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).

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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.

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…