THE POWER OF THE COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
The further I travel in to this journey of uncovering what enables a person to live life to it’s full potential with passion and purpose, the more I can see a pattern emerging. It’s all about perspective - the way people choose to look at their world.
Therefore it was of no surprise to me when Sam described how she sees life.
“’Magic is only real if you believe in it ’. I am a firm believer that you can only see magic, the beauty and wonder in the world, if you are looking for it. As my children grow I want them to understand that childhood magic doesn't have to disappear, there is still so much to marvel at once we've learnt the truth to the fairytales.”
Radiographer/ Marathon runner/ Interior Designer/ Photography lover and mum of two gorgeous girls, Sam Verri is a colleague of mine who has been an inspiration to me for a few years now as I've watched her beautiful life outside of work flourish through the lens of her beloved camera on her Instagram account (you must check her out for some massive #instaenvy @sam_verricharmed and @theeverydayportrait_).
Given her impressive list of pursuits and passions it won’t surprise you that I decided to find out how she manages to keep a life full of so many loves.
The lesson’s I’ve learnt from Sam have been some of the very best so far in my How She Does It journey and I’m going to share her full story with you next week – you don’t want to miss it!
For now though, here is an introduction to an amazing woman on a path to living her best life.
Something you love about yourself
This is the kind of question that I always find so difficult to answer. I do like my determination.
What is your Guilty Pleasure?
I take great pleasure in many things and I try not to feel guilty about them, I guess perhaps dark chocolate is something I tend to over induldge in though.
How did you feel while you were pregnant about the change that was about to happen in your life?
To be honest I never considered the change that was about to happen. I only felt excitement about the future. No one can ever prepare you for how different life will be once you have your child in your arms. Not only is the world turned upside-down but you discover this new capacity for love that you hadn't realised was possible.
That new little person holds such a large part of your heart inside them. Then as they grow you have to send them off to kindy, school and beyond, taking that piece of your heart off with them, so when they're not around you don't feel whole anymore. It's crazy really.
How did you feel in the early months after having your first child?
I was mostly very very tired in those first few months (years!) - my first born never slept. I also often felt overwhelmed by the constantly shifting routine and unrelenting change that comes with a growing baby. Honestly, I still feel like this sometimes even at 9 and 7 years of age, just when you think you have them figured out, they grow a bit more and change all over again.
I do remember that despite the sleep deprivation and confusion I felt quite content, like I have a purpose.
How did you decide what your return to work plan was going to look like?
I am a planner so I basically knew from conception what my return to work plan would be like. I had saved enough money to have exactly 8 months off after Miss D's birth and then finances dictated that I worked 2.5 days a week on my return with casual weekend work also thrown into the mix. It was always planned that Miss D would be at daycare when I was at work. It all came down to necessity.
I was back at work for about 11 months before Miss M was born. I went back to work when she was 6 months old for two days a week, but this time I was put on the rotation for the night shift roster. In the 6.5 years I have been back at work I have increased the amount of night shift that I do from two sets in six months to eight to ten sets as this is what works best for my family.
What does a typical day look like for you?
These days my days really vary from week to week. On paper I work fifteen hours per week but in reality I work closer to four days per week, though much of that is over night as I continue to regularly work night shift so that I can be home as much as possible for my family.
On the days that I am not at work my day consists of getting the girls ready and walking them up to school. I often incorporate walking our two dogs on the school run to save time, though some days I will come home and collect them immediately for a longer walk or beach play. School hours are spent with either a run, swim or yoga, then shopping, cleaning, cooking, washing, all of those boring mundane things.
If I'm on night shift I try and get a few hours of sleep in and everything falls down a bit. After school I'm ferrying the girls to one of their many extra curricular activities (seriously, I always said no more than two each yet one has five different activities, the other has four!!), helping with home work and cooking dinner.
Currently we have a bedtime routine with the girls where I read for half an hour (we are making our way through the Harry Potter series together) then my husband puts the girls to bed. He works very long hours so it is important to him to have a little one on one time with them in the evening. After this my husband and I catch up on the day together. So really all in all, it's general suburban life.
Do you have any tips for other working mums/mums about to return to work?
The return to work can be really daunting, but once you are back to work it can actually be a bit of a haven. I found that it was really nice to be reminded of my old self and get back to something that was familiar and predictable, very much the opposite of parenting! It created a lovely balance for me.
I think the biggest thing to realise is that you don't have to do it all. Some days the house won't be as tidy as you like, or the washing won't be done, or you have made sandwiches for dinner (or all of those things plus more will happen all at the same time!!) but your mental and physical health are vital for your family, so sometimes you just have to be kind on yourself and let life slow down a bit. Really truly, the most important thing is that everyone is happy and healthy.
What is your biggest struggle as a working mum?
Like many mothers I often feel guilty on my work days that I'm not immediately accessible for my children and they have to go to before and after school care. It creates a very long, tiring day for them. But then, when I am not at work I feel like I 100% have to justify my day, even though no one is asking me to. I am getting better at both of these things though.
What do you love about your new life as a mum?
I feel like becoming a mum opened my eyes. I see the world differently now. not just through my own eyes but through theirs as well. That is a very precious thing.
How have you changed for the better?
I feel that many parts of me have changed for the better. I am much more organised now than I was before children. Both my husband and I are much healthier. We wanted our children to have a healthy lifestyle, so we needed to become good role models. I am also far more calm than I ever was, the unpredictability of kids will do that to you I guess!!
Who is your support network?
After the birth of my first daughter I was directed to a mother's group. That group of women became a lifeline for the next five years. We shared so much together, including the births of our second (and third for some) children. After the eldest children went to school the time we spent together decreased severely as we could no longer get our schedules to match. However, we do get together sans children occasionally and when we do that over a glass of wine, you can not stop us talking for hours! I will hold those women in my heart forever.
In recent years I have become friends with a few other school mums and we help each other when needed. My husband and I have also become heavily involved in our local Surf Life Saving Club and I feel we are building a bit of a family there.
Do you have any time management/ organization tips you’d like to share with us?
I have learned recently that no matter how many important things you "think" you have to do, it is more important to take time out for yourself. I now make sure on the days that I'm not at work, I take an hour "lunch break" just to sit and be. I often read a book in this time, just to shut my mind off to realities for a bit. Doing this has actually made me much more productive because by taking a little bit of time out in the middle of the day, I am able to focus much better in the afternoon.
What do you do to stay healthy? How do you fit it in?
Being fit and healthy is a priorty for me. When the girls were small I always managed to fit exercise in around them. In the early days I walked alot with them in the stroller and as they became a little bigger I would run before they woke in the morning or do group fitness or Bikram yoga after they had gone to bed at night.
Now-days I am lucky to be able to fit it in during school hours so it doesn't encroach on my time with them. During school holidays I will often wake at 5 am so I can fit either a run or swim in before they are awake for the day. We also incorporate exercise into family time, as we only live about 800m from school I insist that we walk to and from school rain, hail or shine.
On Monday evenings my husband and I make use of the swimming pool while the girls are having their lessons. We are all involved in surf life saving, and we do this together as a family, with my husband and I taking on age group manager roles for our girls Nipper age groups. I also coach the girls basketball team.
Healthy living really is a huge priorty for us.
Do you have a go to meal/ recipe?
I like to cook with fresh ingredients and we frequently shop at the Adelaide Central Market because I find it easier to mean plan when all the seasonal produce is right in front of me. I like to change things up as much as possible, but you just can't go past a hearty soup in winter, especially if you can stretch it out for a couple of nights. Any kind of meal that can be stretched to two nights is a good thing in my opinion.
Zucchini slice is firm favourite with our kids, as are homemade baked beans.
What do you do for ‘me’ time?
Exercise takes up alot of my "me" time. In the past few years I have taken up long distance running and during the cooler months I like to take part in the many running events to be found around Adelaide. Running and having a goal associated with it has been the best possible thing for my mental health.
I have also recently completed a dipolma in interior design and I'm continuing to study in this area mostly for my own interest, but I love to help friends with advice in their own homes.
I'm very interested in photography and I like to make time to take photographs as often as possible. Photography is an area that I would love to study further. I really enjoy posting on Instagram, and developed the tag #theeverydayportrait which became quite popular. I was consequently urged to develop @theeverydayportrait_ as a hub. We (my American friend, Luci, and I) feature candid photos of " the everyday mundane, shown for the wonderful it is". The hub has only been open for a short time, but I really love sharing photos from all the amazing artists out there. I find the community on Instagram to be very positive and inspiring.
I am also an avid reader of all books and an enthusiastic baker of cakes.
The Sam we are lucky enough to hear from today with her balanced, blissed out mumma vibe has arrived to this place, like many of us, by learning the hard way - through the consequences of pushing herself too hard and too far. Sam has been kind enough to share this story with me which is an absolute must read! There were tears... Make sure you are following How She Does It on Facebook, Instagram or subscribed to our mailing list so that you don't miss out! Some serious lessons to be learnt from this amazing woman.
Thanks for sharing Sam!