sarahkeenihan

The furry creature living in our house

In August 2016 on August 27, 2016 at 10:39 am

up close

Sarah: It took more than a year of cajoling, pleading and gathering of evidence from my tween daughter to convince me that our family needed a dog RIGHT NOW.

Don’t get me wrong: dogs were always a part of my life growing up, and I knew we’d get one eventually.

But having survived 10-plus years of night wakings, food messes and various secretions and projectiles from the bodily orifices of 3 children, the thought of another creature to care for in the immediate future was a very slow burn on my behalf.

The fact that my third child was inclined towards wheezing and itching in the company of my parents’ labrador was another stumbling block.

There was a lot of research. There was a lot of lifestyle examination. There was a lot of self reflection.

There were tears and teeth grinding.

Still, in December 2015, we took the plunge.

A chocolate labradoodle (with tight curls that did not shed) arrived, and we called him Raffy.

To say that our house is 100 percent more chaotic with Raffy in it would be an understatement.

He’s loud, he’s demanding, he is inclined to anxiety, he needs a lot of exercise, and he hassles my youngest son to play with him for every living minute that both are inside the house. If I focussed on these aspects alone, I would regret the decision to own a dog.

And yet there’s so much more.

Of course, my daughter is infatuated with him. She’s still blown away by his presence:

“I just can’t believe we have this little furry creature living in our house!”

She’s grown in her already considerable kindness and patience, teaching him many tricks and putting up with his thieving tendencies. He also provides a companion for her walks to seek hot chocolate from the local bakery. For her, he is pure joy.

Once fearful of dogs, both my boys are also obsessed with Raffy and indeed most other puppies we meet whilst out and about. They truely delight in the different breeds and personalities that we encounter.

To be greeted by Raffy after a school is the best part of their day.

When the puppy has sleepovers with grandparents, they miss him terribly.

My husband and I have started walking the dog together every morning, a great opportunity to chew the fat and catch up on each other’s work issues and other adult matters that can’t be aired during dinnertime family discussions.

Working from home, I walk him several additional times each day. It sounds like such a time-waster, but I plug in my headphones and make phone-calls and listen to podcasts whilst out and about. The perfect opportunity to lose my inner smart-arse.

We’ve all learnt that Raffy has his own personality, that there things he does not like and that actually it’s not within our power to change him. Raffy is Raffy: all we can do is teach him basic manners, love him and live as a family.

In our family, we love our humans because that’s our destiny. It’s the way it is.

But Raffy we choose to love. And that’s been a big step for us. A valuable step.

 

 

Mystery metaphors: guess who?

In June 2016 on June 16, 2016 at 3:02 pm

question

Sarah: Here’s a piece of writing I composed at a storytelling workshop I ran recently with SA committee members of the Australian Science Communicators.

SA Writing Centre Development Manager David Chapple encouraged a room full of 50 attendees to use metaphor to describe someone they felt strongly about (like or dislike). We were asked to include reference to sound, smell, an animal, a plant and to record what we had learnt from this person.

He’s like a scared little boy. Terrified they might see him for who he really is.

When I see him talk, I feel like I want to slap him. His face moves like a rubber figure. He pauses deliberately so that his adoring audience has time to applaud and hoot. His words are so ugly and because I know he has chosen them on purpose they make me want to approach him and punch.

He’s like a tomato with a blonde wig, all red and yellow and waiting to be smashed and burst.

It’s unbearable, because although I want to run at him and make him shut up I also want to run far, far way and pretend I never heard him.

The flags around him make him seem important. The T shirts with logos scream louder than his words. He has support. He has so much support that it’s unbearable. Where did theses people come from? How are they so different from me?

He’s like an indignant Cheshire cat. Grinning. Stupidly grinning. He knows I can’t reach him, he’ll always be up that tree and I’ll be down here.

He’s proud. He’s proud to be such a smug, smarmy arsehole. It makes me nauseous.

He’s taught me that this is how history is made. When one person capitalises on pre-existing fear.

Who is it?

 

[image thanks to https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosefirerising/]

Why do I work like this?

In May 2016 on May 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm

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Sarah: Last week I ran a marathon and juggled burning batons.

Not literally in my running shoes plus fuel and matches of course, but it felt just as massive.

I had taken on a huge writing job for a new client, and it coincided with the second week of school holidays during which I had previously scheduled multiple allied health appointments for me and my kids.

Looking back, I’m amazed it actually got done. With early wake-ups and late nights and very high levels of screens and ignoring healthy cooking and being cranky with my children and pet, somehow it happened. A typical day looked like this:

5.30am –> awake and sitting at computer

7.30am –> love and breakfast for kids

8am –> load of washing on, then walk dog

8.30am –> more work for me, kids play and fight and play

10am –> hang out washing, dash to dentist

12pm –> buy and eat sushi for lunch, play at the park on the way home

1pm –> more work for me, kids on screens

3pm –> yell at kids to get off screens and do something active, they walk dog

4pm –> hair appointments

5pm –> more work for me, kids on screens with intermittent yelling

6pm –> take kids and dog to the local oval for a run and kick of the ball

7pm –> OMG what is for dinner?

8pm –> more work (husband cleans kitchen, plays with kids, gets them into bed)

10pm –> yes, still working

11pm –> suppose I’d better sleep

Why do I do this to myself? Why not just say no to the client, or delay the work, or opt for a simpler life with more sleep and lower income?

I love being busy and am at my most efficient and effective when I have a lot on. But every now and again I wonder if this is not the best way to operate. Things would be a lot simpler if I got a fixed job, walked away from the house to a set office, used more Out of Hours School Care and babysitters, ate takeaway and threw the clothes in the drier every day.

But then yesterday — as I took a deep breath and hid in the laundry and actually found pairs of matching clean socks — I listened to Radio National’s Life Matters program. In this episode, guests of host Cassie McCullagh were Professor Ross Anderson and Associate Professor Susan Bartlett of McGill University in Montreal. Speaking on the risks of heart disease and joint problems, Professor Anderson said:

Individuals who sit for prolonged periods of time, without interruption, are at greater risk.

A lot of Australians commute to work passively, in a car.

Most of us sit behind a desk or at a computer for the entire morning, and in many cases we don’t get up to take a break.

We sit at the cafeteria eating lunch passively, and then we go back to work and back home in our cars.

This is not the way I work. I suppose that’s good.

I also wonder if I would be as efficient if I knew I had endless hours in each day to dedicate to my writing tasks. Even today, when deadlines are less pressing, I can feel myself drifting off, thinking too much, checking out clothing online, seeing what everyone’s up to on Facebook.

Snatched windows of time in-between physical tasks forces me to focus and deliver. And it helps me lose my inner smart-arse.

Now excuse me, the dog needs a run. And so do I.

PS. I’ve written previously about the need to sit less in several posts: Sitting and standing, Making a stand, and The walking meeting

[image thanks to Ky: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/]

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