Dementia – Peeling away the layers of our lives


Mum seems happy but I oscillate between hope and hopelessness.

What a struggle. I’m holding the fridge’s door open and looking inside the refrigerator for an apple but four packs of unfinished sliced bread and cartons of milk block my view of the fridge’s content. I remove the packs of stale bread and uncover a smorgasbord of leftovers. Pieces of cheese wrapped in cling film, an open can of condensed milk, a forgotten melon quarter, two tubs of butter – one without the lid – and countless small containers I dare not open. I squat in front of the fridge and move a few things around but still could not find the apple. Thankfully, I don’t smell rotten food but I get a whiff that mum’s chaotic fridge is an indication that dementia is doing more than eroding her memory – it’s changing her reality and making her store her apples in another world.

Lately, she has begun to fixate on things like organising the pantry (or disorganising it!), emptying the contents of her handbag as if she is looking for something, rearranging the food in the fridge and keeping leftovers. She repetitively performs these tasks and when she enters this ‘repetition zone’ it looks like she is signing off from the world we share together.

The cold air from the fridge is blasting on my face but I feel drops of sweat trickling down my spine. I close the door and lean against the kitchen wall thinking that as dementia erases most of my mum’s recollections of immediate experiences (she still retains most of her long-term memories), she is losing touch with reality and is finding coping mechanisms that look crazy and disheartening to those around her and seem to transport her to parallel universe that has its own rules and makes no sense to those around her. I find it quite confronting to see her battling the loss of memory, autonomy and touch with our shared reality.

We tend to think that memory is about remembering and forgetting but spending a month with my mother is showing me that it’s much more than that. Specialists say that memory is responsible for creating meaning and continuity. You need memory to learn, speak and form relationships. Its loss wreaks havoc in your life, your world falls apart – it becomes fragmented and incoherent. It is not just that mum has forgotten that she is doing the same tasks over and over – it’s that her world is becoming strange and unfamiliar and she has a need to keep it organised and repetition gives her a sense of order and security. If questioned why she is doing what she is doing, she might say that someone has moved the canned vegetables or she cannot locate the salt – these are enough reasons for her to bring a ladder close to the pantry and start organising its contents. Sometimes she will initiate the task without any triggers, she just feels like doing it, it feels like from time to time she has the urge to enter the familiar world of repetition.

What I find interesting about her world is that just like our normal world has the big-bang and creation theories, mum’s new world also seems to have an explanation for how it began. For instance, in the case of her leftover obsession: mum has always had the habit of keeping food leftovers, which was often a reason for arguments in the family, a habit that she cherished and was unable and unwilling to change over time. Now with her dementia, the leftover hoarding behaviour has become almost like a life mission and a reflection of her values and belief system.

“Mum, why don’t you clean up the fridge? There are lots of food there going off.” I asked her the other day when the fridge was so full I could barely close its door.

“I just did it this morning – there is nothing there going off.”

“I saw you organising the fridge, I didn’t see you throwing anything away.”

“That’s because there’s nothing that needs to be thrown away,” she said with a tone that showed she was getting annoyed, like I was missing the obvious.

“But I saw you reheating the beef stew three days in a row and putting it back in the fridge. It can’t be good anymore.”

“Don’t worry, I will eat it tonight for dinner.”

“You will end up with food poising.”

“We aren’t rich – we can’t just throw things away. I’ve always eaten leftovers and never got sick.”

When she starts with the ‘not being rich’ argument, I know it’s a lost battle. She’s right, we aren’t rich but the issue is that she grew up in a farm and had a frugal upbringing and when raising her own family, she was always careful with her shopping budget. Now that her memory is going, she is holding on tightly to old values that have long been ingrained in her brain and are more easily accessible in her memory. I now see signs of mum’s frugality beyond the kitchen – her wardrobe has stacks of old clothes, linen and a number of items that should long have gone to the recycle bin. It may be that dementia strips away layers of pretention to reveal people’s real self and if we look deep into their new world and beyond the absurdity of their freakish behaviour, we might be able to see glimpses of who they really are, even when we think we have lost them.

Although my mum’s actions are not coherent with her objective reality I’m glad she can still argue and find excuses for her odd behaviour. It shows that she still has some cognitive capacity to reason and it gives me hope that her broken memory circuits will still yield many years living with dignity, being able to recognise her family and friends, and being the happy person she naturally is. But while it’s interesting to see my mum reveal her inner world, I also question if I’m clinging to a false hope. I fear that dementia will sooner or later show its true colours and I’ll have to rely on the glimpses I get from observing her world.

I feel that this day is getting closer when mum shows that she has lost the ability to plan or to follow more than basic instructions and is unable to place a restaurant order without asking for help. I’m reminded of that when I have to repeat or rephrase sentences several times because she either can’t hear or doesn’t comprehend what she was told. Or when she starts cooking dinner just after she had agreed to go out for a meal, or changes back to her stay at home clothes just before we are about to go out. I feel this way every time she enters her world and I realise I need her memory more than she does.

As dementia continues to attack mum’s brain and force her to build a new world in a distant land, I struggle. I fear I’ll open her fridge when I come to stay with her next year and it will have become even harder to find the apple. But my greatest fear is that when I open her front door of her apartment she won’t find me and when I look into her world there is not even a glimpse of who she used to be. I hope this will not happen anytime soon.


An explosion of memories



Entertaining 18 boys on a rainy day.


In the third bang, a candy waterfall erupted from the cracked piñata and the kids dove for the floor and scrambled over the sweets, fighting each other to fill their pockets with the goodies they want. And that was it – six hours of work destroyed in six seconds. No wonder some parents ask me why I do this. Why do I spend my nights crafting themed birthday parties for my children?

For this particular piñata, I had cut strips of newspaper and, one by one, wet them in a mixture of water and flour and layered them over an oversized balloon. I repeated this process over and over for six hours over two nights because my son asked for a Death Star piñata this year. I could have said no, it’s too much work. But he loves Star Wars and his parties and he was turning 10 – I don’t think there are many more themed birthday parties left on him. My eldest this year turned 12 and chose to invite his friends to the movies instead of having a party. I’m glad that for 11 years I was part of his celebrations and helped make his date of birth memorable.

I’ve heard some mothers arguing that elaborate kid’s parties are the epitome of the ‘invisible labour’ of the gendered work of caring and that this should have no place in the lives of today’s modern women. It’s also not uncommon to read about mothers showing off how accomplished they are at mothering by throwing impeccable parties. Others have said these parties are a form of ostentation. There are as many views as there are people and all these arguments may hold true in some cases but for me, birthday parties are a celebration of both childhood and a new year of living. I feel that I’m creating beautiful memories while celebrating friendship, sharing food together, preparing and opening our house for visitors.


This year marked the beginning of a new era. It was a strange feeling, having my son saying he didn’t want a party. “Not even a cake?” I persisted. He shook his head. “How about invitations?” “Only if it’s a plain invitation, no cuteness.” And that was it. A night at the movies and Mc Donald’s with his mates. For years, he chose a theme for this party and got excited about the invitation and birthday decorations. Every year the party’s theme registered a different stage in his life. From Nemo to pirates to dinosaurs to bushwalking. This year, the lack of a theme indicated the beginning of a new phase of his journey towards independence. I felt a sense of pride as I watched my little man marching towards the movie theatre surrounded by friends.

You will never get this moment back again. There will come a day when we don’t know but we will be doing something for the last time. That’s why I was determined to create a Death Star and didn’t give up when the balloon collapsed into itself. Once the covered balloon was dry, I cut a hole on the top to later put in the lollies and was going to start the painting and decoration. But something went wrong. The papier-mache started to crack and the balloon couldn’t hold its weight. I tried to bring it back to shape with duct tape but to no avail. “Mum it’s ok, you’ve put so much effort already.” My wise 10-year-old brought some sense to my desperation.

But I was determined to make his Death Star come back to life. I looked online for alternative ways to accomplish my goal and realised I would have to start from scratch. I decided I was going to try to cover another balloon with plaster and went to the craft shop to buy the ingredients. I stood there, staring at the shelves and in my mind’s eyes I pictured myself covered in white power swiping the dusty floor at 2am. My son’s voice echoed in my ears. Everything has a limit. Two hours later I returned home with a $12 piñata from Kmart. It wasn’t the Death Star but the kids enjoyed it all the same.


Vegan red wine – yes, wine can contain animal products



Vegan Red Wine


Last Sunday, I was wandering through the maze of bottles at Dan Murphy feeling totally lost. Bottle shops can be intimidating when you are not a connoisseur—let alone a drinker. Eventually, I spotted a shop assistant stacking beer bottles on the shelf. I asked him where I could find vegan red wine. His lips parted and he gave me a stare like I was an apparition from another planet. “Never heard of vegan wine,” he replied, perhaps thinking that I was joking, everyone knows that wine comes from grapes not animals, right?

Yes, that’s right but as I enter the third week in my plant-based food reformation, a lesson learnt: people don’t really know what goes on into their food (and drinks). Even if you are diligent and read the labels in the packaged food you buy, sometimes the manufacturer does not list all ingredients used, even though this is required by law. In the case of wine, maybe knowing that the drink has been clarified with casein (milk protein), albumin (egg white), gelatine (animal protein) or isinglass (fish bladder protein) would put many customers off.

I read the labels of most food I buy but it never occurred to me to check the label of a wine bottle. I always assumed that certain foods are just in their packs on their own. I only learned about wine ingredients because I bought a vegan cooking book that covered this topic. Now I’m taking a closer look at the foods I buy and getting really surprised with what I’m finding. Fresh grapes contain sulfur dioxide and lightly dried organic herbs contain oil and ascorbic acid. These are just two examples of foods I thought I was eating without any added ingredients. Unfortunately, when we dig deeper we are likely to find hidden ingredients certain to raise an eyebrow. Think of ‘extra virgin’ olive oil mixed with seed oil. Knowledge can sometimes be difficult to digest.

Back to the bottle shop, the shop assistant directed me to the organic section, saying that I might find something I liked there. Indeed, the organic section was stacked with many vegan friendly options, which now I know, are clarified with clay based fining agents (bentonite) and activated charcoal. Although this information was not listed in the wine labels (at least I couldn’t in my recent bottle shop visit) there were words like “suitable for vegans.” Another lesson learned, if you are looking for a wine that has not been made with animal products you should ensure the label contains the words to that effect.

Disclosure: I don’t drink, this wine was purchased to cook a delicious lentil dish.

Bye bye burger


This was my post-marathon meal two weeks ago. I cannot say it wasn’t delicious but I’m entering a new phase now, toward a more ethical, less cruel eating habits. Looking at that cholesterol charged plate now it does not look as appetising.  I think when you let your moral principals guide you, your taste buds change.

This morning I went out for breakfast at a new cafe. The menu was challenging. There were no plant-based meal options. I ended up having a vegan cookie (‘vegan warrior’ it was called, I get the gist it will be a battle to find vegan food at restaurants) and a soy cappuccino. Luckily I wasn’t too hungry-or I would have had eggs.

The inconvenience that comes with not following a mainstream diet is what put me off from sticking to a vegetarian diet in the past. I’m now recommitting and trying again. This time I feel more mentally prepared after reading and listening to podcasts about the philosophy or ethics and morality and the truth behind factory farming. I believe that most people have good intentions and want to do good but like me, they don’t always question the status quo and need a push to move outside of their comfort zones. Thankfully, knowledge and facts can be a force that propels us to change.

It’s worked for me. The plant-based lifestyle I aspire to has moved the goal post far beyond known borders but I’m feeling energised to pursue it. It just feels like it’s the right thing to do.

Logic can stop cruelty



We all think we are fair beings, that we can logically justify our actions. We can easily put two and two together but it feels like that once we enter the supermarket and head to the meat department, we are no longer logical creatures. As we put the neatly packed pieces of dead animals in our shopping cart, we shut our minds and our hearts to the voiceless creatures – we ignore the blatant fact that we are sponsoring the barbaric norms of the livestock industry with our actions and our money.

I’m guilty as charged. Although I don’t eat large amounts and I buy free-range, still, I do contribute. Or used to, until last week. I’ve been reading about animal farming and cruelty and I cannot ignore the reality anymore. I tried to become a vegetarian a couple of times in the past and I failed. It wasn’t hard but there were some inconveniences that made me give up. But I can no longer brush off the fact that there is no moral justification for eating meat, full stop.

When we grow up in a meat-eating society, this is just the normal thing to do. Meat and animal products are everywhere, everyone’s been doing it since the caveman, it tastes good, that’s what animals are for. But just because it’s an accepted practice, it does not mean it is right. Slavery was once accepted, women until a recent past could not vote, etc. Besides, the caveman ate wild animals or scavenged meat, fat and organs from dead animals left behind by their predators. They were not eating animals raised in overcrowded farm factories as are most cattle, chicken and pigs today. For those unfamiliar to what happens in those factories, please don’t turn the blind eye. Do your research. It’s “hell on earth”.

Humans have evolved since the stone age. Our large brains tell us that it’s wrong to inflict suffering and death on 56 billion animals a year because they taste good or for the convenience of having animal products readily available. I truly believe that most people think this way but find it hard to resist the temptation, break away from the norm and live up to their own moral beliefs.

But I also believe that the more individuals talk about these ethical issues, the more people will be confronted with their own personal beliefs about how animals should be treated and act accordingly. Collectively we can pressure governments to reform legislation and corporations to change practices to reduce the suffering of animals.

My journey toward an animal free diet began this week, I’m not turning vegan overnight but I’m removing as much animal products from my diet as possible because cruelty is wrong and eating a plant-based diet is the logical thing to do.

Learn more and make a difference:

The crescendo of pain and joy


On a sunny Sunday morning, thousands of people crowded the space underneath the Sydney harbour bridge—the starting point of the Sydney marathon. Last time I had run this event I was right at the back of the pack, hoping to finish the race in under five hours. This time I was a bit more daring and started moving through the crowd, chin up, looking for the pacesetter with the 4:15m flag. I didn’t think I had trained as much as did for my first marathon three years ago but considering that I had finished that event in 4:04, my goal seemed realistic.

I found a spot near the pacemaker and started to remove the layers of warm clothing to throw away—I was wearing an old thermal shirt and a worn out jumper over my running shirt. The forecast was for a warm day but at 5AM when I left home it was only eight degrees. But in the crowd, body heat emissions kept me warm. In my position facing the start line, I took a deep breath to focus on the 42.2Km road ahead in the company of energised strangers and yet, solitude. It was going to be just me, my GPS tracker and my thoughts. There was nothing else. No Facebook, emails or SMSs from friends and family. I enjoy the silence, that’s why I don’t listen to music when I run, it’s a break from the chaos of modern life. It makes me feel much more in tune with my body. I pay attention to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, my breathing, my surroundings.

The countdown began and my heart started to beat faster, I thought of my training and how I should have trained more and harder. I feared I wasn’t carrying enough food, maybe I had not drunk enough water, maybe my insomnia would make me hit the wall. Then I heard the gun and snapped back into reality. Enough, I was ready enough.

So, the race began, it’s always an amazing feeling, the realisation that you signed up to endure hours of discomfort, that months of preparation have come down to this moment. The vibe is energising, people of all walks of life, shapes and sizes trying to do their best. I passed interesting individuals dressed in superhero costumes, business suits, rhinoceros – I don’t know how they can endure 42km of running covered in so many layers, it’s amazing what one does for a cause.

The first two hours were easy, the third not too bad. At the next water station, I stopped to eat a banana and I saw when the 3:45 pacesetter passed me by. I could not believe I had been ahead of him—the GPS watch is never that reliable on race day—but would I be able to catch up? I kept going, my legs were starting to hurt, thankfully, lining the sidewalks, strangers were screaming, cheering the runners on. There was also live music at some points and people holding encouraging signs. I recall one that read, “If Trump can run, so can you.” All that was somehow re-energising.

At the 38Km mark my legs were burning, every step now was an escalating crescendo of pain. I had just finished the Barangaroo section and was running towards Circular Quay. The view of the harbour was a welcome distraction. I could now see the Opera House, there was hope, I was going to make it, I sped up a bit, my mind was telling me to do it. My body didn’t want to obey but somehow, it kept going. Almost there, I could see the finishing line, tears streamed down my face, I made it, I made it, in 3:48:49s.

Marathon and the long road to sleep


After three months of training, four bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and, for my standards, an exaggerated amount of animal protein, I’m ready for the marathon. Today I began my taper week so, when I woke up this morning, instead of my running shoes, I reached out for my laptop—I finally have a bit of time to write and reflect on my training. I’m still in bed, the early morning sun is shining through the spaces of the Venetian on this glorious Sunday, I hear the birds chirping and feel itchy to join them outside like I did every Sunday for almost 12 weeks. The birds have been my companions throughout this training season as I attempted to incorporate some meditation during my runs—I’ve tried to attend to their sounds instead of the unwavering thoughts that keep buzzing around seeking my attention.

Most of the time, I failed, the voices in my head spoke louder than the birds—my endless to do list, work stresses, kids’ homework battles, an upcoming small surgery, mum and her dementia—a symphony of anxiety was constantly brewing in my head. But still, the training for this marathon made me reconnect with my meditation practice. You see, I did the mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) program four years ago and felt, first hand, the benefits of meditation. During that time, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and I started to suffer from insomnia but thanks to meditation, I was still able to look at life with equanimity during those difficult times. Mindfulness meditation taught me how to pay attention to my thoughts, feelings, and emotions as if I was watching a movie. There I was, lying awake at night thinking about my sister, knowing that I could not change her diagnosis, the unfairness of it all, feeling helpless. Prior to the MBSR, I would have felt panicky and anxious but with the help of meditation, I was feeling more compassion than fear. And although many times my mind would not let me go back to sleep, I was able to accept my states on consciousness, both the good and the not so good, and soldier on.

That was four years ago. Unfortunately, little by little I started slacking off on the practice of meditation. Life got in the way, thoughts got in the way and eventually, I went back to being more on auto-pilot, highjacked by my mind. Since then, my practice has swung back and forth and prior to start training for this marathon, it was not really top of mind.

Until, and, much to my surprise, I started to have bouts of insomnia again. Even though my body is exhausted from training for the marathon and wants to rest, my mind isn’t. I haven’t had insomnia everyday but a couple of nights per week is enough to cause havoc to your life and there is the odd week in which I battle with this dragon almost every night.

So, I took a reinvigorated interest in meditation. I’ve practiced it formally almost everyday, even if only for 10 minutes. It hasn’t fixed my insomnia yet, and maybe it never will, but it is helping manage the rumination as I lie awake at night. When I’m not meditating, I can easily have this type of dialogue with myself: “Rosana, if you don’t fall asleep, you will be feeling crap tomorrow and will be struggling at work and short fused with the boys.” Or “If you don’t sleep you may get sick and won’t be able to run the marathon.”

Of course, those thoughts normally put me in a state of anxiety, I would get out of bed in the morning with a bad feeling that something was going to go wrong. But at present, the nights that I have insomnia and am able to pay attention to my thoughts without getting caught in the emotions, I can see the other side of the coin. Instead of seeing an anxious person laying there, I see myself as someone who wants the best for her family, wants to do well at work and look after her wellbeing. This makes me feel calmer even if I cannot go back to sleep.

At present, I’m doing guided meditations from various sources (Tarah Brach, Dan Harris, Sam Harris, Headspace and others) and when I go out for a run, I try to bring mindfulness to my workout by listening to the birds, my feet pounding the pavement or paying attention to the landscape. I keep getting distracted but I’m getting better.

Preparing for the Sydney Marathon has been an amazing physical feat and this time I feel like I’ve added a new dimension to it by trying to train my brain. I’m looking forward to crossing the finishing line—I’m not going for a gold medal but hopefully, will be rewarded with a good night of sleep. If not, I’ll get up to accept the gift of a new morning even if the night was not what I signed up for.

Not ready, set, go: A lesson learned from writing my first book


Two years ago, had anyone told me I was going to write a book, I would have laughed. But here I am, with two stories published in the anthology, Pieces of North Shore. The book is a collection of stories from seven writers and it was a great way to tip my toes into the world of publishing. I had always written a bit of marketing copy but I never dared to call myself a writer, let alone a writer of fiction. For me, to be able to write a story that anyone would pay to read was something reserved for a few endowed individuals born with endless creativity and that had found solace in books as children. How would I ever catch up? But this experience changed my view of what it takes for you to do something that you are passionate about but never tried because you don’t think that you will ever be ready to get started.

Pieces of North Shore isn’t a best-selling book but we are getting closer to our target each day and it has propelled my writer’s group to start working on a second book.

Life lesson learned: You don’t have to be ready to get started

As the saying goes, everyone has a book waiting to be written, yet, we keep postponing it. For a lot of people, it’s on their bucket list of things they want to do before they die but statistics show that 60% of them, will never even get started. We have a tendency to procrastinate our dreams. Maybe we think it’s too hard or we don’t feel prepared, knowledgeable, financially capable, don’t have the time or insert your excuse here.

As a rookie, I neither had the confidence nor felt ready to put my ideas in writing to get a story published for the world to see. I had many fears and the ‘what ifs’ plagued me with uncertainty. What if I fail, get criticised, don’t find my voice or no one likes what I write? My biggest fear was the language barrier. English is not my first language and I feared that this would show in my writing.

Yet, I wanted to write. So, I decided to take action and joined a writer’s group. Although people say that there is safety in numbers, joining a group didn’t make my fears go away. But by taking the first step I felt motivated to give it a go. The group offered courage and inspiration for me to keep honing in my craft, and as the group had a deadline, I had three months to produce my stories. Despite all my fears, I made it happen. Instead of focusing on my concerns I focused on the stories that were waiting to be told.

I had to do my writing at night after the kids went to bed. I spent hours revising and rewriting my work until it gleamed. I lost sleep over it. I cast doubt on my capacity to write and at the end, I still had the feeling I could have done better if only I could work on it a bit more. Eventually, I had to accept that I got to tell my stories the best way I could.

Most of us to don’t get started or don’t complete that special project because our ego gets in the way. We get stuck in the quicksand of perfection. This experience taught me that you don’t need to be ready, and in reality, we rarely are, there is always room to improve and to get readier. My stories aren’t perfect and now I see lots of ways I could have told them differently. But I made them come to life. Next time, I will have more experience and more resources to draw on, just because I got started.

If you are itching to have a go at that special project, don’t wait for all stars to align. It’s unlikely they ever will and you may end up like the 60% who will leave this life without the comfort of knowing that they tried.

Changed my mind, I’m running a marathon again


Hill repetitions – out of breath


It’s been three years since I ran my first marathon and I told myself that was it, crossed from my bucket list, no plans of doing another one. It was an amazing experience – I can still see myself crossing the finishing line with tears running down my cheeks in disbelief that I had completed the race in 4:04m. I was expecting to finish in 4:45m. It’s hard to describe how it feels to push the limit of human endurance on our own merit. I worked so hard to prepare my body and mind for this achievement. And that’s exactly why I had no intention of doing it again. The marathon is not just 42km of endurance. It’s months of painstaking preparation. It means to wake up at the crack of dawn to train, experience discomfort, get injured, monitor your diet, and have less time for everything else.

So why on earth am I doing it again?

It’s not only you, I’m also questioning my sanity. But I’m drawn to setting goals and following through. As a working mother, I’m always putting my energy towards accomplishing other people’s goals. Tackling a long-distance race, conquering the mythical 42km is my own private ambition.

Of course, I didn’t have to pick a goal that requires so much dedication but I find endurance sports appealing because I get a lot of satisfaction from having a long-term goal and celebrating the milestones you achieve along the way. Perhaps because we live in an age of instance gratification and we are rewarded all the time for very small efforts, setting my mind on something that requires planning, training, commitment and persistence give me a sense of boldness.

So, here I go again. Last week I started my training – I was a bit greedy and instead of the ‘beginners’ program I downloaded the ‘intermediate’ which requires approximately six hours of running per week. I could barely squeeze in four. I’ll have to make some adjustments to my plan, time is always my main issue and there are only 13 weeks to go. Wish me luck.

If you are looking for inspiration or reasons to run, check here.

No icing on the cake. And no cake either.

Do you have days in which you just want to have one thing accomplished, without asking too much, just a few hours for yourself to get something done, and then, it just does not happen? Well, I have lots of days like this and today was one such day.

All I wanted was a few hours alone to work on a story I’m writing. Actually, no, that’s not all I wanted. I also wanted to bake a sweet potato brownie, roast some vegetable and make a pumpkin soup. I had planned to have breakfast and then sit down with my laptop and a notepad and write for a few hours. The later in the day, I had hoped I would do some cooking.

But then the kids woke me up at 6:30am asking to go to Bicentennial Park. “Only if you finish your homework,” I said from under the blanket. I didn’t think they would finish their assignments. But they did, with parental help. And they reminded me that they have been asking (or shall I say, nagging) to go to that park for a month and I keep putting it off – the traffic, the traffic!

I did not really want to go – the story kept popping up into my head – but it was such a beautiful day and I felt that mother guilt for saying “no” once again. I know many women would have stood their ground but the day before had been my son’s birthday party, he turned 12. How much longer will he be asking to go to the park? So, I obliged, and I told myself we would be back by 3pm. Of course, we didn’t.

So, there I was, driving to the park, feeling like I’m never going to finish the story and wondering why it’s so hard to make time for myself. I was feeling increasingly frustrated. I raised my voice at the boys at the petrol station when they asked me to buy Doritos. “You are going to eat the homemade brownies, stop asking for junk.” They hate the healthy stuff I bake.

I was also getting annoyed because I was getting annoyed. There are bigger problems in the world, I was telling myself, why get grumpy because I can’t find time to write unless I cut back on sleep? I know it sucks but it’s not the end of the world.

Maybe it’s just a question of getting my priorities right. Do I really need to exercise? Lately, I’ve been waking up at 5am to go to the gym twice a week, I could get up at 5am to write my stories instead. But I already wake up at 5:30am two to three times per week when I work in the city. There is not much I can cut there. But wait, this morning I spent an hour in the kitchen making sweet potato brownies. I also spent 30 minutes on Skype with my mum and an hour on homework. I also read a section of the weekend paper. How about the day before? I had a haircut (had not had one since January) and went for a run. I guess if I really wanted, some of these things could go.

But it’s so hard, everything seems to be a necessity. So, I practice mindfulness– not so much the sitting down to meditate, although I do that from time to time. I believe in living in the moment, in dealing with one thing at a time. So when I notice that I’m getting grumpy, I take a few deep breaths and try to focus and accept the present moment as it is. The problem is that accepting does not change my reality. No amount of mindfulness, praying, or yoga can put more hours on a day. I can’t defy the laws of physics, the day only has 24 hours. I wonder how you real people out there do it. Be it a sport or hobby, do you have to cut back on sleep to follow your passion?

I’m going to have to cut back on something. Maybe it’s going to be the cooking. Bring on the Thai takeaway. It’s impossible to do it all. I can’t have the icing on the cake and sometimes, not even the cake. Sorry for the whining dear readers. At the end of the day, I didn’t get the cake but I still got to eat the sweet potato brownie. There are lots to be grateful for. It’s just a bit of frustration when you think you can embrace the world.