How Skateboarding Saved My Life Sparkle

I am scared to share this. Not because I am embarassed, not because I think it is something that should be hidden away. Yet, I still do it. I hide it away.

I hide that I am struggling with mental health issues. Or, at least I never really bring it up anywhere. It feels safer not to. But I also feel like a coward sometimes.

I am scared, because I fear people’s judgement of me. I fear that friends will back away from us. I fear that potential future employers will exclude my applications. I even fear that friends and acquaintainces will treat me with pity. I don’t need pity.

I have an illness that will never go away. But I have learned to deal with it. Just like a person with diabetes deals with her illness.

I have learned to manage my ups and downs to a degree where I am totally able to live a good life – and one day I might even be a good wife. For now I just concentrate on being a loving mum, a caring girlfriend, a good student, a decent friend – and I am trying to have as much fun along the way as I can. And I can do this. I am doing this.

With a little help from my old faithful.

Skateboarding has a special place in my heart and here is why…

You see, almost eight years ago I was in a dark, dark place in my mind. It was so dark that I had to go to hospital for several months to see the light again.

The doctors prescribed me different drugs, I got therapy sessions, did yoga and mindfullness, came on a healthy diet and was allowed to rest and heal. It was all a combination that slowly, slowly brought me back to life. But one thing that really made a difference to me, and still does, was my skateboard.

I will never forget when my doctor ordered me to go skating each and every day. I thought she was kidding. She was not. She had seen what skating did to me. She had witnessed how getting out there in the streets made me happier. How I had a tiny bit more sparkle in my eyes when I returned.

I needed fresh air and I needed exercise. And I needed to feel free. Skateboarding gave me all these things – and more. It also provided me with a social setting where there was no judgement. Some of the friends I have made through skating has proven to be the most genuine ones out there. In fact, it was one of these friends who picked me up from the hospital when I got released back then. On his skateboard, but of course. To this day, he is still one of my most loyal friends/supporters. Even if we haven’t really seen each other for almost a decade.

It matters.

Skateboarding helped me through my darkest of darkest times. Yet, it also showed me the way to a happy place. A place where I regained my confidence and hope for the future. A place where I learned to focus on myself in a positive perspective.

A place where I keep returning to and it never fails me.

So when I take Abby skateboarding it is not only for her sake. Then again, indirectly it is – because it helps me to be a better parent.

And hey, all that deep sh*t being said, what it often really comes down to – it’s fun! We have fun together – pretty much the best medicine you can get.

I would choose a skatepark over a playground any day. Or even over being a gymnastics-, swimming- and soccer-mom.

Sitting on the sideline for footy or cricket can give me serious anxiety. It is stressful with the little sisters around and I get so socially awkward when hanging out around the other parents there.

Skateparks are different. I feel at home and relaxed. Even with three little ratbags in tow the skateparks around Brisbane are truly helping me feel more at home in Australia.

Oh, just for the record – no, I am not a very good skater. I started way too late. But I love it and it still heals me on dark days and makes me even happier on the good ones.

Just like writing makes me happy. I have actually missed writing in here, but I have been stuck on something to write about.

Once again, skateboarding got me going.

If you are following my Instagram (if not, go do it, ay!) you have probably noticed that Abby has fallen head over heals in love with skateboarding lately. So if my writing urge keeps up I will try and do a little something about her skating journey and generally how kids’ skateboarding is done (right) here in The Sunshine State.

Until then…

Skate or die!

Or do whatever gives you positive energy. Do it! Seriously❤️

Our Home, Split Between Continents

We live 15.556 km. from Copenhagen, Denmark. That is 22 hours by plane. If you take the fast route. Even worse, it is approximately $5556 away for a family of five. Out of peak season.

It is too far.

I lived in Denmark for the first 31 years of my life. Denmark was my home. I have lived abroad occasionally, but Denmark was always “home”. Denmark is still home to me. There is no doubt when I get Danish ground under my feet after being away for months or years – I feel it instantly. It is unconditional. Not even the grey weather can scare me off. I love that tiny, flat country.

But I also love Australia – the giant country almost furthest away from Denmark, that I now call home.

Two homes – 15.556 km. apart. That is not a very practical arrangement, I can tell you now. And yes, it is hard to juggle. Ridiculously hard. Of course it is.

The Absence of Family and Friends Is The Worst

There are many reasons why living 15.556 km. from Denmark is hard for me/us. However, the worst part is, whitout comparison, that my children don’t have the same, close relationship with my family and friends as they would have if we had lived in Denmark. They don’t get to see them regularly and build up those close, long-lasting relationships.

Luckily our children are quite social and generally good at fitting and settling in. When we visit Denmark it only takes them minutes before they warm up to my family, but with friends it takes a little longer. We always prioritise my close family when we are there. Seeing friends is harder. Especially because my parents live in a tiny village hours from where most of my friends live. Some friends we see every time we are there, but some we have only seen once since moving to Australia. Some we haven’t seen at all. Of course it will never ever be the same relationship as if we saw people regularly.

The fact that we are always guests everywhere we go in Denmark and have nowhere to invite people to makes it a bit tricky to see people as well. We always have to go to friends’ or family’s homes – or even meet at parks or cafés – and that can be hard to fit in sometimes with small, wild children.

Feeling Lonely Amongst People

For me personally, the loneliness is the toughest. It has been 5.5 incredibly lonely years, to be honest.

Not having anyone around that understands my traditions and culture has left me feeling alienated on several occasions. Not having those “old” friends who accept me completely. And this; not having anyone who knew me before kids. For some reason, this exact point is crucial to me. I somehow feel that no-one really knows me. Here I am “just” Abby, Billie & Lulu’s mum, but inside I still feel like the person I was before I had any kids. The person who loved being out and about, the person who travelled, the person who partied all night long, the person who was social all day every day, the person with a bunch of awesome friends, the person who called skateparks and ski slopes her second home. That person is still me. Now. She didn’t die with motherhood, but no-one knows her here. That is lonely.

The Practical Side of Things

We have no family here in Brisbane to help us out with anything. I know we have chosen this ourselves but that does not change the fact that it is hard and it would be nice to be able to go to my parents for dinner once in a while, or have my niece babysit the girls or call my brother when we need help with putting up a wall somewhere.

The time difference also makes it hard to uphold relationships across the globe. Not only does it cause immense jet-lag, but is also makes it extra hard to FaceTime with family and friends while the girls are awake – and when they finally go to sleep I rarely have much energy to sit and chat all night. Unfortunately.

Then there is the most boring part of it all, the financial part. It is very expensive to fly from Australia to Denmark when you are a family of five. Kids fly free until they are 2 years old after that they pay full price. SO for the next year and a bit Lulu is still free of charge. Hopefully we get to take advantage of that rebate before it is too late.

So Much To Miss

I sure do miss a lot of things about Denmark.

I really miss having my friends and family come by our house every now and then. Or to meet up in a local park with a bunch of old friends. I miss that.

Or to be able to just go to my mum & dad’s for the weekend when Josh is busy. Or even just send the girls there. Or ask my sister to babysit for an evening while Josh and I go out with friends. I miss going out. And spending time with my brother and his family on Sunday afternoons. My girls’ little cousins. I hate that they cannot see each other more frequently.

Yep, I miss Denmark. No doubt.

I miss my family and friends and I miss the Danish society and system on my childrens behalf – especially the school system. But I also like it here in Australia. I especially like the climate and the possibilities a country with such diverse, amazing and easy accessible nature gives children. Being able to spend as much time as I have and will the next couple of years with my children is also something I would never have been able to in Denmark. I am grateful of this – even if it sometimes brings me close to a breaking point. (Full-time parenting is hard. Revarding, but ridiculously hard).

No Regrets, though

I do not regret moving to Australia. If I would do it again? I think so. It has been 5.5 hard years, for sure. It has also been 5.5 years filled with adventures that I would not have been without.

Saying goodbye to everything I knew to start a new life in Australia with a 5 week old baby in my arms 5.5 years ago was daunting, but also exciting. Little did I know what I was in for. Luckily I have had Josh beside me all along and I am ridiculously proud of us both for what we have accomplished so far building up a life for our little family here in Australia.

But is it really worth it? It seems like there is so much “missing” going on? There is – and it sure breaks my heart when my children miss their Danish family.

This past week Billie has been sad a couple of times. She says she misses mormor & morfar a lot. It breaks my heart that we cannot just go and visit them or that we have no idea of when or even if they will ever come and visit us again.

I will never forget how Abby cried all the way through security on our last flight. It was horrible. She talked about it this morning. She remembers vividly.

My parents are not getting any younger. My mum turned 75 last month and my dad is getting close to 80. I sometimes find it unfair that my children cannot get more “out of them” now while they are still fresh and energetic. Hopefully they will still be for years to come, but you never know what life brings. I just wish we could spend more time with them now, that’s all.

Living in Australia has definitely put a lot of thing in perspective for me, especially regarding my family and I often catch myself feeling…

Sad when my family is gathered in Denmark for a birthday without us.

Jealous when my parents go to Copenhagen to babysit my niece and nephew.

A little bit furious when someone complains that their family lives a whole two hour drive away so they cannot be bothered visiting often.

You see, the biggest advantage about living so far away is that when we do see my family we are together so intensely (this can also be a disadvantage at times, I should ad). When we are in Denmark we spend a lot more time with i.e. my parents than we would have if we lived in Copenhagen. Then we would probably have visited them for a weekend every now and then – now we visit for six weeks. Enough time for grandparents and grandchildren to build up a very close and special relationship. A relationship I never thought my children would have with my parents. A priceless and beautiful relationship.

Yeah, I am more than certain that THE most important thing I have learned from living in Australia is to appreciate my family. No, it is most definitely not a perfect bunch, but missing them daily has made me realize that they aren’t that bad after all.

Now, I am secretly dreaming of flying home with the girls for the Danish summer this year. Send us a winning lotto ticket and we are on our way!

❤️

What Made You Happy Today?

Seriously, think about it for a while. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative stuff that happens around us. Especially when the everyday is rolling away and chores and errends and jobs and tasks and demands and what-not fills up our days. We get stressed. We get tired. We get grumpy. Sometimes we get bored. I get bored a lot. Then the negativity spiral takes off. Damn it.

Negativity breeds negativity

I read this article explaining how emotions are contagious, the negative once even more so:

“Many experts believe that negative emotions are a lot easier to catch than positive ones. Some believe this is reflective of our evolutionary past wherein being highly attuned to other people’s negative emotions (pain, fear, and disgust) was directly linked to survival. Those who could pick up on someone else’s pain, fear, and disgust were more likely to survive than those who could not.

But – positivity also breeds positivity. Phew!

It most definitely does. Take it from the experts and take it from me, the self-acclaimed negative/positive expert that I am.

Saying positive things. Doing positive things. It spreads positive vibes.

So, am I positve all day everyday? Hell no. I am often the opposite. I am prone to dwelving in my own missery, but that is exactly why I need to do something active and conscious to force the positivity into my life – otherwise it all gets too dark and dull to handle. Worst of all, I can give my negative vibe onto my kiddos.

My bag of little tricks to boost my own and my family’s positive spirit is pretty jam packed. I think I need to use it even more, ay?

Well, this particular trick is a family one, because our family needs to calm the fuck down and be postive every night – we can be such a bunch of whingers otherwise.

What is it we do?

It is pretty simple and something everyone can do every day. We eat dinner together every night and while eating we take turns in telling the other which three things that made us happy during the day. Simple.

Does it really work?

Yes! Focusing on some positive things that we experienced during the day help us to:

1. Start good conversations about the day around the table.

3. Give everyone a chance to get a word in and be heard.

2. Focus on the positives and go to bed with that in mind – or at least we can remind us self that life isn’t that bad afterall.

It might sound basic, but, as you know, back to basic is the new black. Some days it is really easy. Some days it can actually be pretty hard. On all days it is a good idea.

Here are some examples from our dinner table:

Today it made me happy (kids edition)…

…to play with my friends.

…to eat pizza here with you right now.

…to play in the sandpit.

…that I love my whole family.

…to get lollies.

…to swim in the pool.

…to play games together.

And the adult edition…

to paint the bathroom.

…to have a nap.

…to see Lulu take her first steps.

…when you girls played nicely together.

…to finish my assignment.

…to hear back from that job.

…to get the shopping done.

And one that very often goes again around the table:

Right now, eating dinner together.

As you can see, it does not have to be huge magnificent things. It can be, but it can also be tiny little things that made your day better in some way or another.

Have a go yourselves tonight and let me know how you go. Also, be a bit patient. It somehow gets better over time. At least that is my experience.

What has made you happy today?

❤️

Sunday Blues and My Empathy Super Heroes

I have been a bit down this weekend. Especially today I basically just wanted to go back to bed. I have had no energy and everything has been a struggle. It might sound relatively normal for a mum with a teething baby, but for me it is an alarm bell I have to take seriously. If not, things can get a lot worse – I am planning on writing more about my mental health, but it takes time and curage, so for now I’ll just tell you my little Sunday story. It’s actually a feel good one, if you stay ’til the end 🙂

Mummy is just gonna paint a wall

Luckily Josh caught me before I really fell – he took the girls and sent me to bed in the airconditioned bedroom. A nap and a cool down (it’s bloody hot here atm.) gave me enough energy to go and paint the bathroom. As you do, right? Maybe not your average stress-down activity, but when I struggle in my mind it helps me to focus on a specific hands-on task. This bathroom has been a running project for weeks now. Stressful in itself.

I sweated and painted for four hours.

Meanwhile I could hear the girls play together in the garden. Play. Not fight.

Then, at one point I could hear screaming from the living room. Billie fell down the stairs and bled from her lip. Apparently Abby “accidentally” pushed her. Well, I went out to save, what I thought was, the sinking ship. While I gave Billie a cuddle, Abby came over and said sorry, gave her a kiss and they shook hands (that’s Billie’s thing these days) and hugged each other. Then all was good and they went outside to play happily together again.

Wait, what just happened?

A little later Abby came and slit a drawing under the bathroom door. She made it to make me feel better. You see, when I don’t feel good we let the girls know that mummy is tired or maybe even a bit sad. Then they accept that I need a break and they, somehow, get extra loving and caring towards me – but also towards each other. It’s like some kind of “family above all”- thing is happening.

My Emphatic Super Heroes

While I was wrapping up my painting I could hear the girls talking to Josh:

“Mummy has painted a lot today. I think she’s trying to make us proud of her. I am proud of her, but she doesn’t need to paint so much. I am always proud of her”

Oh, my heart!

I am so proud of them. They often drive me nuts, but their intuition of when they need to step up is (almost always) spot on. It becomes so obvious that they do have loads of empathy hiding underneath their cheeky, rascal surfaces.

The Flower Dilemma

Actually Abby is in quite a dilemma due to her emphatic nature. It can be hard to have loads of empathy and be an aspiring scientist at the same time, I tell ya.

So, Abby wants to find out if flowers have feelings (don’t ask). Josh set an experiement idea up for her: get two similar flowers. Plant them in similar pots, place them next to each other and give them exactly the same amount of water. Then, one flower you keep telling how much you love and the other you keep telling how much you hate. Then, if flowers do have feelings, the loved one will flourish and the hated one will die. Logic.

Abby gets the idea and really wants to try the experiment. However, she is very worried about doing the experiement in case flowers actually DO have feelings – because she doesn’t want to make any flowers sad. Oh dear.

Mummy, are you okay?

At dinner Billie said to me: “now mummy, you don’t have to paint anymore” and gave me a kiss and a cuddle. I think it was her way of saying “mummy, are you okay? I hope you are feeling better.

And I do feel better. Exhausted, but better. Fingers crossed for a good nights sleep. Ready for the Monday rush in the morning.

Oh, and I actually do have to paint some more. The little sucker of a bathroom needs another coat. Exciting when that’s going to happen.

❤️

Sunday Scribbling

The photo has nothing to do with my writing what so ever, I just like it.

Writing for the sake of writing. That is my new thing in the evening after all the kids finally have gone to sleep. Writing about anything, everything or mainly nothing in particular.

Being the good girl I am, I do it because I was told to by my professor in one of my two courses at the university this semester; Creative Writing – expecting to get a “good job” sticker someday soon.

I have never had any writing education or training after I finished high school half a lifetime ago, so I think it is about time to get some tools and some direction.

The first lecture debunked a bunch of myths about writing that I actually feel like I have been restrained by. And then it set the forthcoming direction for us:

Write, write a lot. Read, read a lot.

Easy. In theory.

Time is not always on a parent of three small kids’ side. But hey, tonight I have already read two entire books before 8 pm. That they included pictures, a grumpy princess and turtles that celebrate brithdays is immaterial.

Our professor wants us to write at least a full page of whatever, by hand, for each tutorial. By hand, guys. She warned us that we would probably get sore hands and underarms, since no-one is used to hand writing anymore. She’s probably right. My hand is yet to be fatigued. One advantage of being 15 years older than most other students, maybe. The “forced” writing is good, though. It works. The words get out and down on paper. Words that I had no idea was in there, somewhere in my mind. It almost feels like therapy.

Self help writing. It’s actually a thing. I have used it before, but that’s a whole other story which I might share with you one day – if(when) I find the courage.

For now, I will keep on writing. Another day. It’s time to go to bed and do some reading (for two minutes before I fall asleep) instead.

Good night❤️

Helicopter Parents In The Making

We felt like naughty, little school kids getting sent to the office, but we did it. We went to the principal’s office to have a chat to her about Abby’s class situation as we will like her to change classes. We have been talking about doing it for a while – basically since Abby started school. Yet, we doubted it a lot during the past weeks. Were we over-concerned? Or over-controlling? Should we just let it go?

Having children is such a constant learning process. As soon as you have adapted to their current development stage they change and their circumstances change as well.

We have never had a school child before and we know that she will have to learn to act withing the immediate school setting she gets put in – she can’t just change teachers or class mates whenever she (or we) feels like it.

However, this is only prep and getting a good start to her school life is so important, so we decided to follow our gut feelings and take action. And I am glad we did.

We Have Tried it Before

Last year, when we just moved to Brisbane, we put Abby and Billie into a preschool which they absolutely hated – not from the word go, but after a short while. It was horrible. Still, we could have said “it will probably get better soon”. We considered doing so. Thinking we were overreacting and that it’s normal that kids are sad when starting a new place.

But it just felt wrong and we had to trust our gut feelings. We moved them to another preschool and it was the best thing we have done for them. The new preschool – the one where Billie is in now – is amazing and the girls immediately blossomed there.

Abby hasn’t been miserable in her current class. She’s doing okay, but she’s not loving it either. Especially socially. She hasn’t really connected with the other children yet – and to be honest, I think there’s already a bit of a toxic environment going on there. A couple of, apparently popular, girls already teaming up ignoring the other girls when they feel like it. Girls! Seriously, they are five years old!

In the other class Abby has a couple of friends already and the girls seem pretty chilled – as well as the teacher.

The chemistry between us and her current teacher could be better. Her way of teaching is quite conservative and old fashioned and I hope the other teacher will suit us and Abby better. You see, to really florish Abby needs to be set free a bit. She is so true to authorities that it almost becomes a hindrance, if you ask me. She will do anything to please the teacher, so if the teacher is very strickt, Abby won’t try to think “out of the box” or follow her own creativity – she will just sit straight up and down (with her hands on her knees, because that’s “the rule”) and “always do as the teacher asks – also when the other kids are being little chatter boxes”.

That ability probably will be a general advantage in this rather conservative australian school system, but if we can push her a bit in the other direction we will. Afterall, I did write a post only this week about how being scared of making mistakes has always been a huge disadvange for me and still is to this very day.

So, Will She Move or Stay?

Anyway, the final decision whether to move her or not will be taken next Friday, when we go there for a follow-up meeting.

The principal took us very serious and her and the two prep teacher will observe Abby during next week and then make a decision based on their findings – together with our informations about Abby’s behaviour before and after school (she has complained about stomach pains a couple of mornings).

No matter what, just the fact that we acted on our concerns feels good. And even if she stays in her current class I hope that her teacher, now being aware of our concerns, will be encouraged to integrate the kids better socially.

School should be fun when you’re only five years old❤️

Google knows

If only kids were IKEA furniture or LEGO figures. That would be amazing, huh? Not because I wish they were delivered on pallets (even if that would be convenient) or made out of colorful plastic – but because I wish they came with a manual. A good, easy to follow manual. A no BS manual, taking you from one step to another until you have your finished, relatively perfect, product in the end. Yeah, that would be great.

Unfortunately that is not really the case. Or…

Google knows quite a lot about kids, actually. In fact, the number one parenting skill you will need and that I have learned to master within the past 5.5 years will definitely be the fine art of information retrieval from the world wide web via our old mate, Google.

We’ve all done it. Googled the baby’s poo, the food, the teeth, the fever, the rash, the milestones, the tantrums, the “how much sand can an eight month old actually contain?”, the “when can I expect my child to make me dinner and fold my washing?”…we’ve done it. And you know what, I will keep on doing it. No regrets!

Hey, I did it last night. I Googled: “Is our five year old daughter turning into a little maniac?”

And wooptidoodledoo I got, not one, but lots of hits on that exact theme – five year olds who are acting like maniacs.

Hmmmm. So, we’re obviously not alone and it seems like a rather normal issue. That is kinda relieving.

Okay, Google: “What to do, when your five year old is behaving like a little maniac?”

Google says: “Calm the f*ck down, take a chill-pill and keep on smiling!”

Touché.

A while ago we did a week of basically that. We decided to try to only focus on the positive things she did and said and to only approach her in a positive manner – and her sisters, for that matter. The results from that were actually surprisingly good and fast. We saw a change in attitude instantly. It felt amazing and we were all so much more relaxed and happy during that period.

So why didn’t we just keep it up, then? I am not sure. Somehow we just didn’t maintain it and it is so easy to slip back into bad habits, I guess.

We will try again. We will basically try to positively encourage Abby and her sisters to be good human beings. We will be focusing on all the things they do and say right, instead of constantly correcting them and telling them what they are doing wrong. And last, but definitely not least, we will try to be better role models ourselves. We have to get better at holding them no matter how crazy they act – tell ourselves that in those situation they need us the most and that they don’t do it to be mean or “bad” – they do it because they are kids with undeveloped brains and giant emotions going ballistic inside them. And sometimes we just gotta count to ten, or a million.

Frankly having a maniac child can be a bit of a downer on the party vibe, but even if Abby doesn’t change her behaviour immediately the mood in our house will – if we stick to our positive plan – and that in itself will be a victory.

Thanks google. Stay foolish, mate❤️