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Posts from the ‘Jenny’ Category

Jenny: Having Kids Early vs Having ‘Em Later

I had a very enlightening conversation last night — one of many, in fact — with my host here in Sydney, Ms. Jodie Ekert.

I first met Jodie many years back when we were both fresh faces on the stand-up comedy scene (not saying anything about the current state of our faces, mind you, I am speaking purely metaphorically…ehem) — we hit it off and when some many months later she came to town to perform and was looking for an MC, she called on yours truly.

Fast forward x years later and we’re now playing mummy club together in her suitably faboosh child-friendly pad — her bub 15 months, my little dude just a little older — and we found ourselves with a whole new level of common ground over which to chin-wag.

And so it was that the topic turned to the effect that having kids has on your life when you have them early in life versus later. And Jodie’s take on it was an interesting one to me, given that my experience of parenting has been quite different, at least in terms of the timing in my life.

You see, I remember very boldly proclaiming to somebody that “I’m not having kids til I’m at LEAST 33!”, not realising of course, that at that very moment, I was indeed, pregnant.

Ha. Ha.

I was 22.

And once I’d overcome the initial shock of this unexpected twist of events, my first thought turned to all the things I’d wanted so badly to do with my life but hadn’t.

Backpack through Europe.

Carve out a career in showbiz.

Go to Nepal and hire a sherpa.

I was kicking myself for not having taken action before now: why hadn’t I just pulled my finger out and made these things happen when I had the chance? Now that I was going to be a mother, I’d have to just resign myself to those dreams going on the backburner for the forseeable future, if not off the stove altogether.

Then something in me snapped. I resolved — in my traditional melodramatic form — to absolutely NOT let this new stage of my life mean the end of the things I really wanted to do. I was so completely resolute in this, so determined to still make serious headway on even the maddest dreams and adventures in my heart that I think, to be honest, I actually became quite selfish.

I still believe I was a good mother in those early years, in that I cared for my kids, loved them to bits and made sure they were well looked after – but I also recognise now that I became so damn hell bent on achieving what I wanted to with my life that at times my mind wasn’t really present just to enjoy my beautiful babies right then and there, which makes me sad now especially as I realise how quickly those first years really do pass.

Would I change anything?

I don’t know.

The flipside of this, of course, is that my kids have always known (and will always know) a mother who is at least trying — with various levels of success and failure — to look after her own needs and pursue her own goals, as crazy as they may be. Whether this turns out to be a positive thing for them, I can only hope. Time will tell.

Anyway, I am in typical Jenny-fashion, getting rather side-tracked here.

My point is that for me personally, motherhood at such an early age hugely impacted on the way I live my life (duh!) in the sense that it made me resolutely determined to carve out the life I’d barely even begun to live.

Jodie, on the other hand told me that she felt — as a first time mother at 32 — that her struggle was more about dealing with the sense of loss of the life she’d already had. i.e. the career she’d had, even friends she’d had – the difference between her and I being that I’d barely even begun to carve out my life when motherhood hit, whereas she had an established life that then had to change.

Let me hereby state for the record that both of us adore our little ones to bits and are so happy that they are in our lives — but it is fascinating to me the effect that becoming a parent has on your whole world.

It was only last night that I really thought about my own experience from a different angle.

That is, up until now I’d kinda thought at some level that maybe if I HAD done all the stuff I’d wanted to do pre-kids, even if I HAD waited til I was “at least 33” to have babies, maybe even if I HAD backpacked, treaded the boards and found my sherpa before embarking on the adventure that was family life, that the transition to “mother” would have been simple.

It’s now that I realise that’s just not so.

There’s never a “right time” to have a baby. They change your life no matter what.

And carving out a life for yourself is not just something you do in your early twenties — it’s a lifelong undertaking.

What do you reckon?

[Cross posted from Comic Mummy]

Jenny: How To Enjoy A Day Off

The other morning I had the great fortune to stumble across an entire, glorious two hours between tours for kids to squander away at will.

And so, I ventured forth on my own little date with myself. This is one of my FAVOURITE things to do in the world, namely because:

a) I am free to do whatever the heck I like without considering anybody; and

b) I am fabulous company.

It’s funny, because while I am technically an extrovert, I’m absolutely not one of those people who finds being alone uncomfortable, threatening or in any way negative. (Note to self: this is quite possibly a side-effect of having children. Was I like this pre-kids? Hmmm. Must investigate).

No, no! Being alone these days is such a complete luxury and just so damn hard to come by, that when it does I savour every last drop.

Is that a magazine? Oh my heavens, I might actually READ THAT. Give me four!

Coffee? Don’t mind if I do! Make mine a super-size double decaf with a shot of tranquiliser. No, no, nothing fancy, just whatever you’ve got on stand-by.

A new movie out? Hells to the yes! Don’t tell me what it is, for I don’t really care, so long as it involves frozen Coke and Maltesers.

So, there I was on my little self-indulgent conquest, when what should I stumble on but this complete and utter delight of a West End store: Nook.

Nook, 19 Browning Street, West End

Isn’t it just….cute? I ventured on it, proceeded to slobber all over the lovely polished floors and then asked whether I could take some photos for me ole blog! And so I set forth, feeling like quite the mother who’s finally been let out of the house artist extraordinaire…

Mmmm…

Heck yeah.

Ah, I am so in love with sewing machines. In the same way that I’m in love with Edward Scissorhands. I think they’re so beautiful, yet have no idea what to do with them.

It even had its own resident cat. And while I’m not generally a fan (of cats that is, not residents), even I could acknowledge that this dude just added to the whole charm quotient.

In other words, my perfect date!

How ’bout you? Any other solo date lovers out there? Any fave/dream/ideas for outings?

x

[Cross-posted from Comic Mummy]

Jenny: Going Public With Your Wildest Ambitions

So in all my calls to bravado of “Share Your Dreams!”, my dear friend Alex picked up on the fact that my shouts to action hadn’t quite drowned out the glaringly obvious fact that I, myself, had not yet divulged the deepest longings of my heart.

Why? Because it’s terrifying. It’s one thing to allow yourself to dream up grand plans, but it’s quite another to share these longings with the world, to put them (and more notably, yourself) in the direct eye of others, who can see exactly if and when you actually put your money with your mouth is. Because if you don’t, oh hells to the no, you might actually look… *shock horror* STUPID.

But, even just writing that there, makes it feel a lot easier to pour it out. Namely because:

a) Who cares if I look stupid? Really? You’re looking at somebody who’s flashed their nether-regions at an entire room-full of strangers under fluorescent lighting no less (during birth, thanks very much, I’m not THAT bad. Ehem.)

b) Going public makes me feel that little bit more accountable. Perhaps it shall inspire some action? (Agh, okay, I’m totally freaking out now. Ventolin? Okay. No, no, please don’t worry, I’m good now, really.)

c) By me saying “Share your dreams, it’s better for you than an apple a day!” but then refusing to walk the walk myself and hiding my stuff away where it’s safe, private and – here’s the clincher — unlikely to ever see the light of day, I am really saying that I’m full of it, and that really, you should keep it to yourself too.

So, adieu my inner hypocrite!

Now say hello to my biggest, wildest, untamed dreams:

1. To create an arts retreat centre (inspired by the incredible Banff Centre in Canada, where I was extremely fortunate to do my own residency last year), somewhere in the hills of northern NSW or Maleny, to which people can come to create new works (in one of the gorgeous little studios around the property), run workshops, conferences, retreats, and the like including an annual Improvisation retreat.

2. To run my own production company, which not only produces projects for screen (feature films, docos and television projects) but is an extraordinarily family friendly place to work.

3. To write/perform in/host a comedy television show of such utter brilliance and sheer fabulousness that it is only spoken of by future generations in whispered gasps of awe.

4. To launch an organisation which encourages and supports families to do volunteer trips abroad.

5. To be a philanthropist, setting up some sort of organisation or initiative whereby improvisers, comedians and other performers can access opportunities to improve their skills and create new work.

6. To write a national column and publish my cartoon on parenting through funny-coloured glasses.

7. To write books, non-fiction, fiction and of course, spend my twilight years pouring myself into my extremely self-indulgent memoirs.

8. To travel, travel and travel. Perhaps even come up with some projects which delve into the tribulations and triumphs of doing this with kiddly-winks.

9. To deck out an amazing family-friendly Tour Bus and do comedy tours of various continents with the fam, no less, perhaps documenting this ridiculousness in some form.

10. To spend my final years with family and soul-friends around, my marriage and integrity in tact and my soul at ease.

Phew. See? Piece of cake.

*knocking back a Scotch*

[Cross-posted from Comic Mummy]
[Image courtesy Stephen Mitchell]

Jenny: 5 Things Making Me Smile

1. This super cool poster from the very sweet selection at Sycamore Street Press.

Admittedly, it would be even better if my baby could read it. And get the joke. But in the meantime, I’m happy to laugh in…

2. …my bubba’s cute little face.

The Cass-Meister

3. The thought of doing my upcoming week-long stint of Kids Tours at the Art Gallery! SOOOO in love with the exhibition I’ll be leading kids through and so excited to be getting back into working life again.

4. This apartment — oh my word, not only is it Colour Central (a place after my own heart — my hubby is always saying that it takes him a good few days to come to terms with some of my bolder clothing choices, only to realise that they are perfectly me!) but this place is a NON-PROFIT ART HOTEL FOR TRAVELLING ARTISTS. Say what? Are you serious?

Philadelphia Art Hotel

Excuse me would you? I just have to find a spatula to scrape my drooling jaw off my now rather limp foot.

And finally…

5. My 7-year-old daughter came running inside yesterday from the mailbox, with a letter in her hand, all suspicious smiles. “Mummy!” she called. “You have a letter!”

Knowing full well I’d already collected the mail, I played along and opened my lovely delivery. And this was what was inside:

Needless to say, I will be holding onto this one for life. So when if she turns evil in her teens and/or tries to divorce us daggy, out-of-touch parents, I can present this as evidence that I ain’t all bad.

Oh yeah, and you know, it’s beautiful and all that!

Evidence, I tell ya!

What about you? What’s making you smile right now?

[Cross-posted from Comic Mummy]

Jenny: How Limited Time Can IMPROVE Your Productivity Part II

[Editor’s note: The post below is a follow-on to How Limited Time Can IMPROVE Your Productivity Part I, which ran last week. Jenny Wynter is an Australian comic and mother of three, aka Comic Mummy. The post below is cross-posted from Jenny’s hilarious and insightful blog. Jenny has generously allowed us to republish several posts from her archives — enjoy!]

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” Lucille Ball

I’ve always loved this quote, but only just this morning discovered that the voice behind it was:

a) a woman;

b) a mother; and

c) a woman and mother in COMEDY!

I can practically feel the fairy-dust a-spilling! (Do be careful not to trip, won’t you? I don’t have insurance on this blog.)

But now that I think about it, it seems perfectly natural that Lucille — a mother (unarguably a synonym for “busy person” if ever there was one), striving to carve out a career following her creative passion — would be the one behind it.

I just LOVE it, LOVE it, LOVE it! Namely cos it turns that whole “Boohoo! I just don’t have any tiiiimmmeeee….” thang right where it should be: on its whingey, sad, defeatist little head.

*Disclaimer: author of this post is talking to herself as much as you.

Indeed, having limited time can be our bestest little buddy in the whole wide world when it comes to getting stuff done. Because:

  • when we do have an opening of time, knowing that this may be a small window at best forces us to quit stuffing around (I mean, does it really matter whether there is such a thing as a Johnny Depp Batman doll on ebay? I mean, really?) and just pull up our socks and get into it;
  • it forces us to get organised (bearing in mind that being ‘organised’ is a continuum, so by this I mean ‘more organised than we might otherwise be if we had limitless time to squander at leisure’)
  • the simple state of being ‘busy’ with things to do, means that we are creating momentum. We are already moving! Okay, sure, that might be movement involving wiping snotty noses, wrangling snotty children, or fixing snotty meals — hang on, did I just say that? — but the bottom line is that this ‘business’ can lead to a snowball that you can ride, baby! And anybody who’s ever tried to haul their butt out of a lovely, fluffy, inviting, retro, heart-shaped lounge knows, that starting any movement from zero, just ain’t easy.

1. MAKE LIKE A BOY SCOUT & BE PREPARED!

Have your to-do list/goals list ready at hand so that when the moment of free time strikes, you are not wasting a moment of it scratching your head, looking heavenward and pondering the secrets of the universe.

Note that I’ve found it works better for me just to have a generic ‘to do’ list to work on as required, rather than a strict time-based schedule. i.e. if I start doing the whole “at 9am I will work on ‘blah blah'” thang, I start pulling my hair out pretty quickly thanks to the ingenius knack of kids to turn all unpredictable on me. Seriously. I have a bald patch. I don’t like talking about it. Could we please change the subject?

2. TREAT YOUR TIME LIKE THE LAST TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE ON EARTH

I’m serious. When it comes to squeezing every last drop out of these fleeting moments of peace, you’ve gotta commit to the battle, people! For instance, in our house, we have those rare — yet treasured — but rare, occasions, when my older kids will arrive home from school while my littlest is still sleeping. It’s around this time that I squeal for joy like a little piggy on steroids. (Silently of course, what are you, crazy? I don’t want to wake the baby!)

I then, in what can only be described as “somebody’s pressed the fast-forward button on Jenny’s new show: So you think you can guarana!” I assemble a line of snacks with a bansheed cry of “I LOVE YOOOOOOUUUUU!!!!!!” as I disappear back into my lair.

Mummy needs "ME" time.

Sure, it only buys me an extra 10-15 minutes at best, but in the words of Sarah Connor: “We loved a life time’s worth.”

3. SLOW COOKERS ARE YOUR SOUL-MATES.

That is all.

***

But enough about ME!

No, really?

Yes, really.

What about you?

*Just for the record, if there really is a Johnny Depp Batman doll — on ebay or anywhere else in this cosmos — please contact me. Not that I need it. Ehem…

Jenny: How Limited Time Can IMPROVE Your Productivity (Part I)

[Editor’s note: With delight, we introduce you to Jenny Wynter, Australian comic and mother of three, aka Comic Mummy. The post below is cross-posted from Jenny’s hilarious and insightful blog. Jenny has generously allowed us to republish several posts from her archives — enjoy!]

Many years ago, I had the amazing privilege of meeting the now-late Colin Thiele. Author of Storm Boy amongst other classics of Australian literature, Colin was arguably one of the most productive writers Australia has ever brought forth, having written countless children’s books, poetry, and more.

The thing that impressed me about Colin — aside from his incredible humility, warm humour, and way of putting you instantly at ease — was his unbelievable productivity.

In tandem with his writing achievements, he continued to work as a teacher his entire life — it was only at night, after classroom, marking and family duties had been put to bed (typically around 10pm) that he would begin writing. Without fail.

When I asked him what his biggest tip would be for me, a fledgling aspiring writer, he looked thoughtful. “Well,” he said, sitting back in his chair and looking upward, “I had a dear old friend who wanted to be a writer many years ago and one day he rang me up and he sounded most exasperated. ‘How do you ever get anything done?’ he asked. I asked him what he meant.”

“‘Well,’ he said, ‘by the time I start, the mailman arrives, then by the time I’ve sorted through the mail it’s time for morning tea, then I finally sit down and the phone rings…’ and he went on and on. And I said ‘Listen, if you want to be a writer, then you need to write. The art of writing is simple: it’s applying the seat of one’s pants to the seat of one’s chair.”

Hmm.

His words came back to haunt me, several years — and children — later.

There I was, sitting in my cosy, pine-wood smelling, tranquil little studio at Canada’s Banff Centre for the Arts. I couldn’t be happier. A world renowned destination for all manner of artistic disciplines and after months of planning, finally, there I was: beginning what would be four glorious weeks of a residency, without any of the distractions of child-wrangling or house-keeping, to spend writing my new solo comedy show.

The view from my studio deck (if I'm in front of you with my arm outstretched)

Indeed, it was quite the picture of inspiration — through my studio windows I had a stunning view of the quintessentially picturesque Canadian forest, the ground was covered in feet of fluffy snow, I even glimpsed the occasional deer trampling through…and I had complete privacy (and limitless cups of tea) with which to play.

My resident passer-by at the Banff Centre

In other words, conditions were perfect.

Yet it took me a grand forty minutes to realise — to my horror — that when finally granted that terribly elusive dream of nothing but time to spend as I please, I wasted it with all the blatant disregard of an elderly person who’s never grasped the concept of recycling.

In fact, I quickly realised that when it came to inventing methods of avoiding creating (doing what I LOVE!), I was a complete and utter genius.

Just another cup of tea.

Just another e-mail.

Just another google search.

Just another blog.

Just another, just another, just another…

I struggled through and finally emerged from the retreat with a decent backbone for my show; (the bare minimum of work I’d set for myself, deeming the enterprise an official ‘success’), yet I couldn’t help but feel some sense of disappointment.

That I wasn’t more productive. That I didn’t make more of each moment. That the grand open space for creativity that I’d so long craved for, had only served as some sort of flag to signal an abundance of time to waste at my leisure — after all, in my luxury writers studio surrounds, the whole point was that I could get round to writing ‘whenever I felt like it!’

Well, fast forward twelve months and there I was: well and truly re-entrenched into the daily grind. Kids. Housework. And yes, writing, but only when — and if — I could squeeze it in.

And yet again I was confronted by the wasteful nature of my indulgent self when it comes to creative time.

By the time the day’s duties were done, I was so exhausted, so spent, so done, that the last thing I “felt like” was actually creating.

Even though I love it.

So I didn’t.

I would read, perhaps.
I would watch crappy television, justifying it by telling myself that part of the comedian and writer’s job is to stay abreast of popular culture (even now, as I write that I cringe, hearing my mother’s voice ringing in my ears “You should have done law!”).
I would think (oh, how I would think!) about the things I wanted to do.

But actually putting pen to paper, finger to keyboard, or even voice to Dictaphone? Oh, no! No! My hands were far too preoccupied slapping my forehead, in a melodramatic rant about all the creative things I intended to do “when I finally got the time.”

Until one day, something happened which made me realise not just how lucky I am to even be able to create at all — regardless of time constraints — but how much I truly NEED to.

That thing was a car accident.

Suddenly my existence went from juggling comedy shows, procrastinating writing duties and rearing children, to managing medical jargon, tackling endless bureaucracy and recovering from a severe head-on collision.

I was lucky to be alive. I was lucky to be walking. Yet, as I began to process the overflow of trauma of what happened that day, I was slowly confronted by the dawning truth: from that moment onward, I had no excuses not to create.

In fact, I not only wanted to write about what happened and what was happening in my life, I needed to. I had to.

And so it began.

Every single day, without fail and without compromise, without excuses and without procrastination, the moment my little bubba went down for his nap, I would sit down at the computer and I would not leave. I had no expectations of what I would write. No agenda. No outcome in mind. Sometimes I would just write random thoughts, sometimes I would work on little nuggets of a screenplay, others I would sketch out the backbone of an article.

But the point is, I would write.

I kept going and going. If I finished one piece, I would start on another. I would write and write and would not stop until the little dude woke up. And given that this ‘end point’ to my writing session was so unpredictable its arrival at best, it eliminated the possibility of any clock watching on my part.

On the contrary, this flexible and unpredictable deadline made me all the more motivated — many days I would find myself hoping that he would keep sleeping just that little bit longer so I could keep it going.

"I'm only doing this for Mummy, ya know!"

And at some point during that first week of writing my way out of my hell-hole of self-pity, it dawned on me:

I am umpteen times more productive when my opportunity to do so is limited.

And I’ve also realised that no matter how much time I might think I have to write/create/perform, my time is always limited: by life.

Like my son’s waking time, the unknown date of my exit point from this earth is also unpredictable. And, as it turns out, can prove likewise to be extremely motivating.

I thrive under pressure. I produce under constraints. My limitations are in fact, my greatest allies.

Namely because they really are, in essence, the glue that is finally adhering the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair.

*This is the first post in a series on this topic. Please, calm down.

Jenny: MIA

Two words: The Flu.

Sorry ladies, but my family has been hit hard, twice in a row. First the stomach flu, which was BRUTAL, and now the regular flu with fever, chills, violent coughing, stuffy head, ear pain, aches, and all that good stuff. We haven’t been well except for maybe 3 days total in the month of February. I’ve never been this sick in my life. My thinking is foggy much of the time and today I ventured to Target and paid some bills. Just surviving has been the goal, so writing has been pushed aside. I know you moms will understand. I *hope* life here can go back to normal this week. God knows I’d appreciate it if he’d cut me a break. There’ve been moments these last 3 weeks when I seriously contemplated running away.

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