The reluctant runner and a pushy mother

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Born to run? He dashed up the hills in Roseville today at the Rotary Fun Run, I just couldn’t keep up with him.

Ok, I’m not that pushy and I’m often wondering if I’m giving my children too much leeway in deciding how to spend their time. My boys are not big fans of holiday camps, after school activities, organised sport, homework or even family outings. Their picture of a perfect day is a day spent at home playing with their friends, toys and electronics. Even getting them to their weekly swimming lesson can be a drama. They don’t have a competitive nature either, to the point that they don’t even collect the merit cards they receive at school.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry as creative play, writing and reading is ever present in our home and the boys are still in primary school but they are growing up in a very competitive culture. I look around and see so many kids over scheduled with extra curricular activities, competing with their peers, trying super hard to win and upset when they don’t take the trophy home. I think we, parents, are under constant fear that we are not doing enough to help our children succeed both now and in a cutting throat world of work in the future.

I recently had an interesting experience. Every now and then I invite my boys to run with me and they always decline the invitation. Then about a month ago my 10-year-old agreed to join me and I was amazed at this performance–he ran two kilometres at my pace. Since then he’s been running with me twice a week. Most times there is nagging involved but at least he’s been joining me.

So, I thought to keep him motivated I’d sign him up to do a fun ran. He initially agreed but without much enthusiasm. Today was the big day but since yesterday he’s saying he isn’t really keen to go for a run on a Sunday morning. This morning he was cranky, didn’t really wanted to go but I didn’t take no for an answer. Long story short, he ran 5Km in  00:24:36 – impressive, he beat me by 12 seconds! And he actually enjoyed it and asked me if he could join Sydney Striders-there were lots of kids at the race wearing the striders uniform.

The moral of the story is that I continue to find it hard to draw a line. Had I not created this experience and put my son a bit out of his comfort zone he would have missed out on this exciting achievement. That’s why it’s really hard to find the right balance. I don’t want to be pushy but at the same time I think that parents have some responsibility in creating opportunities and inspiring their children to achieve their potential. The question is how many experiences is too many, how much pushing is too pushy?

I don’t think my parents had this dilemma–I was the one that pushed myself and I turned up all right. Would I have been more successful in certain areas had I had pushy parents? Who knows. But I have access to much more resources and information now than my parents ever had. I hope I’m combining the right amount of motherly instinct and knowledge to create well adjusted, happy human beings.

 

 

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Short cut: life’s too short for long hair

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I’m now a woman of short hair

I’ve been meaning to cut my hair short for years but every time I walk through the haidresser’s door I chicken down.  It’s just hair I tell myself, it will grow back! But I look at my reflection in the mirror, and my beautiful yet damaged, over dry and full of split ends long hair is running down my face and I feel comfortable. It’s funny how we get used to our surroundings and it’s so hard to let go, even when you know your life will be better, easier or more productive.

You see, I run two half marathons each year so I’m often exercising and my hair does get in the way. It takes long to wash and dry and I spend at least 30 minutes straightening it. It’s a pain, I have to admit. And most of the time I have my hair up in a ponytail which I think defeats the purpose of having long hair. So why do I need long hair?

The word need is very appropriate in this context because I had become really attached to my entangled vines. I’ve always perceived long hair as more beautiful than a short mane, and my views of women with long hair are normally more positive. To me long hair makes women more feminine, attractive, sophisticated. Yes, I know, this is a subjective view, beauty is always int he eye of the beholder… but I just could not help myself. When it was time to let go of my long hair, I ran to the corner of my comfort zone and ignored other hair styles more in line with my needs and personality.

But I don’t want to remain in my comfort zone for eternity, I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. This morning I called the hairdresser as soon as they opened and made an appointment at 12. I marched into the salon with courage and resolve and bravely announced: I’m here for a serious hair cut. In less than an hour it was done and I’m quite pleased with the results.

I’m not sure if a change of hairstyle can be life changing, but it feels like I have taken a step in the right direction, I’ve crossed a new frontier – I’m a woman of short hair now. When I saw truckloads of my hair being swiped across the room and placed in the bin I felt empowered. But hair grows back quickly and it’s easy to go back into old habits and thinking patterns.  I hope this is an experience I can go back to when I’m reluctant to venture out into unknown territory.

Next step: declutter my wardrobe, I have more things to let go…

 

 

Are you capturing the moment or enjoying the moment?

Snapshot camera of today

Smart phones have turned everyone of us into photographers and curators of images to share on social media, but what I saw in the Sydney Running Festival last week took the concept of taking photos to a whole new level. This runner in front of me was holding a selfie stick and as I passed him by I could see him adjusting the stick while smiling at the camera. Talk about multitasking! I can’t imagine how anyone would run 21KM holding a stick – in addition to being a safety hazard it slows you down and in my view prevents you from paying attention to everything else, the race, the scenery, other runners. I don’t know if this runner did hold the stick all the way to the finish line and this is probably an extreme example, but what I find really sad is that in many situations we see people capturing the moment instead of enjoying the moment. Instead of looking at the rainbow we reach out to our phones to photograph the rainbow.  We can look at it later when it’s on Facebook when our friends are liking it.

When we only had 24 pictures per roll we were much more mindful with what memories to record, we waited patiently to have them printed and placed in the album or shared with friends. We enjoyed the moment first, the photos came second.

I’m not suggesting that we should stop photographing. The photos we take and collect tell an interesting story about us and the world we live in. There are so many beautiful, provocative and curious events and things that illustrate our lives and it’s important to keep a record of them. But I’m arguing that the rush to digitally record every moment doesn’t make our lives more meaningful. Scientists even suggest that this mindless photo taking is ruining our memories.

I suspect that this need to capture every moment is fueled by our desire to show to the world how busy and important we are. Only the best snaps will be loaded on Facebook or Instagram to present ourselves in the light we think is most appropriate. In our hyper-connected world we need to be seen doing something exciting. You can no longer just sit and enjoy the sunshine at the beach. You must ensure you capture a nice image to share. That’s a lot of pressure to always be on the look out for excitement.  The mind doesn’t get a break – when it does, we ensure it gets entertained with our phones, either by producing content or searching something online, reading the latest feeds, checking email or watching silly videos.

By sharing mindless photos and content online we are only contributing to the noise. So it would be really helpful if next time we feel the urge to grab our phones to photograph our breakfast, we take a step back and think if wouldn’t it be better to enjoy the experience instead? We probably will never look at that photo again and our friends won’t really like a cold coffee.