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relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

The simplest, most effective daily gift for you and your teenager

How much screen time?

According to the Washington Post in 2015, teenagers spend an average of 9 hours a day looking at screens. NINE HOURS. (Children aged 8-12 are on about 6 hours). It’s 2017, so I’d guess the times are slightly higher now.

reducing screen time, over 50s, teenagers, hand drawn illustration, comics, bespoke

reducing screen time is good self care, for over 50s and teenagers #hand drawn #comics #screen time #teenagers @boneAndsilver

Adults are on approx 4 hours a day in their leisure time, but obviously more if they sit at a desk with computer in front of them. Here in Australia, we have a particularly high engagement with our smartphones; some estimates are up to 10 hours a day (Source: ABC News May 14 2016).

It’s simple: switch off the wifi

When my son was approaching his teens, and had been given his first smart-ish phone by his Dad’s family for Xmas (which I had no say in unfortunately), a wise friend with a son 7 years older than mine gave me this advice: no screens in the bedroom.

Brilliant. Don’t let them lock themselves away with TVs or laptops plus smartphones; some kids text and message each other at 2am on a school night.

We all need to be asleep at 2am on a school night!

And here’s an even easier action: just turn off the wifi.

reducing screen time, over 50s, teenagers, wifi, internet usage,

reducing screen time is good self care, for over 50s and teenagers #wifi #screentime #teenagers @boneAndsilver

I know, shocking concept isn’t it? But it’s actually easier than you think, as the ‘Off’ button should still function despite lack of use.

I was a really difficult teen myself: rebellious, yet also racked with anxiety and insecurities. My poor Mum had her own dramas going on (I realize now), with the menopause, a challenging full time job as a single Mum, and various health issues she kept from us.

So I felt ill-prepared for my own journey as the mother of a soon-to-be-teenager, and chose to undertake a two-day ‘Parenting a Teenager’ intensive through our local youth centre. I then did a 6-week course, meeting other parents once a week.

In a nutshell, this is what I learnt:

  1. Open communication is essential (sitting side by side in the car is good for comfortable connecting, especially with boys)
  2. Parents must accept they are no longer the centre of their child’s world, although the child will always be the centre of theirs (this is really hard, and I think a lifelong challenge)
  3. Firm boundaries are incredibly important in giving your teen a sense of what to push up against

And my absolute favourite (which I love so much that I just spent 2 hours hand-making this image):

parenting tips, over 50, teenage screen time, wifi access

Parenting a teenager, controlling internet access and screen time #wifi #teenager #over50 @boneAndsilver

You all know this already, yes? I could have filled this post with other statistics and references, or examples of negative health & social outcomes, but it’s all out there and easy to find.

What I’m interested in on this blog together is what we already know, in our bones. And the movement or action we can take to honour that.

All of us who are over 20 have already embodied a life without the internet; we know what it’s like to talk on a landline to one friend at a time, then to have to say goodnight and sleep till morning, before reconnecting on the walk to school or the bus trip.

But the teenagers in our lives haven’t felt this; we need to do right by all of us, and shut the damn wifi down.

Ours goes off at 9.30pm, 10 at the latest, and stays on later at weekends (very occasionally till 2am I admit. But that is certainly not a habit). However, it ALWAYS goes off, so that we get a chance to unplug.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But I do feel it’s Right. What do you think? Or more importantly, how do you feel…?

With gratitude, G x 

 

relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

Last night I saved an echidna’s life

I was driving home in the rain after dropping my son back to his Dad’s. Narrow country lanes with many twists and turns, up and down hills, with bush and forest on either side.

I rounded a corner, and suddenly my headlights picked out an echidna crossing the road. Do you Americans and Poms know what that is? Like a hedgehog or porcupine on steroids:

Australian Echidna #nature #native animal

#echidna #Australia

I slowed down, as it was just passing my left side of the road, on its way across the right.

Then I saw the beams of another car coming round the corner towards me; it would hit the echidna directly!

I didn’t hesitate. I slammed on the brakes, poked on my flashing hazard warning lights, and opened my door.

The echidna must have seen the lights of the other car approaching, as it paused, then turned around and hurried back towards me, and the safety of the bush from where it had come. It looked like it was going to waddle under my car, so I stuck my foot out to stop it.

Instantly it curled into a ball, which is its wonderful defense mechanism (except when it comes to dealing with cars).

Then I heard another vehicle coming, but this time behind me, which meant it could potentially smash into my rear end… I just had to hope it was going slowly enough to stop. Time slowed down (such a cliché but it really did), and I focused on the echidna, 10 centimetres from me, highlighted by two cars’ headlights, as the rain softly fell.

It would have made a wonderful photo.

‘Come on darlin’, you gotta cross over,’ I whispered.

It was like they were the magic words it needed to hear, for it simply uncurled, turned back around, and finished crossing the road away from me, with the incredible undulating walk they have.

Another car came round the corner behind the first one I’d stopped, so now there were four of us, paused in the middle of our journeys, watching and waiting in the dark drizzle.

I escorted it all the way over till it was safely in the grassy undergrowth, then got back in my car. As I drove off, the woman in the first car (who could easily have hit it) wound her window down, stuck her arm out towards me, and with a beaming smile said:

‘Thank you. Thank you so much.’

We grinned wide at each other, and I smiled the rest of the way home. Perhaps that echidna wouldn’t make it across another time, but that night, we did it…

Today, when I thought about it, I began to wish I’d taken video footage or photos, as it was all so dramatically lit/up close/unusual subject etc etc. But then I realised how great it is that I could still just act on instinctive impulse, taking care of a fellow earth creature, without remembering my social media learned behaviour.

And that made me even happier.

What about you? Do you have a ‘saving nature’ story- I’d love to hear it.

In gratitude, G x

 

PS: Here’s a quick National Geographic clip about echidnas if you’re curious xx

relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

Is it a pothole or cliff? Measuring the drama of your argument

Main Attachment styles: Anxious, Avoidant, Secure

boneAndsilver blog, hand drawn, positive ageing, over 50, online dating, love, relationships

hand drawn comic #comic #bespoke @boneAndsilver @WPDiscover

Most regular readers know I had a Bumpy time with ‘H’ on the last interstate visit, and you were all so supportive and encouraging, many thanks. Long distance relationships can be a challenge indeed. It took a lot of patience not to have an immediate, dramatic reaction myself, and now that we’re all snuggly and cute again [phew!], I’ve been reflecting on how it felt as it happened.

As I previously wrote HERE on ‘Bread & butter vs death’, there is a biological reaction to that disagreement with your beloved. Once triggered, your attachment system will flood you with the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to process and dilute these chemicals to return to normal, (a little longer for men), so going for a walk or taking ‘time out’ is actually a fantastic idea.

But what’s actually caused the triggering?

In a nutshell, a serious argument is received as a threat to our safety. I’m not talking about the simple ‘bread & butter’ fights like who let the cat out or forgot to pay the lawnmower guy. I mean the ones with high stakes: monogamy/sex/children/money/the relationship’s future.

We basically have 3 Attachment system reactions, and this is what their influence looks like:

#1 ANXIOUS

You: ‘I need to talk to you about something a bit tricky, is now a good time? Can we please sit down with a cup of tea?’

Me: ‘Shit, what have I done wrong? I always spoil things. [Fuck, I’m going to get dumped aren’t I? ]

#2 AVOIDANT

You: ‘I need to talk to you about something a bit tricky, is now a good time? Can we please sit down with a cup of tea?’

Me: ‘Not another drama? It’s too much; I’m out of here! [I’m withdrawing fast and looking for someone new ASAP]

#3 SECURE

You: ‘I need to talk to you about something a bit tricky, is now a good time? Can we please sit down with a cup of tea?’

Me: ‘Sure. I hope everything’s OK; I’m certain we can sort out whatever’s bothering you. [This is interesting & a little bit unsettling. I wonder what you’re gonna say? I’ll try to listen and not react too fast.]

I stood in my bedroom doorway while ‘H’ let fly with a number of dramatic and hurtful sentences, fuelled by tension that had been building for a few days. I had my 2 favourite reactions instantaneously: I felt sick and wanted to weep inconsolably, or storm away and get back online to find someone less demanding: reactions #1 & 2 were up and rampant!

But thanks to my Attachment studies, I realized what was happening AS it happened, so kept breathing deeply, trying to ‘notice’ the thoughts rather than ‘become’ them. It was bizarre, and not at all how I usually behave (I admit I have been a very content Avoidant for much of my dating life, whether men or women).

My calmer, kinder, more Secure response then became available, for both of us.

I suddenly saw how distressed ‘H’ was, and saying the opposite to what was actually going on: ‘I’m shoving you away but actually need to be held/I’m telling you I don’t want you but actually need to be reassured I’m worthy.’

How hilarious and fragile we humans are. And how lucky I’d done some study on conflict and attachment, or perhaps I wouldn’t be here right now, hanging out with ‘H’, feeling the Love, and very grateful.

boneAndsilver blog, hand drawn comic, over 50s dating, online romance, long distance love

romance over 50s, #positive ageing, #hand drawn comic @boneAndsilver @WPDiscover

 

Blog tales for the Over 50s with positive ageing, dating & relationships

Listening with teenage son No. 1

The scene: Kitchen, breakfast routine underway before school, radio playing

Him [suddenly lunging at radio & turning it up loud]: I love this band!

Me [having heard only 2 notes of song]: Who’s this? And how did you know who it was so fast?

Him: Because it was the beat that says ‘This is totally this song’.

 

Blog tales for the Over 50s with positive ageing, dating & relationships

Time management ideas: changing hats for 50 mins

Are you time-poor? Trying to cram too many different projects into one day, like me?

Dashing from school drop-off to supermarket to work to post office in lunch hour to work to dentist to home to sport to home to dance class to home to personal emails to social media to relax to bed?

A To-Do list which keeps on growing

#timeflies #busymom #timepoor #timemanagement #todolistthatneverends

That makes me feel crazy…

But what about all the time we spend staring at our computer or phone screens? A friend posted the other day that he deals with 100-1000 emails A DAY; that would feel like a pressure band round my skull.

And have you seen the work of Eric Pickersgill?

EricPickersgill

#ericpickersgill #removed #socialmedia

He photoshops out all the smartphones; you MUST check it out HERE. I don’t want to turn into a vacuous, staring monster, but I feel like I do sometimes.

These are the subjects I regularly have to juggle when I’m in front of my computer at home, which I’m sure are similar to yours:

  • Personal emails
  • Work-related emails
  • WordPress blog reading & commenting
  • My own blog posts
  • Answering blog comments
  • Social media for blog
  • Social media for my friends
  • Generalized internet activity (news/YouTube worm holes/Netflix etc)

UGH.

Today, I decided to try a different approach for only 50 minutes at a time. I set a timer, pretending to wear one specific hat, to deal with one specific topic, e.g. Mum’s care arrangements in the UK. When the timer dinged, I swapped hats and cycled up to the Hardware to buy a replacement light bulb for the kitchen which has been on that goddamn To Do list for at least 6 months.

Now I’m doing 50 mins of creative blogging.

When the timer goes, I’ll drop this, & start preparing dinner for the ever-ravenous teenager, in my tall white chef’s hat.

Then it’s going to be another block of writing, but for my overdue online romance homework.

I can’t wait to see how much I achieve (hopefully), and more importantly, how I feel at the end of the day.

What do you think? Any other tips or suggestions?

With gratitude,  G x 

Planning with teenage son: 2nd update

Me: I’m glad you didn’t have a party while I was away, & you did a great job on leaving the house tidy, but I’m fussy about the kitchen bench tops for a reason, and look, you’ve somehow made a big, permanent stain

bone&silver teenage son in kitchen

 

Him: Oh shit! Sorry Mum. How did I do that?

Me: I dunno Sweetie, but that’s why I nag you not to put hot pans straight on the counter. If you were renting this place, you’d get money deducted from your rental bond for that, just so you know…

PAUSE

Him: Well, when you rent it cheap to me to go live in France or Bali, I’m going to paint it all white, so it doesn’t really matter now does it?

 

Blog tales for the Over 50s with positive ageing, dating & relationships

400 Followers at last, so good. But why?

I made it. I’ve been hovering at around 395 Followers for a couple of months, partly because I delete new suspicious ones. Do you ever? Why would a 30yr old Indian IT guy who’s never engaged with bone&silver suddenly follow me? Or a twenty-something Moroccan personal trainer? I’m not interested in fake. So anyone who follows me gets a curious drive-by, if I’ve never had any Likes or Comments before. [Whaddya mean I’m a control-freak? Shucks, thanks for the compliment].

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 6.45.12 am

bone&silver #marriageequality, #WordPress, #followers

Anyway, I wanna ask YOU why? Why do you read my posts? Which ones are your favourites? I mainly blog about a few topics:

  1. My hilarious & smart teenage son (short n sweet, I love these, especially as I don’t really have to do much)
  2. Relationships/Attachment theory/long distance romance updates (one of my best friends says she likes these the least, and just deletes the email. I still love her)
  3. GPMs: Generalised Personal Musings (politics/social commentary/introspection)
  4. Health/food/dance stuff
  5. Creative writing (I’ve not done so many of these lately but am hoping they’re going to return)
  6. Travel, specifically France
  7. The whole combination

Thank you for your input in advance. And for your pretty stars of Like, plus all the incredible comments so generously offered; I can’t believe how wonderful you all are!

With love from Australia, gabrielle xx

 

relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

Bumpy

I haven’t updated about my online dating romance in a while, as things have just been cruising along: month off/week on/daily texts/phone calls & Skype chats 3 times a week or so, all cute n cosy.

Till ‘H’s latest visit this weekend. Hmmm, is ‘bumpy’ the right word? No one’s fault really; just two slightly stressed human beings, bringing their fears, their wounds, and their frailty to the fore.

You all know I’ve got quite a lot going on: Mum over in the UK who’s health is in decline and in a bit of a crisis right now, plus general exhaustion at the shitty state of the world. ‘H’ packed a small suitcase for this trip with some of the stress of building a new house on a tight budget, and various other creative/financial challenges at home in Melbourne.

We tried to set our 4-day table with care and kindness, but right from the airport pick up, we somehow disconnected. Oh dear. Add in a delayed flight, driving home in the dark, missing dinner etc, plus me needing to get up at 7am to work all day the next day, and you’ve got yourself a ticket for a roller coaster ride- admit two for the price of one.

When I had a tiny grumble to my two dearest work colleagues the first day, both in longterm relationships, they each smiled and said ‘Ah, true love hey?’

To which I had to grin and nod (with slightly clenched teeth I admit).

Maybe it is. Maybe to stop and turn around when you want to turn and walk away is love?

Maybe to offer a cup of tea when you want to say ‘Just go home then’ is love?

Maybe to listen when you actually want to speak is love?

Maybe to open and share when you want to curl up and withdraw is love?

Maybe to cry and show your tears is love?

The path of true love is not smooth, as we all know. And the bumps feel fucked! Yet on the other side is a new softness, a new understanding, and new possibilities.

 

That feels like Love to me.

 

[PS: I’m linking this with Debbie over at ForgivingConnects because she runs #ForgivingFridays and I really had to dig deep to do just that <3]

 

Can I put on ‘normal’ like a coat?

I slept so badly last night, here in Australia, acutely aware that back in England, my Mum was [hopefully] being assessed by a community health care team (previous post explains HERE). I’m writing this now as I wait to hear outcomes from my cousin ‘C’, who kindly took the day off work to be there as well.

I woke up to scroll my Facebook feed, which is full of #MeToo. SO MANY WOMEN. I keep saying ‘Not you too? And you! OMG it’s nearly everyone.’

Then I see the hurricane has hit Ireland, the wildfires blaze on in California, Puerto Ricans are drinking contaminated water, and North Korea has threatened Australia for aligning with America.

For fuck’s sake, this is NOT normal. Or rather, this is NOT what I want my ‘normal’ to be. I can feel the anxiety squeezing my head and chest; I have a low-grade churning in my belly that’s been there for days now. And yes, I’m still cooking dinner, feeding the cat, helping with English homework, and making vague plans for the Xmas holidays.

But I feel pretty shit. Acutely aware of my privilege, my pretty wonderful life, my access to all the resources I need (apart from same sex marriage in Australia, if I ever wanted to do that). This throbbing in the back of my skull cannot possibly compare to the grief and stress of a Puerto Rican mother trying to keep her baby clean, or of a family who’ve lost their entire livelihood and home to fire, or been shot in Las Vegas, blown up in Somalia, buried in Mexico.

I know that.

Where’s all our ‘normals’ gone? Everything is shattering, falling, melting, drowning.

Yet for so many humans, ‘normal’ is always shit… worse than shit…

But if I keep looking at that right now, I may explode.

So I tuck my head down, and look for my ‘ordinary’ jacket; it must be round here somewhere; maybe Mum’s got it? Oh, wait, no, she’s lost it…

And so it goes on.

 

PS: I’m sorry for the negativity of this post (usually I’m pretty upbeat I believe), but I don’t know what else to do right now, plus I took a vow to be ‘bone-true’ in my tales on here. Any suggestions gratefully received xx