October 27   Maybe

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Maybe I’m just incapable of finishing things?

 

In knitting, it’s called Startititis – the urge/disease/need to start new projects, usually before finishing ones in progress and usually more than one or three or five at a go. It’s no breaking news story to say I love starting new projects. I love the thrill of thinking of something new – the “can we?”, “would it be possible to…”, “what if?” I love pitching ideas to people, bringing them on board. I love the possibility and potential that new projects bring. I love the idea that I could be the person on the other side of starting a new habit or routine, the person who just is or does [whatever]. But I’m not so good at follow through. I’m not so awesome at taking things through to the finishing line. My most classic example might be my first postgrad attempt where I built the mathematical model, I played with it for 2 or 3 years, even published a paper in a pretty good academic journal, then I saw the problem I was solving through to the end *in my head* and I was good. I knew how the story ended. And I lost interest. Anyone will tell you the thing about a PhD, the thing the actual piece of paper says, is that you can complete something.

In my life, I’m surrounded by half started projects. Let’s see. I’m sitting at my coffee table. Let me tell you what I can see by looking around and without getting up or moving in any way –> to my left there is a started quilting project (the top was finished more than two years ago but never made it’s way to being quilted) and a block of my Solstice quilt with half a border. Panning right is a bookcase that is only partially sorted and some wedding gifts yet to be homed. In front of me are about 6 TV series I’ve started but not continued (yet). And on the table are pieces 4 different craft (quilting and knitting) projects, the rest of the TPP financial bank statements etc from 2014 that are yet to be formally processed (balanced against records, entered into financial software packages and spreadsheets and royalties statements), a book I finished reading and want to write a Goodreads review for and a whole pile of To Do Lists in various states of untidiness. On the printer is a shopping list for a cake I want to bake for Mothers’ Group on Weds. And to my right are receipts that were partially sorted a few days ago.

And I’m not even sitting at my study desk.

But I’m always striving to hope towards being better. You know how it is. As I mentioned previously, a couple of weeks ago we signed up for a program to help us organise our house in a structured way. We aren’t moving at the pace of the program but we’ve made enough progress that I’m starting to get inspired and hopeful we might be turning a corner. The other Alisa lives in a Vogue magazine spread. In whites and eggshell blues. I can see though that when you start to *feel* like you’re gaining control, that helps you gain momentum. It’s quite interesting how important it is how you feel rather than how it is for this stuff. In the GTD school of thought, just sitting down and corralling your to dos makes you feel accomplished. You don’t even have to do any of the items, you just feel back in control simply by emptying your head and itemising them in some way.

So with this thinking in mind, I decided last week to try that piece of advice (was it Mark Twain?) – eat the frog first. Find the thing you least want to do, that you are most avoiding or will be the hardest, and do that first in the morning. Normally, and in Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT, that’s supposed to be exercise. Get it out of the way up front etc. And look, I’m not that person so I’m not even going to pretend to myself that that’s what it will be. But last week, every day, I tried to start the morning, especially over my first cup of coffee, to do something I had been seriously avoiding. And wow! That was an interesting exercise. Not every task when completed made me feel awesome. Some things you avoid because you know you have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear. But getting it over and done with was good. And it wasn’t quite as confronting an exercise as I thought it would be. I actually got a lot of things done. And progressed things that had long been shelved. And it did open up a bit of a floodway in that last week was the first week in a very long time that I actually had really long moments (hours) of feeling “in the flow”. I’d forgotten how great that felt! So productive! And exciting!

It had the additional result of having me think about *why* I was avoiding particular things. One of the things I’ve noticed about how my email inbox can build up is that I don’t like making decisions. Not that I’m indecisive or incapable of making decisions but the act of sitting down and actually thinking something through to a decision feels like hard work. “Oh that requires *thinking*. No time for that now!” But actually the thought process ends up taking less than 5 minutes when you finally sit down and do it. Sure, it might mean you have to admit there are 5 or 25 actions that are required but … you know, otherwise, you don’t really want to do whatever it is you are looking at. And usually, once you itemise the actions required, you find yourself doing them without even noticing. Like, “Oh well I need to email … may as well just do that now …” etc. Or the admitting you have to tell someone no or that you can’t do something. That for me is usually the hard bit. Once I’ve done that, I can actually write the email or make the call. It’s the admission that is hard.

So I’ve found that for me a lot of the procrastination is in the required thinking through of something and making a decision on how to act. Once I’ve done that … whee … I’m in flow.

Building onto that is what I’ve been focussing on over the last few days. Is it true that I just can’t finish things and if so, why? I’ve noticed that I can’t finish a novel, for example. That I haven’t finished a book in over two years. Even books I’m enjoying. And a friend of mine mentioned to me one day last week that a mutual friend of ours is now reading 3 books a week just by not doing anything else. And I thought, wow, when did I last finish a book and is it because I “distract” myself with things like TV and craft etc? Have I given myself a short attention span by not staying long attention fit? And … is this the issue I’m having with my reading for my PhD? And … what about all these other things I start but don’t finish? What do I lack? Is it attention? Is it staying power? Commitment? Who am I? And where is my mummy?

The only thing to do was to challenge myself to finish a novel. To just keep bringing myself back to that task. And I did it! (See finished book above!) I finished a book. Wow. 1 frigging book. I proved to myself that I can in fact do it. Good. Though this isn’t enough. But I think shows that I’ve shortened my attention span in the way I interact with things in my world. Yes yes I mean Facebook and Twitter. And only half reading pretty much any article I click on. So I’ve challenged myself to finish a whole bunch of started projects in my house. For the rest of the year. And then I’m going to post a list as my end of year summary – what did I actually finish this year.

And as with all things, it’s not so hard. It does involve thinking through why I’m not finishing something and figuring out what the next action is and sometimes holding my hand though the decision. Here’s the quilt top that was finished over two years ago but not ever actually progressed further. It turns out, I just needed to admit that backing material I’d bought was in fact backing material and the world would go on if I cut it up. And then I just needed to measure and cut. And layer batting in between. And then pin it all up. And get out the quilting hoop. And then … begin quilting.

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Time taken to get to this point? Over two years.

Time taken to do all the above? Less than 15 minutes.

The trick it seems is to ask yourself “What is next?” and when you brain says “I can’t do X because I still need to do Y”, to then ask yourself, “Well, what do I have to do to get Y?” It’s usually not as hard as your brain likes to pretend.

Here are last week’s finished Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt blocks. The bow tie ended up too small and I’ve fixed this by just creating a new (third) border size to frame it (and several others that are also undersized) to bring it up to the same size. It’s not perfect but it will do.

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March 4   Birthday Weekend

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I have the sad, sorry withdrawal come down that follows a birthday weekend. Luckily for me, I’m going out for a work session this afternoon which means I get to to try out another cafe (I’m behind on those posts too). Course, the come down means I had a great time!

I wasn’t really sure what was happening with my birthday this year. I didn’t organise anything. It’s kinda sad how the older you get, the less shiny and exciting your birthday becomes. I knew that there was a family dinner organised for the Friday night but C kept telling me that my present would be given to me then, not on the day, and in the calendar, he had a mysterious note “Tell Wife a Secret”. No matter what I tried, he refused to give away any hints! I had a meeting with Julia over Skype late Wednesday night and as soon as I hopped off, it was Thursday, and my birthday and he revealed the secret: he’d taken a day of annual leave to give me a day off. He’d remembered that I had a philosophy of not working on my birthday – something I picked up from the crew back in my Wetlands days. We’d all take annual leave on the day and frankly, if you can do that, it’s a really nice thing to say to yourself – I give me the day off! So C gave me the day after off and stayed home to look after the baby on Friday and sent me off “wherever”.

Thursday, my actual birthday, I had breakfast with my sister and mum and then hung out at my parents for the afternoon. I madly rang around local day spa places near my home to see if somewhere could fit me in. I had no idea what to do on my sudden day off and I didn’t want to waste it.

The Urban Day Spa in Rockingham could fit me in at 10am and I got to sleep in (after doing the 6am baby feed!) and then roll out of bed and head out for a full body massage. Hidden upstairs in the cafe strip on the foreshore, it’s a very lovely day spa. The massage was excellent – I was so sore from baby lifting etc – and the mood was dim lights and music and so relaxing. And then afterwards, they served refreshments on a balcony overlooking the ocean. I was still so very sore but definitely more relaxed.

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Afterwards, I headed to the Kent St Deli, a street back, and my favourite local place, to have a couple of uninterrupted hot coffees. It was very busy and not the most pleasant place to hang and the service wasn’t really as good as it’s been before, nor the coffee. But nonetheless, I hung out for about 2 hours, drank coffee and juice and ate lunch and worked on my PhD quietly. And even though technically that’s working, it’s been such a long time since I could sit for two hours and just work without stopping, following through processes, jotting down notes and actually developing a methodology for my stats collecting. And not being able to do such things had been stressing me out. I had a really great time working on my PhD.
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I was still sore and still had time to spare so I headed home to have a long luxurious bath (this particular bath bomb made the bath look like the pee of someone who needed to badly rehydrate!). I listened to Norah Jones and read a book. Divine!

And then! I still had some time before we had to leave for dinner, so I finally sat down and tackled the stumbling block on my quilt project. I’d stalled back when I was pregnant due to pregnancy brain meaning I could no longer fussy cut without stuffing up and my carpal tunnel eventually stopped me crafting altogether. It’s taken me this long but I finally got back to it. I had to recut one template and then fussy cut those 8 diamonds and then a bit of sewing over the weekend and voila! Done!

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Then it was time to head up to family dinner. Everyone came along and they had all pooled my birthday money to get me one giant day spa package omigosh! You know the kind that has EVERYTHING and you have to be there for like half a day! Oh yeah! Now to decide when that day is going to be! I cannot wait! And we had dinner. And Cake:

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Because it was a public holiday on Monday, we got a long weekend as well! We checked my post box on the way to dinner and I discovered my swift had finally arrived! So Saturday, I managed to work it, and wind up yarn!

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This should keep me going for a while:

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That’s a couple of balls of sock yarn for the year of sock knitting, one scarf and the TPP pink shall be a shawl.

 



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January 22   A Tea Realisation

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Long time readers may recall a confession I made some time ago about my tea buying – not drinking, mind – obsession. It did not improve after that post. In fact, I might have drunk 1 or 2 cups of tea ever after that day. My tea stashing habit is so bad that I can troll my husband  just by suggesting I need more tea as we walk down that aisle at the supermarket.

Since then, I have studiously worked on my coffee snobbery. I’ve scouted out all the coffee shops within a 10 to 15 minute drive from my place. I have found 2 places with actually pretty good coffee that are sort of nearby. Close to Melbourne coffee, even (with Perth prices). Eventually I realised that since I work from home now, I have time to clean an espresso machine after my first coffee in the morning. I pulled out the one we’d inherited and set it all up and it makes a very good cup of coffee too. And then I started working through the blends and single origin beans of my favourite coffee bean roaster. I go through a 250g bag in a fortnight, which I think is pretty reasonable and I’m enjoying fabulous flat whites in the comfort of my own home. And I’m drinking a lot of instant coffee too as is my way when I’m studying. (I checked, more than 5 cups a day is an issue with breastfeeding and the baby doesn’t seem to mind it as long as I keep under that.)

I like coffee. Anyone in my vicinity knows that.

I lied. I LOVE coffee.

So it was the oddest thing last night to find myself actually craving a cup of tea. And then enjoying it. And following it up with a peppermint tea. It was damn weird. Recently I’d had a conversation with my mother about not enjoying drinking tea anymore and she’d suggested I try drinking it a bunch of different ways to see how I like it. That making it like I make coffee might not be appropriate. This made sense given I adjust how I take my coffee depending on the beans and the barista.  I did try a couple of cups but didn’t really have much enjoyment so to then be craving a cup of tea was downright strange.

I’ve been thinking it over all day and realised that whilst most people offer a relaxing cup of tea to calm you down in a stressful situation, I respond to tea as a reward at the end of hard work, to drink *when* relaxed. Kind of like that beer at sunset after a good hardworked day, when you sit back and reward yourself for your achievements. A drink that’s enjoyed because you already feel good about yourself. And I drink coffee when I’m working, to get myself to work, to comfort myself, to amuse myself when bored or procrastinating and to feel decadent. I think it’s the rich, velvetyness of it, like chocolate, which I find comforting. Tea is less viscous and it often goes down scalding. It’s pure and it strips away impurity.

Lately, I’ve carved time out for myself at the end of the day, very late at night (it’s nearly 2am). It’s when I clean up the kitchen, make the baby’s bottles for the next day, catch up and make headway on emails and when I’ve started eating into digging myself out of my sandpit of to do lists. It’s when I finally feel like I’ve made headway on the day. And because now, so many small things are big victories – like going to the toilet, eating lunch, taking a shower – I’ve shifted some of my expectations of myself (possibly getting my organisational systems more up to date is helping me feel optimistic about digging my way out of my work and phd backlogs). I am also seeing slow headway. So I feel like a cup of tea at the end of the day.

I’m well aware of what this says about how I’ve seen myself and my accomplishments for like the last 5 years. But anyhoo … at least I’m in therapy :)

And now, to bed.



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One of the most confronting things for me so far about motherhood is the judgment or the perceived judgment. I feel like I’m constantly being graded, and am likely coming up short. In any new job, as Terri pointed out to me, it takes a good few months to learn the ropes and figure out what you’re doing. But mostly, unless you’re in a medical field, education or emergency services, you tend not to hold someone else’s life in your hands whilst figuring it all out.

Which is all fine. Mostly it’s not an issue – things can be washed, inconsolable crying can go on crying, adults can eat dinner at 10pm and so on.

But mostly I feel very wary of criticism – not advice, mind you, and I think there is a difference. Advice is helpful, criticism is judgey. And for some reason, I’ve become aware that I really seem to care about “what they think”. I don’t know who they hell “they” are nor why I care what they think. Or even if I’d know when they thought that. I’ve found myself very tied up in this concept of them and what they think and how they’ll judge me which is completely removed from what those around me who know and love me think about the decisions I make. I suppose part of it is the really strong lobbies that seem to surround birth and childrearing. And the dichotomies that get set up. I’ve been reluctant to post about a lot of my experiences here for fear of attracting attention from hardliners. Which is balanced by how much that pisses me off – that I feel like I’d rather just be silent than risk having the hate comments thing. I hate the way the art of discussion has been lost in favour of a world that has become right or wrong, black or white, with us or against us. Discussion has been dumbed down and we’ve lost the ability to appreciate complexity and nuance.

I guess I have to put big girl pants on and use a strong moderation hand, if necessary.

Choice is such an interesting thing. It’s not really free if the options are presented to you in such a way that clearly there is a good one and one that makes you a bad person for taking. That’s kinda how I feel about the whole breastfeeding issue. We took our baby classes prior to the bub’s arrival and were very amused at the one on feeding. At the top of the hour, the midwife says there are two options – the breast (breast is best) and bottle feeding (and it’s totally *your* choice and *up to you*). And then she spent the next two hours only talking about breastfeeding. There was a half hour on all the studies proving how breast is best with all the pros of this option and how awesome you are if you go down this road. And then a whole heap of other things about breastfeeding. It wasn’t til I was in the car on the way home that I realised there had been nothing at all, whatsoever, on bottle feeding – not how to do it, not how to find out how to do it, not the reasons why you might do it and what you might need or who to ask for help. C noticed this too and we amused ourselves on the ride home and many times after that how clearly biased the presentation had been: it’s totally your choice (BUT PICK THIS ONE).

Now, I’ll say up front, I was totes convinced on the breastfeeding long before the classes. Apparently (I learned this in that class), girls have decided whether they will breastfeed or not by the time they are 12 years old and very little after that will make them change their mind. I find this “fact” fascinating  – I didn’t read the paper it was quoted from. I’m sure I hadn’t thought about it at all by 12 or 16 or even 18. Anyway, the advantages of breastfeeding certainly sound convincing, and being a germophobe myself, they had me at increased immunity etc.

Cue to several weeks into the whole shebang and the bubs is not losing weight but she’s not fattening up as much as they’d like. OMG do not tell a Jewish mother her kid is not getting enough to eat. Oy Vey, kinderlach! I’m not really sure what to think about our local child health care. They seem to be pretty busy in my suburb and getting appointments was really hard (we couldn’t get our 10 day check til weeks later). We ended up visiting a drop in centre a suburb or two over and were taken under their wing. I did the lactation consultant thing, the weigh bub, feed bub, weigh bub thing. Got advice on latching. Had more people touch and prod my boobs than in my entire life ever. Boobs have become as unsexual to me as my elbows. We upped the number of feeds per day. Tried pumping. Some things worked, some didn’t. Bub gained weight in a step function then plateau way. Never really hit her stride. In the end, we got doctor advice during her 8 week check up. Now I am on meds that might not really be doing anything and top up bottle feeds.

I tried everything I could possibly do before eventually giving in to the formula. “Giving in” is such a loaded way to express this (no pun intended) but that’s how it felt. I did everything else to try and get the breastfeeding thing to work. I’m currently on the top dosage for the meds, and in bed today cause of the stomach cramps side effects, and I’m going to give it the full two weeks run before I decide. But at some point, when you’ve spent 20 mins feeding bub and then she drinks the whole of the “top up” bottle, you gotta admit, you ain’t producing no milk.

I had a long discussion with my doctor about it – OMG finally committed to a new GP for the baby and I LOVE her (another of my awesome sister’s recommendations). She said to me “it depends how important it is to you”. And that’s a funny thing really. I mean, obviously it’s important enough to me that I’ve been persevering with this for 11 weeks now. But I’d never really framed it as a “important to me” decision to make. I sat there as we continued talking thinking, “well how important *is* it to me?” and “is that actually how I get to frame this?” My doctor was of the opinion that a) I need to face the facts that the boobs ain’t really working out for me here and b) I should get to enjoy the baby. What a concept! I do like holistic medicine – placing decisions in a context.

Because that’s the thing really, isn’t it? All things *being equal*, breast is best. But all things are *never* equal. And what I’m really angry about is the way this is all set up as though there is a good choice and a not good choice. Yet, if that were true, wouldn’t we have developed an industry of wet nursing over the baby formula product? If it were so terrible? I’m angry that never, not once, did any of the child health nurses I saw – and I saw probably more than 5 – even *suggest* formula, or a top up bottle. It was so out of the scope that *even* at the last check up when it was really “yeah you need to take action now”, the advice was *still* go to the doctor and get a prescription to increase milk supply. Formula was never ever discussed. Which had the effect of making me feel like the worst mother in the world for even thinking about going that way. It made it a loaded choice. It made me feel like I was failing, or if not failing, choosing an option that “was not best”. And “not best” = bad, right? When really, what is bad is not feeding your kid. And I’m angry now about all those nights of “the witching hour” which were probably a starving baby crying for food. And probably I could have tried all those other options for upping my supply and also topped the baby up with formula.

The subtle judgment over women’s choices is another way of controlling them. And I hate that women play into that as much as men do. I chose to have a c-section. And I’ve felt weird about talking about this. But it’s not a free choice to make as a liberated woman if you feel you can’t choose some of the options. I didn’t want people to think I was “too posh to push”. Ain’t that a nice phrase? I spent a lot of time – probably about 7 weeks or more – agonising over this choice. I spoke to my counsellor several times, and people close to me who love and support me. And then, of course, with my OB who said that I have every right to choose and she would support me in any decision. I had reasons to make this choice but even so, it was still an elected one. Whilst they make perfect sense – my concerns included Crohn’s flare up (which today, with drug side effects triggering it, I am reminded how right that was to troubleshoot) and also to manage my anxiety (which both feeds into the Crohns and also depression). Had these not been critical, I might still have wanted to opt this way and that makes me feel like I “took the easy option” (my words). (Yeah, there’s no actual easy way to get a human out of your body. When they invent the transporter a la Star Trek, I wonder if that will still be the too posh to push option.)

All things being equal there might be preferred options, for certain pros. But things aren’t ever equal – that’s why we also have the saying “life ain’t fair”. When we set up dichotomies loaded in judgment they run the real risk of damaging people for no real benefit. There are so many other things that make for actual bad parenting choices – locking your kids in the car on a hot day whilst you go inside to the casino, for example. Surely we have better things to do than add to the stress by making people feel bad about choosing between two options that both mean a baby gets a full tummy? All options being equal and all that.



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October 14   What I did today

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Boring list of what I did today, to remind myself I’m moving forwards:

  • popped out to the shops to buy celebratory cake!
  • 4 loads of laundry
  • cleared dining table for weekly review
  • grocery shop (ahem, unpacked the groceries when the Coles man delivered them)
  • started sorting my books in the study bookcases
  • unpacked one more random box of crap
  • sorted through the week’s accumulation of receipts and papers and flotsam
  • finished final copy edits on 2 short stories and sent to the proofers
  • baked banana bread
  • cleaned the kitchen
  • sorted through the box of 1 year of receipts – part of the Getting Things Done backlog
  • made a quiche
  • worked on website and newsletter
  • worked on copyedits for A Trifle Dead

I’m glad I wrote that list because I am getting to the point in the night where I start to get upset that I didn’t get anything done. I bet C does not miss that!

I lost about 2 or 3 weeks to setting up the Getting Things Done stuff – going through stuff at home and deciding what it was and what had to happen to it, setting up a new filing and storage system, assigning things to places in the house, writing proper to do lists. Stuff that I used to be really good at – like 6 or 8 house moves ago. But it’s been worth the getting behind in TPP work to do that because I had forgotten something really key – it’s not only much easier to keep up with the current things when you have systems and places for things, and it not only saves you time in no longer having to look for things when you want them again, but being able to deal with things as they come in, even though you still have backlog, stops the increase in backlog of clutter. And then, every time you find time to work on going through and sorting backlog, you can see that you actually are starting to win. It becomes so much easier to work on backlog too – all the clear spaces that you created last week *have remained clear* because new crap that comes in gets dealt with on the spot or through the weekly review. And it’s much easier to deal with small piles of current crap than 3 year old stuff.

I’m not yet up to date and I’ve not yet mastered the weekly review. But that can take 3 months or so. I am though enjoying all the benefits that are already showing up. I’m getting better at planning things and being ready for things when they happen. And together with learning how to spot red flags in the 12 week body transformation, I’m starting to learn how to handle myself. So for example, the banana bread and the quiche I made today was portioned up and frozen in meal size serves. Now, as I run out the door in the mornings this week, I have breakfast covered and some lunches. No excuse to spend money frivolously or to eat more than my allocated calories. And I don’t have to think about it in the middle of the rush that is my week.

 



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June 20   Post con effects

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Wow. Been a really weird week this week for me. I am tired. Like bone weary, could fall asleep at any moment, struggling to keep my eyes open all day kinda tired. I never really get this kind of tired. Sure if I have a night of 5 hours or less of sleep, I might have that zombie haze thing where you’re dragging your mind through mud to get through the day, but mostly I’m pretty good on less sleep than most. Not this week though. This week, I am so tired I could sleep if I get too still. And I have an eye twitch. I’ve had it since Sunday and it’s driving me up the wall.

So I’ve been trying to limit the amount of work I do in the evenings after work. And I’ve been sending myself to bed by 9.30 and lights out by 10. And I’ve been upping my vitamins and protein. It’s not helping yet but I’m hoping it will soon. So I’ve been quiet and slow on getting things done. I hate that but in the event that this is burnout, I want to limit the fallout.

So if I owe you something, I’m hoping to get it to you real soon!



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May 29   And so it goes

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Today I managed to leave my building swipe card at home for the first time since I’ve worked in my new job. And I managed to miss the early train whilst fumbling to look for it and trying to call C to come back get me (he didn’t). When I got to work I went to reception and got J, who starts at 7am, to come down and get me. And she did – I felt somewhat like a Kindy kid getting fetched to go home and she was so nice about it, I nearly cried.

It’s fair to say I was a bit down today. Sometimes the stuff, it gets to you. If you let it, it can really shake your foundations. But today what I learned is, you are truly blessed and your world is rich if you have people to make you laugh when things look down and when you have friends and colleagues to remind you why it is that you do what you do. And what it’s all for. And my day was filled to overflowing with kind words and actions and a lotta laughing. A new friend at work gave me a new saying which is so inappropriate I could never type it here.

I am so lucky to have a new job find me that is filled with people who make me laugh, who share my passion and philosophy and who get me. I know how rare this is. I am so lucky for the family who support me and to have ever met C who loves me and cares for me and makes me laugh through my tears. And I am so lucky for the friends I’ve made along this publishing journey and the writers I have had the great privilege to watch at close range do what it is that they do. These people make my heart brim and overflow with joy and happiness. And if you have that, what else can you hope for?

And the most important thing – all the chocolate in the house is mine.



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May 28   Need a tune up

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You know when you’re just a little off? When things just refuse to go right? That’s me at the moment.

Thursday I went home from work sick. I had a meeting first thing and then an overdue deadline. I sat and worked on the one page briefing for a couple of hours and tinkered and worked on it and thought I’d just get it done then I’d go home. But I could see I had another hour maybe to whip it into shape and I was reallllly not feeling well. The – if I leave this longer, the train may no longer be an option – kind of unwell so I emailed it onto my boss and headed home. C of course was out for lunch with the car so I had to catch the train and then a bus to him to get the car and house keys to get home. And then I slept for 3 hours. As you know, I don’t nap, so that’s never a good sign.

And then I spent a good 24 hours just not on – staring into space, watching terrible (but oh so good) television, answering emails and reading Deadline by Mira Grant. Saturday was more of the same. I was just … not quite right. And doing things like slamming doors on my hand coming out of the bathroom, woke up with a pinched muscle in my back and limited neck movement etc. That ever happen to you? When you just don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders? I dunno if it was flu that never really came on (auto immune diseases are good for one or two things) or being really run down or what.

Sunday I managed to make it to the quilt and craft fair. My usual buddy couldn’t come this year as she broke a bone in her foot last weekend (!) and since the duty was looking like falling to C, his mother stepped in and said she’d be happy to join me. So I met her there and we spent a couple of hours looking at the exhibition and buying fat quarters and having coffee (and I’m really getting married, aren’t I?!) and then I stayed behind to get a few more bits and pieces before heading home. [I bought 3 fat quarters, 6 buttons, a tea cosy book because I am obsessed with hilarious tea cosies, a pattern for a kimono shirt, and bits and pieces – pencils, pins etc]

Then I headed to Helen’s to have a nice catch up with her and Amelia and I’d not been there half an hour when I took a rather dramatic tumble down Helen’s back stairs. I don’t know what happened, I’d hardly moved when I fell forward and then fell down the stairs and kept going. I seem to have managed to have fallen on my whole body – slammed one hand and have taken a chunk out of the palm of my hand so I can’t type well or knit, and scraped the other whilst I landed on my other arm, one knee and both shins copped it, one much worse than the other with a massive scrape and then my ankle and toes which have blood blisters. But I reckon that’s the only thing that stopped me breaking a bone. And we weren’t sure there for a while. I nearly took out Helen’s daughter and as I lay there sprawled on the stairs the look on her face was of such terror I spent all my effort on not crying. And then not fainting. There was blood and a lot of pain and a lot of bruising and I go into shock quite easily.

But after a while, and some ice and bandaids, all was good and I had a cup of tea and cheered right up!And then went home to enjoy Eurovision. OMG I loved Turkey and Ireland so so much.

Today I hobbled into work to find much of my team had either been off sick, were off sick or went home sick. And I found a physio in the CBD to look at my neck/back. The city is pretty convenient for having access to things (better than either of the other jobs I had this year). And I got a new pillow, which might have been some of the problem. And I need to address stress, and ignoring headaches. and peering at the laptop like I’m doing right now. And probably it’s time for bed.

I hope you’re fairing better than me right now.



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Wow, this last week has been full on. I’m back in that whole finding a new routine, getting overwhelmed with a whole new normal and doing all that background reading to get up to speed. That’s right, I started my new job this week. And I also might have written my car off on Monday in the most understated, not dangerous accident one could ever have.

After the car bingle, I discovered that I can cross the street right outside my house and get on a bus that is 10 minutes from the train station, get on the train, get off the train, go up the stairs, walk round the side of that building, get in the lift, walk to my desk all in under an hour. I have absolutely no complaints about the public transport to my new job and back. It’s actually MUCH easier than driving (finding a spot to park at the train station is a pain). AND I get to sit on the train and read. A Book! Fabulous!

And I’m pretty much loving the new job. My new team is great, I feel like I fit in pretty well. The office space is pretty good and it’s inside a building designed to avoid sick building syndrome – it’s new and it doesn’t have that new building smell! It’s pretty awesome. No headaches. No feeling lightheaded by the afternoon. No fatigue when I get home. Not bad! It’s designed to make you walk around a fair bit so going to the bathroom or kitchen means you get some good movement in. I get two computer screens, to encourage paperless working. The job itself is going to be full on as the project is already behind schedule. And it’s going to be challenging. Which I’m kinda really looking forward to. It’s also kind of weird to come into a new job and be all over a lot of the issues and history. It’s a bit of a brain adjustment for me as I am taking a step back from the approach I’ve been requiring in my day job for the last 7 years and am now being more of a straight water engineer, if that makes sense? I don’t much like to talk about day job stuff here so I’ll just say that this is taking me more back to the nuts and bolts of my training as I learn to apply that in a new philosophical approach/role. It’s cool in that it feels like a breath of fresh air through my brain.

Then I’ve been coming home and pulling late nights for Twelfth Planet Press. Leaving little time for much else. Hopefully that won’t last too long, once I have the last few things done for Natcon, things should ease off a bit. But I’m kinda having fun and that is the point, I think!



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March 20   Frustrating days

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I am so struggling to keep a daily blog. I can’t even express how frustrating I find this one thing. I’ve been blogging for longer than any of the other things that I do. I started my first blog, back in the days of Diaryland (yes, I am *that* old), to make sure that there was some point in my day, every day, that I sat down and wrote something. So it’s really sad for me to turn around at the end of another week and see that I didn’t get time to sit down and write something.

And it’s also frustrating to me that I am still grappling with what does and does not feel appropriate to post about. It used to be that everything in my life was fair game. And I posted in a no holds barred way. And maybe that became a bit of a train wreck at some points. I made and lost friends over some of the posts. But it felt a lot less restrictive. These days, even though they aren’t really directly linked, I am still the public face for my press and that’s deeply important to me.

Actually, I do have a few things I want to sit down and write about and I hope I will start to get on top of things so that I can sit down and … write again. Because that’s the other thing giving me great frustrating these days – time. And my lack of it. I’m desperately frustrated at the moment – drowning and drowning in my frustration about the drowning. And I guess more than a little frustrated at my current lack of being able to do something about it. There are a few things going on in the background but none of them are guaranteed at the moment. And so I am left with constantly feeling like no matter how hard I work, I have barely taken a chunk out of the to do pile. I worked solidly yesterday all day, even waking up a bit early for me for a Sunday, and still barely scraped the surface. It’s a very very upsetting thing to see where it is you want to go, and the path you need to take but a lack in the funds and time to actually do it. And if that is why I ultimately fail, I will be heartbroken about it, I think.

I hope this malaise is really just the dark before the dawn. I do have things in motion to deal with some of these things. I’ve had to admit that I really am going to have to delegate if I want to get as much as I want done. There is really only so much work that one person can do in a week. I’ve been so lucky to have Terri come on board to pick up Publicity and Promotions for me. It’s such a crucial aspect and yet so easy to not be on top of as you grapple to meet print deadlines and editing and so on. We had a really productive 3 hour(!) meeting a couple of weeks ago now and have so many ideas and tasks to develop. I’m also hoping t oset up some new interns who are coming on board. We really do have some cool projects under development, and I can’t wait to start making progress on them.



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Warning: I talk about food issues and weight in this post.

So I’m at Week 5 of the 12 Week Body Transformation. Weigh in is Wednesday but I’m on track to lose another 1kg+ which pushes me below my first round number milestone. The program promises to be more than just a diet and exercise regime, promoting itself as a life transformer, part of the outcome being the weight loss and the other part, changing the way you think and behave. At Week 5, I think I really can see some of those changes coming through. And it’s required some fairly big mindshifts as well as some soulsearching and thought self policing. I’m not even sure I can fully articulate what’s changed and what kind of ride this is.

My issues with food are complex and not really something to go into here. But they are separate to issues with body image. Which adds to the complexity. My inner monologue is almost constantly negative. And I tend to use food to fix all that ails me – feel down? feel anxious or angry? feel depressed? want comfort? celebrating a win? Is it a day ending in y? All get a liberal serve of food to remedy. On top of that, I am addicted, I think, to certain foods. Maybe that’s a cop out but that’s how it feels. Food is my drug of choice – lollies and chocolate and icecream to be specific. And muffins and pastries and desserts and and and. Add to that that the exercise thing had kinda fallen by the wayside, the whole OMG the momentum required to put on shoes let alone leave the house!

And you’re not gonna overcome that kind of stuff in a day or a week or even in 12 weeks. And the thought of never going back ever again, still doesn’t feel quite real so I know I have a long way to go. But hey, today when I was hanging out with Jonathan for lunch, I happily chose a salad, considered it a “meal” and enjoyed it. There’s hope.

I’ve actually really enjoyed the nutrition side of this program. To be fair, C has taken on the shopping and cooking for it which is a major deal. I would likely not have been remotely as successful if I had been doing the food stuff on my own. And I think the food is far more interesting and exciting than what I was eating  – especially for breakfasts and lunches during the week. So that already makes this hardly a chore. And now, 5 weeks away from bags of lollies and licorice and blocks of chocolate, I can look at it a lot more from the outside looking in and deconstruct a lot of it. Some of which I want to talk about below. But that said, I know that if I were to even taste some of those things, I would be right back there scoffing a bag in a blink and be hooked again. I hope in the future to have a more balanced and healthy relationship with these foods.

The exercise on the other hand has been more of a struggle. You have to complete 6 workouts a week and I find that really hard. I’m juggling so much else in my week sometimes I just keel over. But one of the exercises before the program started was to write down all the excuses you use to avoid doing exercise (or related to food) and you know … I still catch myself trying to fob them off. Like … if you’re injured, that’s fine but you can work around that and still exercise. For me, sometimes my Crohn’s is worse than other days and doing crunches is so not the best thing for it. But now I know that I can just skip the crunches and do something else in the session rather than not exercise at all because I “feel sick”. Big revelation. Also, for me, I tend to find time by jettisoning exercise off first. Now, I’ve discovered I can reorganise my day, perhaps by several hours ahead so I still get in the exercise as well as all the other commitments. I’m still not doing great at this one – I am so overcommitted. And I’m becoming that person I hate – who is too busy to get to things or to answer emails promptly or to prepare ahead of time. I’m working on this one (commitments) and it should be better soon. But I discovered something really important. I had been describing myself as not an active person, or not someone who enjoys exercise. But actually – I do! And I’d forgotten. I’ve had so may moments of flashbacks to when I used to dance and these have reminded me of how exercise and pushing myself to my limits felt back then. And how much I enjoyed that. It’s been really nice to get back in touch with the me of 20 years ago. Before things got screwed up. It’s made me have to readjust how I see myself.

So taking some of what I am learning or skilling myself up to help get through the program has really flowed into the rest of my life. I’ve noticed the same kind of internal talk for addressing other things in my life and have taken to using similar techniques to deal with that. It’s slow and it requires constant awareness of my inner talk and in changing that around but I think I’m making inroads.

I gave a talk on the weekend and I felt that it went terribly. I didn’t feel comfortable up at the front, I hadn’t prepared enough so I ended up reading my prepared notes instead of talking off the cuff, I felt nervous and sounded so and I stammered a bit. I was pretty down about it. At the end of the day several people came over to tell me how much they enjoyed my talk, how it had made them think and so on. But I walked away still saying to myself I’d screwed up and it was a shit presentation. But over the rest of the day, I started to turn the talk on myself – how could I ignore the several people who said differently to how I felt? Why would I value my own self destructive talk over outside of me evidence to the contrary. Maybe all the things I thought about how I went were true but maybe the material I presented overcame that?

And so now I’m looking at tackling two issues I’d like to get straight. One is that I’m having trouble motivating myself to get (more) stuff down (I know I know but …). Back in the postgrad days I used to have a list system that kicked arse – I would write a serious list 0f 10 big deal things I wanted to achieve for that month and then I would divide each down into the exact single tasks or actions it would take to get that big thing done. And then I would give myself a red tick each time I got a task done. A tally at the end of the month for red ticks would determine if or what kind of reward I would get. I have a feeling at the time I mostly was getting stuff from the Body Shop but I’d set a dollar limit and could choose. And being close to the tipover into reward would push me to scour the list to find low hanging fruit. I got a lot done and the system really worked for a while.

I’ve been trying to get back to that system but now I have this habit of moving the goal posts. So I’ll say if X, then Y and then when I do X, I’ll say, yeah but that was easy, now you need to also do W for Y. And no rewards ever get doled out. Which defeats the whole purpose.

Add to that, the very real need for me to find other ways to deal with emotions other than placating with food. I’ve actually found a really good technique for dealing with anger or frustration is to action something. Doesn’t have to be related but just *doing something* when you feel helpless or frustrated really makes you feel better, more in control. Plus you get that thing done. It takes a negative and makes it positive. So I’ve been looking for something to help with other emotions. Something that I could also use as rewards for the getting things done requirement. And it turns out, as I’m doing better and better on this program, I actually feel better about myself. And as I told a friend the other day – you nurture what you love. I feel better about myself. I feel great healthwise as we are eating so much healthy, unprocessed foods. Even my hair looks shinier! And I’m happier.

So last week, I decided to do something about this. I decided I needed to get some perspective on what is reward worthy and hopefully recalibrate my own internal feeling about what is a good job well done. I decided to go to two of my favourite shops – The Body Shop and T2 (since I was at the shops already replacing yet another bung laptop charger) and buy in advance a bunch of treats. They varied in size and value, some just little testers of things I wanted to try and others more luxurious. But all things that would require indulgence once obtained. So the reward would be twofold – 1, I get something! and 2. I have to then use it – to relax, to cheer myself up, to feel good about myself, to destress, to take time out etc.

And then I gave the bag of rewards to C to supervise. So someone else with a nonscrewed up barometer of achievements could help me figure out what deserved reward and when. He cracks me up – when I gave him the bag, went through it and then stood up and nodded and said, yes he had his head around what was in there now, and then swept it off somewhere. To be honest, I felt a little scared at that point! Should I have given up that power?

Today I got my first reward – it was delayed from the promised reward fotr preparing and delivering the paid speaking gig I did on the weekend. I was such a pain in the arse preparing for it and I don’t like public speaking. Still, I sucked it up and I got on with it. And my reward was – picture at the top – Strawberry and Cream tea! And this evening, instead of casing the pantry for after dinner shaped things, I sat with my feet in a hot bath with Radox and I sipped my fruity tea! And it was good.



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March 6   Our trip to Melb

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I’m so behind at the moment that I thought I had written some posts about our trip to Melbourne last month. A quick check of my archive tells me that I only composed them in my head.

We went over for my cousin’s engagement party – I’m so happy to be sharing this journey with her, we shall both get married within two months of each other. She had her party first and we went for a long weekend to share her celebration and for a bit of a rest. We had a really great time. C says it was a holiday for ADD people but I think even though we were basically doing things all the time, spending three hours in a bar on Chapel St is hardly taxing!

We stayed on Swanston St which turned out to be a bad idea because they were ripping up the tram lines right in that section for only 48 hours, the only 48 hours we were there. But aside from that, and the trams not running down that street, we were in the perfect location. After a dismal breakfast in the hotel, we spent a lot of the rest of our time in and out of the alleyways finding all kinds of scrumptious things and shopping surprises.

We also hung out a bit at Federation Square and found some awesome yarn bombing out side of the Starbucks right there!

I was really impress by a few overtly environmentally friendly initiatives and actions that I saw about the city. The first was this bike one – you can hire a bike, ride it about and then leave it at another station – and there are stations all about the CBD. I thought this was really really cool.

I also noted giant signs talking about the water restrictions. Though we have similar restrictions in Perth, they aren’t actually really talked about, like this:

And, just cause it amuses, Batman Av:

During one of the first shopping outings, we found Tansy’s new book Reign of Beasts in Dymocks on Collins St. And bought a copy! C of course had finished it by the time we arrived back in Perth. I am proud to say that I finished Power and Majesty on the trip.

I scored a new pair of shoes from somebody who forgot to mention I needed to wear (and thus bring) closed shoes to the taping of The Project. C had seen a live taping of the show last time he was in Melbourne and was keen to go along again. It was raining a lot that evening and we headed down to the Channel 10 offices. We were early and needed to by shoes and after that we took shelter in a lovely bar and drank cocktails and ate Mars Bar cheesecake. We headed back to the offices at the appointed time and it was all very TV-ish which was a lot of fun. They gave us lots of lollies, I guess to hype us up and we were taught to clap to sound like we were more people, and to shout and laugh as well. We were hustled into the show and sat and watched the episode go live to air. It was a bit nervewracking knowing you HAD to laugh at the jokes but it was all very interesting and new.

Afterwards we headed back to the Cabinet Bar for some drinks and a bite to eat. And watched a couple on a blind date.


On the Monday, before we headed home, we wandered down to Southbank, contemplated seeing a movie, and then had a lovely secluded lunch on this balcony overlooking the water instead. The food was divine.

I dragged C down to the restaurant that sits under one of the pylons to a bridge across the river there:

And then we headed back to try what, we were told by Narrelle Harris, was The Most pretentious coffee in all of Melbourme. We drank a lot of coffee (I mostly drank decaf apart from this one) but apparently this was the most snobbish. We’re engineers and interested in mechanics. I though, am also a coffee snob.

We drank our coffee over a very long and enjoyable conversation with Narrelle, who met up with us there. It was really lovely to catch up with her and of course there were lots of stories and laughter. Interestingly, this coffee, which they describe as being more like a tea than a coffee, was unbelievably gentle on my stomach, when normally a black espresso would not have been so.

And I promised on Facebook a picture of the puppy when we got home – he is normally white, but shown here to be dusty from the red dust at the farm he hung out on whilst we were away.

 

 

 

 



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February 28   Unf*cking it

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On the weekend, I discovered Cat Valente’s new tumblr project Girl Unlocked and the Unfuck your habitat tumblr and suddenly got inspired. Here was a successful woman talking about exactly the same shit I’m feeling and living and not doing.

Tansy has a great post today about it too – Mothering, Writing, Pilating, Guilt. I guess as I sit here, I can hardly feel hard done by by the feminist movement – I have a good professional day job with great prospects and entitlements. I’m respected by my manager and most of the people I work with, even if I am often still the lonely girl in the sea of men at the boardroom table. On top of that, I have my own small business that I started up and is mine. And I have a very loving, understanding and giving fiance. (The puppy is um … the puppy.) But you know, as much as that is possibly living some version of the feminist dream, I still can’t shake the expectations of the domestic goddess. I am a neat person and I appreciate order and neatness. I like my pantry to have everything stored by category and be in the neat tupperware containers. I like my clothes to be clean and folded and ironed and away and waiting for me to choose an outfit to wear. I want my house to be spick and span and ready for Vogue inspection without warning.

But that is in no way the reality. Working two jobs fulltime, plus a big commute these days, and trying to make time to care for myself by exercising properly and keep up with reading, and family and friends, and have downtime to recharge. Yeah, I don’t live the domestic goddess dream. I don’t have the time and it doesn’t happen. We go to bed with dishes in the sink, clothes unhung up. Puppy toys strewn across the house. Papers not filed and away. Mess. I wouldn’t give up any of my priorities to be the ideal housewife. But its really really hard to give up the guilt and feeling of coming short when judged on my (lack of) ability to keep house. I fear people dropping by and seeing how I live sometimes (and judging me). I stress myself out because this in no way gels with my OCD which is far more under control than several years ago but still present. I can’t let go of the guilt. And the mess weighs down on my psyche, adding to the white noise of background stress.

But what to do? Can’t create more time and if I could, Twelfth Planet Press already has dibs on it. And 2012 is already more frentic than 2011 was and I know 2013 will be likewise more than 2012. It’s just the way it is.

So this whole unfucking your habitat thing kind of appeals to me. I guess in the same way that the 12 week body transformation is working for me. Basically, fucking off excuses – excuses for why you didn’t or can’t do shit are bullshit. There is only do or do not, you know? And there is mostly the suck it up princess and get on with it. I like Cat’s attitude on her tumblr. I also like seeing before and after shots of tidying. So I’m kinda jumping on the bandwagon and will try and get small things unfucked when I can and keep them unfucked from there on out. And I’ll post some photos as I do.

So these three photos to the left and above are of my dressing table. Which has basically looked like the top shot for most of the time I’ve lived here (since moving in last June). The chest is a bit high for me to actually use for dressing but I really love the wood and the deal with myself on buying it when I did (plantation wood) is I have it for life. But um yes, it was totally untidy, unfriendly workspace and facing my bed. So I both cannot find any of the lovely makeup and jewellery I own (and therefore have not been using or wearing) and stare at the clutter pretty much all the time. I realised I could actually take one of the drawers for my makeup and also use one of my lovely boxes that I love to collect but have no purpose for to lay it all out in an easy, enticing and accessible way. I actually like to wear a little makeup and some jewellery, it makes me feel good about myself. But I don’t when I don’t feel good about myself or when I have to hunt around to find it. (Of note, haven’t worn a lot of either in recent years).

And now my bedside table. A great source of annoyance to anyone else who shares a room with me. I like to take glasses and mugs to bed to drink whilst reading but I don’t like to return items back to the kitchen. I let things pile up til either something spills or I have nowhere to put my glasses when I finally go to sleep. Seriously, I don’t know how that’s a bad habit of mine when I actually am naturally neat person. Honest!

I spose it comes from now having an actual office that I work at. Though, ahem, we do have a study here and I do have my own desk. Yes said desk is absolutely covered in clutter, things to file, sort and whatnot. I spose those before and after shots will be coming soon!



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February 27   Today it’s my birthday

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Well. Here it is. The big 36. The 12 times 3. The 6 times 6. The lots of numbers.

36 is scary because it’s biologically old. So they tell me. If you care about such things. 35 is the big number and 36 is MORE than 35. I can say this with some amusement because, whilst I *do* care about such things, 36 actually is not that bad. Sure I creak and groan and stuff. But you know, I kinda think it’s all going to be ok. And um, besides, I had my meltdown about this a couple of months ago now. So … yeah …

It wasn’t really a big day. I went to work – normally I take the day off but I felt it was a bit soon in my contract to do that (since I already did for the weekend jaunt to Melb two weeks ago). So that was a bit ordinary. But my inbox and twitter and phone were inundated with messages all day wishing me a happy birthday which was very cheering! We didn’t do anything special (yet) for it – I have to admit that what with finally getting my engagement ring, having a party last weekend and getting engagement presents, I’m doing alright this month! (And last year’s present continues to amuse.)

And my present from C was a combination of practical – related to my new exercise craze – and something I’ve been meaning to get round to for ages: a copy of Blade Runner, which I’ve never seen.

Back to work tomorrow. Back to regular programming.



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February 26   Checking back in

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Well. This blogging thing has fallen over. I’ve got so many posts I want to write and I’m beside myself that right now I have absolutely no time to even draft out words for them. This week went by in a blur. Last weekend we had our engagement party, just a small thing for very close family and friends, and I want to post about that and some other wedding related things. I’m hoping to grab some photos first – one of my uncles took like 450 photos! Can’t wait to see them. Anyway, we were utterly exhausted Sunday night after the weekend and that’s never a good way to enter the work week.

By Thursday I was so knackered that I got into work, woke up and realised I felt vile, sat at my desk working for 2 hours and ran hot and cold and awful and then got back in my car, drove an hour and a half home and collapsed fully clothed on my bed. And slept. And slept. And Slept. And I don’t nap. I mean, I NEVER nap. Not even when I’ve pulled an allnighter or flown 36 hours to the other side of the world. I hate napping. And then I was Zombie!GJ for the rest of the evening. Bleurgh. I would have also taken Friday off but we had this big meeting on and I knew that I needed to be there for it to figure out my role in the project (which I’m glad I did attend because now I do know what’s going on and how to move forward. Also weird to have been doing this gig long enough to go to random meeting with 10 people from all over the place and know like half of them really well.)

Anyway, I mostly stayed on nutrition track this week. Treat meal came a little early in the week but I’ve managed to avoid falling off the tracks this weekend. Exercise though fell by the wayside. I was just so freaking tired, I was literally dragging myself through the week and standing next to walls to avoid falling over. I skipped three days of exercise, only getting back on the wagon yesterday. So I only managed to lose 0.5kg this week. On the other hand, normally for me, a week like this one, I would have yoyo’ed back up a bit so that I’m taking as a win. But yeah. One of the excuses I noted down that I use before I started this thing, is “I feel sick” and that is such a hard one to navigate. Should I have continued dragging my arse through cardio on Thurs and Fri? I do know my body and self pretty well and I was hitting the wall on Thursday. I reckon if I hadn’t pulled the plug on some stuff, I’d have been ill in bed this weekend.

Fact is, currently this routine is unsustainable. There is no time left in the day after commuting, working, exercise and sleep. I’ve been trying to find time for TPP and that’s ended up being taken out of the sleep bucket. Doesn’t really work long term. I’m a bit better on track with the upcoming books - Showtime is at the printers, Through Splintered Walls is half at proofing and half at finalising final copy edits, I’ve begun working through Salvage edits, Cracklescape is almost ready to go to layout and we’re working on edits for Asymmetry. Though I’m only ever happy when it’s not me being the bottleneck. And it’s possible that with the end of last week, I am. And of course my readers are working through the novel manuscripts and I’ve made a start on those. Publicity and marketing are behind. And I had one grant application to submit last week (done but through the haze of exhaustion) and one still to be written for next month. And I’m working on a talk that I’m giving on a Saturday in a couple of weeks. And so on and on and on.

It’s not sustainable right now.  Tired. So very very tired.



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January 30   Week 3. Already?!

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Well today was my third Monday in my new job. Soon I won’t even be the new girl anymore. Time flies and reality has this thing it does where it freaks me out – I’m ever fascinated by the consciousness of *now* – and it’s not something I can explain well. Needless to say, this is my new routine and it’s like the old one never existed.

Anyway, I drive an hour and a bit more south each day to work now. And frankly, I kinda have my groove going on now. I leave early – about as early as I was driving the other direction – but there is no traffic, it’s a straight drive, and I get in at 8am so I can leave by 4pm and be home with afternoon/evening left. Ish. I *am* enjoying the drive. Last week I listened to Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner as well as starting to catch up on longer podcasts in my library. This week I have started with The Art of War and more podcasts. I’m way behind on podcasts having fallen off the wagon along the way so I’m really starting to feel like I’m tidying up and catching up on things. Today I really enjoyed the Coode St podcast featuring Cheryl Morgan and discussing Hugo categories and politics.

I’ve not really mastered using after work time properly yet and the only thing that is still a bit of an issue is this loss of time. (I’m supposed to be sleeping right now instead of writing this post). This the one thing that I am struggling with – the loss of time. I had a bit of a moan about it to C last week who sighed and said that I need to do less or expect to do less. To wish I wailed that if I did *less* than I do now, it wouldn’t *enough* because it’s not enough now, there is simply too too much I want to do. He shook his head at me, as he does. So I’m working on that bit still.

 

I’m also starting to socialise a bit more now. Remembering who has a new puppy, who is likely to be [this is a thing that they do at my work that I can’t talk about here] and ask about how that’s going or who might not be in etc. And so on. So I’m able to do that whole small talk thing with people which saves one from the awkward morning tea hanging around thing (which I was doing up til now!). Also feeling ok about laughing out across the cubicles, though not really much shouting. I’m still acclimatising to the open office floor plan again. Having worked in this style before so I know eventually I will be able to tune it all out. Eventually. Eventually. Another cool thing though is since I am now working where I am, I can do the whole “local produce” thing. They have a system at work where you can order local fresh fruit on Monday and it gets delivered to the office Wednesday. I only found out about it last week so this is the first week I’m trying it out. I ordered an 8kg box of mixed fruit. We don’t eat that much fruit round here but I’m hoping that we will, cause it’s good for you! But I might be gifting fresh stone fruit when I come avisiting! There’s lots to take advantage of and I intend to do so, since I’m putting in the hard yard of the commute anyway. I only wish I had a good way of transporting dairy cause there’s this farmer’s market near work …

That’s work. This weekend I finally managed to get to Bunnings, realising that if I didn’t go this weekend, I wouldn’t get there at all in February. I wanted to get a composting bin for our place as a partial offset to my increased commute. So I finally got one and set it up. I just need to double check what can go in etc and then we can also finally do a spring clean of the fridge :) I also FINALLY got a tahitian lime tree which I had been chasing for a while. And a dwarf pink lady apple tree. So there was much potting of trees and cleaning up of the patio and whatnot on Sunday evening. I just need a new pot for my lemon tree because the puppy seems to think that pot his is toy.

I’ve been wanting to start a new blog series here and had intended to post the first instalment tonight. It didn’t happen. See above re time and my loss of it. So instead I think I might try to first get back into the habit of posting everyday. Gotta start with the low hanging fruit, dontcha?

 

 

 

 



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January 21   Space

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It’s been a really full on week, and I want to sit and write about it. But first I have a couple of Twelfth Planet Press developments that I really want to plug in this space.

This space. What is it anyway? What is it *for*? I really knew what my livejournal account was for, I knew why I posted there and I knew what and how and for whom. But after nearly 200 posts in this new space, it still feels like clothes that don’t quite fit or  party where you don’t really know anyone. I thought if I just wrote, it would sort itself out, that I would find a voice or a tone or a something. But I haven’t really. LJ always felt more intimate. It felt more personal. But then, 5 years ago, I could write a lot more anonymously than now. And now it just feels really self conscious.

Anyway.

I started my new job this week. And for much of the week I just wanted to write a post with the one sentence: Life is weird. But halfway through I thought, no … life is interesting. When I first applied for this job I knew there was an hour and a half commute and I told C that I would have to leave home at *7.30* to get there by 9 and we both wondered how in the hell I would be able to do that. But then … then I had that weird jetlag thing and I started the getting to work at 7.30 thing so leaving home at 6.30 was completely doable. And so it is. And I dunno. Isn’t life funny the way totally disparate things can synchronise?

I like my new job and workplace so far. Everybody is really nice. I really like my new boss and team. The drive is long but I have signed up to try out Audible. com and that’s been working well. And the view is very pleasant. I’ve restructured the way I eat in the day so as to not get sugar drops on the long drives. I’ve started packing my own lunches now as well as breakfast cause there is no onsite canteen. And I’m happy. So far I’m really happy. The work is interesting and challenging. It’s enough in my experience to be able to hit the ground jogging but broader than my knowledge so that I will have to work hard to get up to speed for the level I will be expected to perform at – but I got an itemised checklist for what that specifically means. It’s going to be hard work and full on and challenging – this is both a little bit daunting and also the reason I went for the position. There’s room for me to grow and evolve and that’s exciting. So … this was a good thing.

And today we headed off to the jewellers to hand over my gems for my engagement ring, I’d been working to and fro with her on ideas for the ring and today we finalised it. And we got to use the gems as the deposit. There aren’t many moments in your life where you get to use stones as currency and I loved it! It did make me feel a bit like a swashbuckling pirate. I also played up a bit with the “have you brought the diamonds?” It’s not often you get to feel like you’re in a heist movie! I’m happy to have locked in a decision and am really looking forward to seeing the final product. Couple of weeks and I’ll finally have it. It’s amazing how many people’s eyes go straight to your left hand when you tell them you just got engaged. I’ve also been blown away by how many women will let you try on their rings to see what you like and what suits your hand.

That’s mostly my weekly check in. I’m intending to go back to working one full solid day of the weekend for TPP to make up for the lack of time I have in the week now from the commute. I was really really tired (and headachy) the first couple of nights and couldn’t do anything other than collapse on the couch. It’s amazing how draining just showing up to a new place, learning the ropes and meeting new people can be. I mean, I worked the full week before I started here and in work really similar. It’s not like I suddenly rocked up in ER for a Saturday night shift after being a pool boy or anything. Weird.



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January 15   Serendipity

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I had a really good week. One of those rare great weeks that I can’t even remember the last time I had one. And I don’t mean a week in which something awesome and unexpected happens. I mean, that the whole week rocked.

Monday I had to tell the boss I had given notice and that Friday would be my last day. I’d been kinda dreading it because I wanted to avoid discussing it. He’d been away since about 8th of Dec so… yeah it went how I thought it would go.

Tuesday though was the team’s farewell lunch for me and M, who was also leaving. It was really lovely and my face hurt from smiling for the rest of the day. A couple of past team members came along which was so lovely for the opportunity to catch up with them. And we both were given a voucher for a manicure/facial and I got this frog, which is a bit of a work in-joke. I think it’s hilarious and I’m going to take it to work and put it on my new desk.

And then when I got back to the office, reception called to tell me I had a delivery and when I wandered down to collect it, I discovered that C had sent me flowers and chocolates to wish me good luck on my change of job. And everyone agreed that he is a great guy and a keeper. But I already knew that.

Wednesday and Thursday I spent tying up loose ends, writing handover notes and filing and trying to mentally and emotionally move on. I’m kinda sad about leaving this team and the work. I’ve been there 4 years and I feel like I accomplished a few biggish kind of achievements and worked towards progressing some weaker areas. I networked a lot and met a lot of really great people, both in my agency and outside it. And I’m going to miss my team. Though M is also leaving so the team is kind of splitting up in any case.

Friday was my last day and I spent it really manically trying to finish up memos and letters to pass on to the others to just wrap up and send out. And I packed up my office and we had afternoon tea and then … then I left. And I couldn’t really believe that I had given them my keys to the building and was actually leaving. There were lots of hugs and that was the moment that I finally realised it was real and that I was sad. And J gave me the gorgeous card up in the top photo which says “Well-behaved women rarely make history”. I’d gotten a really lovely group card and so many people said so many beautiful and well meant things and then I got this follow up one from a teammate who I have I guess gotten really close to only in the last year or so. We’ve had so many heart to hearts and she held my hand at work through Swancon. So sad to leave her but also so touched that she really “got” me. Isn’t that what we all want in life, to be understood?

C had dropped me to work and so had picked me up, and attended the small farewell afternoon tea so I had him to leave with and not feel really down about having left my team. And we headed off to do more shopping and then to have an early dinner at the Daily Planet before meeting Marianne and Jonathan to see Ira Glass! I had been so looking forward to this. We headed up to the bar to hang out, wondering if they might come up there but they didn’t and then I couldn’t remember if we’d booked our tickets to be seated together. We hadn’t, as I recall now, we’d just talked about it online and both bought tickets at the same time. It was only then that I realised that we would just be at the same event together but not actually *with* each other. So we went in and were looking for where our seats, they were 3 rows from the front and C turned to me and said, “really?” and all I could do was shrug and say, “I’m a REALLY big fan”. And then … and then you won’t believe it. Our seats were right next to Marianne and Jonathan. Unplanned, pure coincidence, utter serendipity. And in that exact moment, as we sat down next to our friends and C settled in for 2 hours of watching someone he’d never heard of speak, I knew that the universe was smiling down at me, and that everything will be be ok. That I am in the right place, at the right time. Finally.

And I just loved Ira Glass. It was a fantastic performance. Really interesting and engaging and so very very enlightening, not just on how they  put the show (This American Life) together but on what they intend for the show to be and a lot on good storytelling. I got a lot out of it – first the buzz of inspiration to want to go home immediately and throw myself back into TPP but second, he had a lot of interesting things to say about storytelling and on building momentum and how to seduce your reader/listener to not put the work down/turn off the radio. Since I’m currently reading novel manuscript submissions and thinking about that a lot, it couldn’t have been a better time to immerse myself in the careful musings of such a great storyteller/editor. And it made me realise how the asking for only 3 chapters is really a great submission process because, I should NEED to ask for the rest of the manuscript because I NEED to know where the story goes. And if I don’t, then that’s not a project for me. I also really got a lot out of how he spoke about the show and how he thinks about what it is and so on. I think you do need to know what your intent is from the outset. If not what it will end up being, at least what it is that you set out to do. Because that should underpin every decision you make after that and should allow you to constantly check back in with whether what you are doing now is consistent with what your project model or philosophy is.  At the end of the day, when I’m stuck on rejections, I do this, I look back at what TPP is and what I see that it should be, and if something doesn’t fit with that, then it’s not a project for me.

After the show, we headed off for coffee, the four of us and just hung out and caught up. And it was the perfect end to a damn fine week.



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December 22   Smelling the coffee

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Ah. First day of my 12 days of leave and I already feel like I’m too knackered to have accomplished anything. I know, I know, it’s only 1pm. But still!

Had a lovely cuppa with Tehani this morning. It was so good to just catch up. And I shall miss her terribly when she leaves for Tasmania. I think I have only just started to feel settled enough here in this house to be ready to do the whole “pop out for a cuppa and chat” thing. So I guess I never really took proper advantage of living so close to another kindred spirit. Still. We won’t live here forever. And I shall resolve to do better next year in popping in for cuppas with Terri (who will be on the way home from work now) and Helen.

I described 2011 to Tehani as a year of waking up and smelling the coffee. I quite like that description. I’ve been thinking the year over a lot recently as I mull over how I want to blog the year in summary. This was the first time I thought about it that way, and I think it’s apt. It was a year in which the veil was lifted for me in a whole bunch of arenas and a year in which my hand was forced to see and tell the honest truth and act on it. Because when you move out of denial, you *have* to act. The other option is no longer an acceptable alternative for me, after this year. In other words, I wrote in a previous post that things were getting really real down here (I love that Missy Higgins song) and there was no escaping that. And you know, the smell of coffee all about. So it was a year of culling – possessions, unwanted commitments, pretense and unrealistic expectations (maybe one way of putting it). A lot of drawing the lines for things and realising what my personal boundaries are. It was a deeply confronting and at times very stressful and discomforting year. But also a year in which the pay off of that was, without exception, ending up in a better place or position. The whole lotus in the mud thing (the deeper and richer the mud, the more beautiful the lotus).

And so on that whole crunch time thing, today I start my new workout routine. I’ve been working on this program for the last couple of days, the first parts being getting your head around a bunch of stuff. Again with the facing down the awful truths etc. It’s been more eye opening than I thought it would be. Right now I am thinking up a bunch of reasons why I should start the workout phase tomorrow and not today. But that would be an excuse and I don’t do that anymore. The idea of changing personal habits still fascinates me. I am very much a creature of habit and I do not like change at all. I spent the whole of November complaining about C’s facial hair as he grew his moustache and  beard (for work had to have both if he wanted the mo) and then was upset the day he finally shaved it all off. “You really don’t like change, do you?” was his response.

So yeah. I *like* the habits and ruts I find myself in even if they aren’t healthy or productive or useful. And I start to panic at the suggestion of changing them. I worry that I won’t be me anymore and I don’t cope well with suggestions like: why not do it for just a little while? Or what about doing this on Monday and that on Tuesday? I am a total routine person.

And yet? So far this year, I *have* made important changes (in terms of degree of change *to me*) and have found them extremely beneficial, enjoyed them AND have not lost my sense of self. Really, I do wonder how it is that I define this “self”. I had gotten into a long lasting habit of watching TV before bedtime – sometimes 2 or 3 episodes of a show I was watching at the time – and would watch on my laptop in bed before falling asleep by midnight or 1am. Like, I’ve been doing this for years. And I prided myself on being a night owl. I’ve always been one, I did my most productive work after 7.30pm and I didn’t really sleep that well. When I moved in with C he gently suggested we not have a TV in the bedroom (!!!) which I felt was fine actually, because I had my laptop. And then a couple of months ago, I guess after coming from the US, I started instead going to bed early – I aim to be asleep by 10 but it’s mostly 10.30 – and I started taking a book to bed to read a chapter or two before sleeping. And now it’s become more going in a couple of hours before bedtime and doing maybe 2 or 3 hours of reading (not just books but also internet and publishing) and most importantly, no longer watching much TV in the week. I have become *that* person. I would seriously never have believed I could watch maybe only an hour of TV on some nights during the week. The concept of turning off the TV *in preference to do something else* has never ever been part of my mindset. Ever. Partly TV these days is so crap. But also I have so many other things I want to do in preference (who IS this person?). I still watch TV but I prefer to do it in longer sessions on say a day of the weekend whilst doing other things too.

Am I still me?

Couple the above with the giving up a true love of mine – coffee. Which helps with the falling asleep by 10/10.30 pm and then sleeping a long uninterrupted sleep. Guess what? I feel fantastic. And as my friends have pointed out – I was so so so sick before I went away and then after I got back. I’d say my health has improved 200% compared to how I felt in October. And it’s not just these changes. Of course it’s some other more personal ones too. But almost all these are about me taking control and responsibility for my life and for how I feel. And it’s not yet second nature. There is still a lot of searching whether I am choosing something because I think it’s what someone else (maybe the person asking etc) wants me to choose or because it’s what I want. And that is still involving me realising I sometimes choose the first over the second. But importantly I’m now changing that.

Mmm coffee.



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December 21   It’s not Christmas yet!

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You know, every year, I watch all my crazy crafty friends do that pre Christmas Eve panic as they try to fit what I think is three months of knitting or sewing into the last 4 days to get their gifts finished on time. I’ve watched this and thought it was insanity. And so this year, when I fell in love with some over the top Christmas fabric, in September, I justified purchase of it by deciding to make hand made gifts this year. You see where this is going. But! But I started in November! And I am still, no, I am still not finished. Sigh. My fingers hurt as I madly hand quilt. I have recruited my Mum to help me finish off. And I am still wayyyy behind. My annual leave starts today and I shall be spending tomorrow furiously at (craft) work to at least meet some of my Christmas Day deadlines.

In thinking over this madness, and the need to obviously start earlier than November, even for what is a relatively simple project, I’ve realised that I would resent starting making gifts for Xmas in June. Like that would encroach into my personal crafting time, for making things for me. And in recent days, I’ve been looking forward to finishing this project in order to get stuck into the projects I had earmarked for working on in my holidays. But I also realised that making these gifts has kickstarted me back into sewing every night, which I hadn’t been doing before that. So that I will easily slide back into regular crafting afterwards, when I hadn’t before.

And I always have this massive introspection when I fall into what I think is a new routine – will it mean the old one is gone for good? Have I changed? What does  this mean? etc etc. Because ultimately, I’ve reduced the amount of time I have for craft in the evening because I go to bed earlier than I used to and I now spend maybe half an hour, sometimes an hour, reading in bed before I sleep. One of the new things I started when I came back from the US. It means I have less time for crafting but I am reading more. Cue the loop that is the beginning of this sentence.

So that’s like my general update. Too busy running around chasing my tail this last month. Too much to do, too little time. I’m wrapping up at my current day job and will have the first half of January to hand over before I move on. My new job will involve a long commute. A commute that will add an extra hour of commuting to my day and I already commute two hours a day. It’s the one and only main con for this position. And I don’t know how I’m going to go. But I’ve had some fantastic suggestions on this. Obviously its a great chance to catch up on all the podcasts I’m behind on. So that will be great. I’m thinking of finally exploring audio books – driving 15 hours a week will mean I can actually listen to a book a week. But my favourite suggestion so far came from a colleague in a different team who said, “hey did you know that you can get Adobe Reader to read you out your pdfs?” Well no, I did not know this. AND OMG I nearly hugged him. Because we shall be reading novel submissions come January 1 and the thought of losing more of my time  for TPP from commuting (driving is the only option) was making me feel a bit sad. But if I could get my computer to read out submissions to me? Well then my commute is not a waste at all – I can be productive and its not so easy to be distracted by the internet etc. Last night C set it up for me on my laptop. And he’d bought me an iTrip as a present a few weeks ago which I’ve been using to listen to podcasts whilst driving. So I may very well be all set up AND be in a more productive situation than previously. Very excited.

I hope your last days of December are going well. I wish you all the best for the holiday season and a very happy new year. I hope to be around here in the next few days catching up on some thoughts and so on. But I’m also planning all sorts of other things that I want to do.



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