27 August 2012

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

I read a wonderful post over at innerpickle on Saturday and it kept returning to me during the day. I love writing that makes me think and the question innerpickle posed to me was "what changed you?" I guess you could argue that everything changes you and certainly I am changed in subtle ways every day. So what, of the hundreds of things I do every day - which of those have made me a different person. Here is my list ...

Living in my home has changed me more than anything else in recent years. I don't mean just having this house as my address, I mean that I spend my time here, I work here, I give it my attention and energy. Home is where I feel comfortable and safe. I have tried to turn my home onto a productive space. I think about what I used to buy, and have taught myself enough to cut down on groceries, clothes and furnishings and make a lot of it instead. I also think in my home. I spend time every day thinking about what I'm doing, and that process slowed me down to notice the beauty of domestic life.

Being married changed me. I knew when I married that it would be a once only thing. For me, divorce was not an option. I knew that on day one, I know it now. And it's for no particular reason other than when I said "I do", I meant it. And I chose well, I knew that before the "I do". We have had our ups and downs but the certainty of this marriage was not a burden, it gave me confidence and a sure and steady path. When I had doubts about so many other things, I always had that certainty. I know that all my decisions incorporate two, they don't mean just me, and sometimes that means a compromise. Those compromises changed me too. I'm not saying that Hanno and I were joined at the hip, we're both very independent people, but our commitment is absolute and that made all the difference.

But the thing that changed me more than anything else was being a mother to Shane and Kerry. I didn't think it would. I thought it would be just another stage in life but the changes it brought me were the most powerful and significant. I knew that when my sons did certain things so that I would be proud of them that I had to do that for them too. I knew I had to be a good role model and if I wanted them to be generous, kind, tender, self confident, smart and independent, that I had to be as well. That changed me from being self-indulgent and selfish to something more open and accepting. It matured me. I guess it was my, and our, most important work - to show those two beautiful boys how to be good and decent men. It certainly was the most difficult of my changes but also the most joyous and enriching.

There are many other important changes that I could write about. Changes that were alarming and overwhelming as well as tiny subtle changes that only I know about. I know for sure that change is a healthy part of life and sometimes what you believe to be a positive change, or a negative, turns out to be the opposite. It is interesting for me now at this later stage of life to look back and sort the wheat from the chaff.  But now I'm interested in what changed you?



  1. Changes...so many things. I think the biggest was when our son died suddenly. Life is fragile and we never what is around the corner. Grieving was done separately but it also sealed our marriage. My husband has always been since then my " steady Eddie". We went on and had 3 more children all adults now and I still know acutely how fast and sudden things can change.

  2. I would love to know what you have been knitting...smile.


  3. I think that becoming a mother was the most profound, core deep change in my life. My children are grown and flown now (22 and 27) but I will always be a mother. It gave me different perspectives on my planet, my future, my priorities, but most of all it gave me a different look at myself. It's hard to explain. Even after I lost my first two pregnancies, I was still fundamentally changed as the concept of me as a mother had entered my life.
    It gave me a strange, spiritual connection to generations of women who went before me, stretching back as far as there have been women. There was something SO grounding about creating and nurturing and being responsible for another life, that it anchors you in a way that nothing else does.
    Once a mother, you never stop being a mother.

  4. For me, my biggest changes began after my mum died suddenly 4 years ago, and they continue as a mother of a 3 year old and a 6 month old, a full time step mum to an 11 year old and guardian of my 16 year old sister. I have been thinking about these personal changes a lot recently and some of them make me sad, others make me proud of how far I have come despite the challenges.
    I spent a couple of years living overseas before mum died, and as a teenager thought my biggest changes would occur with my travels. Although some small ones did occur, I have since taken off my rose coloured glasses (one of the changes I am not so happy about but maybe one that occurs at some time no matter what life throws at you) and realise that the biggest changes happen everyday, in the most ordinary of ways.

  5. It's off the subject; but, I wanted you to know that I really think your header photo is beautiful.

  6. As soon as I began reading the posts I thought "The kids, definitely the kids". Everything I do is with them in mind. But notably the biggest change in who I have become is from dealing with the difficulties in life. Having had a child desperately ill and having to deal with my son's disability have made me stronger and more decisive. I now avoid unnecessary negativity like the plague! Life is too short to stress over stupid things or to spend too much time with people who enjoy being unhappy.

  7. Hi Rhonda,

    I think the two major changes in my life were;
    1. Moving into the Nurses Home at 17 and not returning home (except for visits) I learned independence, responsibility and how to get along with people in the real world. I had previously been a very shy person brought up in the tradition of 'children should be seen and not heard' therefore lacked confidence in myself. In the big wide world I learned that I did have worth!
    2. Two years ago at my work my resolve to speak my own truth and to advocate for those less fortunate than myself was called into question. After a year of the situation confronting my innermost beliefs about human entitlement my doctor insisted that I take leave due to my high level of anxiety. As you say Rhonda sometimes things that appear negative can turn out to be positive...I learned who my real friends were and what a wonderful group of caring people they all are. I also learned that my relationship is solid and loving as well as the fact that healing sometimes takes a long time and that a person's health is paramount. Whilst I have previously been a very confident person I now perhaps don't feel so confident in my ability to perform in a stressful position but thanks to your blog, I am really enjoying having the time to do things that are really meaningful to me and that I have not been able to whilst in full time employment for the 38 years prior to going on leave. Whilst my thinking sometimes returns to the societal expectation of formal work for a few more years, the way you have transitioned and the context in which you place your role allowed me to reframe what I am doing now. It also reminds me of the phrase, 'its not what happens to you but how you deal with it'...perception is an interesting thing. Enough of my issues, I wanted to say how much I enjoy your photos and thank you for linking 'innerpickle' which I thoroughly enjoyed and have bookmarked for myself! Thankyou also for being such an inspiration for me and assisting me to move ahead in this path.

    Cheers Vikki (cqgardeningchick) PS Have you eaten your Camembert?

  8. The biggest change in my life was when as a 26 year old I went from thinking there must be more to life to making Jesus Lord of my life and knowing a peace and hope I never thought possible.Sure life has had it's challenges but with 9 children, my wonderful husband ,4 grandchildren, 3 daughter in laws, quarter of an acre garden, part time work as a Medical herbalist and great friends I consider myself very blessed at 62 years of age.
    L love your blog and am always learning more of how to be a good steward of what I have.
    God bless you all,Maree.

  9. Becoming a foster parent changed me more than I would have expected. But I'm glad too. There are things I've learnt about life and myself I don't think I would have by any other route.

  10. Hi Rhonda. My most recent change has been my retirement three years ago. And they have turned into wonderful years. In my late 60's now I am lucky that my health is good. Retirement has given me time to be available for my grandchildren. Regular visits to my library at New Farm have been a great source of enrichment for me as I have joined their book group, gardening group, and attended lots of their free gardening workshops. But the biggest change has got to be my allotment. I had never grown veggies before in Australia (I was born in the UK) so knew absolutely nothing about it and now I can't wait to get over there at Morningside. I have discovered vegetables I had never seen before, and colleagues over at the allotments have taught me how to cook them. Best wishes.

  11. Hi Rhonda, great post!
    I am right now going through huge changes, my son (4 3/4 yrs) is in the process of being diognosed with some type of disability. Through the process I have often thought about how there is no possible way that I can come out the other side being the same person. I cant yet tell if that will mean a complete 180 change or simply growing or are all those rough edges being very quickly sanded off of my heart?
    I can easily see that dificulties in life can change us but also some of the best things that happen to us can change us also. We can only hope that we will be changed for the better.

  12. Just as you, Rhonda, the change that impacted me (and my husband I believe) the very most was having and raising our two children. I too knew that our marriage would be a life-long commitment for me and I've never regretted it. There have been a few times when I haven't "liked" him very much, but I've always loved my husband and have never doubted his love for me. The children are our best achievement and I still can't figure out how we got it so right with them. We were very young when the kids were born and in those early years, I'm not sure that I knew that I needed to set a good example for them. Though as I think about it, the thing I always knew - even from the beginning - was that it was important to me that the children knew my love for them was unconditional. That's not to say that I upheld them whenever they veered from what we were trying to teach them, but they always knew that no matter what, they could talk to us about anything and we would listen. I had to learn to be patient with them as they spread their wings (not always in a good way), and to counsel and train them without going off the deep end when sometimes all I really wanted to do was scream at them! I learned not to be selfish, to put my needs/wants second behind the children when necessary. I learned that I could work harder physically and emotionally than I ever imagined was possible to be sure that our family had what it needed. As I said, I love my husband very much, but I'm not sure that I would have been as willing to make such changes soley for him since he was an adult like I. But the changes my children brought about in me must have been more natural and instinctive than I realized while they were growing up and I'm a better person for having had them than I might have been had they never been born. I can't even imagine how my life would have been had they not been a part of it.

    This is a thought provoking post...thanks.

    Diane in North Carolina

  13. I agree, so many things encourage change in us throughout life. I think having children has started a big change in me too. I very much agree with the modelling of how you would like your children to behave - so many parents fight a hard fight against their own selves when they fight their children's behaviour (merely a mirror of their own). I love what you said about your home - I hope one day I will have that feeling too. Food for thought today :)

  14. That's a really tough question Rhonda, I was pondering it doing a few of my morning chores. I'm not sure I can think of an actual pivotal moment... my childhood was full of thrifted clothes, home sewing and cooking and I rebelled against it for many years.

    I think the biggest change was not within me, but within the fabric of society. Blogs like yours, and innerpickle, and many others, that have made it feel Ok, and safe, to rejoice in caring for your family and that handmade is now not the stigma it was 20 years ago. That having backyard chickens, and growing your own vegetables made sense for oh so many reasons.

    Now I have come full circle, and I treasure the time I spend making a nest for my family, sewing, baking, knitting and saving money all at the same time. And who knew, way back when I was a child longing for some shop bought clothes all of my very own, that the grown up woman she would become could knit her own socks, have her own chickens and be as happy as I am today.

  15. Thank you Rhonda for this thought provoking post, I really enjoyed reading it. I would say my children is what changed me too :) I have been lucky that they have grown up into decent, loving human beings, I couldn't ask for anything more...

    Wishing you a wonderful day!


  16. Looking back at just these last years, the things that changed me the most were becoming a grandmother, and then being diagnosed with cancer. Those things reminded me that life is so precious, and that I should always let those close to me know how much I love them.

    There are, of course, many other things that made me who I am. Getting married, becoming a mother, losing my own mother, becoming a social worker with abused and neglected children.

    Thank you for this post, Rhonda.

  17. I clearly remember sitting in a Very Important Meeting and hearing my phone ring, and ring again, and ring again. I knew something was wrong but couldn't/wouldn't get to the phone. Once I did, I discovered a family member had been killed in a car accident. Is all I could think was what if it was one of the kids? Life changed for me immediately, I no longer have a Very Important Job, instead I'm doing a Very Important Job, just here at home! I love Fiona and her perspective, you introduced me to her some time ago now and she is a high point in my day! Thanks, Alison

  18. I have had many experiences that altered me. Becoming a special ed teacher was a unique experience that lead me to training as a nurse. I then married and had my own children. Like you I intended to stay and stuck it out for 18 miserable years. My brother died tragically and two of my children have problems, my husband chose to not help and physical isolate me and I stayed. But when I was ordered to kill myself my life altered drastically. I have now started over with very little. I hate that my children experienced such a negative event. Every day I try to not focus on the sad, bad things and work on now. Losing trust in your spouse and being part of a messy divorce is not something I would wish for anyone.

  19. Number one life changer for me was having children. I have become a better person through both raising and learning from my sons. I never thought I'd have children so I am very grateful to be their Mum. Another life changing period of my life was when I divorced, having never imagined being a single mother either. Though that rather harrowing experience I learnt, or relearnt, to trust my intuition or inner guidance again, and how strong a person I really was. Having read Alison's post above at 11.10am, the death of my nephew was very signficant and heralded a change in how I felt about family. I've just had a stroke so time will tell what this will bring about for me. Thank you... Ree.

    1. Ree, I'm sorry to read about your stroke. I hope you recovered well.

    2. Thank you, Rhonda. It was only a couple of months ago and I'm still very much in the recovery period. Am going well, though, and feel very good in myself. They're still unsure what caused it, and are now thinking it may have been a tiny cluster of cells rubbing against each other, causing a bleed. It makes one realise anything could happen to anyone, any time, and to feel very grateful for life, naturally, but for all the little everyday things as well. It's an opportunity to focus on what's important for the future.

  20. Autism- having a child that looks normal but on the inside and in his brain he isn't.
    I learnt quickly life won't be "normal" again however who wants to be "normal"!

  21. I think I'm in the middle of a major change right now! Becoming a mother was definitely a life changer, as the other ladies here have mentioned. It was, and still is, the single most life-defining event of my life, by far. I understood a true purpose in life once those little people came along.

    But now the kids are at school, I find myself in the midst of another shift, finding a whole new confidence to live my own life and not one expected of me, and to be more choosy of how I spend my time and money and to make sure I'm not wasting either of them on things that don't really matter.

    I sense this process is setting me up for how my life will be for a long time into the future.
    Have a great week,

  22. I've been through so many changes, it would look like a shopping list!!

    Each one forms the person you become, piece by piece I have been changed gradually over the years. Marrying young, having children, losing babies, picking up the pieces of a career through necessity, running my own businesses, divorce, single parenting, meeting the absolute love of my life. Changing locations, changing lifestyles, losing parents. Each and every one building up to the person I am today.

    We have to accept change and embrace it, live through it and help others live through their changes when they seem to tough for them to be able to handle.

    It's really got me thinking this post of yours, nice thoughts though! Thank you.

    Sue xx

  23. What a wonderful thought-provoking post. And I just love your pictures! I think the life changing moment for me would be becoming a mother, just like so many before me have said. It helped to give me a purpose and a reason for living. My son keeps me motivated and always knows how to put a smile on my face. His unconditional love for me is my life and I want to be a better person because of him. I think meeting my partner was also a defining moment in my life, for all the same reasons as my son is. To have his support and his love on a daily basis is priceless and I don't know what I'd do without him. I love my two boys very much! ♥

  24. g'day

    a great post as always rhonda

    my change was when i had children, esp my first as things weren't going well for me when I found myself pregnant, gave me purpose to my life though & changed the way i saw things.

    so many have said the same thing here. bringing children into the world is a big responsibility, one i was ready to give my all to & as a single parent for most of their lives, i don't think i did too badly either. they are well adjust adults now.

    there have been other changes in my life too but that one was the biggest by far

    cheers :))

    selina from kilkivan qld

  25. Emigration changed me, then living with my partner, then motherhood, then getting married. We are now entering our tenth year together, our son just turned 5, we have been married for 1 year and been living outside of Italy for 6.
    I like to look back and see how beautiful and healthily troubled my life has been so far. I like to see how we have evolved as persons and as a couple. When I met my husband he was a spoiled kid, last January I had a miscarriage and he was my mother for a few days. He's changed deeply, fatherhood has changed him, being far from both our families have changed us. We became each other's rock, the one to count on when the time comes.

  26. Thank you for posting this wonderful post that just makes you think back over your life. I guess a lot of things have changed me but I think I can pinpoint 3 major things that have done the most changing.
    1) Getting married
    2) Having 2 miscarriages
    3) Being sick for the last year and a half with no diagnosis
    Each of these things has made both large and subtle changes to my being and while some days I fight it and want to go back to the "normal" I used to know, I know that I am being molded into the person I am supposed to be.

  27. The warm fireplaceAugust 28, 2012 8:48 am

    What a great thought provoking post, changes for me were meeting and marrying my soul mate, having my children, one miscarriage, finding my faith, finding myself.

  28. My big change happened when I found my marriage wasn't what I thought it had been. Like you, on the day I married I too knew that my marriage was forever and that divorce wasn't an option - ever (actually I don't think anyone ever walks down the aisle thinking they will divorce at some future time). Three children and two houses later, the unthinkable happened and we separated. I was suddenly a single parent. I had to move back to my parents, change schools for the children, retrain, re-skill, find work after over a decade out of the workforce, get a mortgage, and take care of my little family. That was a huge change and it was devastating and it certainly shocked me, so much so that I almost became another person. I am eighteen years away from that time now and am a stronger, more resilient woman and I know in my bones that I can handle anything that life throws at me. It was a learning curve that I don't wish on anyone but I know that many people out there also end up in situations not of their own making and after being floored, they pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get on with life. It's a gift and I thank God that I found the strength to carry on.

  29. I changed when my children were born too. I wanted to stay at home for them so much that financially things had to change. It happened gradually at first as I learnt things different things. Cooking was one of those things, as previously my friends knew me as the 'Packet Mix Queen' and I was so materialistic, trying to keep up with the Jones.

    When they went to school I took on an allotment and learnt to grow vegetables. Now I have four allotments so we eat well on organic veg.

    I had to learnt my frugal, thrifty ways through necessity and the desire to make sure my family did not feel deprived in anyway. So over the years (my eldest is 14 years old now) I have changed in so many ways, that my friends from school hardly reconise me as the person they used to know.

    Life is sometimes hectic now, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I feel so privileged to still be at home for my children, knowing that I am bringing them up in the best possible way I can.

    Thanks for your post Rhonda, I really enjoyed reading it and it made me realise I've definately changed for the better.

  30. What is that lovely "paper" you have those muffiny looking papers in the picture above? I have been married for 41 years. We raised 6 children and have 14 grandchildren. The most recent change was when I spent 5 days totally alone house and kitty sitting for my sister. I don't think in my whole life I've ever been alone that long. It changed me. For the better. It gave me time to think and evaluate.

  31. Hi I am a longtime lurker here :) your blog gives me hope and a sense of peace when I think about what is possible for me and my children. Marriage and 2 beautiful children have changed me. I also said that divorce was never an option. Life had a surprise for me, because while it takes two to create a marriage , it only takes one to end it. It was as if a bomb went off in my life, and it has taken me 4 years to feel as though I am recovering. I was always terrified at the thought of being a single parent, and thought I would avoid my mother's fate ( divorced from an alcoholic/drug abuser and alone with two young children) , but here I am. I avoided the Alcoholic part of the equation, though but not the alone with 2 kids part. I thought marrying a minister was some kind of assurance that my marriage would never end in divorce. I have found that he is a man like any other. While recovering from a C-section, I caught whooping cough ( didn't know I needed a booster shot) and gave it to my babe. We almost lost her, but she recovered fully, and so did I.These profound events have changed me, but I am still sorting out exactly how. I would like to think I am stronger. I am certainly grateful for all of my blessings and aware that life could change at any time. The silver lining in the divorce is that I get some time to myself when the kids are with their Dad 2 nights per week. I am an introvert who absolutely craves alone time. I would never ask for it before this divorce happened. Thanks for all that you do.

  32. What changed me at 35 years of age was having a Saul to Paul experience when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour. Since that time I/we have been through much heartache for different reasons but my faith has always kept me going.
    Karen - NZ


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