The Art of Liking Yourself

Last post, I mentioned I was going to Perth to do a 2 day sewing workshop with sewing blogger and all round fabulous vintage starlet Gertie Hirsch. I purchased her book ‘Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book’ about a year ago, and had been following her on Instagram ever since. When I heard she was coming to Australia to teach various dressmaking courses, I jumped at the chance before I could give myself time to think it through. My thoughts after I’d paid my deposit were along the lines of… ‘you can’t sew’, ‘who do you think you are?’, ‘you are too old to be doing this,’ blah, blah, blah. Plus, the only course which hadn’t sold out when I went to enrol, was in Western Australia, Perth. It’s bloody half a continent away from little old South Australia, and I don’t like flying!

God I get sick of that voice inside my head, that’s been there for EVER, telling me I’m not good enough, or can’t do stuff, or I’m going to be sitting next to someone on the plane who has the plague. When I got back from Perth, I realised what a fantastic experience I’d had, how well the dress I’d sewn on the course had turned out, and what a privilege it had been to sew with Gertie. Yet, the whole course had been tainted with the background voice in my head banging on and on about not being good enough.

Each year, for the last few years, I’ve set myself a theme for the year. I had The Year of Reading Instructions, The Year of Saying It’s All In The Timing, but next year is going to be The Year of Speaking Well About Myself. That means inside and outside. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’ve often wondered what would happen if you lost your memory, woke up, and decided your life was amazing, and then just got on with it!

I’m going to do my best to see what that looks like…

In the meantime, I’m going to put my new dress on, get out there into the world and start telling myself that I’m okay. Let’s see what happens!

 

 

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The Art of Denial

I’m really tempted to just gloss over the fact I haven’t posted since May. How. Did. That. Happen. Really. How can it be November next week. I’m not even going to put a question mark to that. How the hell can it be November.

Well Jane, I hear you ask, you’d better have a good story to tell us since you’ve been off the airways.

As it turns out, I do!! I got a new job, in a new field, and have left nursing (yaaaaaaay!!!!) I’m working in a pastoral care role with people who have disabilities, and I’m LOVING it. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

I’ve started my new novel (yaaaay!!!)

I’ve finished sewing two dresses recently. One quite bad and one a bit better. And, I’m off to do a sewing weekend with Gertie Hirsch tomorrow in Perth (pictured above and below, no that’s not me), and have found a fabulous teacher here in Adelaide to help me learn my craft (yaaaay!!!)

I got the lighting system working in my dollhouse, and it’s now finished after three years of blood, sweat and tears. I’ve also bought two new miniature projects to be tackled over Christmas (yaaaay!!!)

I’ve gone back to pole dancing lessons (yaaaay!!!)

I’ve magically lost 20kgs without dieting. Well, that might be a lie, but everything else is true. Plus, my muse has discovered his inner Jamie Oliver, so I’m not having to cook every night.

Whew! It’s been intense.

So tomorrow, I’m off to Perth to do a two day workshop with the sewing blogger Gertie Hirsch. My muse has reminded me that I’ll be the oldest, and probably the chubbiest person there, but that’s par for the course, so I’m not going to dwell on that. The weird thing is, I moved to Perth from New Zealand 30 years ago, and I haven’t been back since. It’s going to be a bit of a journey…

On that note, big apologies for my slackness. It’s been a busy few months, and I’m feeling back on track, ready to get back into writing and ready to get back into life, instead of bouncing from one event to the next, while feeling completely out of control.

Yaaaaay!!!

And hopefully I’ll come back from Perth looking more like this.

Disappointment and the art of sulking

 

SULKING: mope, brood, pout, be sullen, have a long face, be in a bad mood, be put out, be out of sorts, be out of humour, be grumpy, be despondent, be moody, be resentful, pine, harbour a grudge, eat one’s heart out, moon about/around.

I’ve been working away on my miniature dollhouse this last week, trying to get it finished. It’s been two years of everything going wrong, that could go wrong with this project. A bit like sewing a dress where none of the seams match. Discovering that you’ve missed a stitch half way through a nearly completed piece of crochet, or going on a diet with your Muse, only to discover he’s magically lost 4kgs and you’ve lost nothing.

So after a LOT of sweat (in a heatwave), and fear (soldering irons), I got the lighting system together in my dollhouse. Racing around to the front of the house, I gazed eagerly in at my 12 volt lighting system, plugged it in and…. nothing. NOTHING!!!! In a project that has been nothing short of a nightmare, this was the final straw. I could feel myself plummeting into the blackhole of despair.

And yes, I am fully aware that this is quite a pathetic problem, given the state of the world. But, it made me realise how futile it is to say to someone, ‘snap out of it’. I couldn’t. I needed a full 24 hour period of sulking before I could even look at the stupid thing without wanting to throw it on a flaming bonfire.

I think sulking is a highly underrated spiritual practice. Really. I look back on my life and realise now that if I had sulked more when my boyfriends dumped me, sulked more when I got fired or didn’t get the job I wanted, and really sulked about my parents not coming to my wedding (see previous post), then I would have gotten over stuff a lot better. Sulking implies a self righteous indignation that’s quite empowering. Much better than feeling sad and depressed.

So, I’ve ordered some more fuses for the stupid power board on the dollhouse, and if it doesn’t work then I may just take an axe to it for firewood, and sulk about how much money I wasted on such a stupid project. But I’m not going to feel like a victim.

I’m going to use sulking as a stepping stone to feeling better about life’s disappointments, and I encourage you to do the same. It’s highly underrated!

The Time of Our Lives

Recently I overheard some young women in their 20s commenting how time seemed to be speeding up, and it was really confusing them. I couldn’t agree more, and it’s good to know it’s not just me who is finding the weeks speeding by in a ridiculous fashion. Last time I blogged it was March. Now it’s May! WTF??? While time management has never been my strong point, according to hubby, I can now assume because everyone is confused by the speed of time, it is cosmic forces at work, and not my own incompetence, that has made everything zoom by so fast.

So Jane, I hear you say, what have you been doing that has kept you away from your blog for nearly 8 weeks? Good question. I actually have almost no idea. Well, except for the hot water system blowing up on the side of our house while we were at work. It flooded the bedroom for hours with boiling water, with the result that the carpet smelt like a combination of urine and dead fish. That meant sleeping in the front room on a mattress like a gypsy (yay midnight TV sessions), while the carpet and concrete floor dried out over 10 days. Then there was the shower that sprung a leak and is being fixed this week (yay! washing yourself with a bucket of water for 8 days while the whole thing gets re-tiled…). There was also the tiny event of being put on a hospital roster at work for the first time in 8 years while still being a casual employee (yay! working all week from 12 noon till 8pm for two months, leaving no time for anything else, and at the end of the roster not actually having a job at all), and the usual general slackness that occurs when you get overwhelmed with life.

Hubby and I have also been on a health kick for the last six weeks. That has involved loads and loads of fruit and vegetables, nearly no carbs or meat, and green smoothies most mornings.

Hey Jane, I hear you say, you must be so thin now!! Well, that’s what I thought would happen, but I have lost about 200 grams in six weeks, so that’s been a complete pain in the backside of your yoga pants. I’m feeling really great though. And as my friend David says, that’s the whole point of a diet. I have so much more energy, and I’ve got to be really grateful about that. I’ll talk more about it in my next post (probs six months from now…), because my muse (hubby), who was a complete carnivore, now eat tofu. Yes, TOFU. Bloody hell, I never thought I’d see the day.

For now though, it’s bed time as we have to get up at 5.30am to crouch in the bath and wash ourselves with a little cup and a bucket of water before the shower guy arrives at 6.50am.

Deep breath. With the way time is zooming by, this will be a memory from years ago by next week.

 

 

The Happiest Day of Your Life?

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I’ve been watching a show on TV about couples getting married, where one set of parents has refused to come to the wedding. Excuses are: the couples are gay, the age gap between the couples, cultural differences, too young. I got married 12 years ago and my parents refused to come to my wedding. Why? I’m not sure. I’m not gay (but totally support gay marriage), there was no great age gap, no cultural difference and at 40, I was definitely not too young. They just had an unspoken falling out with me, and somehow that was that.

I actually think maybe there was a weird belief in my family that I was meant to be the spinster nurse who would look after everyone. Getting married totally betrayed that family dynamic.

My parents were invited to the wedding officially. My brother gave me away. My sister made the decorations for the church. My in-laws turned out in support and we had a fabulous day.

My parents gave me $1000 towards the wedding then spent $40,000 on a trip to France instead of attending our nuptials. We payed for everything ourselves.

I sometimes wonder how anyone gets through these situations.

Life can be bloody tough. In your happiest moments, you can have your darkest hour. I’m not sure how the heart forgives. I’m not sure how families survive this stuff. For a long time, I absolutely hated my parents. But quite a few years of therapy helped that. I don’t have any answers, but I wanted to post this and say, don’t let the negative shit rain on your parade. By forgiving my family, moving on and making my own way in life, I’ve gained so much self respect. At the end of the day, people bang on about family, but sometimes, your family can be a bloody disappointment.

If you have a great family, then celebrate that to the stars and back. If you don’t (like me), then celebrate yourself to the outer edges of the universe and back. Because you are good enough, and they don’t get to dictate your life. Make yourself your own legend. Good luck. Get help where you need it. Make friends with people you can love, and most of all, don’t let your family’s limited vision of who you are become your belief system. Once you free yourself from needing their approval, the world will be your oyster. Don’t look back! You are enough. You are amazing to have survived this sort of family. And they will make great characters in your novel, (which they will never read if you have written it!!!)

Saying Goodbye…

“Everyone on earth should believe that they have something to give the world which cannot otherwise be given.”

Nicole Cody, Cauldrons and Cupcakes Blog

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Sometimes I think I’ve got life sorted, as much as possible. Then you get thrown a curve ball. Mine came recently when I received the news that a friend had taken his own life. I won’t go into the details, but it shocked me to the core. I had no idea he was feeling that way. And so, I began that well documented journey through the stages of grief – denial (no, it can’t be true), anger (you arsehole!!), bargaining, depression (could I end up feeling like him?) and acceptance. Bloody hell, you can read about these things all you want, but when it happens, nothing prepares you.

I don’t want to write about suicide as such. Everyone has their own view on it, and I need to respect that. What I want to share is the fact that when someone dies, they leave a gap that absolutely no one else can fill. My friend took up a space in my heart that no one else can ever claim. And when I went for a walk the first day after I heard the news, I could actually feel that my world had diminished because he’s no longer in it. It’s so easy to think we don’t count, or don’t make a difference. Especially if you are comparing yourself to everyone else. Yet, I know with my friends, it’s the fact they exist that is important. Not what they do, or how much money they have.

I got left a note. It was hard to read. It was also hard for others to let me discuss it with them. You know, sometimes you’ve just got to jump in with people, listen to their story and give them a hug. Let them cry. It passes, but sadness on that level needs to be acknowledged.

Death always brings up the big questions too. Is there life after death? What do I really, really believe? And why the hell did I eat three chocolate bars in a row when I was feeling sad?

I also know that my friend would be looking down going ‘goodness sakes Jane, get a grip’. I’d like to say to him, goodbye my friend. I hope you are travelling better now.

And on that note, it may well be time for a cup of tea and a Celine Dion song or two…

 

When it’s as hot as hell…

I sometimes wonder what it must be like to live in a place where it snows. In my mind, it would be a pretty experience, like walking around in a postcard. It would be fun, cool to walk around in, and I love the idea of wearing winter clothes for months on end (because I have some awesome fake furs in my vintage wardrobe). I never think about melting puddles, getting the washing dry or where you would get fresh vegetables.

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And I suppose, people think that way about being in a hot climate. Endless summer evenings eating outside under shady trees, trips to the beach and not a care in the world. Well, today it’s been super hot in Adelaide, South Australia. As in 41C which is 106F, so I thought I’d share a bit about what it’s like.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Beachgoers cool off during a heat wave at Glenelg beach on January 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. Temperatures are expected to be over 40 degrees celsius all week with health authorities warning the young and elderly to remain indoors.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 13: Beachgoers cool off during a heat wave at Glenelg beach on January 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. Temperatures are expected to be over 40 degrees celsius all week with health authorities warning the young and elderly to remain indoors. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Firstly, you can’t go to the beach. Mainly because you would die of heat stroke, and also because getting to the beach involves driving in  your car. If you can’t find a park in the shade, your car ends up being around 150F if you leave it in the sun.

The evenings are too hot to eat outside and there are heaps of flies. Your makeup can’t stay on, and all your clothes get sweaty and disgusting.

Even turning on the cold water tap can be dangerous. The water can come out super hot and burn you if it’s been sitting in the pipes in the sun.

Leaving your washing out all day can wreck fabrics, but on the other hand, everything dries in about 15 minutes.

And you can’t sleep at night. Lying in a pool of sweat is gross and everyone gets tired and grumpy.

On the plus side, you can stay inside and watch lots of TV. It’s almost impossible to use an oven, as it heats up the house too much, so you can slink around the corner to the local pub and not have to cook. Everyone talks about nothing but the weather, so you have a mutual ground to talk about.

I find myself counting down the days till autumn, wishing I lived in a cold climate. So to everyone around the globe experiencing extremes of weather, good luck. Do your best to keep sane, and know that this season too will pass…

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Goodbye 2016

Yeah, don’t let the door slam on your arse on the way out 2016. What a shitty year. I’m not the only one that feels this way, and I’m so looking forward to 2017. In the meantime, I hear you asking ‘Jane, what have you been doing?’

Well, I’ve decided to give sewing a go. I purchased a wonderful 1970s Singer sewing machine and I’m reading a great book on how to sew. One of my main concerns has been getting things to fit. Once you hit anything past 35 years of age, chances are your figure isn’t going to be standard. Deciding not to be defeated by this fact, I got my friend to come around and help me make my very own dress form after seeing it done on Youtube. What this entails, is putting on a tee shirt then getting your very patient friend to wrap you up in duct tape. Yup, you end up feeling like a storm trooper, but once you are wrapped and ready to go, your friend cuts you out and you stuff the duct tape shape with wadding, and et voila!! You have your very own custom-made dress dummy.

My advice is, don’t do it on a hot day. It’s quite full one being strapped into your tee shirt in duct tape. I lost a fair bit of hair at the back of my neck when it got caught in the tape, and it’s almost impossible to move once it’s all been taped onto you. I laid on the floor so my friend could cut it off, but getting down there was quite the journey.

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As 2016 departs, I like to think I’ve learnt some new things about life. Mainly that kale smoothies and kombucha tea are not miracle workers. That learning anything new (sewing, crochet, writing a book) is going to take time to master. You have to brace yourself for failure and slow improvements as you make your way. And lastly, that finding happiness in the things around you will make you healthier on every level, and is far more effective than a sauerkraut infused, fair trade, organic, vegan, raw-before-four salad any day in my books. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and a fabulous 2017.

Learning from your mistakes

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As the year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the art of learning, because I’ve tried a few new things. This year I’ve learnt how to crochet, begun how to learn the art of sitting with people and listening (pastoral care), and am re-learning how to sew. I haven’t touched a sewing machine in 30 years… Someone summed it up beautifully when they pointed out, when you begin to learn anything new, you will have the vision of where you want to be (sewing a ballgown for the MET gala) versus where you actually are (a polar fleece pillow for the ferrets’ cage).

I’ve learnt you have to accept that you are undergoing an apprenticeship in doing it wrong, until you know how to get it right. After a meltdown at my sewing machine this afternoon (the bloody threads kept breaking!), I’ve really taken on this process. I’m going to get it wrong for a long time before I get it right. I remember the first real dish I tried to cook. It ended up being a disgusting vegetarian dish of basically raw potatoes in horrible sauce. Nearly 30 years on, I can cook almost anything. Ahh, the journey. I think that’s what makes a lot of people old. Being too scared to learn new things. It’s really humbling to sit at the bottom of the mountain, but without that vision of what you want to be able to do, you won’t have any journey to take. So, I think the coming year is going to be very interesting in terms of ‘learning’.

I really want to learn how to sew and make my own clothes (goodbye mass consumerism), I want to continue learning french (hello nearly 300 days straight on Duolingo. I could probably order a beer in french now), and I want to learn how to light up my miniature dollhouse. Middle age is typically represented by women going crazy for craft. But you know what, going crazy for new learning is pretty fucking fabulous!

Not to mention writing my next book!!! So on that note, I hope you all have a happy run up to Christmas. It’s not the happiest time of the year in my personal history, and I know there are many others out there that feel the same. I guess that’s what I like about learning new things. It makes me feel alive, when things like Christmas just make you feel … sad. So, get out there and find your new thing you are going to learn next year. It will make you feel fabulous.

Where had the year gone?!!!

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Am I the only one asking, ‘where did the bloody year go?’ Last time I looked, it was July and now they are saying it’s only three weeks till Christmas. Luckily I have the Xmas tree up. Although, I’ve had to mount it on a very high coffee table, because we have a ferret who has made it her personal mission to pull the tree over… Well Jane, I hear you say, what fun things do you have to share with us?

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I’ve decided to only keep things around me which give me joy (thanks Marie Kondo). I was early for an appointment yesterday, and there happened to be a big junk shop near by. Look what I found!! It’s meant to be a butter dish, but I’m going to use it to store my pins for my sewing projects.

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Then I found this. It’s an 80 year old cooking book. I couldn’t resist, especially when I opened it up and saw this.

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To Mother, from the boys, 1936.’ If that didn’t tug on the heart strings, nothing else would. Anyway, I purchased it, then discovered lots of loose recipes, and scribbled notes within the book. What a treasure, a real echo from the past. I think I might even do some cooking from it and see how it turns out. So on that note, let the countdown to Christmas begin, and may you keep cool, calm and collected and enjoy what is left of 2016.