flowing down her cheek, pausing as it reached her chin, then slowly falling to land in her lap. Looking down, as if in total surprise, the little girl touched a finger to the damp spot, aimlessly drawing circles, concentration clear on her face.

All signs of discomfort gone, a small smile played at the corner of her lips, and she swung first one foot, then the other. The only sign of absence was her eyes, still staring blankly, in her own little world, seeing nothing, as she struggled with her task.

Two faces loomed out of the dark. That was all she could see. At that point in time, nothing else mattered; the ties between the three of them were inexplicable, twisted, a triangle of love, hate, hope and above all, manipulation.

But she was only seven and these feelings were much too complex for her understanding.  In that moment, all she felt was as if she had a rope tied around each arm, and each face was pulling, pulling… and it hurt! It hurt so badly. An emotional ache. But it didn’t matter, she was only seven and the little girl loved those faces, she didn’t realize it would ever be possible to not. That was her mummy and daddy and she loved them.

That was then. This, however, is now, and that little girl is long gone, buried underneath years of lies, anger and emotional turmoil.

The young woman lay in her bed, her heart pounding. Choices are never easy, she realised, and no matter how much thought, or therapy you put into them they would always come back to haunt you. She didn’t blame herself though, how could she? Whatever decision she had made, there would always be the feeling of guilt, the feeling that she had betrayed someone’s love. She took a breath and vowed to any gods who were listening, she would learn from the mistakes of others. Because, what kind of person would she be, to make a little girl chose between mummy and daddy?

I wrote this long before I met my Fiance, had any notion of becoming a stepmum, or even having children at all. This is where I am coming from – this is my past, and I will do everything in my power to help our Boy have an easier path than I had, one with less struggle and pain. If my experiences can help one boy have a more carefree childhood, one where he doesn’t have to grow up too fast – then that’s good enough for me. I may not be able to change the world, but I sure as hell am going to do my best to change his world.

Explanatory note.

I am not dealing with my anger and conflict well lately, and get worked up easily. I am tired all the time and have trouble concentrating (which is an issue when I am currently trying to attempt a double degree, one of which is Law).

Men, you should stop reading here.

8 months ago, I went to my doctor for a standard check up – we have excellent health services through the university which are covered by our fees, so I thought I might as well make the most of it! In the course of the appointment, the doctor found out the birth control I had been using for the last four years to control my migraines, could potentially have bad side effects, since I get the type of migraines with auras.

At that point, I was a straight A student, with lots of energy, no monthly mood swings, and so much compassion and time for everyone else in my life. It was excellent. If I ever get back to that, I will never take it for granted.

The doctor recommended a different kind of pill, and said it may take a few weeks for my body to readjust and to give it time. Quite happy with this, I started taking the new medication. Well, 12 weeks later, I was tired, moody, my nails were snapping and breaking and I was extremely pale – the reason? I hadn’t stopped bleeding since starting the new pill. Well and truly fed up, I returned to my doctor.

Convinced that I had given that pill my best shot, my doctor recommended a different brand – which was also much more expensive. Also a series of blood tests, which indicated my iron levels were well below the healthy range and I was severely anemic. Unfortunately by this stage, the anemia had taken quite the toll on my social and academic life – I never had the energy to go out, and if I did, it would take days to recover. I would get 12 hours sleep a night, and wake up in the morning so exhausted I almost vomited, and struggled to concentrate in my classes. That semester, my grades dropped to a B- average.

My poor fiance, had no idea how to deal with what I was going through, it’s quite hard to explain to someone that your life is falling to pieces because you are ‘tired’. I had gone from super understanding, thoughtful, caring partner, to super moody bitch.

Oh also? my skin is worse than it was when I went through puberty. Gross.

So I tried the other pill. No luck. Went back to the doctor. In October last year, we decided to go for a Mirena, which basically is an implant into my uterus, which slowly releases the birth control hormone and lasts for 5 years. The side effects – I should stop bleeding entirely. Sounded like heaven.

Like anything, the doctor warned me it may take a while for my body to adjust. Initially I was having light bleeding, which I figured would stop. And it did! Yay! for the first time in 4 months, I WASN’T BLEEDING.

It lasted a week.

Since then, I have lost so much blood. Every day. Non-Stop. Let me tell you, It’s doing wonders for my sex life, not.

I have been taking iron supplements for months, trying to keep up my levels as fast as I am losing it. I certainly don’t feel as bad as I used to, but synthetic iron replacement isn’t quite as good as just not losing it in the first place.

Back to the doctor today. I wanted to tell her to GET THIS THING OUT OF ME. And please god, just let me go back on the pill I was on before.

She starts throwing around phrases like ‘see a specialist’, ‘you need an ultra-sound’, ‘have you got health insurance’, ‘more blood tests’. And no chance of going back to my other pill, by the way, apparently it causes strokes for people like me.

So here’s the deal; for the last 8 months, I’ve been bleeding 80% of the time. I’m exhausted, hormonal and my grades have dropped. Hoping my doctor could help me today, all I get is some medication to stop the bleeding in the short term until we suss out the problem (which also has the side effect of nausea, yay) and some more iron supplements. I have to get my third blood test in six months, I mean, cause who doesn’t love needles? and then sort out insurance claim forms to cover the cost of having an ultra sound (which by the way, doesn’t fix anything, just tells us whether the Mirena is even in the right place). If it’s in the wrong place, we take it out, and start again, and if it’s in the right place, then I’m just special, and it isn’t working – next step, see a specialist. Because I totally have time for that.

I don’t have the energy to focus on any one else except me at the moment. My course load expects about 45 hours a week, I do another 10 hours a week part time work to pay the bills, and then this. I need to be selfish, I need to take care of myself, I can’t deal with anything else right now.

That isn’t too unreasonable – it’s only until I’m healthy again.

Good thing life isn’t that easy then, huh? 😉

Powerless Step-parent – Take Two

So many expletives running through my mind. So much anger, indignation and fury. SO POWERLESS.

Maybe that’s the lesson I am learning, this trip on earth, to handle situations and create calm in amongst the turmoil of something that is so far outside of my control.

My stepson got conjunctivitis last week, poor kid, no fun for anyone! And so contagious of course, he really shouldn’t be at day care. That was Friday. On Sunday he went to the doctor and we find out he also has tonsillitis and ear infections in both ears. The real Tri-Fecta. But when you put that many kids in a melting pot of viruses and each others germs, what can you really expect, it’s Russian roulette and only a matter of time…

My partner immediately asked for the Monday off work – as any parent would do, no WAY should that boy be back in daycare at least until he has finished his antibiotics and his eyes have cleared up. You’d think. Unfortunately work was too busy for him to take off Monday, but my mother in law was able to take the day off and drive over (it’s about an hour) and my partner was able to finish a little earlier than normal – no worries.

Tuesday and Wednesday no drama either, my darling fiance, putting his son first, took a sick day, and another day without pay – but children first, right?

Thursday. The boy is still sick of course, and only half way through his antibiotics, definitely not well enough to go back to daycare. My partner has to go back to work – luckily the Boy has two parents right? You’d think.

My partners Grandparents offered to take him on Thursday while the boys mother was at work, it was only five hours – no trouble. The Boy loooves his great-grandad. And they live 2 minutes from where the Boy lives with his mother. Perfect solution!

Well. I just got this text from my partner. (I live far away while I’m studying, so unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do from here)

“apparently he was fine yesterday and last night and his mother made the call to send him to daycare (side note – without discussing it with my partner) the staff at day care said he was fine today and put himself to bed for a nice sleep”

Unfortunately, I don’t agree with this line of reasoning, so I told my partner that I felt angry that he wasn’t being looked after and indignant that the boys mother hadn’t either taken a day off herself, or left him with the Grandparents. If he is still on antibiotics and his eyes are still showing signs of conjunctivitis, I personally, don’t think he should be at daycare. I said to him, I would rather pay his mother out of my student allowance if she couldn’t afford the day off – I don’t think she is a bad mother, but I don’t agree with this choice at all, not when we have alternatives.

My partners response – “I don’t want to fight about this, I don’t have the energy. I know my son and think it was a bit soon for him to go back to daycare, but why must you put me in a position to fight about it, it’s not the end of the world.”

Well shit.

I told him we would have to agree to disagree and that I didn’t want to talk about it any more because I didn’t want to fight with him about it, I’m tired, have my own health issues, as well as trying to keep up with doing two degrees at the same time.

What am I supposed to do? Am I over reacting? I know I am exhausted from my own stuff and don’t have the same amount of clarity as usual, but still, what am I supposed to do with all the emotions…

All I want, is for that poor little Boy to have the chance for his immune system to recover. Is that so wrong?

My partner is accusing me of making him feel like a bad parent. Way to turn the whole situation around on me. We have so many options available so the Boy doesn’t have to be at daycare while he is unwell, we are so lucky there is family that close, even if he seems better, I can’t help but feel like that extra day would have done wonders helping his immune system get back on track.

I feel better for having had this vent.