Monika Schott PhD

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A life of 'oh wells' is greater than a life of 'what ifs'.

To all the gorgeous men in my life

Michelangelo’s ‘David’ (1501–04)

I was propositioned over the last couple of weeks. Twice. They came on two separate occasions from two very alluring men, within a week of one another and half an hour of meeting me. There was a moment in both exchanges where I almost pinched myself to be sure I wasn’t in some kind of twilight zone.

Very quickly though, that ambiguity cleared to an incredible sadness for both men. To me, they were missing out on the chance to experience that real satiation of connected intimacy. Maybe they’d been hurt in the past or they were unable to feel at that level due to some emotional torment, or maybe they simply wanted to have sex and felt intimacy that way. It didn’t matter why they propositioned me, what struck was the sadness I felt for them.

Everyone to their own, it’s just not my thing. I wasn’t judging, not even when one of the men looked at me at one point in puppy dog eyes as he spoke about his life battles with his family. That tipped me into something even deeper than sadness, where the twilight zone had become more dispirited and distorted than a twilight zone could be. Poor man, was all I could think, using his despair to try and gain sex. My parting words to him came with a gentle pat on the back. ‘Be kind to yourself.’

You have to wonder sometimes how life works when a third man I met soon after, put things into perspective. It sounds like I meet men all the time and I do, but it’s mostly through my work. That may be because of the industry I work in, of sewage and engineers and tertiary education, or the work I do away from writing around strategy and project development.

This third man spoke about recently being out with a woman and within a brief time of meeting her, she propositioned him. He threw his hands in the air too and we laughed. He commented that not all men want quick sex. Touché.

He was a lovely man, with great emotional empathy, and he got me thinking about all the wonderful men in my life.

My three beautiful and sensitive sons, even when we’re in occasional battle, whose hearts can openly bleed when they see me in occasional distress and whose hearts dance at my every success. The intelligent, caring and giving men I work so closely with and where without them and my sons, I wouldn’t be exploring sewerage town communities around the world and nearing completion of a PhD that will include a novel shedding light on what it’s like to live on a sewerage farm. They push me to answer questions I’d not thought of and encourage me to reach outside my boundaries with such care and compassion, ready to help me up if I fall.

The men in my family and circle of friends, who love and accept me for all my quirkiness, who never judge me or complain that they don’t see enough of me and are there for me whenever I may need them. The men I meet in all my work, my colleagues and conversationalists alike, allowing for stimulating and fruitful exchanges.

Even my two propositioning men have beauty in them, as do all the men that have been part of the challenges in my life. They have given me the opportunity to experience a dichotomy of life and learn those sometimes-hard lessons. They've given me the chance to learn about me.

Cheers to all the men in my life, and to my women too, for all the gorgeousness you give.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
This is such a refreshing and balanced perspective, Moni. A life-changing, even world-changing view. You handled it all so well so... Read More
Sunday, 07 April 2019 14:30
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks, Rosy. We're all human, all fallible little creatures. ?
Monday, 15 April 2019 12:09
Katherine Gregor
I'd like to echo Rosy's comment. Men do not have to be the enemy. There are so many wonderful men, as well as wonderful women, ju... Read More
Sunday, 14 April 2019 16:38
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4 Comments

The Nannu kiss

There’s this kiss that’s the purest of kisses. I’m not sure whether I can describe it or do justice to its nuance of power. It’s greater than any other kiss I’ve known, the epitome of all kisses: moreish without being delicious, deeper than lust and desire crocheted in the intricacy of passion, leather and lace.

I was lucky to have one smack-banged on me recently from a most beautiful soul, a compassionate man who personifies gorgeous that oozes from his insides out.  

I’ve only had a few in the past 20 years, since my grandfather died. I can count them on one hand. My grandfather was a strict man, an ex-army troop sergeant in World War 2 for the British Army Royal Engineers, although he was Maltese. He saw a thing or two with Malta being the most bombed allied country during the War. Forty years on and he would bark orders as though he was still in the army. Us grandchildren, 16 of us, would smirk when we heard them as they were directed at anyone but particularly at our parents and as children, we revelled in our parents being told off! We’d receive his orders occasionally, like if we were washing up incorrectly or cleaning up after a meal in a way that he thought he wasn’t right. He’d direct us to do it his way in his sergeant tone.

But his orders to us were different, they didn't contain the serious undertones so distinct in his orders to others and even when they did, we knew we could disobey them. When we did, he’d have a little grumble then quickly break into a little laugh and invariably, end in one of his kisses. I call them the Nannu kiss and Nannu would kiss us in this way anytime, not just when we disobeyed his orders. It was his signature kiss.

The few I’ve received since his death have come from a gentle giant of a man who I consider an older brother. I’m the eldest of my siblings and so to have this older brother figure is comforting. His kiss normally comes with a hello or how are you. It could be that he kisses me in this way simply because he is almost a foot taller than me and the practicality of giving the kiss is because of his height.

But I don’t think that’s the case, not when I feel such care and a sense of protection in the Nannu kiss. It’s a strange feeling, that of protection, because it’s not as if I'm in any danger. The kiss though, conveys such kindness and respect, and that everything is okay, no matter what. It’s a reassurance that I’m safe, that someone ‘has my back’ and I can rely on them. 

Timing is everything and the Nannu kiss I received from my gorgeous man this week came at the most perfect time, if ever there is such a thing as the perfect. It came with lashings of care, compassion and grace and allowed me the humility to lean into his grounding and know that no matter what, he’s there and I'm okay. It came with the reassurance that he’ll be beside me in the patience of the most enlightened of monks and while he may not be able to stick any broken pieces together for me, he’ll help search for every shard that may have ricocheted into the ethers and catch them if they fall while I glue them together. His nurturing strength is deeply rooted in solid poise, so that anything can be achieved. The Nannu kiss is unwavering.

I hope you get to experience the Nannu kiss in your lifetime and when you do, be sure to draw in all the tenderness that it’s given with. Feel that kiss when it’s coddled, caked or caressed onto your forehead, suck in every minuscule of its giving and feel it spread from the top of your head into every part of your body. Breathe in that cherish of the exchange for it will give you the strength to accomplish even the most difficult of despairs.

And if you’re lucky enough to witness a Nannu kiss being planted on someone’s forehead, observe the lowering of the giver’s eyes, the warmth in their smile before they pucker their lips to kiss the forehead of the lucky receiver, whose head is almost bowed in anticipation of the gift. Watch the receiver tuck into the chest of the giver, their body giving into the comfort of the steady foundation. Appreciate the vulnerability in the kiss being received, and the humility with which it’s given.

The Nannu kiss is the embodiment of love stripped bare. It can empower to achieve and accomplish anything, even the perceived insurmountable. Christmas or not, Nannu kiss or not, the gift of unconditional reassurance and boundless strength is something we’re all worthy of receiving. And giving.

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Can't help feeling this is a manifestation of the truest kind of love. And what a celebration of it! :-)
Monday, 31 December 2018 13:36
Monika Schott PhD
It is, Rosy. Absolutely! ... Read More
Tuesday, 01 January 2019 09:46
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You know

Some things you just know, without understanding or reasoning. They just are.

From that first breath we’re privileged with, the gasp that comes from the longest silence, you know there is something greater than any understanding can reveal.

It’s a look. A smell. A touch that melts a hundred hardened hearts and can prompt the unfurling of the first delicate petal from the centre of a tightly bound rose. It unleashes an unimaginable, a vast infinite beyond comprehension.

It’s when time is nothing and growth is everything, when nothing can morph into everything and everything can become entirety. That first breath tells all. Is all. The first step, the first word spoken. It’s when a teenager openly admires a parent’s bravery, and that other teenager rises to speak her mind in forthright candour and with a strength you wish all people had.

In that, is a knowing that can’t be explained. It’s something that stirs deep within the youngest of people and oldest of souls, and prompts action when no action may be wanted. It comes on impulse voicing care and concern, as a surprise savvy loaded in activism that inspires and binds to accomplish more.

As the croon of tyre on bitumen can hum into daydreams of what was yesterday and what’s to come tomorrow, mumbles onto foreign lands can feel so familiar. To start over or return, it can be the same and one, as is the knowing and not knowing and catching a whiff to follow your nose when there is no scent.

It knows. As sure as the sun rises each morning and sets each night, even when it hovers in a haze of pink and orange to dance on a horizon and never really set or rise, you know. Deep in your centre, it calls. Even when a kick in the gut strikes in the dim of dark to seethe in swells and spits of molten lava, or the broken of heartache that has no end, in all its fragmented fracture, it knows what to do. It understands what is.

When a touch can send quivers into a rabid fever, when luminous and incandescent eyes of blue, green or brown pine unwavering into you, whether human, canine, feline or other living creature, you know. No matter where you are, what you’re doing or for how long.

It’s there in the last breath in a long line of breaths, bellying out as a knowing in one’s core of all that is. That knowing of instinct, you know it, even when you don’t know it.

And yet the simplest action for all of us is to listen. Hear that call, hear that knowing of instinct. It can flutter in the flap of a butterfly wing, or a bam-shazam punch of tungsten tough.

Stop. Breathe. Listen in silence.

What it is that we know, is in the pits of no end. Hone in on that knowing for in its centre, is the sound of love. Touch it. Stroke it. Gaze upon it. Taste it and smell it. Devour it. That’s all we need to know.

 

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
This really spoke to me. Beautiful. Thank you, Monika.
Monday, 19 November 2018 10:32
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks Katherine. I find a lot speaking to me in the 'what's not said'. ... Read More
Friday, 23 November 2018 20:10
Rosy Cole
A blinding riff of the senses and sensations! It well illustrates the phrase 'the evidence of things not seen'. Your interior 'to... Read More
Friday, 23 November 2018 15:07
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6 Comments

The magic mirror

My kitchen window is the portal into another time and place. I’ve been looking through it and writing about what I see for years. Even when I don’t see any physical activity apart from the day that is – a gluttonous sky thundering over the Chinese Elm, the first blossoms on the apricot tree or chooks basking in the dusty hole they’ve dug to bathe in sunshine – I see so much.

The three little boys that once jumped in and out of a portable swimming pool in summers of years gone, white in a heavy layering of sunscreen and laughing with each butt print made on the hot concrete path. They’d ride scooters and bikes from the back gate onto a track in the grass, have parties with friends and chip golf balls on a make-shift putting green. They’d hang washing on the clothes line while I washed dishes over my window, throwing the ball for Teddi and hitting it out with a cricket bat when they got tired of throwing. They’d bring washing in, all folded and ready to sort. They still do.

Today through my kitchen window is one of them with his love pulling weeds together by that clothes line, cute in their occasional smiles and exchanges. He’s older and wiser now, although sometimes when a shopping trolley full of garden stakes and an azalea bush plucked from an anonymous front yard appears after a night out with friends, I do wonder.

    Our house, it has a crowd

    There’s always something happening

    And it’s usually quite loud … Our house, in the middle of our street

Madness sings over the radio, reminding me of how time moves at a snail’s pace, and yet ever moving with the rotating Earth. This magic window of mine shows glimpses only I can see. Memories of little boys that are now as men, a second 21st birthday in weeks.

Waves in the unseen pulse through, hurts from deep love and happiness scar in a life meandering as a unique Jackson Pollock drip painting. Sharp pains clash in lines of reds and blues highlighted in ochres, the clash of words that gnaw within the heart.

    It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain

    You’ve done it once you can do it again

It’s the Divinyls now, prodding the longings, whether known or not, for him or her, that thing in the corner. To be by the beach; to be home. A longing for peace without turmoil, peace even when the ocean roars its endless rhythm of now and what’s to come. Longing frees the honesty within the heart, to smile when not smiling. Perhaps that’s a contentment, even with emotions brimming and wanting to spill.

Whether I’m looking through my kitchen window at those boys of yesterday and today, or for the rabid clucks of chooks being chased by Teddi and Schnooze, all in good jest of course, it’s always wide open and full of reflection. I can be cooking butterflied lamb that’s been marinating for 36 hours for dinner and whizzing past the window from bench to stove, stopping at the kitchen sink to wash hands of sticky garlic oils, and still, all manner of stark brutality can flood in to choke. A gulp of rosé from the antique crystal glass can smooth it away, spritely and clear compared to the robust of swallow of the same wine from my brown short glass last week. Senses swirl in the heady grilling, aromas fill nostrils to where I can smell no more.

This evening it’s simple burgers browning in a pan with bacon and pineapple and it’s not until one of those boys walks in from work that I realise I’m immersed in the Monika-world.

‘Mmm, that smells nice,’ he says. ‘I can smell it from the back gate.’ His hello kiss brings me back to today with bonds to yesterday. Another sip of rosé.

That magic mirror can show possibilities of what’s to come, of more little children running through the yard or by the beach in their little Hawaiian shirts, more dogs and chooks and golf all fusing as that next part of a growing life. My magic mirror keeps me wide open to possibilities, many I cannot imagine.

There’s always a kiss of tomorrow, the kiss from far away that should have been, could be. Kisses maketh thy life.

    Here comes the rain again

    Falling on my head like a memory

    Falling on my head like a new emotion

    I want to walk in the open wind

    I want to talk like lovers do

    I want to dive into your ocean

    Is it raining with you        ~ Eurythmics

 

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
That means you've lived in the same house for all these years! Haven't moved house around 50 times so far, I cannot begin to imagi... Read More
Saturday, 15 September 2018 16:54
Monika Schott PhD
Yes, lived in the same house for many years now, which is quite different to the years of moving before that! Definitely can't say... Read More
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 09:05
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2 Comments

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Latest Comments

Rosy Cole Florence
17 June 2020
Thank you for your delightful comment. It is good to reflect on a way of life that has been lost.
Stephen Evans Florence
16 June 2020
Enjoyed this so much. Charming, evocative, and lyrical.
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15 June 2020
Thanks Rosy. The story had to be told and I've been the fortunate person to be able to tell it. The ...
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Helpful context
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15 June 2020
Monika has taken us on a wonderfully illuminating journey, full of interest and humanity. We are so ...