So lessons 2 and 3 go hand in hand. They’re lessons I’ve been working on learning for some time now but they really hit home and gosh I hope they stuck after this year.
Way back in the dark days, when I was at my very worst, I really thought, had decided actually, that I would never travel again. And that was ok because I’d done a lot of travelling and seen a bit of the world. And even though I *love* travelling, it was ok that I just wasn’t going to do that anymore. Except that a) that was my anxiety, OCD and depression talking and b) I LOVE travelling. And I wanted to go to World Fantasy Con in Saratoga Springs. I was just starting to fall into the scene, starting up Twelfth Planet Press. And a lot of Aussies were going that year. And Tansy said to me, instead of deciding that you can’t go, why don’t you figure out *how* you could go – figure out what you’d need or how you can navigate (the OCD). In other words, if you need to take a bunch of antibacterial handgel and use it every five minutes but it enables you to go and have the experience, then Do That. (And I’ll add that that was before the world freaked out about Swine Flu. Now it’s not weird at all to use hand gel and wipe down your tray or whatever. At the time, I had to be in therapy. But whatevs.)
Firstly, how lucky am I to have such awesome friends? Secondly, I went. I fell in love with WFC, I found my home. It grew my friendship with Jonathan. Going freed me – in more ways than one. It broke my mindset about not doing things that might scare me or put me out of my comfort zone. It opened my publishing world. And it ended my relationship with my ex – I always had this feeling that if I went to WFC, I’d come home single. And I did. And it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. And the funniest thing was getting on that plane to Sydney? The OCD melted away and I didn’t even really need a whole bunch of the management tools I’d put in place to deal with myself.
In some ways, looking at the world like that – what do I need to be ok with this [whatever “this” is in the moment] was a great tactic. In others, I guess it might have fuelled my OCD. I think C just works around what’s left of that. At least it’s nowhere near as unhinged as it was.
This year I’ve had a lot on to confront in terms of wanting to push forward and do things and having to fight off the darkness in my head. And I’ve had to work a lot to find management tools to make it ok. Or as Tansy now says, I’ve had to figure out how to hack my own brain. Lots of this year was about taking it a day at a time and there’s something nicely zen about that, or there would be if being in the moment wasn’t about how sick I felt. I had some really big, confronting decisions to make. They required being honest with myself and my work arounds. I was lucky to have so many people around me to discuss them with and to feel like I was in a safe, nonjudgmental place. And standing now on the other side of that, I realised that in troubleshooting ahead of time and making choices that were the best ones for me, meant that I could have positive experiences. That I don’t always need to push myself over the edge to prove some point to myself about … I dunno? I can actually be kind and understanding of how I tick and work with, not against, that. And that by doing so, I ensure that I am mentally robust.
And this lesson leads into the third, and possibly most profound lesson I learned this year. This lesson was to learn to tune out the white noise. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has advice. But the most important thing to remember about that is unless they are privy, they most likely are not giving that opinion or advice within the context that is relevant *to you*. Something can be true and not applicable to you at the same time. Something can be “the best choice” in a level playing field but if that’s not where you are playing your game, it may no longer be best. And what I hope I learned this year is how to reduce the value I have previously placed on white noise. To not care so much what other people, out there, think about the choices that I make or who I am or what I choose to do or how I live my life. But also, to be less judgmental of others and their choices, since no doubt I am not privy to the context within which they made theirs.
Tags: 2013 in review
Looking back on this year, it very much felt like a year where I came full circle. Or that lot of things got put to bed as I look out from a new beginning. Or that I’ve worked hard all this time just to get to the starting line. A bunch of realisations felt very pointed this year in the way they kept/keep surfacing across a whole lot of parts of my life and various interactions.
The first of which is something that I wish I could tell my 14/15 and 25 year old selves – that life will never cease to surprise you, you just have to live long enough and let enough time pass. Kind of a riff on “this too shall pass” but not just that you won’t be stuck in the one moment or situation or emotion forever but that life really will surprise you. And it’s worth sticking around to find out how. Or as my mother says, “it’s not the end of the story til the end of the story.”
This hit me yet again yesterday. We were at my in-laws for lunch and I wandered in to one of the bedrooms to grab my phone from the baby bag. As I walked in, I saw one of the beds from my childhood (my sister and I had the same kind of beds growing up. My parents recently moved and ended up giving one of the beds to C’s parents who were looking for an extra bed for the spare room). On the bed was some of the stuff C had unpacked to change a nappy earlier. And I just had this moment of coming full circle. Standing in my in-laws’ house, my bed all made up in one of the rooms, my husband amusing our baby in the other room. Being completely happy in the moment and having what I had always hoped to have. And yet it looking nothing like what I thought it would look like. Feeling nothing like I thought it would. And yet being exactly what I always wanted.
The thing about life never ceasing to surprise you? I feel like a lot of times this year I’ve realised that all I needed to do was to give in and give away all my preconceptions about what I wanted (how it would look or feel or how to go about getting it) to get exactly what I wanted. And that chasing after what you want isn’t necessarily the way to get it. In my case, I couldn’t have met C earlier or in any other circumstance. And I spent such a long time being sad, lonely, feeling like I was not good enough or being punished or unlovable when really all it was was timing, and the right person. And I had an idea of what the right person would look like and who they would be and that was nothing like C and yet, how could I be with anyone else? How could I have thought anyone else even came close?
And this isn’t the only part of my life where I’ve had this kind of moment with. My PhD and the topic is another example – it seems I’ve spent the last 7 years collecting reference material for this exact topic, completely unthinkingly. Helen only talked me into this gig late last year. Before that, I could never have even entertained the idea of giving up working for the environment.
And lots of other smaller examples where things have taken a long time to fruition and have been surprising. And I guess that’s one of the pluses of getting older – the living longer so that you do see the full turning of things. It’s interesting. I thought I wouldn’t like approaching 40 and yet the closer I get to it, the more I realise that Life Just Beginning at 40, is really true. And it’s kind of exciting.
Tags: 2013 in review
Towards the end of our wedding reception, my work friends J&S came up to us in a bit of a panic as they wanted us to open their wedding gift. Unfortunately, all the gifts had been packed off to my parents’ place until we got back from our honeymoon. This turned out to be a bit of a problem. J&S wanted us to open their gift before we left as it wouldn’t work after we got back. Intrigued, I got my mum to fossick around for a gift of the description we were given and to bring it to us at Christmas lunch. All was quickly revealed – J&S’s gift was a quest. The creation of a memory.
We were of course to go off in search of the Love Bridge and place our own lock on it for our love. I was floored by such a gift – what a really great idea! We headed off and I think (as judging by how tired I look in the photo below) on the first day to make sure that we definitely got this done.
I’d brought more than a few guide books with me on our trip. I might have been a bit excited to be returning to Paris. But what turned out to be the best buy was a set of cards of walking tours of Paris. There were 50 in the pack and you could just pick one out at random or one with something you wanted to definitely see on the route or in the area you were interested in. C took to these, which in retrospect I should have realised would be right up his alley. He really enjoyed making sure we followed the tour and did all the stops etc. I really enjoyed the extra little things you ended up seeing on the way – stopping for the best hot chocolate in Paris, seeing significant landmarks or points of interest that are off the standard tourist grid. I ended up seeing a lot more of Paris than I would have on my own and I also saw a lot more cool stuff than I would have thought of looking for. And … bonus was lots less crowds most of the time.
Here’s C checking we’re still on route:
And here we’ve just added our lock to the bridge – and thrown the key into the Seine, which the greenie in me cringed at but the superstitious OCD side did anyway – and C is taking data point photos so we can come back and look for it another trip.
Tags: 2013 in review
My year started in Paris, and that is a pretty darn fine way to start a year. To back up a smidge, we got married and then stayed around at home a couple of days for Christmas. Some of C’s family had come over for our wedding and were staying for Christmas so we did too. We moved up to the CBD and stayed an extra night or two at a hotel, bumming around the city and generally trying to destress after the excitement of getting married and also you know, process the whole WE GOT MARRIED concept. Christmas lunch was pretty laid back but it was really nice to hang out with our parents and some family and do that all post the whole wedding thing. Jewish tradition has people entertain a married couple for 7 nights after their wedding and welcome them into the community as a couple/family and this felt like a nice nod to that.
And then we headed off to Paris. It was my second trip to this city I love and last time I was there, I’d really wanted to share it with someone, and to be there in love. That’s the cliche after all. I’d read all the stupid bridal mags while planning our wedding, cause again, cliche, and gleaned that the Maldives is where everyone is honeymooning at the moment. I spent a day or two drooling over the beautiful white beaches and blue blue ocean and sky and thought about the lazying about by the pool and hang gliding and then I remembered this was US I was planning a trip for and unless there was wifi by those palm trees, we were gonna be dead bored. I knew I was quitting my day job in 2013 and that this could be the last holiday hurrah for me for some time and I’m not sure when C had last had a proper holiday so … Paris it was! I managed to get a great deal on Singapore Airlines via a travel agent and the flights to Paris were really very pleasant (not so much on the way home but oh well). I sort of had the travel agent plan the trip for us cause I had a lot of other things on. Some things worked great, others not. But she convinced me to book in three different hotels in two different quarters and a decadent couple of nights out of Paris. And I think that was definitely a fab idea I wasn’t sure how it would go moving so many times in about 10 days but it worked out fine.
We arrived at about 6.30am on a very dreary morning and headed to our hotel in Montmartre (or thereabouts). This hotel was a lot of fun – Secret de Paris – on a corner of the street and lit up in purple lights, each room was themed to make you feel like you were sleeping in an iconic structure of Paris. It sounds cheesy but it’s French and they pulled it off! We got the Eiffel Tower room (that’s my pillow marring the decor of the room. And the speccy lighting which again, was more atmospheric and less cheesy in real life) and were told we could request to move to any of the other rooms at any time if we wanted to try out a different room. At the time, we were so jetlagged and coming down off the wedding high that we couldn’t be bothered – we did a quick touristing the first morning we arrived and then slept for most of the rest of the day. And after that, we were either sleeping or out and about and packing up to move just seemed like too much effort. Now, I wish we had tried other rooms out, especially cause ours didn’t have a spa bath. Also, a nicely confronting moment after you just got married, our bathroom was encased in glass. So – bedroom, and then the toilet, basin and shower to the side and sectioned off with see through glass. Bit personal.
We did a lot of recuperation – a lot of napping, I watched a lot of TV (I watched the entire series of The Closer whilst away, cause I don’t nap!). We also ate a lot of croissants – a delicious bakery was on the corner diagonal to our hotel. I think I might have rushed out there as soon as we’d checked and taken our bags to the room to get an escargot and OMG, baked goods are never as good as they are in France. I’m ruined for croissants now because they just don’t come anywhere close to as delicious. Also the Hot Chocolate – I drank a lot of it cause I had a Crohn’s flare up the whole time trip (started in the lead up to the wedding in about November and went through into my pregnancy). I dunno how they make hot chocolate in France but OMG it’s fabulous.
Here’s a pic from the breakfast room. Sumptuous chairs, they also had a lot of loveseats so you could sit next to your lover and whisper secrets (of course!) in their ear. We though that was a bit too corny for us!
Tags: 2013 in review
I had some unexpected good news this morning. It had me reflecting back on this year which really was full of awesome for me. I have this weird/screwed up mindset where I think that if it wasn’t hard work, then it’s not something I value having and yet pretty much all my life, the things that have really worked out for me have been the things that I fell into or just happened along and the things I refused to quit on and kept trying to push into making work out, never really did. (Maybe one of my lessons was learning when to quit).
Anyway – I had good news today! And it made me realise that this year has been an exceptionally good one for me. And that my year in review would be a pretty happy one. Which reminded me that I’ve not posted very much this year – unusual for me. What happened was we didn’t get our wedding photos until last week. It’s been this long, drawn out, upsetting and disappointing thing that I didn’t really want to talk much about. Not having them hung above my head like a dark cloud and I didn’t want to talk about the rest of the stuff around our wedding and our honeymoon. Then it felt weird to talk about other things out of step with that. I guess I’m pretty chronological. At the same time, I felt bad for feeling bad because the photos were the only dark, negative thing associated with our wedding, and really, if that was the only disappointing aspect, that’s not really so bad, in the scheme of things. But we finally got out proofs last week and whilst I haven’t had the headspace to sit down and work through the next steps for that (picking the photos for the album etc), I do feel a sense of close to closure on it.
Like I might be able to start blogging about my year in review, maybe.
Especially since my year started in Paris – not a bad place to start! Maybe tomorrow. With photos.
Tags: 2013 in review