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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. The couple have a choice once that year and a day has passed – either commit to the relationship for another year and a day, 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.

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  • 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 voilà – 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 OTop

** 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.

 

  • Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend a talk at Te Papa about Tudor and Jacobean portraits, which would have given me an opportunity to learn more about portraits as a primary source of information for costuming. I didn’t go. There was little or no reason not to go.* But still. I did not go. Why? Because I’m good at making excuses as to why I shouldn’t do a new (different?) thing. I make the excuse because that lulls the anxiety, the panic. A very annoyed colleague once told me that I’d never go far because I never show up. She’s right. I don’t show up. Here’s why.
  • Anxiety is a very real part of my life. It’s a thing that I work hard to manage.** It’s also a state of being that stops me from doing new or different things. Literally. The fear seizes up my body. I become petrified. My go-to response is to avoid threatening situations.*** I spend my days at home where it’s mostly safe and I don’t have to move beyond a certain comfort zone. I can see how it makes my life small. I see it. I do. And yet… the energy needed to overcome the anxiety is greater than the excitement created by considering the doing of a new and shiny thing.
  • Up until now, I’ve told myself that it’s because I’m in a new country and one has to give one’s self time to adjust. Well, it’s been two years, baby. I’m not adjusting. I’m hiding. I’m waiting to die.**** There are days of brief wonder and stinging joy. Bright days, happy days where I feel like I’ve done a good thing, or somehow overcome the crazy and lived a little, made a connection. But these days are fleeting. My ‘resting state’ as a human being is one of humming anxiety. I don’t know how to recover from that.
  • When I do (somehow!) do a new or different thing, good things come from it.  New friendships, the accomplishment of doing a thing and doing it rather well (actually!). More often than not, I’m just surprised (delighted?) that I managed to do the thing, that my body did not kill me. <laughs… and then sighs> It all seems so silly. And yet… there it is.
  • Some might say that my anxiety has its roots in a fear of failure. I don’t think that’s me. I’m equal to the feeling of failure – I’ve reasoned with the concept of failure enough to have accepted it. My anxiety is perhaps rooted in a fear of actually being mind-bogglingly good at doing or creating a thing. If you’re good at something, you might just be noticed. Being noticed, being the object of scrutiny, is terrifying because, experience has taught me, people are cruel with their scrutiny. And I am of sensitive heart. I don’t do well with being scrutinised. <sad face>

 

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* The usual barriers were pretty much taken care of. There’s the anxiety (panic?) that ensues at the though of going to a place I’ve never been to before. This event was at Te Papa. Getting to Te Papa by train is very doable. Then there’s childcare – it being Easter Tuesday (a weird school holiday, I don’t know why it’s a thing in New Zealand), Sophia wouldn’t be at school. But Russell arranged to work from home, and Sophia can pretty much entertain herself for a good three to four hours now. So… yeah.

** Manage = either avoid the situation, ask for help so that I can circumnavigate the barriers (see *), which is uncomfortable and embarrassing AF, or I ‘will’ my way through the discomfort, working bloody hard to make sure don’t get completely overwhelmed by the fright or flight response. It’s exhausting.

*** Threatening situation = anything that I’ve not done before. A-ny-thing. Walking alone on the beach or through the forest is scary. Going into a shop that I’ve never been to is ‘deer in the headlights’ material. Anything. Pretty much.

**** Nobody panic. Despite my history of depression, I have no desire to end my life. This is not what I am talking about here. We’re talking about a wilting away. My avoiding living, my disengaging from new experiences because my body is convinced that said new experience might just kill me… so I stay where it’s safe.

 

  • Sophia is eight years old now. She’s growing up. She’s becoming more of an individual. She’s always been an individual, of course, but she’s not needing me as much anymore. Whilst this is a good thing (because it’s just the way parent-child relationships work), I’m left feeling a little sad. There’s a certain innocence that’s shifting and changing within her. Our conversations are becoming more complex. I like that. I like that she’s becoming a little human being with whom I’m beginning to have more of an actual relationship, but I’m also very aware that she’s still a little fragile and naive.
  • I work very hard to give Sophia a balanced perspective of the world. The burden of mothering is changing. When she was a baby and a toddler, it was about changing nappies, feeding her, and sleep! Now we’re having conversations. Conversations about subtle things, like good vs. bad vs. the thing in between that no one seems to have a name for, how boys and girls are different but that difference doesn’t (or shouldn’t) define the things one does or pursues, and how I might get upset (or downright angry) with the things she does, but my love for her doesn’t change, my wonder at how she expresses her ideas and the things she creates doesn’t change.
  • Mothers are ‘meant to’ love their children from the moment they become aware that they are with child. I am not one of these mothers. I am a reluctant mother. My becoming a mother was more of a ‘deer in the headlights’ experience than a ‘the heavens opened and angels began to sing’ experience. I’m a little surprised then that I’ve come to love my child. The aching heart kind of love. The mama bear kind of love. The ‘oh my gosh, how did you work that one out because that’s really smart’ kind of love. Sophia surprises me. And that’s… heartwarming.
  • We kept Sophia’s birthday celebrations low-key this year. Last year was the epic birthday-party-at-a-party-venue-with-screaming-children-too-much-sugar-and-not-enough-time-to-actually-enjoy-the-company-of-friends birthday. This year was the play-all-day-with-dragons-and-LEGO-Dimensions-and-Disney-Infinity-whilst-the-adults-cook-and-chat birthday. It was nice, for everyone. I feel like this is what birthdays should be like – more parents enjoying the day as much as their children instead of parents working bloody hard to create ‘an experience of joy and wonder’ for their children.
  • Sophia was also delighted to get a phone call from grandad and nana first thing in the morning, and a stream of WhatsApp messages from avô* and avó**, Tio Luis, Madrinha and Caitlyn during the day. It’s bittersweet though… knowing they miss Sophia so much, celebrating her birthday from a distance. Sure, technology helps, but it’s just not the same as warm hugs in person. It’s just not. 😦

 

* pronounced “a-voh” (grandpa)

** pronunced “a-vaw” (grandma)

The interesting thing about writing a blog is that you begin to appreciate how much thinking and wresting with ideas goes on in the background. There’s a lot on my mind, which might explain why I often feel mentally tired. Here are some of the things that have been on my mind during the week.

  • I had a conversation with another mum about winter hockey teams. At the time, the conversation felt inconsequential, but she made a comment that, later I realised, had deeper significance for me. She pointed out that there were a lot more girls playing hockey this winter than boys, and perhaps that shouldn’t be so surprising because hockey seems to be one of the few sports that the girls have access to – there’s no football or rugby for them, and the school doesn’t have a netball team. This conversation swirled around my brain for a while, and then I remembered this Twitter thread by Milena about “docile, socially constructed bodies and why no women figure skaters do quad jumps, and women snowboarders only get 3m of amplitude on the half pipe while the men get 5m”. I’m still processing the thought. We’ll talk about it some more.
  • Also on my mind is the idea that plus-size fashion is freeing, prompted by an article on Stuff entitled The emancipating power of plus-size fashion. There’s so much to unpack from this article, and sadly I have no time to do it now. But, I’ll leave you with this piece, which struck me most:

“For Duff, fashion is about diversity. She is scathing of the tired trope that the plus-size industry is somehow “promoting obesity”.

“I’m just supporting women to have a life, be a part of life,” she says.

  • Some time ago, I mentioned how I’ve decided to look for part time work. This decision is having consequences – mostly because my frustrations around the perceptions about being a housewife are surfacing. These frustrations are mostly around the fact that being a housewife/ caregiver is basically unpaid labour, and unpaid labour has little or no value. Being a caregiver to your own child is seen as a duty rather than meaningful, important, valuable work. The most you can get out of it is transferable skills, and even that seems a bit of a stretch of the imagination. This has me angry, I won’t lie.
  • Enough about wrestling thoughts. On a more cheerful note: I have procured a spinning wheel. I have no clue as to how to use it – yet! I must say, I’m quite excited by the idea of spinning yarn and then knitting it into a garment. Oh, and the drive into Featherston to buy said spinning wheel was lovely, especially since we discovered the weekly farmers’ market. I’m a little surprised at how delighted I was to do some grocery shopping there. There’s something wholesome about buying vegetables directly from the farmer!
  • As to health matters – there’s no significant change regarding my father’s condition. He’s still in hospital. We take the small improvements as a good sign though. His appetite is much better – he’s eating full plates of food now. That’s good news!
  • I noticed that the dates in the headings of my previous two posts were wrong. I’ve corrected them. Sorry about that. I suppose it’s a good indication of where I’m at, though. I’m tired. Very tired.  I make mistakes when I’m tired. My cold probably has something to do with it. I’m not sleeping well because of the blocked nose, so… there’s that. And there’s the hip situation. Although better, I don’t have full movement yet. Also, it hurts if I lie on it, which inevitably happens when I’m asleep… which means I wake up… which means my sleep is disturbed… which means tired. So yeah. Tired.
  • Holidays are coming up and I thought I’d use the time with Sophia to start a project. A time-consuming, labour intensive project. I’m want to re-organise our LEGO collection by part. We have over 100 sets, easily. See how this is going to take a while? Why, you ask? Because most of our sets are in neatly labelled and organised plastic bags. Sure, this is great if you want to build that set, but it’s not at all conducive to the free building that Sophia is into right now. She’s picking pieces from this or that bag, which means the set is now incomplete. This drives me a little mad because we must have all the pieces in the bag, you know? Yes? (Okay, you don’t care. I know. I’m particular. Anyway. Moving on.)
  • Did I mention that LEGO has brought out it’s latest range? I haven’t looked at the City, Ninjago or Creator themes yet, but I happened to come upon the Elves sets yesterday – and are they cute! Dammit. Now I want them all! (The only LEGO Elves set we don’t have is Naida’s Spa Secret (41072). Refusing to buy it was a form of silent protest on my part. Naida’s space in the mini movie Unite the Magic, which LEGO made as part of the theme’s release in 2015, is a library in a cave, complete with waterfall (because Naida = water elf). How did we go from a library in the mini movie to a spa in the LEGO set? It feels wrong – that ‘girls = beautification’ idea. And a library, people! A library! How can you not include a library? Just… how?)
  • Anyway. Following along the same line of gender specific stuff, and whilst I’m moaning – please tell me: do girls not wear green clothing? I only ask because we needed a green t-shirt for my daughter’s school athletics day (green being her house colour). The only place I could find a straightforward, plain-coloured t-shirt was in the boys’ section. The girls’ section was full of shades of pink, muted tones of blue and lavender, rose gold sparkly polka dots, and the odd black and white stripe, often with a ‘cute’ slogan or picture. Nothing plain. No-thing. Jeez, I’m all for having a sense of style and having fun with your clothing – but can we as girls (women?) have some more colour choices please? And functional pockets.
  • My father hasn’t been discharged from hospital yet. A brief chat with my mother on the weekend revealed that he actually had two drains inserted at his side. Whilst one of the drains has been removed, the other remains. On the upside, the amount of fluid that is draining is decreasing. We still don’t know where the fluid is coming from, not exactly. I’m just glad he’s slowly getting better.