Thank You Nurses and Frontline Workers

I gave up nursing a few years ago, but my God I remember how stressful it was. I worked a lot in emergency and it inspired me to write my novel Looking For Wonderland, which is a nursing comedy eBook, with the main character being a germaphobic nurse who falls in love with an Infectious Disease consultant. When this pandemic struck, I thought, what would Celine do? If you haven’t followed my blog, you may not know that Celine Dion is my touch stone for how to deal with life’s little stumbling blocks (and fucking enormous mountains that you think you will never get over). After reflecting on what my idol would do, I wondered, how can I support the front-line workers? It’s so bloody stressful dealing with the public, and the madness of working in a hospital.

Then I had a vision of tired nurses kicking off their germ ridden shoes outside their homes, boiling themselves alive in a shower before they felt safe, and maybe they could sit down with a glass of wine (or a bucket of gin), and have a read of something a bit light hearted. So, my publisher in the UK is making Looking for Wonderland a free download from May 1-5th, from any of the Amazon sites. It’s just a little something I feel I can offer in these weird and stressful times. Something a bit lighthearted that maybe can take you back to a time before…

Thank you to everyone out there putting themselves on the front line. I know it feels like you are not always appreciated, but please know, you are.

See you on the other side.

 

Delicious

Not so long ago, in a land now far, far away, a friend and I went walking one summer morning. And, we stopped at a bakery and had breakfast. I’m so glad now that I ate what was quite frankly, a glorious meat pie that morning, because now, we couldn’t do this activity at all. The bakery is closed for sitting down and eating, the road it is on is too narrow for social distancing with a friend, and if you did manage to get a meat pie, you’d have to eat it out of a paper bag, perched on someone’s fence down the road (okay, I might have done that). Yes, I know meat pies are not the breakfast of champions, but it was so delicious, and reminded me that sometimes you just have to seize the moment, because god knows (literally) what might be heading our way, so it is important to enjoy what is in front of you.

So Jane, I hear you say, share something with us that will help us while we are stuck inside. Okay, I’m not even going to pretend this is healthy, but it is seriously one of the most delicious slices I’ve ever baked (and eaten – I can’t stop when it’s around). It’s super simple too, so if you can get it into the oven and baked without eating all the filling, then you are in for a treat. It’s a really old recipe from New Zealand (where I grew up). Hopefully you can get the ingredients. It doesn’t contain loo paper or hand sanitiser so that’s a good start. Let me know if you try it!

TAN SQUARES

Base:
185g butter
310g flour
60g sugar

Rub the butter into the sifted flour which has been mixed with the sugar. Press into a sponge roll tin lined with baking paper, but save some of this mixture to sprinkle on top of the filling.

Filling:
125g butter
1 tin of condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup

Warm these delicious ingredients together in a saucepan and don’t even think about the calories. Pour over the base in the sponge tin and sprinkle the remaining base over the top like breadcrumbs.

Bake for around 30 minutes at 180C

 

A New World

I’m not even going to try and justify the time it’s been since I last posted, but in this weird, new world we find ourselves in, I thought I’d like to fire up my blog again. Here in Adelaide we are not in official ‘lockdown’, but so many places are closed that there is no where to go, and really nothing to do. Plus, the government is asking us all the stay at home. So here we are…

To be honest, it’s strange, but not unpleasant to finally have an excuse to get on with all the craft projects that have been lying around half finished for what seems like forever. I was in the process of setting up my own business, but all that’s been put on hold. I have been put back on the nursing registry by the Australian Government, but whether or not I get called back into duty is something to wait and see about. Who would have thought?

My muse (husband) is around the house more, and thank God that’s a good thing. We also have a new member of the family – Sparkles – a rescue kitty. That’s her hanging off the front door. She even gets on with the ferrets.

So, here we are. A very uncertain future, but I’m certain there will be good things to come out of this situation.

But dear God, look at the banner for my blog. No social distancing there. I’m going to have to update that I think!!

Okay. See you soon.

 

Moving at the speed of light

I’m quite cheered. This year is FLYING by. I mean, in my mind it should be around March 1st, but apparently it’s nearly the end of April. But, what has cheered me up, is that everyone I talk to is saying the same thing. Time has sped up. Young and old alike are feeling that time is zooming by, so, because of that, I don’t feel so guilty about posting so late on my blog!!!

‘So Jane,’ I hear you say, ‘how is your self-care journey going?’

Self-care is a great concept, but what I’m discovering is that it means saying ‘no’. This is not something I’m all that comfortable doing. No. Such a simple word, but it has big implications. Like saying ‘no’ to a friend when they have assumed you will be available for one of their celebrations. So sure, they didn’t even bother asking you if you were available. What does that say about how I’ve been caring for me? It means I haven’t. I’ve let people’s expectations of me guilt me into saying ‘yes’, when I wanted to say ‘no’. It’s a lot harder, and a lot more simple than I imagined…

And then there is saying ‘yes’. Recently, I went to a pole dancing class. I’m at least 30 years older than a lot of the youngsters in the class. However, when I began the class, I wasn’t quick enough to get a pole at the back of the studio, out of sight in a corner, and was forced to stand centre stage in the room, right next to my 20-something year old male teacher, who is as flexible as a piece of cooked spaghetti. I was mortified! I thought about slinking out, but then I decided to say ‘yes’ to the whole experience, and just get on with it. Turns out, being that close to the teacher means I can see everything he does. I’ve been able to ignore everyone else in the class (cos they are behind me and I can’t see them), and I’ve had a ball. I’m completely useless at it too, but I’m having a blast, instead of feeling embarrassed about being the oldest in the class, and worried by what others think..

So, self-care. Far more confronting than I thought it would be. It will rock your boat, it will make people around you feel upset, and you will feel guilty. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and also the most exciting. As I start putting myself first in my life, my life is starting to look a lot more interesting. It’s not for the faint hearted.

I’m going to finish with a beautiful quote from the poem ‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver.

What indeed? And, as always, I ask myself ‘what would Celine do?’ I’m pretty sure she would go to sewing class every week, would have a great time at pole dancing class and would bounce out of bed every day and take care of her heart. 

And that’s how I intend to continue. I’ll let you know how it goes.

One Month In…

I’m staying at home today. Very unusual on my day off as I usually run around ‘doing stuff’. But some friends asked me to look after their seven baby ferrets for the day, and it’s going to be 40C (bloody hot), so here I am with a free day. Well, as free as you can be while looking after little baby animals, who seem to do nothing but eat and poo. And I’ve been peed on by one of them, and am onto my second outfit of the day!

But I digress. So, with a day off, I was determined to let myself do some fun, creative activities. This includes writing (hello blog), and I’ve even done some sewing. A lot more unpicking than sewing, but that’s par for the course when you are learning. Reading back on my last post, I’ve realised how hard I’m finding it to let myself do fun and creative things. It’s such an intrenched habit of mine to do everything else like dishes, washing, cleaning, etc. instead of just sitting down at my desk and writing, or sewing, or working on my miniature projects. And I’m not saying I don’t want to do all the chores that you have to do to keep your life ticking along. What I’m saying is I have plenty of time to fit in fun things around all the chores, but I’m really, really bad at letting myself do it.

How do we give ourselves permission to do what we love? I never thought it would be so hard!!

I’m going to look for some solutions and report back soon. And any suggestions would be very welcome.

In the meantime, I need to go and cuddle my four fur babies. They are not impressed with the newcomers (even if I am).

Hello 2018 – The Year of being kind to myself

 

It’s 41 degrees Celsius here today (that’s 106F, or as I like to say, bloody hot), and after a genuinely wonderful festive season, I’ve taken the Christmas decorations and tree down, packed them away for another year, and am lurking in the house until a cool change comes through tonight (apparently with 90km winds). As I was packing away the decorations, I wondered where we will all be in 12 months? I’m old enough now to know that anything can happen. And often does. I don’t take things for granted like I used to. Especially after last year’s health scare, I’m determined to make 2018 a fabulous year.

It’s easy to think about having a fabulous year, and a little more complicated to try and figure out what that means. For me, it means:

  1. Talking more kindly about myself, to myself and others. No more ‘too fat, too old, no good’ talk. Enough of that, it’s nonsense.
  2. Enjoying each day a bit more. Really enjoying my friends, my work, my hobbies. Relishing and savouring life more than I have let myself in the past. Looking at the good around me, focusing less on the negatives.
  3. Making time for stuff I love to do. I’ve spent so much of my life, especially when I was younger, doing what I thought I was supposed to do on all levels. Only to find out it’s pointless and doesn’t make you happy. Being creative makes me happy. Cleaning the shower does not.
  4. Letting others off the hook a bit more. I’m sure as I do that with myself, I’ll be able to really do it for others too. Easing up on life.
  5. If I get stuck on any of the above, asking myself my soul question: ‘what would Celine do?’

So, that’s the plan. The Year of Being Kind to Myself. Slightly more ambitious than The Year of Reading Instructions was, but I’m sure it’s going to be just as useful. In the meantime, have a wonderful January, be kind to yourself, and let’s make this the best year yet.

Things I love about Christmas!

It’s the festive season, here in Australia, and the other day, while explaining to someone how much I love Celine Dion, I got onto discussing all the things I bloody love about this time of year. Sure, there are a few speed bumps to having a perfect Christmas, such as family dynamics that make walking through a mine field look easy. And there’s the fact it doesn’t snow here. Just about all our Christmas cards depict snow, but it’s summer on this side of the world, and we often have hideous heatwaves, which are no fun when you are trying to roast a turkey and a whole bunch of vegetables. But it’s excellent if you want to go to the beach and swim, and there’s always the option of cold ham and salad for lunch if it’s too hot to cook.

However, in the spirit of ‘what would Celine do?’ if faced with such issues, I’ve decided she would look around at all the things she loves at this time of year. So I’ve decided to list all the great things I love about Christmas,

  • Glittery things are everywhere. You can’t turn around without running into some glitter-covered hanging orb or weird and wonderful Christmas decoration. My muse has no choice except to submit to five strings of fairy lights going up around the interior of the house, not to mention all the Christmas lights people put on the outside of their houses. Ordinary goes out the door, as our bit of the universe turns into a wonderland of Christmas-themed mismatched decorations that are frankly, fabulous.
  • People are in a party mood, and suddenly it’s easy to put your friends and family first on the list, rather than doing the washing or some other onerous chore like vacuuming. Meeting friends for a cocktail, or a bite to eat becomes the norm, as parties pop up around you. It’s also a great excuse to dress up and not cook dinner, because you are going out.
  • Food. We had a Christmas party sausage sizzle followed by an ice-cream truck dispensing soft-serve with a flake bar in it, all before Christmas carol choir practice the other day at work. Who is going to say ‘not for me thanks, I’m just eating superfoods this week’ when presented with those sort of options?
  • Clothing. You can wear super bright, silly jewellery, loud fabrics or tee shirts with stupid Christmas jokes on them, and people think you look great. Even headbands for your hair with reindeer antlers, and a string of flashing mini pineapple lights are acceptable work wear.
  • Christmas trees. In my book, nothing beats a well decorated tree, festooned with enough fairy lights to make you question if  you’ve died and reincarnated back into a 70s disco. I personally have a 6 foot, white Christmas tree in the lounge, covered in lights and baubles, which goes up on November 1st. It’s especially strange to have a white Christmas tree, given it has never snowed in my neck of the woods, and never will because it’s summer, but I love it.

I know Christmas can be a rough time for many, far different from the cookie-cutter family we are served up on ads on TV, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that there’s a bit of magic around at Christmas, that is well worth looking for. So, wherever you are this Christmas, and whatever you are doing, have a great day. After all, it’s what Celine would do.

And then…

So, last week I was mooching along, just doing the same old thing, when a massage therapist told me she could feel a ‘mass’ in my abdomen, when I was having a very rare massage (never have them. Note to self, don’t have one again). With my background in nursing, I was able to envision the worst case scenario, and spent the rest of the evening wondering if I was going to die in the next few months.

I went to the ED the next day (because going to the doctor costs so much), only to be examined, and told, there was something there, but that I should urgently see my GP and get a scan. After a minor meltdown, I managed to get into to see my doctor. She thought there was something wrong, but I couldn’t get a scan till the next morning. By now, I seriously thought I was going to be given some horrible news the next day. I spent the evening sitting in shock, reviewing my life, and wondering if this was it.

I left the house the next morning, to walk to the place where I was getting my scan. There was a rainbow in the sky, and I hoped it was a sign. When I got to my appointment, I think I had the most burnt-out radiographer on the planet doing my scan. I casually mentioned I’d been a nurse, and that the general public can be a pain in the butt. That seemed to open a floodgate for this poor guy, who used more swear words than I’ve ever heard in one sentence, as he let me know how much he hated his job. At the end of it, he swung the screen around, announcing to me that there was absolutely nothing wrong that he could see, and that the doctors and massage therapist were dickheads!

Turns out he was right. Turns out I spent 2 days and $300 thinking I was dying when I wasn’t. And it turns out, when I was in the dark night of my soul, contemplating if I’d had a good life, I thought to myself, yes, I have! In fact, the only thing I’ve decided to change is that I need to do more sewing and craft. I dragged my muse to IKEA with me on the weekend, and purchased a flatpack craft table. It’s still in the back of the car, because I’m going to have to rearrange the entire house to accommodate it. But I don’t care. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance and I’m certainly going to dive into my creative endeavours with a lot more enjoyment than I was doing before.

So, on that note I’m going to go and hunt through my patterns for my next sewing project, review my crochet wool, think about where I’m going to put my two new miniature dollhouse projects and get stuck into my next novel. No, I really can’t see where I’m going to fit the housework in…

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!

 

 

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.