Yesterday was not a good day

Despite having all my hardware removed, I’ve still got my ovaries in, so hormones – those pesky little critters are still rampantly waging war on my moods. Combine that with a very late night the night before, I didn’t get home until midnight, I was cactus yesterday.

I could have easily stayed in bed and hidden away from the world, instead I hid in my phone and stuffed up my mood even further. When will I learn?

I’ve decided to not look at facebook for a couple of days. I’m not looking at twitter at the moment – sheer red rage at the orange twat-waffle and NRA lobbyists mostly.

My mood has not been helped by leaving a set of hand-over notes that were ignored by the person covering my role while I was away. Instead of having meeting papers in one place for me (brought forward folder) and one place for BossLady, (her daily pack); I found papers, agendas, things to sign and approve, OHS walks – anything and everything, all over the desk and shelves behind me.

When an autographed approval comes back to me, I scan it, save the PDF with the same naming convention in our files, stamp the hard copy with today’s date, update my spreadsheet and send the PDF on it’s way electronically. I then put the hard-copy into my pending tray to file each Friday afternoon when my brain is fried and all I can do is filing and clean my desk.

Never under-estimate the amount of people who want hard-copy bits of paperwork, as well as the same scanned bits of paperwork.

me

I had six days out the office, and its taken me nearly two weeks to find (what I’m hoping is now) everything, which is pretty impressive. Talk about a sense of humour failure. But more importantly, it also made me feel anxious and flustered because before I left the building, if I was asked for anything, I could put my hands on it straight away. Maddening.

This week I’ve been so tired, I looked up ‘How long does jet lag last for?’ It ain’t jet lag, pure and simple. I am an emotionally stuffed piñata. Hubs and I had such a good time away over the weekend, real-life in the week is hard to get back into. I am so far off my normal rhythm, it ain’t funny.

In an effort to combat this, I signed up for a 30 day Pilates challenge at my gym. You can only book into the classes 2 hours before they’re run; so far on day four, I’m yet to get a spot in one.

I can’t get comfy on my chair at work.

My back hurts.

I’m grumpy.

I miss Erika, spending so long thinking about our shenanigans has made me realise that despite the friends I’ve made over here – sometimes you need people around you knew you from before. Before divorce, before breakdown, before Hubs, before Archie. People who know you from days of yore and see you at your core.

Coven

Give me a couple of days to get out my funk, I’ll be ok. Until then, we’re all off again this weekend (we have a house-sitter), we’ll have a good car conversation on our drive up, I’m going for a run, we’re going to hang out with Hanno, drive the wee man’s RC car and watch an Am-Dram panto #HesBehindYou

I read this on Instagram from Andrew Johnson:

Imagine if we treated each new dawn of each new day with the same reverence and joy as we do each new year.

Angie Lynn

Tomorrow we start again. I just need to get through today. As I keep saying to Ian, sometimes you can’t get through more than a minute at a time. But anyone can do anything for a minute.

My leaving speech

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For those of you who don’t know me and are just here for the food, welcome! I’ve been here at Council for a while, almost exactly six years. Not as long as some of you; but to others I’m like the Oracle of Delphi. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll know someone who will. 

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As you all know, I am guaranteed to cry, so let’s just accept that now and I’ll muddle through this as best I can. If all else fails, I’ll do an interpretative dance.

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This is going to be hard for me to do, because as some of you know, working at Nillumbik nearly broke me and my marriage to Dan. So here are some memes to make you laugh through this bit.

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Working as an EA or PA, your life is dependent on the symbiotic relationship you have with your Manager.

Three weeks after I started working here, I met with CC and Mr T, lately of this parish, to ask WTF had I done? I’d left a job I loved, with colleagues I loved to work closer to home and was working for someone who did literally nothing and also had no idea how to mange anyone. When I asked ‘How are you today?’ his answer would govern my whole day.

Somehow, I muddled through, joining committees and starting up AdminChat, offering help across the organisation where I could so I had stuff to do to fill my days. My mental health and in turn marriage began to suffer. Several people along the way helped hold me up, not least J – whose opinion of me i valued over everybody’s else on the Management team, and still do. When R left, J was asked to step into the role; at our first meeting, he said ‘I’ve never had a PA before, what do I do?’

J’s life is compartmentalised into work and home; he’s cautious about letting life spill between the two. J is also not the most loquacious of people, so we worked our way out of how to work together through Doctor Who (I’ve met two of them) and working through issues logically and systematically as that is how our brains work.

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Officially I’ve lived in Greensborough for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else since I left home twenty five years ago, I’ve moved house over twenty times.

When you look at my CV, it can look like a shemozzle too, because I’ve done there, been that, living in a seaside town, being a chamber maid is a rite of passage; I’ve been a bar maid, worked in a warehouse; I’ve even done silver service, although not successfully. I’ve worked in retail, including a book shop (so – no I didn’t take home much money); memorably opening at midnight for the release of the Order of the Phoenix which may or may not have caused a sense of humour failure when I was still in the shop 18 solid hours later. At that same bookshop in Winchester, played it cool and chatted to Colin Firth about Rohinton Mistry’s books. I may or may not have photocopied his EFTPOS receipt for his signature. 

 

I worked for the Civil Service in the UK over three different training camps. Spending the longest time at Army Training Regiment, Winchester one of their basic training camps. I looked after A-Squadron; supporting a Major, Captain and two Warrant Officers in the office, and six other Captains with their staff as they trained the recruits. Across the camp, every two weeks, a new intake started for the twelve-week course, a sausage factory of people turning into lean, green, fighting machines.

[There is a point to all of this, I promise].

I sat in a little office with D, the payroll clerk for the unit, the two of us surrounded by paper, listening to Radio 2 all day. Recruits would arrive, followed by greats sheafs of paperwork. They’d either stay and create more paperwork that would continue to follow them through their careers: or leave and I’d have to generate and process their discharge paperwork, closing their files. This was also where I watched my signature get smaller and smaller as I signed my name hundreds of times a day.

D was painfully shy; he wouldn’t even blow his nose in front of me – he’d always excuse himself to the bathroom first. Can you imagine him being in a room with me for eight hours a dayThe poor boy.

Watching Pass-Out parades of recruits every other Friday was both joyous and heart-wrenching at the same time. It was a whole festival to celebrate the hard work they’d done, with the recruits doing various displays to show off their fitness, skills and confidence to family and friends. Just after 12pm, family and friends would sit down in bleachers, staff would appear from all over the camp, leaning over the back wall of the seating, listening to the excited murmurs underneath us. A full marching band would put on a display, assemble at the back of the square, then the Sergeant Major would shout, “By the riiiiight! Quick, March!” The drums would start and the recruits who’d changed into their second dress, all polished boots and brass buttons, would march on to the parade square.

I’ve worked here for longer than I’ve worked for anywhere else. The job I had the longest before now was at the Sovereign Centre; everything I learnt about team work stems from working in that busy leisure centre. 

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Staff training sessions were a hot mess of hangovers, running scenarios with casualties all over the building, most of us in hysterics and us practicing CPR until your arms were on fire and knees your have given way. I learnt more about customer service and tact and diplomacy by rebooking over a thousand children into swimming lessons, navigating the endless expectations of their parents and the children’s diary commitments, until (unbelievably obnoxious serial complainant residents) arrived in my inbox.

But I’ve been on poolside and fished people out. Knowing that if you have to go in for a rescue, your colleagues would have your back to clear the pool. 

I’ve done CPR and broken ribs to keep someone going long enough for an ambulance to get to them. 

I’ve taught ladies to swim, who thought they’d be the ones looking after handbags for the rest of their lives. 

People I worked with at the Sovereign Centre came to our wedding, I still email and message D and other people I worked with at the ATR. Also at our wedding were a couple who gave me a spare room rent free for a few months when my first marriage ended. I spoke with Furriner on her first day back at work after burying her father, I walked into the lunch room and unknowingly, I told her she looked like she needed a hug, so I gave her a hug. I reciprocated the love and care my best friend W gave to me in entrusting her two children to me after we met on poolside over twenty years ago, and made her Archie’s god-mother. His god-father is Hubs’ best friend, who joined the Australian Army on the same day as Dan, again over twenty years ago.

Here we come to the point of all this.

I share these memories of my life with you, because people you meet at work shape your lives in hundreds of ways, day in, day out. I lived in Winchester, working at Waterstones and the ATR for just a couple of years; can you imagine what I’m going to be able to tell people about working at Council for six years? What we’ve done, built, created, the people we’ve helped along the way?

At my interview, I said I wanted to work for Council because I firmly believe we provide services, opportunity, art, facilities for people who want to access them, but don’t have the money to. But I’m done with residents complaining because they think moving a car park would ruin the aesthetic of a playground; or residents complaining because we take time out to celebrate IDAHOBIT, health initiatives, prevention of violence and that is before we get to the Not In My Backyard NIMBYish attitude of people who want to subdivide their land to make money, but don’t want their new neighbours to build on it.

But, I still believe that and I’m proud to have worked here. But now I’m prouder of the friends I’ve made that will be with me for life.  

Work in progress

Sooooo, I learned that I do not honour or am proud of being sober yesterday. We had our Book Club break-up at a wonderful private house in Camberwell. We mooched around the garden, took masses of photos and were offered lemonade, fizz and Pimms. I asked for lemonade.

I got this.

Then my glass was empty, it got refilled with fizz and I didn’t say anything.

Then I asked for a glass of Pimms, because I’d already blown the week out the window.

Sigh.

I don’t got this. Today I looked up AA meetings. I need help as this is bigger than I can handle. :/

—o0o—

In other news, a friend at aforementioned party, took a photo of me that I posted on Instagram and Facebook with the following caption:

Those of you who know me, know I struggle with what I look like. It’s rare for me to have a candid picture taken of me that I like. But I love this one!
#bodydysmorphia #mentalhealth

I’ve had some messages come through about what Body Dysmorphia means, so I’m going to try to explain it; as best I can. I was in Wiltshire when I was diagnosed, so about 2001? I have hid the diagnosis, because like many mental health issues, I was ashamed of it. Only a few close friends, and I mean close, know how much I struggle with what I look like. Some days, it’s so bad, I can only do my make-up looking in a compact mirror, because then I don’t see all my face at one time.

I’m getting ready to go to work, or on a night out and I look at me in a mirror; I take care over my appearance and think, “that ain’t bad”. Then I take a selfie, because I don’t think I look too bad, and WTF is in the camera? Or someone else will take a photo and WTF is in the camera. Some photos of me will never be on my timeline, because WTF is in the camera. So far, so normal, right?

I have also been the height I am since I was 12 years old, I towered over people at school. On my first day at high school, I was told off for not telling someone the way to a classroom, because I didn’t know it. The teacher thought I was being difficult? a bully? obnoxious? who the hell knows.

I would sit down next to girls my age and feel huge next to them. I was taller than them; sitting down on anything, my thighs were bigger; my hands were bigger, I bit my nails through nerves. I took up so much space compared to everyone else. I’m lanky, gangly, walk into things all the time, stooping to try and hide it; so now at 43, my shoulders hurt.

My feet are bigger than my husband’s. I remember so clearly at junior school, one of my favourite teachers trying to address the problem of people picking on me by standing me next to the smallest girl in the class (hello Sophie if you’re out there). Talk about exacerbating the problem. It took a full meltdown for him to understand the impact of him slipping my shoes on to take the rubbish out before he understood how fragile my f*cking feet make me feel. Feet! I am so proud of them because they’ve taken me round endless KMs of running in the past few years. I’d no sooner got rid of one duff nail when Archie trod on two more and I’m waiting for them to grow out, so I’m still trying to hide my feet.

What with being mistaken for a boy for most of my childhood and teens, the feet, the entirely too big, too tall, not girly enough, short hair because it was easier while I was in a swimming pool all the time; who I am, what I look like, got warped along the way. What I look like does not match expectations and people have told me so, all my life. It’s gotten to be so normal for me, even if in reality most people don’t care, but that’s the thing with BDD, depression or anxiety, what you tell your brain make no difference, one iota.

Because the voice in your head is so loud, it deafens out everything else.

I completed a Mental Health First Aid course today, (I am aware of the irony). But you see, I’m perfectly placed to do this, because I know people. I pick up signs when you’re not 100%, I ask questions, peer intently at them, check in on you, because when you’re hiding in plain sight – I see you. Coz, I know all the secrets about appearing normal; functioning when you can barely function or hold it together.

The alcohol thing? Self-medication, because if I’m buzzing, I ain’t feeling the weight of perception on my shoulders. Perception to be all things to all people. Perception that I’m not enough. That I’m less than. That my make-up isn’t on point, as I’ve not contoured correctly, (really? ffs). That some days I can barely move from my bed because my soul hurts. That some days only the thought of Archie means I hold it together, because I don’t want him to be the child that grows up without a parent. That I am sick of people talking over me when I’m trying to say something.

BDD goes hand in hand with everything else I’ve got. But like everything else I’ve got, it doesn’t define me. It makes me, me.

An experiment

TLDR, it didn’t work.

After what can only be described as a terrible, no good, bad day at work, I had three glasses of wine with dinner on Thursday. I woke up with a hangover on Friday morning, I felt terrible all day and at the family fun night at school in the evening, tried to make myself feel better by having more wine. As you do.

On Saturday I again felt awful.

Sunday night, I finished off the bottle left over from Friday and for good measure had another bottle too.

Yes, another bottle.

Monday morning rolls around, I’ve now had a hangover-esque headache for over three days, my alarm goes off and instead of waking up and getting on with stuff, I turn it off and head back to bed.

Most importantly, my mood has slipped. Badly. By drink two on Thursday night, I’m already regretting my decision, but let’s just compound the information I’m smacking into my head with alcohol.

I wanted to print off my year planner again to start crossing off my days again afresh, to pretend it hadn’t happened, but I’m going to leave those three days unchecked. To remind me. I cannot do this any more. It’s not just about not drinking, it’s about managing me.

My mood had been stable all year, Sunday I could feel the old black dog creeping in to my field of vision. I’m also disappointed in myself.

Day one.

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Forty-five days

I’ve been sober for 45 days, the longest in years. I only nearly buckled once, when Archie had his meltdown at a birthday party. I stood in front of the wine rack and goodness me it was so tempting. I stood with my hands to my head as the bath ran; it could have been oh so easy – but I didn’t succumb. I read The Darling Buds of May instead, with my ears under the water. Blissful silence.

I’ve dreamt about drinking a glass of red a few weeks ago, in the dream I tip some down the bathroom sink to wash away the evidence, sobbing at Hubs that I was sorry for doing it. Thank you subconscious.

Some nights I sit at a set of traffic lights in our home town, next to a Taco Bill (franchise restaurant chain), where they serve goldfish bowl sized margaritas. I’ve never had one of them, but I loved their sangria. Gordon’s Gin have a new advertising campaign out. Bus stops all over the place have carefully stylised images of spirits, wines, beers. Until I’d stopped, I didn’t really appreciate how much advertising there was for alcohol.

At work I sit on the Health and Wellbeing Committee, our annual survey results are in. Nearly 70% of the people who responded said that they didn’t want assistance to reduce their drinking at this time, we don’t know if that is the same 70% that said they drunk at least one or two times a week. But we do know 45% of respondents said they drank more than five drinks on a single occasion. Talking about this yesterday, we were shocked it was so high, but at the same time around the table we acknowledged that a drinking culture in Australia is so all pervading, it is hard work to say you don’t or aren’t drinking.

Back in the UK if I said that I didn’t want to drink on a night out, it was pretty much left at ‘OK’ and that was it; here you can get the Spanish Inquisition and nth degree on why not. I’m still not sure on what to say about it yet, not that we’ve been anywhere really, but keep repeating ‘No thank you’ in my head for practice. At Book Club last month, I arrived with a bottle of sparkling mineral water, despite our penchant for vino, no one was bothered if I drank or not.

I can’t say I won’t ever drink again, I’m just not having one today, like I didn’t yesterday or the 44 days before that.

I’ve given up weighing myself. Excuse me here, but FUCK ME it’s frustrating. I got so excited about the number on the scales the other day, then within two days, 5kg appeared out of nowhere. Had I done anything differently? Had I buffalo. Hal Elrod and Jon Berghoff talk in this podcast about “trusting the process” when all else fails and nothing seems to be happening. Taking that into consideration, I’m now looking at my average KM speed when I run. This number has come down from 9.59 min/km at the beginning of January to 8.11 min/km.

I’m feeling stronger every time I go out, three times this week so far, and probably again tomorrow lunchtime, with a longer one on the weekend. Hills still exacerbate my asthma, but I run what I can, walk the rest, run again and each time it’s getting easier. As I puff my way back home, I come down a hill to the flat of the road we live on. By the time I get there, I feel on top of the world. As I said in a little video today on Instagram, if I could bottle this feeling and share it with you, I would.

I finished an awesome book this week, How To Break Up With Your Phone, ironically on my kindle as it’s not coming out as a print edition here in Oz. Before, during and after reading it I have done the following:

  • Taken the email and Twitter apps off
  • Taken Facebook app off, and changed my settings so I have to sign in every. single. time. I want to use it. I’ve also taken my phone number off, so now it’s yelling at me to put it back on. Limited my past posts, tightened up my security and would dearly like to tell it to take a long walk off a short pier.
  • Brought an alarm clock
  • I now charge my phone overnight in the kitchen, the alarm still goes off on my phone, (the clock is only if I need to know the time), but now I wake  up walk to the phone and switch it off. et voila, I’m out of bed.

In four days, I’m sleeping better, using my phone less and generally feel less angst and frazzlement. I still use it for my podcasts, music and if we’re out and I have a query, I’ll still search for the answer. But I am not mindlessly scrolling away because I have nothing better to do; it now lives in the kitchen, not in my hand.

I’m also working on the #MillionaireMorning by Mel Robbins, which is more aligned to me than the #MiracleMorning I like getting up and sitting in silence to let my mind wake up and ease into the day.

I’ve also (re)written a chapter of my book too. Here’s a piece of advice for you, if you’ve got notes, jottings or scribbles of book ideas. Put them into the cloud now. I had half a book on the Mac that got stolen, am now trying to find it again. *sad face*

We’re also working on limiting Archie’s screen time, he dug out Monopoly this morning. Not sure that he’s ready for the arguments that game always brings, I left for work this morning with him and his Dad playing Connect 4. Hubs has been signed off work with a chest infection, stayed home on Tuesday and has moved from couch to bed and back again. I can feel my chest tightening, and am coughing a bit when I get up, one of the reasons I ran today, in case I’m not up for it in a couple of days.

 

 

Before

It’s official, well kinda as I’ve not weighed myself yet, I do that in the mornings. But I know I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I weigh more than I did when I was 37 weeks pregnant, I’ve had to buy new trousers and I feel, well, slow? Sad? Sluggish? I’m struggling with my cycle too (more later), but sitting here on a laptop, with my belly resting on it isn’t great.

However, I did go for a walk on Thursday lunchtime and felt strong and did a regular loop in a decent time. It was far too hot to run, but I was pleased with how I went. We had a walk as a family today, (Saturday) stopped for breakfast and powered up the hill to home afterwards. Spurred on, and not just by an almond latte, again I felt strong. Mainly because my asthma is under control; recovering from bronchitis has meant I’m now taking better care of my lungs, which means I can do exciting things like running upstairs or walking up hills without puffing.

[As an aside, since we had an awful thunderstorm asthma attack a few years ago; thousands were hospitalised and ten people died, GPs and hospitals in Melbourne are collectively keeping a closer eye on people with it. It’s even been added to the emergency management warning systems, up there with fire, flood and so on.]

Not sure what the hell is going on, whether I’m grinding my teeth or clenching overnight, but I’ve managed to crack three teeth in a year. I’m facing three weeks of fun times and replacing of two fillings as they’re not sitting correctly and a new filling. Then I get moulds done to be fitted for a splint to wear at night (sexy). I woke up biting my tongue this morning!

One for you ladies: My mirena came out earlier this month, changing tampons and it came out with it. Whoops. I saw my GP before Christmas, who’s referred me to have an ultrasound in the next three weeks, followed by a follow-up with my OB-GYN, booked for early February. He was adamant, any changes after he installed (for the want of a better word) the mirena, I get referred back to him. My GP thinks I may have to have another one put back in, if I’m lucky I’ll have an ablation, if I’m really lucky, I’ll have a hysterectomy and be done with the whole bloody lot. Pun intended. We’re now on 30 December, 18 days later and I’m still not settling down.

Le sigh.

Tonight I pulled on my Hot Yoga kit and took front, side and in our full-length mirror, back photos. I will weigh myself in the morning, depending on the number I may share it. But the photos? No way!

I’ve been um-ming and ah-ing about what to do with food and have decided to go back on a variation of keto; low carb, high protein, high fat. I could easily hop back on to being vegetarian or vegan and drop weight quickly, but need to balance out my hormone pathway over just dropping kilos. Not least because of the mirena, but holistically I would be better in myself without the insulin spikes and crashes of carbs from gluten free replacement cereals, breads and that’s before fruit. The food decision has taken me longer than working out what exercise I do, when and where.

I’ll talk about alcohol another day as I’ve started listening to Russell Brand’s new book Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions, which is extraordinary.

I’ll check in with workouts and meals on Instagram, tagged #fatpants. Kath and I worked out what runs we’re doing in 2018 over a coffee at the zoo yesterday, I’ve got set milestones I’m working towards and I’m not looking for a number on the scales. I’ve decided I want to be strong and healthy, over a specific weight.

Lastly, my counsellor wants me to look at myself more in mirrors and do Louise L Hay’s mirror work and write about how I’m doing.  We had a session before Christmas and I said that I’d been struggling with looking in mirrors again, so off we go. At least I do my make-up looking in a mirror now, not a compact mirror like I had to for years so I didn’t have to look at the whole of my face.

I’m out here and open, being a Warrior of vulnerability.

I’m tagging this into Black Dog, but ironically I’ve never felt more settled, however, this is going to be a roller coaster of a ride, and sure to throw up some issues. 

Shake it up

A morning blog. How out of the normal for me and that’s why I’m doing it.

Morning y’all.

My intention today after my meditation is calm. I love how the word I need for the day finds me as I sit in silence. I’ve been meditating for years, I dip in and out of it, but am trying to build a framework for my days – which more often than not start with sitting in stillness for 10 minutes to figure my shit out.

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I’ve been drifting for a month or so, I lost my way and had a pity party for one. No black dog, no anxiety, just wondering “What do I want?” How can I work towards a goal, when I’ve lost my goal? When I don’t know what I’m aiming for?

I saw my GP this week, my medication has been dropped back down to normal; my counselling sessions *blows kisses to V* have gone from fortnightly to monthly; and whatever funk I was in with myself the last few weeks has blown over. I love this time in the emotional fabric of my life. Coming out of a hole of anxiety or depression and feeling the breath of life on your skin again is something to be celebrated – so I am. Hence my morning blog and shaking it up today.

It’s a clean slate. New beginning and a do over. Just like every sunrise is. Take a deep breath, gird your loins and away you go.

So now what? I’m entering a period of Deep Thought, although have less programming to run, I just need to work out my own question to 42. But I do know where my towel is. So that is a start.

 

It’s been pre-disastered!

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When Hubs came home and discovered we’d been burgled he called me first. Practically shrieking at him to get off the phone from me and to call the police, I then whizzed home to tell him about knowing the doors were locked (in case the police came straight away, I wanted him to know what had happened in the morning) before I went to get Peanut.

Me shrieking down the phone is not a pleasant experience. I’m loud enough at the middle of my voice, let alone the top of it.

As I straightened the house, including my undies – The World According to Garp was all I was thinking about. ‘It’s been pre-disastered!’ Yes it was annoying, but it was just stuff, we’re also renting, so it’s not our house. I thought I was doing fine.

We’ve been amazed at the insurers, they approved our claim in less than a week and we’ve begun replacing items thanks to the wonders of electronic transactions and gift cards. What is amazing is this cloud technology, I log in and my stuff appears, out of – well, a cloud, I guess. I heartily recommend it if you get things stolen.

Music was more of a problem, insofar that I’d imported lots of CDs into iTunes, which does not get moved over to the cloud unless you ask it to, (I will be now!) Never fear, there is an app for that: Sharepod. I spent 30 seconds googling, $20 to purchase the full version, and the morning with my iPod plugged in. Over 3,000 songs and audiobooks have been restored, not all of it, but most of it and TBH most of us just listen to maybe four albums anyway.

Hubs has taken Peanut out for the morning, I continue to potter around the house. I’ve had a two week black dog fog descend over me, so while yes it was ‘just stuff’, my mind closed down more than I recognised at the time. I still struggled to get out of bed, get washed, get dressed, eat sensibly. I keep alcohol in the house to a minimum now, because if it’s there – I drink it. If not, I don’t.

Until Thursday where I had a clear day and started to wade through the back-log of Personal Development lists, and watched a TED talk that broke me open. It’s thirty minutes, so longer than a normal one, but really a must-see for us seratonin challenged people.

Today I should have run 10km in RunMelbourne; as you know, I can barely walk. My mind is truly suffering because of not being able to pull on the lycra, lace up my shoes and just get out there. Having found a way to keep Rufus at bay, my trousers fitting and my skin clear, I feel more robbed of this headspace than some possessions that have gone. And it’s my body that is broken – I spent so bluddy long getting running, I am mighty pissed off I now can’t do it. I have the follow-up appointment at the Respiratory clinic tomorrow, I might get some answers then. Fingers crossed.

This is a bit of a mish-mash, but I also realised that writing this sh!t out was helping too, so expect more waffle. Now, don’t be bashful, I can tell you’re thrilled.

Photo credit.

Connecting the Christmas dots

A couple of things made me want to write this to you today: First up, an article on the radio news over the weekend. A economist predicted that families in Australia will stop buying presents this week, and start buying food instead ready for the festival.

No sh!t Sherlock.

As the big day is on Friday, it is likely that your groceries will be fresh if you buy them from now on in. It’s going to be crazy at the shops, be careful out there.

Secondly, Woman’s Hour were talking about the additional emotional labour that is undertaken at this time of year, on top of the normal load. Not just getting the cards out, the presents (and food) in, but making sure people in the family who aren’t well are either visited, or cared for. People working in the caring professions, making sure for every home-visit, that they show up with a smile on their face, not taking out the traffic delays and frustration on who they’re helping and servicing.

Christmas can appear to just happen in some houses, thanks to predominantly to the women in the household. My gran would make Turkish delight, mince pies, Christmas puddings, cakes, boil a ham, the list was endless. Both grandmothers would also write cards and letters, starting in October / November to make sure they all got done. It’s not that my grandad didn’t do anything, I just don’t remember him ever setting a dish on to the table, and like most people I remember occasions through food.

We’re somewhat more egalitarian in our house, Hubs met Peanut and I at the Christmas tree farm, drove the tree home, stood it up in the pot and made sure it was straight, then Peanut and I decorated it. Hubs also ordered the ham, that I will collect tomorrow. I’ve brought the presents, but only because he’s been interstate, but it’s normally something we do each year together. Grocery shopping fills him with horror at the best of times, so it’s just easier if I ask him what he wants and go out and get it.

One of Jenni Murray’s guests was saying ‘It isn’t worth the argument that would be caused if the woman said “No, I’m not doing this, you write your own cards”.’ How did feminism and emancipation get us to the point where it is easier to work yourself into the ground for a day’s celebration, rather than have an argument?

I don’t do Christmas on a grand scale, while Hubs is now not looking like he will need to head to Sydney this week after all \o/ we’ve not changed our (non) plans for the day itself. We’re conscious we need to spend time together, so off for a picnic we will go, just the three of us. However, as it is going to be 36c, we might have to change our planned destination (Hanging Rock) to somewhere more shaded. But I know that all over the country, people will be slaving away in their boiling hot kitchens to put a roast dinner on the table.

I’m from the UK, I love a roast dinner as much as the next person, but why would you do that to yourself? I am also all for tradition, but not at the expense of sanity. Mum and Dad decided early on when my brother and I were little to forgo the roast dinner, figuring we could have that any time. As a family, we much preferred the cold meat, cheeses, pickles, etc. so we cook roast beef, turkey and get a ham joint in (all bases are covered) but they’re cooked before the actual day, so that became our tradition. Continue reading “Connecting the Christmas dots”

It takes a village

I’m painfully aware of the length of time since my last blog. But I’ve been working hard on myself and my mood. Rufus has retreated, the dark thoughts that were clouding my vision have definitely moved on. Be that because I asked for help and got it, from all sorts of people, thank you. Or be that through chemical means, my GP increased my anti-depressant dose by half daily till the end of the year – I don’t care.

This post has been a long time brewing with random thoughts that have been wandering around in my head, so I’m just going to do a stream of consciousness and let it go. Are you ready?

Work is better than it has been, since I started working here. The office that I’m in (as in the position I support) is incredibly busy, more so than before. I’ve been able to step into my PA shoes and really help, thank goodness. We’re still a long way away from being as organised as I would like, but I’m doing more with what I can and it is making a difference.

I listen to the BBC Woman’s Hour podcast each day, as every day there is an article that I take something from. This morning I was getting ready for work laughing my head off at the tanning options from a TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) participant, Amy Childs. From “Why bother?” (a natural tan) to “Oompah loompa orange” (self-explanatory), there were four levels of colour you could choose from. Amy Childs was quite sweet on the program, the salon she owns is in an industry she’s wanted to work in since she was 16. She’s now 25. I’m 40 and am still no nearer knowing what I want to do with my life than I did when I was 16.

Sidebar: I’ve told you about my careers advice at school haven’t I? Because I could swim, it was suggested I went into the Navy.

Anyhoo, on Womans Hour they were talking about how women in Essex and Liverpool will quite calmly walk around supermarkets etc. with curlers in their hair, onesies on through the day as they’re getting ready to go out in the evening. If anyone I knew in my social sphere appeared outside the house with curlers in while I was growing up; there would be loud tutting as it would not have been the done thing. I don’t get that, at all. It kind of ruins the mystique of it all really, ‘Yes you may see me dressed for the ball in a few hours. But hey, here’s my pumpkin carriage and mouse footmen too’.

Writing about Jack Monroe and their transition had me think long and hard about my childhood. I swum a lot, so to make everyone’s life easier I had short hair. Therefore looked like a boy, because girls only have long hair – right? I’m not a girly girl either, I can remember one time playing around with my make-up, once.

People would call me a boy when they bumped into me in the street too, most recently on Sunday actually. I was filling my car with petrol, M at work was with me, she went in to the shop to get some money out. The man behind the counter said ‘Is he, I’m sorry, is she paying for the fuel or you?’

One of my bosses said ‘You’re a good looking girl, but sometimes you really do look like crap’.

On a college placement in a residential home, the older ladies would say in their discrete stage whispers, one of those that could be heard on the moon, ‘She looks just like a boy’.

I’ve been this height since I was 12, all through my teenage years I was bigger and fatter, (even though looking back now I wasn’t fat at all, I was actually strong because of the swimming), but as my clothing sizes were larger than my peers – ergo I was fat.

People commented on the size of my feet, it still makes me feel physically ill when people do it and wonder why I get upset, “Jeez, I’m only joking!” Yes, it’s f-ing hilarious from here when for years you were bullied about them. I live in trousers because I can’t find shoes to fit that go with skirts,  so when I do wear a skirt, people comment on that too.

Having had a long period in my life where I could only look in a compact mirror to do my hair or make-up so I didn’t have to look the whole of my face at any one time, I am now able to do my make-up in a mirror that shows my face. Mind you our wardrobe doors are two floor-to-ceiling sliding mirrors, and my clothes are covered in dust, because when I’m sitting up in bed I hate looking at myself. I guess I still avoid mirrors, just not as much as I used to, at least I’m not taking them off the walls anymore.

Remember the scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian and Edward are talking in bed? He says ‘I think you are a very bright, very special woman.’ She responds with ‘The bad stuff is easier to believe.’

Be careful what you say to children and teenagers, it scars for life.

When my mood dips, all these things rattle around again inside my head (amongst others I’m too ashamed to share here). I try to listen to the gaps between words, but it gets harder and harder when you’re stressed, anxious or down. The voice in your head goes on and on and on. Before you know it, you think it will be easier to just shut the voice up, the voice agrees. Because look at all this case history of shit you’ve got to back up your argument.

My coven, my village held me up. We may be all over the world from each other, but the internet, smartphones and taking time out of our day to connect with someone who you think is having a wobble is so important. I was so busy taking care of everything else, I forgot to take care of me. Thank you everyone who commented on my previous blog, texted me, messaged me, called me, told me off.

I’m sitting here looking at peonies I picked at the weekend. Their gentle fragrance is soft through the house. I’m in a great marriage to a kind and gentle man, our son is healthy, happy and as mad as a box of frogs, I’m in the middle of a good book, with more on my bedside table waiting to go, we have a roof over our head, food in the pantry.

When you count your blessings, really sit down and count them, that nagging, whining, shitty little voice goes away. When you switch on the news and wonder what the hell is going on in the world, that nagging, whining, shitty little voice goes away too.

Village

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