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I’m pecking this out on my phone, about to turn the light off and go to sleep.

I just mainlined Ship of Brides as it’s due back to the library tomorrow. My first JoJo Moyes book, picked up on holiday by Trish who said it was worth checking out – thanks for the recommendation!

I’m breathing normally again, thank goodness. The smoke haze has lifted, I could smell the trees again today. It’s been a funny week already, and it’s only Tuesday! I’ve been given access to another mailbox at work, opening an email I managed to infect my computer. I got a notification that it “had been taken off the network, call IT”. #ruhroh

Archie is back home, tired and emotional and more than a bit overwhelmed to be here – poor sausage. He said he missed us, we certainly missed him. Not sure if he’ll end up in our bed, or if I’ll head down to him.

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I missed 4 and 5. I was drunk on 4, and at the cinema on 5.

I’ve reached out for help with my drinking, apologised to Hubs and am currently on Day 2 of getting sober. I was so far into shame yesterday, I nearly imploded on myself.

I’ve joined an eight-week fitness challenge, I asked Hubs to take front, back and side view photos of me. The front on is truly awful, will never see the light of day. I’m chewing my lip in pain, but it was real, raw and honest and so I didn’t going to ask him to retake it.

I also took my measurements, am at my heaviest weight, which I thought I’d hit last year. Barely fitting into clothes and cross with myself for abusing my body.

So here we are. Out there and open.

I’m going to share this with you. Because as I find my way through, others might need to as well.

Exercising is going to be interesting with the air quality being as bad as it is with the fires though. I was going for a walk each lunch time – but I don’t think I will be today.

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It’s been an odd day today. We’re packing up and cleaning the house ready to leave tomorrow; we may need to do two trips as we’ve accumulated so much stuff down here. I’m not sure how we managed it, but herding everything together we’re already thinking ruh-roh.

We’ve had the cricket on, interspersed with the news and if you saw my Facebook / Instagram story from earlier with the smoke haze hiding the other side of the road – you’ll know that life as we know it here in Australia has changed.

Ash is falling on New Zealand, cities are choked with smoke and haze, the EPA have issued air quality warnings for Melbourne; let alone the areas that are on fire. Canberra is hotter than Alice Springs, we’re f***ed basically.

And our illustrious leader seems to be waiting for the Pentecostal Rapture, because nothing else can explain his behaviour. He’ll be fine because he holds his hands up to pray and the world going up in flames is what the church predicts. What about the rest of us?

I’m trying not to get cross with it all, but watching the news tonight Archie first said “It looks like lava”, then “Why don’t they put it out?” then “Please turn it off, this is terrible.”

Any suggestions how I explain decades of inaction and resources to an eight year old? That for the past however many years profit has been put above everything else; because a planet with finite resources will always enable year on year growth and a strong economy? *snort* That coal lobbyists have the Liberals in their pockets by donating millions to the party?

Sigh.

I don’t know what to do. I do know that tomorrow, we’ll get up and we’ll carry on. Because our lives carry on, even if others in the Land of Plenty are now in limbo.

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I took myself off to the beach today. I’m now sunburnt behind my knees. I also have a red patch on a thigh. Got to love intermittent sunscreen application.

I had a great time, I just laid on the beach – watched the world go by and listened to Ruby Wax’s Sane New World. Which will be one of my few deep-dive books, along with Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. I’m also going to revisit the Oprah’s 10 part course where you drill down into each chapter. I also remembered I brought Jon Kabat-Zinn Wherever You Go, There You Are and added that to the list.

That’s three. I’ll have a look when I get back home as to what else tickles my fancy.

We’ve got another couple of days here at the beach, then back home and enough hilarity, back to reality.

We’ve put on Order of the Phoenix for Archie, the first time he’s watched it. Not too many questions so far, that Delores Umbridge is truly awful…

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One of my twenty for 2020 is to blog everyday. Hence the title of this blog post, I’m going to count down, or up, as we go through the year. I got into bed last night on New Years’ Day, and thought “Damnit”, so you’re gonna get two today…

We’ve spent the past week and a bit on the Mornington Peninsula. I was looking online to see if I could book the Air BnB that we used at the beginning of 2019, but I couldn’t get the dates to match up with the Christmas shut-down at work (more on that later). The next morning, R rang me and said she and her family were off to Fiji for a month, did we want to use her house?

Ten minutes away from the cousins.

Yes please.

So we packed up, including the cat, and drove down. We then drove back again, minus the cat, to go to the Boxing Day test, Archie and I left at lunch, then headed back to the Peninsula. Cat very happy to see us and we’ve been here ever since.

As normal, we’ve not done everything we’ve planned to, but we’ve done other things. The jigsaw is mostly done, but we’re struggling with the sky, so many blues! The beach has been hit a couple of times, but we’ve relaxed, unwound and spent quality time together, which is what we needed.

Yesterday we drove to Sorrento and got the ferry over to Queenscliffe. We mooched through the town, walked up to Helen’s chair and spent some time reflecting on both Hubs’ mum and Erika.

Six months ago she passed, it still feels like she should be on the end of a call or a message.

Ian and I have spoken nearly every week since then, for which I’m grateful. One of the things I want to do this year is to share what I’m feeling, when I’m struggling, more often. I don’t reach out to people often enough. I seem to know when people need to talk to me, and expect that intuition from others. Doh.

I’ve not finished my Twenty for 2020 list off completely, mainly because as the year unfolds, I want to have room for actions and additions.

This year will be the year I stop drinking though. The past few months of funk has seen me drink more than nights than not, not quite to oblivion, but on the edge of it.

One thing I wanted to do by the beach was to press pause and reset on what I wanted. I feel a long walk by the beach is in my future today. I need to sit and let stuff come to surface.

[Point to note, if the blog posts are numbered, they will be free-form and unedited. If there is anything specific I want to talk about (rant over), I’ll put a title up ok?]

I’ve just cleared my beach visit with Hubs, when I’ve finished my coffee I’ll head off.

The job I started six months ago closes the office down, which I wasn’t that happy about when I first heard about it. I had to go into a negative balance to take a week off work to head over to the UK for Erika’s funeral. I’d just about accrued a week back again, to have to use it for the shut-down. I’ve got no buffer for any appointments, catastrophes or life in general. For the first time in my life, I will be purchasing an additional two weeks leave so I don’t have to worry about having enough time for stuff to happen.

Because stuff happens.

History is just one damned thing after another.

Winston Churchill

Ain’t that the truth.

Other stuff I’ve done over the week is review who I follow on social media, what podcasts I listen to and am umming and ahing over what books to read over the coming year. I did so well with my reading in 2018, I wanted to hit 2019 with reading 100 books. One thing I learnt last year, when I’m depressed or overwhelmed, I now can’t read. I stuff my head into my phone and ignore the world that way. Mind you, I have been known to just read and re-read Mapp and Lucia to avoid life too.

(See what I mean about I need to let whatever needs to come up, come up?)

Listening to the Daily Stoic podcast Ryan Holiday suggested that instead of trying to hit a number of books, why not try to delve deep. To not read widely, but to read deeply, to come to know the authors as though I’d lived with them.

Reading of many books is distraction.

Seneca

I’m going to get twelve books from Book Club, but I’m going to have a think about what ten-fifteen other books I want to read this year, to deep read; not skim over to get to a number. What am I trying to prove?

Well, that’s the story of my life right there. Proving my worth to others. Instead of being happy with who and what I am.

On that note, I’m off to the beach.

On Toy Story 4

Last week, family movie night on DVD was Toy Story 4. Archie had seen it with his Team Kids holiday program when it was out at the cinema earlier this year, but we didn’t go to see it with him. I must admit, from when they announced another full-length version, I was worried about watching it. Toy Story itself is one of my favourite movies and the trilogy itself is perfect. The little shorts work as you get to visit with the characters; pop in, laugh like drains, pop out again.  

There was absolutely no need to make it, other than $$$ obvs. I can’t say I hated it, but I really wish I hadn’t watched it. Because it has now highlighted to me issues that I’d not picked up in the trilogy. In no particular order:

  • I really didn’t like Bo Peep; and not just because she felt the need to put a cape on before she did anything #NoCapes
  • While I did like Giggle McDimples, using the sound from PT Flea bouncing around wrankled.
  • Watching the trailer after the movie implied that all the toys were in it together; but Buzz in particular was hardly an equal character to Woody going off on his own. And as soon as we saw the doll, I thought here we go, its Lotso and to a lesser extent, Stinky Pete, all over again.
  • I laughed like a drain at Ducky and Bunny, then Buzz trying to work out how to get the key; and the RV bit at the end.
  • I enjoyed Duke Caboom, although as Keanu Reeves also did a hilarious send up of himself in Always Be My Maybe, that one is definitely not suitable for children!. Mind you, his posing on the bike only made me think of Robin in The Lego Batman Movie.
  • How many easter eggs can you put into one movie? Answer, all of them.

I’m trying not to pick holes in it, but five days later – I’m still cross with myself for not listening the little voice that said “Don’t!” Laughing at some of it hasn’t outweighed the overall feeling of disappointment in it.

Le sigh.

October Thoughts

I started this year full of hope and dreams. Excited about my surgery – planning to recuperate, recover and smash out a half marathon as a goal to keep me motivated. I wanted to read 100 books this year too.

I guess you had other plans for me.

Like learning patience, compassion, kindness. To myself and others.

I got back to work after my surgery, just in time to leave for a new role. I stood in front of colleagues with a prepared speech highlighting the friends I’d made through working with a buffet of people; but Erika had just gone into hospital and already, her prognosis was slipping. The only way I got through that speech was to mention her in passing. Because if I shared just how important she was to me, I’d never get through it. A few short weeks later, I’d have to go into more detail about the depth of our friendship, standing beside her casket. Aged P and Wiz holding my hands.

Since then, Erika and I have had a couple of chats. She shows up mostly through music, poking me to remind me she’s there on the radio. But drifting off one night late last week, I asked for her forgiveness for not being there for her when she was at her lowest. I said that I hoped that by looking after Ian, she’d be able to forgive me for not realising how low she was. A few days later, Imagine Dragons On Top Of The World played in Coles; this was the song that was playing as I boarded the plane in Melbourne to fly back to the UK. Followed by Roxette, The Look which seems to be the claxon call for Ian and I that Erika is playing around with the radio ago.

You can read what you want into anything. But if my phone has been linked to the car and I’ve been playing a podcast, if I’ve swiped up and closed off the app music will start to play, on random. There have been times I’ve reversed out the driveway and collapsed into giggles, other times I’ve had to hurriedly press ‘next’ lest I start weeping. If I carry on listening to music; all the while it’s apparently on random, unless I get the message and acknowledge it, another song from the same artist or album comes on until I do.

Like Barbra Streisand’s album Guilty Too. That album was my soundtrack to recovery from separation. I’d play it in Mon Bears’ spare room as I decluttered my life; bags of possession going down the stairs and off to charity. On Thursday last week, I’d skip one song from the album then another one would come on. In the end, I just gave up and listened to the whole album from start to finish. When that was finished, I put it back on random for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to pop up with By The Way.  

By the way, I tried to say
I’d be there, waiting for …

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Loud and clear darling girl. Loud and clear.

Since I had the flu, I’ve had to stop. Rest. Go to bed early. Recuperate. My reading has increased, head in my phone decreased. Won’t be many more memes coming on my timelines as I’ve left Imgur behind me. In the past few weeks I’ve read two books, one in two sittings. Slowly I’m inching back to myself. Coming full circle to reading, exercising and eating better.

Recognising no matter if it is gluten free, if I have too many carbs, my IBS will flare up and I’ll be ‘noisy’ she said enigmatically.

Recognising if I have alcohol, the wave of self-loathing that follows is not worth the numbing of whatever I was trying to avoid. Eight days sober and counting. I’m sleeping better, my skin is less flushed, I feel lighter in myself too. I’ve still got to work through whatever I’m avoiding, but I’m not scared of what that will be now.

I am more scared of me drinking.

I know that even though I’m not going to read 100 books this year, or complete the half marathon. I’ve done much more, something intangible.

I’ve learnt to love myself, forgive myself for some foibles and mistakes and be accepting of what I can’t change.

Dear Uterus

It’s been six months since you left me. Or I left you. Either way, you went up in flames in a medical incinerator, for which I’m glad. You were the bane of my life for around thirty years and I fought so hard to have you severed from my body.

So how am I doing? Pretty damn good actually. Although, all the self-care I spent revving up to get rid of you; was undone by a bereavement wobble, meaning the sober start to the year went out the window. And all the carbs I’d also cut carefully out my life, sped back in again.

Here I sit, probably the heaviest I’ve ever been, but for the first time in a month – thank you flu. I’m fizzing with energy, which was what I was like immediately after surgery.

Tomorrow, after a nachos meal with the boys tonight, I’m off carbs. And the booze. Again. Part self-medication and part self-medication – I need to work out what I’m avoiding dealing with. I had a couple of nights on my own last week, and funked sitting there in silence to let it bubble up.

I am fed up of hiding.

Six months out, three and a half since Erika died, she visited me this week; shook me up and out of myself. It’s time I put me number one again. Maybe over the coming eight weeks, I’ll understand why I go so far, then self-sabotage. Wonder why I feel I’m not worthy of looking after myself consistently.

It’s a recognised part of depression, not taking care of yourself. But after my epiphany when I was barfing the other week and I realised that actually, I didn’t want to die. Despite another part of my brain telling me that it would be easy to fall down the stairs with vertigo, it’ll be an ‘accident’.

Here we are uterus, a line in the sand. Nachos and red wine blow out. I’m officially fully recovered from my surgery where you were dragged out my body. Aside from the odd leak when I sneeze, because to be fair you were a lot bigger than you had any right to be *cork popping* I’ve had no other issues.

There are three months left of this decade. I’m going to use them to my advantage, and hope that the orange cheeze-weasel doesn’t blow us all up in the interim…

Stream of consciousness. Typos are mine….

Night Cafés

I listened to the Sam Jones Off Camera podcast with Patton Oswalt last week. Patton has talked in the past about Night Cafés; a room that you walk into, that you walk out of as a different person.

It intrigued me, so I thought about what mine would be, so in the order they came to me:

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, by Joseph Wright of Derby. This painting I first saw in the National Gallery when I was a teenager. It’s massive, the figures are almost life size, which until you see the painting you can’t get from any reproduction of it. The painting was also discussed in an Open University course, the one I met the first husband on. Hence the Night Café.

A Passage To India, this movie broke me open when I watched it. So much so, I’ve never been able to watch it again.

Pride & Prejudice, the book and the BBC adaptation with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. The book is glorious and I re-read it every year. The BBC version is the definitive version for me, I know that Keira Knightley was the same age as Elizabeth Bennett when that version was made, but trying to squeeze such a dense book into a movie is hard work.

Local Hero, I adore this movie. It’s part of my fabric of being. Quotes are part my lexicon and vernacular;

“You’ll never get two sheep in the back of a Maserati”

“I’ll make a good Gordon, Gordon”

“Did you cook my rabbit?”

“IT’S GONE RED ALL OVER!”

Surrender The Pink, Carrie Fisher #OurPrincess. I love all her books, but this one in particular was the one that resonated loudest with me. I typed a whole lot of stuff here, but then deleted it – as it was way too personal… I will say though, I still have car-parking karma.

Graceland, Paul Simon’s album.

Tubular Bells II, Mike Oldfield. Although, if The Bell catches me in the wrong mood with Alan Rickman narrating, it can make me weep. I particularly like the track Tattoo, there’s a version shown on BBC2 (I think) from Edinburgh Castle, with John Gordon-Sinclair narrating, but all those bagpipes – oh my.

Lady Antebellum, particularly the song We Owned The Night. For a 3:16 minute song, it’s one I can listen to over and over.

Wall·e My favourite Pixar movie. Not recommended to watch while pregnant, you may be a blubbering mess for hours.

Likewise with The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. Both amazing movies, both based on novels / novellas by Stephen King, both featuring actors at the top of their game.

Possession, AS Byatt. I can’t tell you how much I love this book.

Mapp and Lucia, EF Benson. My comfort blanket, my constant.

That’ll do, but there will probably be more – what are your Night Cafés?

Always look on the bright side

I’m sitting up in bed, listening both to the rain and the birds singing in the gum tree and acacias outside our house. The magpies visit daily, singing and chattering to us, the cat chatters back. (I put the link in for the UK / USA peeps as the birds are called the same, but are so different. The warble is lovely, and our pair come when they’re called to hang out).

I’m making a concerted effort to sit upright as much as I can today. I’m also revving up for a long hot shower, but I’m waiting till the boys get back from hockey before I have it. I’m not as unsteady on my feet as I was, but I’m still a bit worried I’ll fall over.

I’m trying to find the positives in this.

I spend my life propping others up, checking in, cheering on. I’m not and don’t think I am all ‘woe is me’ – I’m just trying to show what’s going on in my life. The only way we are going to get through life is to walk beside each other. If you feel I overshare, or whinge or complain. That’s fine, tell me.

We’re all adults FFS, we’re not in the school yard anymore.

Hubs has asked I don’t share as much on Facebook. I told him, ok, but I’m not going to dial back on the mental health stuff though. That shit is important.

So I’ve “gone fishing”. I’ll push photos through to FB from Instagram. I’ve also ticked a box that means you can’t see when I’m online, so I can wander around in my groups and reply to messages on my time.

I’ve also had a big cull and blocked others, because I am done.

I wear my heart on my sleeve; always have, always will. If you don’t like it, that’s fine; I don’t have to like the stuff you do either. That’s the joy of being an adult.

But like I said, I’m looking out for the positives. I’ve only had the flu, imagine if it was anything serious? Broken hearts take a long time to heal, but you come out stronger.

what a week