• This blog post is late. Ooops. Sorry. But, see – there was a flurry of unexpected activity yesterday, so blog writing had to wait! It simply had to. See, we bought a thing. And because we bought a thing, it had consequences, namely the rearranging of furniture across three rooms. Who knew the acquisition of a (very pretty!) desk could lead to so much happy upheaval. I’m excited about this, people. Very excited. I now have a desk on which I can permanently place my notebook computer. This is a hooray moment because it means my big, white desk that was meant to be used for the laying out of fabric (because garment construction!) can once again be used for its intended purpose. I’m amazed at how having a dedicated space for making actually encourages making. I have a space. It is good.
Table

My new little desk. Isn’t she lovely? ūüôā

  • Also, bonus treat. The rearranging of furniture to accommodate new little desk has upended stuff, allowing me to rediscover bits ‘n pieces I’d forgotten about. One such treasure is a print that was gifted to me some 15 years ago. It’s entitled Galerie des Rois & Reines de France. Granted, I’m not French, but I do like the impressions of period costume that the print displays. I decided it needed framing, so we popped into The Warehouse. I happened to walk past the clearance shelf, and stopped at a basic white frame. The print in said frame is what drew my attention – a lovely picture of what looks like a thick hedge of bay leaf. I suddenly thought of a weird Alice in Wonderland-ish tea party with elaborate picture frames attached with ribbon to a towering garden hedge. Then I remembered I had some crochet lace tape, and a day later this happened:
Print

I’m a little amazed by how it all came together. This thing called creativity, it’s a fascinating thing, eh. Wow.

  • I had a bit of a flash-intuition-popping-into-brain-by-what-I-call-Spirit this week. You know how I’ve been bleating on about how I’m shit at dressmaking and how I have regrets about stopping my studies in year dot? (Yes, that.) Spirit posed this question:¬†how do you know you’re shit at dressmaking when you’re not actually doing it? I’m mean, seriously. If I do the thing, I might actually surprise myself as to how good I can be at it. Ha. Now that’s a different way of looking at it. Thanks Spirit.
  • Getting angry last week was a good thing because it’s made space. I admit it – I love clothing (not in a ‘must-follow-latest-fashion-trend’ way, but in a ‘oh-wow-this-dress-is-so-cute-that-wearing-it-makes-me-feel-so-happy’ way).*¬†Of course, this has it’s problems because shopping for clothing is difficult. I don’t quite fit into a size 20¬† anymore (because my bust is 4cm too big), but a size 22 feels too big. So, I find myself contemplating weight loss so that I can fit into ready-made clothing. This does not sit well with me. Loosing weight to conform to what is considered a ‘normal’ shape has never sat well with me. Mostly because it feels too much like changing myself so that I become ‘acceptable’. But what choice do I have, really? I love the clothing. <sad face> Argh.
  • Also, during this week, day two of exposure therapy happened. In order to acquire an aluminium muffin pan**, I had to go to Moore Wilson, which is on a very busy road in Porirua that I’ve never driven on. Ne-ver. Never. So, yes. That was a good three on the Prickly Scale. I’m so glad Russell came with me. He gives good direction. (Expect when he’s pointing out all the places of interest whilst my brain is trying to process the directions to the place I actually want to get to. His “turn right at the next circle” got lost in amongst the “oh, and if you want to go to Countdown, you turn left here and then go round into the parking lot. And there’s Pete’s Emporium if you need thread. North City is just up ahead. There’s the entrance to New World’s parking area.” My brain: “Wait. What. So where am I going now? Where am I? Oh, right. Oh shit, I have to turn right like now!”) I did feel heady once we arrived, on account of not breathing, but that soon sorted itself out after I shook out the prickliness that is adrenaline pumping through your veins. Shopping was fine. (I didn’t buy any cookbooks. So much restraint on my part! (No Russell – a little instruction booklet on how to make butter and yoghurt at home does not count as a cookbook! Although it probably will go in the cookbook library. Because food. Um.) The drive home was a little crazy because I had to get over two lanes of oncoming traffic moving in opposite directions, around lunch hour. I think I’ll just go to the round-about next time. My nerves.

 

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* I mean, I found these shoes that are advertised as being a wide fit and died a little, albeit exhilarated, death.

Symone_1_joe_browns

Pinstripes and rich burgundy velvet make these heels an absolute treat. Bar strap and a soft grey rose finishes the look. A perfect Winter season shoe.

** I have not found past√©is de nata in Wellington. Sure, custard tarts exist here, but they’re more like custard slices. And they’re okay. I guess… Dear god, I miss the deliciously creamy custard centre and crispy pastry that are¬†past√©is de nata. And that slightly burnt bit on the top of the custard. Yeah, I miss that. With hot coffee. And the warmth of a satisfied sigh that is biting into a pastel de nata. So dreamy.

Anyway. I’m going to make my own. Yes. I’m doing this. Hence the need for a aluminium muffin pan (because non-stick pans, apparently, don’t make for heavenly crispy pastry) and two pizza stones (because these babies need a super hot oven, like 270¬įC at least, filled with radiating heat to create that yummy burnt custard top). I’m smiling just thinking about it.

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The child is home sick with a croaky cough and gooey stuff coming out of her nose and throat. It’s… um… interesting. Of course, as we’re family, we share all the germs, so I’m feeling sick too. Argh. And having the lergy makes me grumpy. So. Yes. Chicken soup. I shall make chicken soup. It will make everything better. It will.

Anyway.

  • It was rainy and cold this week, which made for good cocooning in my ‘Making Room’ (my work space, basically). There was some happy re-decorating and making important-creativity-inspiring stuff more accessible (i.e. putting it all some place I can see it). I’m slowly getting excited about doing more sewing again.
  • I’ve also started knitting another scarf because I found fluffy yarn and the child has claimed it. (This scarf will most likely replace the scratchy scarf. The scratchy scarf will, most likely, be taken apart and knitted into a handbag, or something that goes nowhere near the throat. I’m okay with taking scarf apart. It’s a trial and error thing, am-i-right?)
  • I began my exposure therapy this week. I’m starting with places that are familiar and fairly close to home, and I’ll focus on a suburb at a time. I started with Porirua CBD… because dear husband had to take his car in for a service, and he needed a lift home… (so, why not, right?). And because that’s were all the shopping happens, and it’s where the main library is. And the art gallery. And… um. It’s as good a place as any to start? Well. Yes. (See,¬†I have to do it by myself. On my own. And it’s hard. But, as a dear friend pointed out, what a present to myself.)¬†It was alright, by the way. My prickliness was bearable. Sure, there was some deep, conscious breathing before, during and after the drive, and I felt quite tired once I’d returned home, and yes the lethargy oozed over into Thursday because this work takes a lot out of me physically. But! There was no weird brain going to mush and heart pumping so hard my chest could crack open… so… <thumbs up, wide grin>
  • I don’t know if it was me being tired from Wednesday’s work, or me being a bit angry with the world because feelings, but Thursday was not a great day. I’m angry¬†at this thing called anxiety and how it makes my life so much smaller, angry at my much younger self who didn’t finish her studies with Gordon Flack-Davidson Academy of Design because depression hit (and a whole bunch of other reasons, I suppose) and therefore lost out on what may have been so many amazing experiences in clothing construction, angry that I still seem to be fumbling and um-ing and ah-ing about my ability to create and to sew. My self confidence is a little shattered, hey. <sad face> But I did come to a place where I decided that, well… I have to start somewhere. I might not be Toi Whakaari material yet, but I have to start. Some. Where.
  • Unfortunately, with child home sick and me feeling grumpy because sick, the second venture out by myself to do some grocery shopping (in the city!) isn’t going to happen today. Next week. We can do it next week. (An important part of this work, I think, is to acknowledge that it takes a lot of self motivation to step out, do the thing and sit with the discomfort that inevitably comes. It takes a lot of effort to manage the physical manifestation of anxiety. It takes a lot of energy to deal with the emotional fallout that sometimes surfaces. Being grumpy and physically ill does not make for enthusiastic self motivation, nor does it make managing the anxiety streaming through the body any easier. So we wait. And we try again later. We feel defeated, but we wait.)
Jun11_33

This is one of my favourite pictures from our (very) Roman Catholic wedding. It gives me *all* the feels! The way we were (are?).

  • Tomorrow, 2 June, marks our 16th wedding anniversary. (This ceremony, unlike our handfasting, included the ‘legally binding agreement’, what most people think of when they talk about wedding anniversaries.) We celebrate both days as being significant to our being together. It is good, this marriage. <dreamy smile>
  • Also, marriage brought this ray of sunshine to us:
Smiles

Eight years, and so enthusiastic about stuff. ūüôā

  • I’m reminded of how my m√£e wanted to make my wedding dress. I remember her working late into the night, hand sewing the lace onto the white velvet, and then accentuating the detail of the lace by stitching beads to the edges. So many beads. Such patient work. I still have my wedding dress. I couldn’t give it away because it has so much of my mother in it. Perhaps one day, should my baby girl choose to marry, we’ll take pieces from my wedding dress and put it onto her wedding dress.¬† That way, she’ll have a little bit of me and a little bit of her grandmother… her bloodline, with her. (Is that macabre, or sentimental… or… perhaps just… symbolic?)
  • There is a lot of sentimentality in the ether at the moment. I’ve been pouring over my Portuguese cookbooks and listening to a lot of Mariza* lately. It’s odd because South Africa has a proud Portuguese community, but New Zealand does not. I somehow feel lost, like my Portuguese-ness has no place here. And that makes me sad. (Also, because I was never formally educated in Portuguese (my reading and writing ability is, well… pretty much zero), and I don’t have the opportunity to speak the “kitchen” Portuguese of my childhood, I’ve lost a lot of the language… I’ve lost much of my connection to the community. There is a weird heart connection there, though. But still. I’m an outsider.)
  • My thoughts have also turned often and much to the Self Esteem = ‘I am lovable’ + ‘I am capable’ equation, specifically the ‘capable’ part. I don’t feel capable at the moment. Far from it. I remember my¬†m√£e sewing so many items of clothing,¬† doing her crochet and embroidery. All of it, so detailed and magnificent. I don’t feel like I’m as good as she is… but I can be, I think (maybe?). My¬†m√£e tells me my grandmother was especially good at clothing construction. Better than my¬†m√£e. (<wide eyes>)¬†And then I consider my skills as an instructional designer and how I feel like I don’t meet the grade here in Wellington. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t know how my diploma aligns to the standards required in New Zealand (which can be easily remedied by having the¬†Qualifications Recognition Service assess my qualification… at a price, of course), or because I don’t have much experience with several software packages (e.g. InDesign, Storyline, Captivate) that are so typically used to develop online learning content these days (again, that’s a skill I could learn). But do I want to? Do I want to go to the expense and do I want to put in the effort and time to bridge what I think are gaps in my skills when I don’t know¬†that I want to return to instructional design? (Or do I not want to return to instructional design because I don’t feel capable of doing the job anymore?)¬†(Did I mention I’ve pretty much given up on the full time, permanent job idea because that would leave me with no time or energy to pursue the making of clothing? Well, that’s what I’m telling myself for now… hm.)

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* Mariza –¬†a popular Fado¬†singer.

May26_25

 

  • Tomorrow, 26th May, marks our handfasting. A handfasting is a neopagan wedding ceremony. It’s more of a commitment ceremony than a marriage ceremony in my mind. Where a marriage is a legally binding agreement, a handfasting is more of a commitment made by both parties to live as husband and wife for a year and a day. On the day after the year, the couple have a choice – either commit to the relationship for another year, or go your own separate ways. Russell and I have quietly celebrated our handfasting for 16 years now. I like that it gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our relationship, to check in with one another in a purposeful way.¬†It’s… nice.
  • Seeing the pictures taken during the ceremony reminds me that I’ve had a long time calling to things esoteric. Being brought up in a Roman Catholic household, metaphor comes easily to me. But.¬†There’s a lot about Roman Catholic dogma that just doesn’t sit right, so my twenties saw a gravitation towards neopaganism, wicca and witchcraft. I don’t feel comfortable with the label of ‘witch’, probably because it’s loaded with stigma, so I’ve never incorporated the ritual into my life. Which is sad because there’s a lot there that does sit well with me. I feel a certain connection to the ritual of it all… but it hasn’t ‘clicked’ yet. Being in New Zealand though, and glimpsing Maori belief systems and how they influence day-to-day living… there’s something there… stirring. A recognition of sorts?
  • I had a bit of a revelation during a conversation with a homeopath. She pointed out that Self Esteem = ‘I am lovable’ + ‘I am capable’. It’s a bit of a revelation because I was wondering why I have this thing about finding a job, especially in the light of the fact that I’m not looking for said job with any great measure of enthusiasm. Working, I think, and doing good work, shows us that we’re capable, which in turn creates healthy levels of self esteem. I’m not new to the idea that doing good work builds self esteem, but I hadn’t made the connection to how feeling capable impacts on self esteem. So, yeah. That’s interesting.
  • The other thing we talked about is where I’d like to be by the age of 48, or thereabouts. This is coming from a place of me wrestling with the question ‘what am I doing with my life?’ And the truth be known, I don’t see me as an instructional designer anymore. But I can see myself as a dressmaker, a sewer, a maker of things. Maybe even a costumer. Knowing that my grandmother was a seamstress, and my mother too… and that I have the ability in me… somehow makes changing careers do-able. Not only because everything about the making of clothing makes my sap rise, but because it feels like I’d be continuing something that is in my blood. That’s… powerful.
  • This came across my feed today:

 

Midlife

I have a sense that I’m enduring a rebirth.

  • This last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. There hasn’t been any applying for full-time jobs or much going on in the Great LEGO Codification arena.¬†We have the beginnings of a Pricky Scale, and a list of things to do with appropriate Pricky Scale allocation. So that’s a step in the right direction. (Yes?) Also, things are going well with organising my (our?) life using all the Trello boards. I have noticed how I am starting to breathe a little easier, now that things are being written down in an organised way, being acknowledged. It is good.
  • But back to the whirlwind. I posted this on Instagram on Tuesday:
Sad

forestwyf I’d like to sit outside for a while, in amongst the trees…but it’s raining… and it’s cold. And… I am sad. Sad for my dear friend who said goodbye to her mum yesterday. Sad for her mum’s passing. Sad for my cousins who lost their father and will say their goodbyes on Friday. Sad for my dad who has lost another brother. Sad for having lost my uncle. Sad. I want to give them a hug. But I can’t. Because physical distance (… they’re in Jo’burg, I’m in Wellington). I’m sad I can’t be there in person to offer comfort. Just. Sad.

Wednesday saw me in bed, because migraine. Thursday saw me better, but bone weary and heart achy. Today? Today is my uncle’s funeral. (There’s a little candle burning in memory to him as I write this.) It feels very heavy. We lost Tio Manuel about a year ago. It was heartbreaking and sad. But with my dad being in hospital for three months, and now Tio¬†Jo√£o passing away… it feels more poignant. My parents are getting older, more fragile. It changes you, when you realise your parents won’t live forever. Worse still, I realised that it would take me a minimum of 24 hours to get to my parents if I wanted to be by their side to say my final thank you and farewell. They’re not a mere 30 minutes away anymore. No one tells you this when you emigrate… and even if they could express it… would it change anything?

  • Remember that full-time position in instructional design that I applied for? I didn’t get to interview stage. I won’t lie. I’m disappointed. I could see myself doing the work, and enjoying it. <heavy sigh> Oh well. We put it down to experience. (I get the impression that this is going to happen a lot. Gone are the days of my youth when I’d apply for a position and be confident in getting to an interview. I suspect that having been out of the workforce for two years, being unfamiliar with work to pay ratios in New Zealand (did I ask for too much money?), or being over-experienced in some areas but under-experienced in others, makes me a ‘less desirable’ candidate. It’s hard, is all.)
  • I’ve been giving some thought to exposure therapy and how that will work to rewire my anxious brain. I know it’s the next step. The next painful, but inevitable step. Of course, I could just carry on doing what I’ve been doing for a good thirty years*, but having started my list of delicious things I would like to do, but haven’t because my body freaks out at the thought of doing it,** I’m getting comfortable with the uncomfortable idea of pain. My thinking is that once I have my list of things to explore and/ or do, I’ll rate the items on said list according to how much anxiety I feel thinking about doing the thing. I’ll call it the Prickly Scale. Prickly Scale 1 is the ‘do-able with some support’ stuff, whilst Prickly Scale 10 is the ‘oh hello no’ stuff. I’m hopeful that the Prickly Scale 10 stuff will eventually work its way down to a point where it becomes an ‘okay, maybe I can consider doing this without feeling like my life will end’ point on the scale. (Note to self – must work out details of Prickly Scale.)
  • I have had some recommendations on A SYSTEM for organising my life! (Thank you woollythinker, you’re the best!) Said system involves Trello. I used Trello to attempt to manage*** our move to New Zealand, so whilst it’s familiar to me, I’m quite excited about using it to manage all the things! Take Trello and some other stuff like an actual weekly diary/ notebook,**** a shared calendar, a pretty whiteboard for weekly ‘must do’s’ that the whole family can add to, some motivation to monitor all the things on a weekly basis, and¬†et voil√† – organised life. Which would be so good, because I suspect a lot of my indecision around what to do with my life comes from simply not knowing what is actually going on in my life.
  • The Great LEGO Codification is… well… probably going to get a list on a board on Trello. (Read: it’s going nowhere fast.)
  • Karate. Yes. We’ve signed up. I’m strangely enthusiastic about it. Exercise with a purpose! Horay! (Note to self: wonder walks are also good for exercise with a purpose. We need to do more wonder walks. I have a bag for it now. I just need to add some stuff to it. I’m thinking a field journal. And writing implements. And jars or tins for feathers and seeds and… leaves and things! All the interesting things! Maybe a small camera. And marmalade sandwiches. Yes. That would be nice. I shall call it: Our Wonder Walk Bag.)
  • And sorry that this is so short. I had plans to talk about some interesting thoughts I had about privilege, and the fact that Sunday is Mother’s Day and how that prompted a thought that caregivers should be considered civil servants and therefore paid a salary for the work they do – but I have a headache. That makes me grumpy. I don’t want to be grumpy when talking about privilege or the actual cost of free labour. Next week, okay?

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* If the maths confuses you, please note that I remember myself being surprisingly carefree and adventurous until I hit my mid-teenage years, so I don’t count those early years of my life when considering how long anxiety and/ or depression has been part of my psychology.

** I suddenly had a flash back of Steve in ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ going ‘Danger! Danger! Danger!’ That’s what my amygdala does. Pretty much.

*** I say ‘attempt to manage’ because I still feel like we could have done a better job of immigrating. I feel like I forgot stuff, or I could have better used the opportunity to let go of stuff. But it was crazy times. Very crazy times. Not everyone can say they have uprooted their (very settled and entrenched) life in the space of eight weeks.

**** because Sophia is going to tell me about that thing that needs to happen tomorrow that I need to organise today and I won’t have time to pop it onto a Trello card. Argh. Kids and their lack of management skills. <rolls eyes>

  • I applied for a full-time position in instructional design. This has my brain all fired up because QUESTIONS. For example:

If I’m applying for a full-time job (and therefore signing up for all the crazy that comes with it), why not apply to study full time? Response: because 1. I’m considering this an experiment in seeing how I function in a different environment where there are expectations around being productive and 2. studying costs money, which we don’t actually have at the moment. (Sure, we could probably make it work if a monthly payment plan is available. But do I want the stress of that? And wouldn’t it be nice if I could earn the money that would pay for my studies?) I suppose what I’m saying is: perhaps the way to go is to work full-time for a year or two… or three and then study?¬†Studying feels like a VERY SERIOUS COMMITMENT of at least two years, whereas full time employment feels more… flexible? You know what I mean, right? (Also, I have questions around¬†what¬†to study. I’m torn between costume construction and fashion design. There’s a lot about the fashion industry that makes my blood boil*, but there’s also a lot that’s interesting and quite exciting. (The engineering behind patterns, yes? Anyone?) Costume design, on the other hand, is about characterisation. Does it have enough ‘real-world’ application? (i.e. can I get steady work?) Either way, making cloths is nice. And I do want to be able to make nice clothing. For everyone.)

Also, Sophia. Because she started school in New Zealand in year 2, effectively missing out on a year’s education, she still needs my support when doing the activities that help her close the gaps in her learning. Will she get the same support if she goes to a after-school care programme during the week because I’ll be at work/ school in the afternoon? I honestly don’t know… and it worries me.

  • ‘Rewire your Anxious Brain’ by Catherine M. Pittman, PhD and Elizabeth M. Karle, MLIS is turning out to be a very interesting read. I’m beginning to see possible next steps in working towards overcoming my anxiety, one of them being exposure therapy. I’d need to work with a psychotherapist¬†trained in cognitive¬†behavioral¬†therapy, I think (because I’d probably need the support and they’d keep me accountable). But what’s interesting to me is that I’d come to a comfortable space thinking that I’d take the rest of the year to work through the exposure therapy, and then the job ad for the instructional designer popped up. I wrestled with it for a while, wondering if I should apply for the position. Wondering if not applying was an act of self-care (because¬†I’d decided on doing the exposure therapy and I felt like I had a plan), or me hiding. I still don’t know. I applied for the position with the thinking that there’s no way of knowing if I’ll even get to an interview. If I didn’t try… I wouldn’t know. <shrug> Still. I won’t lie. Thinking about interviews and actually getting the job makes me nervous. Probably because it’s all so new. All of it. New.
  • I’m feeling very disorganised at the moment. Does anyone have a sure-fire way of organising their lives? Tell me! Please! (I need to do all the filing, to begin with. Yay. And then there’s the keeping track of all the house stuff, the cooking stuff, the¬† kin keeping stuff, the Sophia stuff, and the Russell stuff (so that I don’t double-book people) and… well… there isn’t much space for the Janita stuff and that makes me sad. And tired. And maybe just a little grumpy and resentful. <sad face> I need a better way of organising all the things. <heavy sigh>
  • The Great LEGO Codification has come to a grinding halt. For two reasons, mostly: we’re back at school, so I no longer have long days for sorting, only an hour or two** and Sophia insists on building all the sets before I sort them. <heavy sigh> Yes dear. You know. <shaking head from side to side>
  • But hey, we’re looking into starting karate as a family. Yes. I know. It’s big.

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* e.g. it’s unsustainable production methods, fast fashion and how it generates so much waste, the normalisation of a very specific body type (and the implication that any other body type doesn’t have a place), how one is defined and judged based on clothing choice, how clothing is used to represent social status (or lack thereof)… et al.

** Going to bed after midnight because I get into the sorting groove is probably a bad idea. I’m tired and grumpy the following morning, which makes for a nasty, sleep deprived mommy. And that’s not fun. For anyone.

  • The Great LEGO Codification isn’t going so well, mostly because there is so much of it. And by ‘so much of it’, I mean there are so many different types of pieces. I honestly had no idea. I knew there were a lot, but now that there are boxes all over the living room floor, I’m appreciating just how different the pieces are. (I made general categories – brick, plate, tile, angle, curved, vehicle, windows & doors, minifigures, and SNOT* elements – and subdivided some to make for easier sorting, but the box of ‘I don’t know what to do with these pieces yet’ is steadily growing. I need more floor space. And containers. <big eyes>)
  • I’ve just started reading ‘Rewire your Anxious Brain’ by Catherine M. Pittman, PhD and Elizabeth M. Karle, MLIS. I’ve mostly seen my anxiety as being a psychological issue (and therefore so much more complicated and difficult to ‘cure’** because the mind seems so esoteric), but this book explains how it’s very definitely a physiological thing too. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hopeful that maybe (just maybe) I can get to a point where I don’t experience absolute panic at the thought of doing a new thing. And that’s nice.
  • Sophia had her first sleep over since our immigration to New Zealand. She absolutely loved it. And she was fine! Perfectly fine. (I was nervous about it all because I’ve never been particularly good with entrusting Sophia into other people’s care. There’s always a pang of maternal worry. I don’t like sending my little girl into the big wide world. But I know it has to be done. For her sake. Argh.)
  • I haven’t spoken to my dad since his discharge from hospital. Mostly because time zones and technology being broken. But honestly, it’s also because I’m a little nervous. My father was emotional when he sent a short birthday video to Sophia, and that tore me up so completely. His tears. You see… my father doesn’t do emotion. I don’t know how to relate to him like this.¬†<sad face>
  • In addition to all the noise inside my brain about which direction to take (i.e. return to work vs. study), there are two things that are playing on my mind a lot lately:
    • We are a fat family. I can’t ignore it anymore. Finding comfortable clothing is a mission (which is sad, because I like playing with clothing), being unfit makes exploring all the interesting places harder, moving through the world as a fat person evokes harsh judgement, and scorn (which knocks your self esteem, believe me). And yet. I don’t want to be thin. Because that’s dangerous too. There’s a lot to unpack here. But that’s for another day.
    • Where does the self-motivation to change one’s habits come from? Because I don’t have any. And there’s a lot that needs changing. <dejected face>

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* SNOT = Studs Not On Top

** I have no intention of curing my anxiety per say. The root of anxiety is fear, and I acknowledge that fear does have a place in ensuring our survival. I would, however, like to dial down the ‘flight, fight or freeze’ responce that I experience because that’s what makes my life smaller. (Thank you amygdala for wanting to protect me so. But, you know… it’s getting a little out of hand now. <sad face>)

  • It’s the school holidays. The¬†Great LEGO Codification has begun. This process has shown me that:
  1. Doing an inventory of your LEGO collection is only fun for a while, especially if you’re eight.
  2. Building all the sets is more interesting than doing inventory.
  3. We have a lot of LEGO! Last count was at 3341 pieces. I’m not even an eighth of the way in…
  4. The Great LEGO Codification is going to take a very. Long. Time. It runs the risk of becoming an all-consuming activity. I hope the family can fend for themselves.
  • My thoughts this week have been filled with a slow rage, because of the BS that society puts on us about how we should look in order to be acceptable and therefore included. It’s staggering and exhausting. I give you three examples:
  1. I’d planned on getting a much-needed haircut. Because it’s so long, I did some research into possibly donating my hair to a wig maker, who would then make it available to those undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Their criteria for acceptable hair reads: “Your hair must not include more than a few grey hairs however predominantly grey hair is accepted. If your hair contains the odd grey hairs in your ponytail (not salt & pepper) then that is absolutely fine but any more than that and we are unable to use the hair as again the hair is blended with so many other ponytails that we would have to pick out each individual grey hair to ensure that all of the hair was the same colour.” I’m disappointed. Apparently greying hair still has a stigma attached to it.*
  2. If sizing charts are anything to go by, only women who have a bust measurement between 82cm and 112cm are the ‘outdoorsy type’. Do you think I could find a thermal jacket, suitable for particularly cold conditions, in a size for a bust measuring 126cm? No sir, I could not.
  3. Whilst looking at online stores that sell plus size clothing (because possible job interviews), I came across an article about Next, the UK retailer who is offering greater variety in their sizing options for children aged three to 16. In addition to the standard sizing, they’re including ‘Plus-Fit’ and ‘Slim-Fit’ sizing. I like this. I like that this retailer is acknowledging that children do come in all different shapes and sizes. But reading the comments, and going by the general tone of the article, there are those who are horrified by the idea that plus size clothing is being offered to children.** This comment is quite spectacular, albeit scathing:

“I’m really surprised at people in favour of this. There shouldn’t be a demand for ‘plus size’ anything with the exception of athletes and those with genuine (*note genuine!), health issues causing weight gain. This normalizing of ‘fat’ is beyond unhealthy. That’s what it is, fat. A byproduct of excess food consumption, poor food choices and minimal or non-existent exercise. This shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone. Even less so in regards to children. ‘Baby fat’ drops off in toddlers, after that it’s generally down to poor diet which should then be rendered child neglect. Not knowing how to cook, time and poverty be damned. At a basic level, almost everyone has access to the internet to LEARN how [to] improve diet. It’s pure laziness.”

Just. Wow. The arrogance. The ignorance. I understand now, why calling one’s self fat¬†can be a political statement.

  • I took Sophia to the library, just the two of us. This is a big deal, because anxiety. I have found that taking Sophia anywhere new and by myself amps up the anxiety level to the point where my body starts to prickle. I don’t trust that I’ll deal well with her breaking or getting into a ‘situation’… or something. I don’t know exactly. But. Yay library! Right? <stiff grin>
  • I finished knitting a scarf. It has pockets. The yarn is a little scratchy, turns out. <disappointed face> I suppose I need to learn how to make better yarn choices.
  • This weekend marks our two year anniversary in New Zealand. We left Jo’burg on the 21st April 2016, arriving in Wellington on the 23rd April. (That’s not a typo. Time zones. Still weird.) I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Wellington is a good place to be. We’re happy here. This is home now. On the other hand, it’s hard being so far away from family and friends. I miss people. And I know they miss us. A lot. Sometimes. I do wish they could visit. <sad face>¬†On the up side, we’re having dinner with some friends! I know, right?! We’ve made friends. It’s a nice feeling, hey. <smiley face>

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* Fun fact. There’s no such thing as grey hair. The hair stand is transparent. This happens when the hair follicle stops producing¬†pigment. The clear hair strands appear grey or white because of the way light is reflected from the hair.

** I looked at Next’s sizing charts. A standard size ten-year old girl’s waist measurement is 62cm. The Slim-Fit measurement is 57cm. The Plus-Fit measurement is 67cm. That’s 5cm on either side of the standard sizing. 5cm on the waist does not an obese child make. But, 5cm on the waist can make for a¬† more comfortable child. And a comfortable child is a happy child. Enough said.

  • This week has been hard.¬†Following on from last week’s¬†post, the nature of my anxiety, and the role it plays in my life, has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve worked so hard over the years to understand why I experience panic and anxiety, and I’ve learnt various strategies that allow me to manage it. Life has been puttering along nicely, for the most part. (Honestly though, the ‘puttering along nicely’ probably has a lot to do with me being very good at avoiding triggers.) But. Last week’s revelation has opened a wound. A very deep wound. I’m having (very vivid) flashbacks to various points in my life during which I experienced anxiety and panic in very painful ways. I’m there again, reliving the experience.* It hurts. I’d like to think that this is an opportunity for me to heal old wounds. Why else would they be presenting themselves now if not to demand attention? To be acknowledged? Wanting me to experience them differently this time, with self compassion instead of shame and harsh judgement, in the hopes that the cellular memory is somehow transformed? I don’t know, but I have to ride out the wave. It also reaffirms my understanding that the only way to overcome anxiety is to go through it. There’s no pill for this. Avoiding the triggers eases the pain, but it’s a lot of work and you’re dead inside anyway.
  • I’ve also been confronted by a horrible sense that I’m crap at sewing and clothing design in general. Or at least, I’m not all that good. I’ve got so much to learn! Design, pattern construction, draping, tailoring, sewing techniques, clothing history, the social and economic dynamics of fashion… all of it. I’m overwhelmed by the idea of even attempting to start the learning journey.¬†Because I’m old. Because there are people out there who are doing damn fine work, and how could I ever measure up to that? How can I possibly catch up with them? They have years and years and years of education and/ or experience.¬†My (very critical!) inner voice is quite indignant: how dare I think of myself as capable of the same level of creativity and skill? It’s just too far a stretch of the imagination. Too far. And how dare I believe that I could be so happy in my work, so fulfilled, so… deserving of the joy that comes from earning a good income and creating a mind-bogglingly beautiful, yet functional, thing? How? <sad face>
  • The universe is kind, and she sends me messages like this: ‘a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms‘ and ‘great things never come from comfort zones‘. I swear under my breath. I know these things are true! I do. And yet… I can’t get out of my own way. I know I have to change what I’m doing. I dread the thought of another year drifting by, without me engaging in it. The change pivots on a decision, I think. Do I go back to work or do I go back to school? Both options sprawl their own questions. More possibilities, more challenges. I can’t decide which road to take. There’s too much choice. (The indecision breeds a disparaging annoyance. Still. I’m still struggling with this. Maybe I should just flip a coin already! <resigned shrug> (I’ve noticed how¬†I’m applying for jobs rather indiscriminately now because maybe that will create some momentum or a sense of direction. It also creates anxiety. Lots of it. But I grit my teeth and apply anyway.)
  • Part of managing anxiety involves self care. I am not good at self care, mostly because I’m last on my list of priorities. But. I have taken to going on ‘wonder walks’, as I like to call them. I couldn’t wrap my head around going for a walk for the sake of going for a walk, or for the exercise. I realised that when I did go for a walk, I stopped often, taking pictures, having rather story-like thoughts. So I’ve decided to make this A THING. I’m preparing a wonder walk bag – that is: a bag holding a glass jar (for collecting interesting stuff), a notebook and pencil (for jotting down the story-like thoughts and perhaps drawing sketches if the whim takes me), a water bottle (because thirsty), and tissues (because walking sometimes makes my nose run). Nice!¬† This makes me happy. (And bonus, it encourages me to go for walks by myself. On my own. It creates an opportunity to sit with my anxiety, just sit with it.)
  • My father has been discharged from hospital and is now home, on his way to a full recovery! Whilst I’m relieved and so very happy about this, I’m also deeply sad that I don’t have the means by which to give him a hug in person, to let him know that I’m really (really!) glad he’s going to be with us for some time still. It’s bittersweet, is all. <sad face>

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* This is an extract from a journal entry, describing the experience. It’s not pretty.

“…the rush of heat up my spine, at my throat and prickling at my ears and cheeks – like thousands of tiny, hot needles. Burning. My vision is dull. Fuzzy. I can’t orientate myself. My surroundings spin. (Or… am I spinning?) My heart is thudding against my chest. Fast. Faster. Thud. THUD in my ears. My lungs shrivel.

I. Can’t. Breathe. I can’t breathe! I tilt my head back, hoping to lengthen my trachea. I’m gulping at the air now, like a fish out of water. Willing it to flow into my lungs. One breathe, one deep breathe. That’s all I need.

My skull is burning. Brain seizing. Hot tears. Vision watery. Blinking. Burning. My whole body is buzzing. Prickly and sharp. Ground. I need the ground. Sit down. Gulp at the air. Swallow. Swallow again. Nose. Breathe. Gulp. Lungs. Work! Blood. Pump! Ground levels out. Breathe. BREATHE! Staring, blinking.  Eyes widen. Rocking. Less spinning. Clutch at the ground. Steady now. Steady. Breathe.

I feel so small. Spent. Hollow. Hide.