2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Why I have no goals in 2012

I believe the most important questions anyone can answer for themselves are: Who am I? What is my identity?

In the past 12 months, I made considerable progress in figuring this out. It was lazy to believe what my culture, family, society and friends said I was. My identity was like a collage, often marred with conflicting values and perspectives on life. But now, many things have come together. It has meant that I have gone against some of my cultural pre-dispositions and disagreed with the views of people that I respect (and I still do). It has also meant that I have severed few friendships that undermined or mocked my identity. It has not been easy but I was not going to let anyone bring me down or tell me who I am. Never again.

In 2012, I am looking out for myself and soaking in my identity. I have had years where I focussed on making educational progress, career progress and even emotional progress. These were all “targets” that gave me something to run after.
I was like a dog with a bone

Don’t misunderstand. Goals are great and I was tempted to draw up a list of things to do in the new year. But I know myself – goals just give me something to obsess over. So I will start 2012 without a list. A list may very well emerge later in the year but it will be one created on-the-go, a sort of look-see approach. The idea is that I don’t want to start “running” from the onset. I want to relax more and enjoy being me, sort of be the “me” this photo depicts all the time.


This doesn’t mean I’ll stay home all day watching TV and eating supermarket cupcakes (and there’s nothing wrong with supermarket cupcakes). It simply means: I will be confident in my identity, easily deifying when to pursue and when to let go.

This year has been extremely rewarding. I didn’t realise it at the time but I spent a lot of my blog-time saying that I have been hard on myself and that I want to change. Well, that’s done now and I’m looking forward to having a different conversation in the coming year. I’m enthused and bursting with new ideas for the coming year. I suppose that’s what it feels like to have an identity that I can most definitely live with.

Happy new year!

Runaway Christmas

Last winter was the first winter where I felt like I wanted to move out of colder climates to warmer, sunnier pastures. There was too much snow and I was constantly getting stuck miles away from my house, with my kids onboard.

But at least there was snow last Christmas. I never thought I’d say this but I missed snow this year. The white hills, the children sledding, snowman building and frosty mornings were all sorely missing this year. It was 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit) on Christmas morning – more than a few degrees above zero.


I did not feel very Christmassy this year. I moved house a week to Christmas and had a lot on my mind in the weeks leading to the move. Presents were bought mainly online and I was disorganised as far as sending cards out to friends and family. But it was not all haphazard. The move went more smoothly than I expected (actually, the lack of snow helped). I spent much of my unpacking time reflecting on the year that had gone by. Some things went well while other things could have been better. Ending the year with a house move is a blessing. We love our new house and feel privilege to have custody of it.

The view outside my kitchen window on Christmas day was not one of a white blanket. I could see the grass and the hills. The trees in a distance swayed slightly as light winds passed through as if to greet us into a new era of our lives. Though christmas seems to have run away this year, the things I need to be grateful for have never been more apparent.

What was Christmas day like where you are?

Moonlighting as Santa Claus…and the Tooth Fairy

Like most parents, I have a starring role as Santa this time of year. It’s not an easy role to play – in fact, I suspect my son might be on to me.

Last year, he walked into the downstairs guest room and found me wrapping a pile of presents. His eyes widened in horror.

‘Mummy, why are YOU wrapping the presents?’ he asked incredulously. I had seconds to think. I turned my head around, sweating from fear under my armpits. Had I scarred the boy for life? What should I say? Think, Kemi, think! My head was working like clockwork.

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

‘Santa’s not very well so he asked me to wrap the presents for him,’ I answered. I nearly convinced myself. Surely, this 5-year old is not smarter than me, I hoped. He sighed with relief and asked how bad Santa was. I said it was the flu but assured him that Santa would recover in time to deliver the presents nonetheless.

As he left the guest room, I could still feel my heart pumping hard against my rib cage. That was close.

You see, I didn’t grow up with all this Santa stuff. We didn’t get presents, not because we were poor or not cared for but because of our culture. We focused on the reason for Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus Christ. And that was all good. However, having experienced the excitement and cheer of children on moving to the Western world, I have to say I fell for it. I remind my kids of the reason for the season but I LOVE the look on their faces when they open a present and the way they look forward to Christmas day. It’s priceless although the season certainly has a hefty price on it.

I was looking at my son’s list to Santa the other day and then I foolishly said, ‘Gosh, this is a lot. Do you think Santa can buy all this?’ My son, now 6 years old, looked at me with irritation, ‘Santa doesn’t BUY them, Mummy! He MAKES them!’

‘Oh, sorry. MAKE them, I mean,’ I said with a sheepish look on my face. How much longer can I keep this up?

My acting skills are further stretched now that my son is losing teeth. Enter the tooth fairy. The other day, he accidentally swallowed a tooth that had been dangling for weeks. He was distorted because he would not get any money for it. I convinced him that the tooth fairy would still know of it. ‘She looks into every little boy’s mouth,’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get money.’ And he did.

An eight-year old's deciduous teeth.

Image via Wikipedia

But I haven’t always been that smooth. About two months ago, he was ready for school when he suddenly said, ‘I haven’t checked under my pillow!’ and began to run upstairs to his bedroom. I had forgotten to exchange his tooth for a coin! I shot my husband a panicked look, shaking my head violently and mouthing, ‘Occupy him’.

‘Hang on,’ I said urgently, ‘Daddy wants to show you the new Wii game,’ I continued, nodding towards his father who didn’t completely understand but did as he was told.

I marched upstairs, two stairs at a time as they went into the lounge where the Wii was located. Quickly digging into my wallet for 50 pence, I found none. A 20 pence coin was all I had. I sighed. ‘The tooth fairy is broke,’ I explained, mainly to myself.

I returned downstairs from my tint as tooth fairy wondering where this tooth fairy idea came from. As if parents don’t have enough hats to wear: the bad cop hat, the good cop hat, the playful friend hat, the homework merchant hat and so on. But my son looks forward to Christmas and he looks forward to losing teeth. It sure makes growing up more exciting. I wish I got a penny for every tooth I’ve lost!

Merry Christmas, folks! Have an amazing time.

The voice inside my head

It’s been hard getting back into blogging after a month of daily writing. I think I pushed myself a little too hard last month. There were days that I found myself easing into sleep as I lay with my kids, hoping to put them to bed. A sudden panic would wake me, ‘damn, I need to write today otherwise I’ll be behind!’ I’d get up and stumble downstairs to my computer. The words were never easy and they rarely made sense but I wrote them down – my small victory.

I’ve a small challenge at work. I call it ‘small’ because it’s actually nothing in the grand scheme of things, especially when I compare it to last month’s writing! I am not a patient person but I’m learning to be. The work I’m doing is new and exciting. But I feel out of my depth at times and much like when I was writing my novel, I have had to find ways to quiet or ignore the critical voice in my head. I know now that the voice is ME. It asks me stupid questions like ‘Who cares about what you are doing?’ and ‘What makes you think you’ll succeed?’ Ignoring my inner voice is a strange but necessary skill that I am cultivating. Sometimes, I feel that I’m betraying that voice. Isn’t it the same voice that whispered wonderful stories and made me write? Isn’t it that voice that cheered me on when the world seemed to be against me? I am torn.

The secret appears to be in the art of filtering. That is, taking the stuff that exalts you and leaving the ugly stuff behind. I have come to think about it as ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ rule. Take the good, learn from the bad (as no one is perfect) and ignore the ugly.

How do you ignore the critical voice in your head? How do you balance that with the voice that keeps you going when everything else stands in your way? I am convinced that the same things that strengthen me have the power to tear me to pieces…

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