Today I am having one of those days. The one where washing is piled, carpet waits to be vacuumed, surfaces need dusting. Instead I have been pinning, reading, and applying nail polish.
Today is an it’ll wait day.
Because it will.
The washing is done. It’s dry. It’s not folded or put away. It’ll wait.
The floor is not beyond dirty. On the weekend a child, or an adult will vacuum.
The dust is a fine layer. No one will write their name in it. There is no white glove test. On the weekend someone will grab a cloth, dampen it with water, dab some essential oil on it and dust. It’ll wait.
I am tired. Monday was a long day.
The weekend was full.
My legs ache and my head does too.
There is homework and work. Sunlight hours are precious as we edge towards winter.
It’ll wait. The non-essential things.
Today is a have another cup of tea day. The rest, it’ll wait.
The photo above is one I took during winter at our old house. Planted at the base of Mount Wellington, Hobart. The photo has meant many things to me over the years.
In my facebook feed recently I saw an image of a house with a perennial border. It was beautiful. If you had asked me eight years ago where I’d be now, I’d have answered easily. Living in the house Hubby and I bought. Renovations would be completed. I would have tamed the garden beds into something resembling the image I saw on facebook.
My kids would be in the school of our choice, with friends they had made in kindergarten, if not earlier. Life would be grand.
Life is grand. Just not in the way I pictured it. And that is ok. I often think about what would have happened if Hubby had not accepted that job interstate. If we had not sold up and moved. Who knows is the only answer.
What I do know though, is that while I don’t have a well loved perennial border, I do have a life of my own making. One that I am not all that sure would have happened if I’d stayed inside the comfort zone of a well known town and friends.
I doubt this blog would have started. I doubt I’d be on twitter. Or instagram. I certainly would not have made the friends I value so much now.
Even a few years ago I wished for that house, that garden. But not that life. It’s not that I don’t miss family and friends. I do. But I also know that if I’d stayed, I would not be who I am today.
The twists and turns. The deviations along the way. That’s what life is about. And I for one am glad to still be on the path unknown.
Generally I do not make new year resolutions. They are there for the breaking if you ask me.
This year though I did do something perhaps a little like a resolution. The fridge in our kitchen is littered with memories. Photos, cards from cafes, bars and restaurants. Postcards, business cards and images from visited exhibitions.
The thing is, many of the items had been on the fridge a long time. Too long. I had been holding on tightly. Too tightly.
It is not that the people in the photos do not mean as much to me anymore, it is that is time to move forward. For months I would look at the fridge door and think about taking some of the items off. Make way for the new. But I did not.
Last week though I did. The fridge was stripped back. Made clean.
Some images and cards were placed back on. Their meaning or memory needed to gel the old with the new. But many more did not stay. They have been kept; tucked safely in the drawer of an antique dresser. The old holding the old.
It is time to move on. The make new memories.
If I am being honest, many of the images were first placed on the door as a way to show I had a life. Had friends and good times. That is the difficulty of moving to a new place, far from those you know. It can be lonely at times. The need to prove you are loved and love can be strong. The fridge bore the brunt of that need in a tangible way.
So while some things have remained, the fridge is light once more. Not weighed down with the past. Neither am I. The time for the new is here. And now there is room, and not just on the fridge.
Today instead of blogging, I could just put a link to this post adding the words, what she said. It seems some days blogging worlds and words collide.
Instead, I am musing over my own thoughts. Determined to see this blogvember challenge through to the very end. I know this is my space. I can write, blog, comment however, whenever, whatever I want. Say, or not say the things that need saying. The choice is mine.
Today, as I head into week two of operation go slow I am beginning to see that I am not as good as doing nothing as I thought. Bathing in the middle of the day is all very nice, but I feel time is slipping away. The days are slipping away. It’s the age thing getting to me again.
In an attempt to be contemplative and reflective I filled the hot bath with sweetly scented salts. I am now prune like and smell of frangipani. My heels have been pumiced into submission and my face exfoliated to a sheen. I am shedding skin.
I wonder at the words I choose to write. The ones of which I press publish. I am thinking about what they do not say as much as what they do. Readers cannot read my mind I tell myself. But then I do not think I need to tell everything to tell a story or share my life. Some things are not for the telling.
I contemplate what movie to watch. Consider if I should go for a walk or just rest; and wonder if a glass of wine will tip me over the edge of good health. I press perfume to pulse points, look for the bright side and tell myself good health is more than resting up.
As for blogging and writing, perhaps this month has been better for me than I am ready to admit to. It’s all very well to say I can blog when I want, but perhaps sometimes I should blog when I don’t want to. Ah, the shedding of skin. It’s more than exfoliating and a pumice stone.
Oh it’s all fun and games until someone gets high blood pressure.
I had an image in my head of people with high blood pressure. They were red faced and angry, often with spittle dried in the corner of their down turned mouthes. They didn’t exercise, the were breathless and were old.
Cue me at the GP’s last week. I was there for my hurty knees, which had morphed into hurty knees, back, neck, hips and fingers. While I was there, sorting out anti-inflammaroty and pain medications, my doctor thought he’d just take my blood pressure, seeing as I’m of that age now. We had a bit of a joke about it. He is the same general age. We muttered about teenage children and he put the arm band on. I was far from worried, I’ve never had high blood pressure before. I chatted away while the machine did its work.
It was at this point the GP turned the machine around to let me see the numbers. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what reasonable blood pressure should look like. But apparently the numbers I was being shown were not good. The words very high were said.
Oh. No big deal, it could be because of the pain I was in. Nevertheless I was sent for a few blood tests, and told to return in a few days for a follow up. Turns out at the follow up my blood pressure was no longer in the very high. No, I’m an over achiever and now it was extremely high. Excellent. Or, you know not.
So, now I am spending some large parts of my days doing not much while this latest health issue gets sorted.
I have been compiling a list. This year there has been a foot injury that took months not weeks to heal. There was the whole breast lump and my need for brave boots. There have been a few arthritis flair ups and now, high blood pressure. It appears I am in fact getting older. Who knew that would actually happen? I mean really WHO KNEW?
I know I am lucky. I have (don’t laugh) relatively good health, I try to keep some semblance of fitness. I eat well. There are beans, legumes, whole grains and lean protein in my diet. There are fresh veggies, fruit and nuts. I enjoy a few glasses of the good stuff, but I figure it’s all about balance.
But, as life would have it, I am ageing. The fact I only feel like I’m about twenty-one (as long as I don’t see my reflection anywhere) appears not to matter. Life has other ideas. It likes to remind me people born when I was at university are now employed and have drivers licences, and they can drink alcohol legally. It likes to remind me I am grey of hair and my eyebrows get these weird extra long ones every now and then. (What is with that by the way?) And as for facial hair. Men and movember have nothing on me.
So, while I am in rest mode, and getting to the bottom of the blood pressure thing, I’ve been catching up with some favourite movies. There is nothing a good period costume drama can’t fix. Ever. Today movies on the couch, tomorrow Morning Melodies and the pokies.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the couch, some tweezers, a magnifying mirror and Mr. Rochester.
It is no secret that my work and home life have collided into one huge twisted mess of anxiety and stress. Illness, extra work hours for Hubby and myself, a child dealing with the demands of high school have made for a rocky last few months.
But I have choices.
Yesterday, though not the longest work day in the past few weeks was my break point. My options were to let the stress take over or get on with it. I chose to get on with it.
But with that came another choice. Get on with it while acknowledging the stresses pressing in from home and work, or ignore them.
It is said ignorance is bliss, but I don’t believe so. Ignoring something means you have already noticed the issue to begin with.
With what felt like the weight of the world on shoulders that are fairly slight, the choice was mine to make. Ignore or do. The way I saw it, the best form of defence was to get on with things. Do a good job at work and at home. It was that or crumble. I’ve done crumble. Picking up the pieces was a long process.
Doing for me does not mean head down, ploughing on through. It means saying hello to the biting anxiety, acknowledging it is there, and dealing with it. The dealing with it becomes part of my doing. Part of the life, work, home balance.
The doing means remembering that some days are a wash, best left to their own devices; whether through ignoring the washing pile, getting take away or closing the office door at work and spending time instead re-setting play spaces. It means knowing that some days emails need to be answered, phone calls need to be made and paperwork tackled. That some days will be 14 hours long, and some blissfully short.
For me, if I am to do a good job in all parts of my life, my doing needs to be like this. Ignoring one part does not work. Letting the stresses and anxiety be heard helps me keep my head above the water, or on a bad day, lets me sit under the waves in a calm sea, letting the waves break over, but not on me.
Late last month I found a lump in one of my breasts. I had scans, a mammogram then a small biopsy. My final results were good and I was given the all clear. I am not one to want attention when I am facing things like this. I am more inclined to go quiet and not mention it to many people. Cancer is a part of my family, in different ways, but today it is not part of me.
I have a pair of boots. With sturdy, stacked heels that announce I am walking. They hold me high. They make me brave.
The need for brave boots has been higher than usual of late. Lumps and scans and biopsies do that to the brave boot owner.
Spending time topless save for a threadbare hospital gown seems easier when brave boots are still firmly on. Secreting away and keeping warm my winged feet.
Click-clacky heels on hospital linoleum makes solid sounds. I am here. I am here. I am here, they say.
Brave boots make me almost eye level with sonographers.
Brave boots make me feel not so small outside and in. If my boots can be brave and loud on the floor, I can be brave too.
It’s a funny thing to sit in a waiting room chair with other women, bare breasted save our white gowns. Carrying plastic baskets of top half belongings. I kept wanting to chat, and make silly comments like I wore my best bra today. Or the inappropriate weather’sbit nipply.
But I didn’t. I’m not sure everyone jokes when they are nervous.
The second visit was easier. I was ready to wander corridors with my top half clad only in a gown. But I kept my brave boots on.
I laughed when I had to sign the permission form. I was topless. It was funny. I’ve never signed a form with my breasts exposed before. I may never again. This may have been my one and only chance to sign my name topless.
I wanted to tell them the needles didn’t scare me, it’s the wait for results that does.
I wanted to tell them hospitals always make me teary, even if I’m there for a good reason. Like visiting a new baby.
I wanted to say there were no ghosts there, which was strange, and ask them where they had gone.
But I didn’t. I lay on my back and listened to the nurse whose sole job it was to hold my hand and talk to me. Whose job it was to sit with me afterwards and offer me a cup of tea. I thought of her calm voice asking me her well used questions. I felt the stroke of her hand on my arm and I knew I was alright.
Me and my brave boots. We would be alright. And we were. We are.
Not too many weeks ago I was moaning about the cold weather. As I do. But it seems it was short lived. The weather, not my moaning.
Indian summer is having a long, languid stay. The call for mint juleps and listening to old records seems appropriate. As does saying ‘I do declare’ while lazing away the afternoon on the veranda.
As my children and I clung to the last of the school holidays, we walked to the village for a spot of lolly buying. The beauty of living in a tourist area is (for the kids) an old fashioned lolly shop. For me it is the utter beauty of our surroundings.
The thing is, as I live here, travel the road each day for work and school I take it for granted. I go for runs, oblivious to it all. I drive with my local beauty goggles on.
On that walk, I took in where we live again. Viewed the surrounds like a tourist ferried in on one of the busses that arrive daily. Noticed the path on the hill towards home has a deep groove from the rain. Mud and gravel washed away in a ever deepening ditch. Saw the trees, their leaves hues of red, orange and brown.The piles of leaves milling at the base of tall chestnuts. Marvelled at the masses of spiked balls opening up showing the smooth round of the russet chestnuts inside.
I remembered why we chose to live here.
And I promised myself to look. Really look when I am out.
Walking, running, driving.
I have the best of both. The small village and the big city less than an hour away.
I have time to sit and declare. Time to run and some just to breathe.
The following post was written by my sister Toni. She posted it this week on facebook and I asked her if she’d like it posted on my blog. She (clearly) said yes. Toni is an artist and a high school art teacher. She lives in Hobart with her husband and daughter. I love her and miss her every day. I am also incredibly proud of her for many things, one of which is her writing this.
What is happiness, and who are we to demand it of each other? I believe happiness is overrated. I am content, and every now and then, downright delirious. But happy? Such a simplistic word, such an unattainably polite state of being. Ask a friend, ask a coworker, “are you happy?” the socially correct answer is yes. Ask, are you valued? Are you satisfied? Are you content? Such loaded questions, from a society that still answers, “fine, thanks”, when absentmindedly asked “how are you” by the receptionists at the doctors office where we’ve made an appointment because we feel like crap.
So my point, and I may even have one, is this; why do we have to learn about how to be happy? And who decides what contributes to happiness?
Here’s the backstory; this afternoon at work, all staff attended a presentation on workplace happiness. Ok, so the presenter discussed natural optimists, and I am well acquainted with my inner Polly-Anna (antiquated literary reference to a fictional character known for extreme and somewhat obtuse optimism). I’m an optimist. But I’m a sceptic too. And I’m guilty of sitting back in my chair and mentally addressing the presenter with, “yeah, you wanna discuss workplace happiness, well go ahead lady, make me laugh”. So, I’m not the easiest of audience members. Never said I was.
The presenter was very nice, and this is not a criticism of what she had to say, more a criticism of the program. And this was only the first session, so I may stand corrected later on, and I hope I do! That is my declaimer.
Our first task; all staff pick a card with questions about mental health. This was a presentation on workplace mental health and happiness. We then asked each other our picked question, then moved to another person, another question. The card I picked dealt with numerical facts, a personal hell. This hell deepened as each person I went to somehow had the same question on their card, asking what percentage of public service workers in Tasmania are obese. The answer is apparently 52%.
I had to ask myself, if this was a prearranged intervention! And yes, I get it. Mental health and physical health are related. But in a work situation, I started to feel embarrassed, excluded, uncomfortable. Now, if you don’t know me well, know this; I’m fat, and happily so. I have greater things to worry about. I’m not against losing weight, but it is against me. Ironically, I lose weight when clinically depressed. I am healthy, have no health issues related to weight, and really rather love my self and consider my physical self esteem issues on par with my friends who overwhelming weigh in at size 12 and under. So, I said to myself, toughen up! It’s not personal! It’s a silly question on a card!
Next task, we all came together to share what new facts we had learnt when picking up the cards. One of my colleagues said this, “I didn’t know there were so many fatties in Tasmanian public service, 52%!”. There was a tittering, a giggling, a self defeatist laughter at the many gym memberships. At the table I sat at, there was awkward silence as if an elephant had sat down and demanded a voice. I’m so ashamed that I said nothing.
The presenter said it was an interesting point and she would go into detail later on. She didn’t, perhaps she will in later presentations. I hope so, because maybe I’ll then be brave enough to speak. I’m sure she will speak about the connections to mental health, physical health, and happiness. But I have a bone to pick, and I’m not one to leave meat on a bone.
Imagine my colleague said this, “I didn’t know there were so many faggots in Tasmanian public service”. Replace one word. So, we can comfortably talk about “fatties”, but would we stand for homosexuals to be discussed in this derogative manner? I wouldn’t. But you might. Ok then, try this one. Darkies. Replace the word fatties, with darkies. I didn’t know there were so many darkies in Tasmanian public service. Try Jews. Try retards. Try split-tails. Try any derogative term you know, that describes a type of person. Are you uncomfortable yet? You should be. You should have a feeling a fraction of the level of uncomfortableness I felt in that room. And being me, in my head I had to joke; oh dear god, I’m the elephant in the room!