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Changeling (Collage)

Another day, another collage… I am just continuing with the cuttin’ and pastin’ at the moment, as that’s what I am in the mood to do.  I have learnt to not fight these moods and just go with it.  I finished this piece in record time, even though it was a larger canvas (8 x8″) and a much larger image than I am used to working with.  I was a bit nervous drawing those antennae in…a steady hand was required and a steady hand I do not possess.  However – deep breath held – I managed to do them (in permanent marker no less – scary!)) and I am kinda pleased with the way they look.  Silly how something as tiny as a symmetrical, even and non-wonky pair of antennae can make you happy 🙂

I struggled for ages (as per usual) to find the right word for this fellow but then I came across “changeling” and it seemed to fit.  Not exactly a faerie baby swapped at birth for a human bub, but still…the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is magical in itself. Besides, one of my favourite books is “The Stolen Child” by Keith Donohue, and that’s about changelings and, well, that has nothing to do with this picture whatsoever, but I am going to reference here it anyway, so there!

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Back to work tomorrow, where I become a different kind of changeling.  One who has to swap their magical, delightful, pyjama-wearing, tea-drinking world of art-making for their less than thrilling “proper” job.  Sigh… But one must pay for art supplies (and tea), so jobs are a necessity.  And a blessing, if you take into account the tough economic times we are in.  I do try to remember that, but it’s hard some days when I would rather be up to my eyeballs in art materials than over due library books.

This week I am trying to make some changes though.  I’ve started a meditation course (literally just started it last night – I will sitting cross-legged on the floor omming before you know it!), I’m determined to try and get up earlier (or at least on time), and I am going to work very hard on reducing my stress.  After a series of medical tests showed there was no physical reason why I should be having some of the health issues I’m experiencing, I have to accept that I allow stress to effect my life too much.  I have to take charge and be responsible for my own well-being.  Which is tricky.  But I’m going to try.  And keep trying.  And trying even when I don’t feel like it.  Which, I fear, will be most of the time.  Because change is hard, and even something unpleasant like being stressed-out all the time can be a hard habit to break.  It will mean I have to start  worrying less about everyone (difficult) and learning to say NO sometimes (nearly impossible) and being less critical of myself (completely impossible).  But I gotta try.

I don’t think I will become a butterfly overnight, but maybe I can slowly-but-surely break out of my cosy anxiety/stress/worry cocoon and give those crumpled-up wings a bit of an airing.  And who knows?  Once I’m out, maybe my antennae will be less wonky than I imagine them to be 🙂

x

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Breathe, Dammit!

My body has been playing some nasty tricks on me lately. By lately, I mean all of my life. But, especially lately, it seems to be really amping up the symptoms, making me imagine all sorts of diseases and physical abnormalities. I hurt my back a few weeks ago – a combination of couging, over-extending and just being a bit careless. It really scared me – the pain was horrible and I could barely stand up straight. My doctor told me it was just an acute issue and would resolve itself with rest and all the usual remedies – heat packs, anti-inflammatory gel (I can’t take the tablets) and the use of my beloved TENS machine (seriously – do you have one? They are THE BEST!). The pain did go away and I gingerly went back to my normal day-to-day routine. Until I bent over a bit weirdly and hurt it again. The pain went away much quicker this time and I thought it was all going to be ok. Until, this week, the pins and needles started in my legs and feet. Immediate meltdown from me, imagining everything from Parkinson’s disease to strokes and irreversible nerve damage. I am nothing if not a drama queen.

So, faced with these horrible imaginings, I took my doctor’s advice and went to a physio she had recommended. This morning, anxiety levels high and ability-to-cope-with-bad-news levels low, I spent an hour with said physio. She was awesome. Very thorough and kind, she talked about everything that my body is going through and how much of it is probably related to my overall anxiety and stress, combined with my really ridiculously tight muscles (brought on by stress and anxiety…you get the idea). She didn’t do the whole “it’s all in your head and you just need to relax” speech – she was very sympathetic and explained things. Because I have a history of nerve damage and neurological issues (from my meningitis), this also sets the body up to be hyper-responsive to stress and any physical sensation, especially if that sensation mirrors anything my body went through when I was really ill.

She was happy with my back and spine in general – didn’t find anything there to be concerned about (I was worrying about bulging discs) and my overall movement and range was ok. But I need to fix my breathing. This has always been an issue with me – I am a shallow breather, barely moving at all when I take a breath. The physio said she couldn’t even tell if I was actually breathing or not. So I have to learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. This is really tricky for me – I always hold my tummy in, even when supposedly relaxed – so it will take some time for me to retrain myself. I have had numerous doctors and physios tell me this. Now I HAVE to do something about it and really persevere with it (I am actually trying to do belly breathing right now as I type this). Because I don’t want to keep getting these problems.

Work has been incredibly stressful, with lots of redundancies and overall workplace anxiety.  Some days are really miserable and lonely – this does not help my mental wellbeing.  I miss my friends and the camaraderie that you get when you work together every day.  My workload has tripled and I am not always a happy camper.  Basically, I am a grumpy, stressed-out hag most days.  Having fuzzy feelings in my legs (and not just because I haven’t shaved them) is another stressor I could do without.  But I will take the pins and needles over the horrible back pain.  THAT I can live without, thank you.

I need to work on my fitness levels and stop the stress-eating (ie bingeing) that I have been doing.  My weight has crept up and that’s making me feel crummy.  I’m not exercising at all at the moment and that’s making me feel guilty AND crummy.  So I need to improve lots of things, starting with my coping mechanisms and mindfulness and the whole breathing thing.  So much work to do!

The Universe keeps telling me, in its own not-so-subtle way, that I need to chill out and calm down, stop worrying and de-stress, otherwise I will get sick or develop weird pains and other annoying bodily issues.  Pretty much every illness I’ve ever had has been stress-related, so I need to do something about it.  I don’t even know how to begin.  I don’t know HOW to stress less.  But I am going to have to learn, quick smart.

Do you have a really simple method for de-stressing?  For learning how to not worry?  All suggestions and advice gratefully received!

Thanks for dropping by – take care of yourselves x

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Blogging Challenge – Day Five : Your Proudest Moment

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This is a tricky one.  I have the world’s worst self-esteem so I don’t know that I ever feel proud of myself.  Which I should probably work on, I know.  I like to think my proudest moment is yet to come – that something really great is just around the corner, and that I’m not “done” yet.

Today I am proud of myself for signing mortgage papers.  Proud, and terrified.  I’m proud of myself for taking this giant leap into adulthood (albeit a few decades late) and I am proud that I didn’t back out or delay it for another few years.  I am proud (and somewhat surprised) that I am even in the position to be buying a house.  Me!  Little, timid, non-ambitious Me!  I am buying a house!  It’s kinda crazy and hard to believe, because I really didn’t think it was something I would ever be brave enough to do.

There is lots of fear – will I be able to afford it, long term?  What happens if I lose my job?  What if I have made a terrible mistake?  All those things go through my mind a million times a day.  Which I am sure is normal.  It might be the one time in my life I am having normal thoughts!  But I can’t live in fear forever – I have to put my big girl pants on and be a grown-up and stop hiding behind my worries.

There is still settlement to get through and that will be a long and drawn-out process, if the rest of the experience is anything to go by.  But I have to just trust it will be ok and get sorted eventually.  I will be proud of myself for staying calm, if I can do that, and holding my ground if negotiations go awry.  I hope it is settled on time though, and without further complications, because I am not brave and I am not very good at handling anything outside of my usual realm of daily drama.  I have very little reserves, to be honest.  Something else I should work on.  Add it to the list.

So, today I am allowing a little pride to creep in.  It’s an uneasy pride, but it’s there nevertheless.  Just because I have come a long way and am doing this on my own and making big decisions and securing my future, as best as I can, in my own way.  If I can keep meltdowns and conniption-fests to a minimum, that will really be something to be proud of.  But we still have moving day to get through yet, so let’s not get too optimistic 🙂

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Have a happy day everyone and be proud of yourselves x

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Colours of the Sand and Sea

I am having some time off this week – partly because it is my birthday week, but mostly because I just need a break.  Things have been getting on top of me a little – family worries, work stress and friends in trouble – and I just needed to take one of those issues out the equation, at least for a week.  I’ve spent some time at the beach and that has helped clear my head a little and calm my frayed nerves.  But it can’t make everything go away, or fix everybody for me.

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I’ve been trying to be creative and use my time wisely but I have mostly slept a lot and faffed about, not really achieving anything.  I haven’t been sleeping at night so I stupidly took a full dose of my sleep medication a couple of nights ago.  I haven’t had it in ages (have been trying to wean myself off everything but the absolute essentials) and so it kinda hit me like a tonne of bricks.  Yesterday I slept ALL DAY.  Terrible.  Such a waste of time.  Today I am still dopey and a bit spaced out.  I’ve been trying to make cards but it has been a difficult process with my eyes not focusing properly and my brain a bit frazzled.  I did manage to finish off a couple of jewellery pieces – Lord knows how when I can barely see what I am doing – and so at least the day hasn’t been a total waste.

The colours here remind me of the beach.  The turquoise blue of the sea and the pale yellow of the sand and shoreline.  My favourite place to be is near the ocean. I hope the eventual owner of this set will feel the same serenity and calm that the sea brings to me.

Sorry for the short post today.  Hope you are all happy and well x

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Randomness

Randomness

I haven’t done a “Random Facts about Me” post for a while, which is surprising when you think about how random I actually am at any given moment.  These posts are fairly self-indulgent but I am bored and need to write something and, because my house is VERY TIDY for once, I cannot bear to do any crafting and mess it up just in order to write a post.

So, here are some more random morsels of information about me.  Please do not use them to steal my identity or write some sort of unauthorised biography that will shame my family.  They already know I’m a weirdo – they don’t need to see it in writing.  None of them read this, so it’s ok.

  1. I have OCD.  Or, as I like to call it OOCD (Occasional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  I do things like counting stuff before I go to bed, doing things in a certain order etc.  My pegs on the washing line have to match – not only match but be colour-coordinated with the item they are hanging.  I should just get all the same coloured pegs so they all match and then I wouldn’t have this problem and laundry wouldn’t take me twice as long as it should.  Sometimes my OOCD is worse than other times.  Stress makes it worse and then it can be difficult for me to leave the house in a timely fashion – it takes time to check locks and power switches, count something over and over etc.  But I don’t do the obsessive hand-washing thing or over-the-top house-cleaning (ha! as if!).  The tags on my bathroom towels have to face inwards – to not do that makes me frantic.  I have to put my shoes on in a certain order (which makes me very grateful that I only have two feet to choose from) and even saying prayers is probably due to compulsion rather than any kind of obligation.  I mean, I’m not even religious but I do have to say a prayer at night.  Otherwise, obviously, the WORLD WILL COLLAPSE AND IT WILL ALL BE MY FAULT!!!  Some days I don’t have issues at all (hence the “occasional”) but it makes its presence known when I am down or emotional or worried about other things.  Hardly anyone knows about this.  But now you do. Keep it to yourself.
  2. I am a bit obsessed with Law and Order : Criminal Intent, and have been, since it started in 2001.  I watch it over and over again when I am needing comfort and de-stressing.  I am slightly in love with Vincent D’Onofrio’s character, Robert Goren.  I have pretty much given up on all other men, except for him.  He’s perfect.  My friends think I am a crazy person, and my male friends do not understand my fascination with this head-tilting, quirky, eccentric detective.  I don’t care. 
  3. I have night terrors.  A lot. I have always had them, since I was a child.  They are called “terrors” for a reason – they are terrifying.  My family grew used to me screaming at night, which gives you some indication of how often I was doing it.  Used to freak my ex-husband out.  Medication helps to some extent, but since coming off my anti-depressants and other sleep-inducing drugs, I am back to doing the nightly screech & wake.  I hate it.  I don’t know why I do it.  I’m sure the neighbours think I’m being murdered or something.  Why can’t I have nice dreams about winning the lottery and marrying certain NYPD  detectives?  It seems very unfair, and something I should have grown out of a long time ago.
  4. I don’t like gold jewellery.  I never wear it.  Even when people give it to me (on the odd occasion), I keep it in its box and don’t wear it.  I only like silver.  I feel bad, but people will insist on giving it to you as though they’re going to convert you to their side.  I don’t like gold.  It looks super tacky to me, does not go with my skin tone and is very expensive.  Let us not forget that I am simple, very pale, and very tight where money is concerned.  Thank you for giving me jewellery though, if you have.  You’ll never see me wearing it though.
  5. I hate abbreviations in text or written message.  Do not “OMG” me.  Do not use “totes” in a sentence or expect me to me say/type  “LOL”.  I will not do it, no matter how much of a hurry I am in.  I am not a thirteen year old girl.
  6. I am a very bad vegetarian.  Sometimes I eat fish.  I feel desperately guilty about this.
  7. I once stole a piece of a castle when I visited the UK, twenty years ago.  It was just a bit of broken brick in a castle ruin, but I still feel like I am days away from being apprehended by Interpol or something.
  8. I sing, a lot.  But NEVER in front of anyone.  I will literally quit my job or jump off a bridge if someone tries to force me to do it.  Same goes with dancing.  I get jiggy with it at home in my PJs, but no one else will ever witness it. 
  9. I am a chronic blusher.  I will turn rosy-cheeked at the slightest provocation.  It tormented me in my high-school years.  I looked like I permanently had a fever.
  10. I have never been drunk.  I don’t see the point in it.
  11. I have never smoked.  I don’t see the point in it.  It is for stupid people and I try very hard not to be stupid, if I can help it.
  12. I am terrified of social situations.  I would rather rip out my own appendix than go to a party.  Fortunately, my body is very much in tune with my brain and emotions, so I can, however unintentionally, make myself physically ill enough to prevent me from going to parties and having to interact with people.  Again, something I should have grown out of.  But it’s a bit late now.
  13. I can’t wear yellow.  It makes me look very ill.  I actually like yellow, but it does not like me.  If I wear it, I look like I have gone into liver failure or have caught some sort of plague.
  14. I have been a bridesmaid three times.  That is enough.  I shan’t do it again.  You can only wear bad dresses so many times.  Plus you always have to dance and I have already explained my aversion to that. Dancing in a bad dress is just an unkind form of punishment, perpetuated by people who are supposed to care about you.
  15. I get violently angry when people spell “lose” with an extra “o”.  It makes me apoplectic.
  16. I like using the word “apoplectic”. 
  17. I have had approximately 20-25 geese during my life.  I love them.  I wish I had some now but I don’t think they would like living in a courtyard with no grass.  And my neighbours would complain.  Even though geese are AWESOME and anyone who thinks otherwise is a crazy person.IMG_1420
  18. My Mum is buying me some plastic bowls for Christmas because I keep breaking my ceramic ones.  I can no longer be trusted with nice things.
  19. I love writing. I don’t claim to be any good at it but I do enjoy it.  I like waffling, basically.  Having a blog is a great outlet for this.  Having people occasionally read it is amazing and humbling.  And somewhat scary.  But it also keeps you honest and evolving and accountable, I suppose.  I’ve stopped worrying about revealing things about myself that may be embarrassing.  At least I’m not lying or making myself out to be something I’m not.  I have wanted to write a book since I was little, but have yet to get started on that.  I don’t know what it would be about.  A goose-loving, messy, slightly crazy grammar nazi who falls in love with an NYPD detective and lives happily ever after in a house with no breakables.  Sounds like a best seller to me, people!
  20. I am terrible at hugs.  I want to be better at them but I am very awkward.  I seem to not be able to coordinate my arms and the rest of my body into one organised movement.  Plus I have tremendous self-image issues so I feel that any physical contact with people will only give them tactile proof that I am hideously repulsive. At the same time, I am desperate for hugs and affection.  Such is the dichotomy of my life. 

21.      “Dichotomy” is another word I like using.

So, that’s pretty much all I can come up with today (thank goodness for that, you say!).  About half way through I lost interest.  I hope you stuck with it though.  Any suggestions for what I can call my best-selling novel will be kindly accepted, as will step-by-step instructions for the perfect hug.  If you know a cure for night terrors and social anxiety, let me know that too – I am all ears/eyes.  Just don’t ask me to dance 🙂

Quick Post

Quick Post

Can it really be almost three weeks since I posted?  I am so slack!  But I’ve been so busy!  And tired!  And ticked off at work!  And lots of other things that end in an exclamation mark!  I’ve been coming home and falling asleep and have just been too tired to think straight, let alone post anything coherent or interesting.
I can’t say this post will be any better, but, at least, it’s SOMETHING.

I’ve been doing lots of op-shopping on the weekends, and gardening and making some crafty bits in the in-between times.  Some of my op-shop finds include :

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…this awesome fabric.  It’s blue and white (hard to see in the photo) and a nice thick, good quality material that I want to make a skirt from.  I got about 15 metres for $5!  Pretty good!  There’s enough there to make cushions and all sorts from it.  I have visions of myself parading about in a Von Trapp manner, looking like I am wearing curtains…

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…also picked up this delightful little Christmas scene.  Hand-painted and slightly age-worn, I just loved it and look forward to decorating with it at Christmas time.  Only $4…

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…made this necklace for the lovely SH as part of a craft swap I did with her…

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…and completed this glass, crystal and porcelain bead necklace (love the purples)…

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…I’ve been working on some friendship bracelets for my friend K – she wanted some in bright, fluoro colours so I chose a neon red and a yellow (they’re brighter in real life than in the photo).  I haven’t made a friendship bracelet since about 1989, but I found that I soon remembered the knotting technique and got stuck into in whilst watching TV…

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…I also made her this polished stone, coral and glass beaded bracelet (she wanted one for a friend at work)..

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…then quickly made these crystal earrings (using the beads from a bracelet I bought a couple of weeks ago)…

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…this little owl bracelet is for my cousin.  She saw one I had made for K and wanted one in green for herself.  Ask and you shall receive…

And then, I’ve been gardening, or, at least, planting lots of succulents and trying to propagate little cuttings and off-shoots.  It’s so exciting when the little babies appear and you can start off a whole new plant.  I had to buy myself a shelving unit to house them in because my front porch has limited space and if I put them out the back I will forget all about them.  At least if they’re by the front door, I have to go past them everyday and notice if they need anything like water, or more sun or shade or if they just need some conversation ha ha (yes, I am one of those crazy people  who talk to their plants!).

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Just look at some of the amazing colours they are displaying!  So pretty and each one unique.  I am still learning though and managed to kill one little specimen last week.  I think I overwatered him.  Never mind – the rest are doing fine and growing and looking happy 🙂

Sorry about the quick post – I promise to do better in the coming weeks.  Work has been so busy and stressful and I am just over everything by the time I get home.  I went to the hospital this morning for my 6 month renal check up and all is well so I don’t have to go back for another year now.  Good news 🙂

Hope you are all well and filling your lives with much more interesting pursuits than work! (Unless you have an awesome job – in which case, keep doing that!).

Bye for now (and a promise for better posts in the future)

x

Week of Stuff (plus Date & Almond Slice recipe)

Week of Stuff (plus Date & Almond Slice recipe)

This has been a busy week and the trend will continue for the next few days.  On Monday I started seeing a psychologist (am hoping this one “clicks” with me and can help me).  On Tuesday night, hubby and I started seeing a couples therapist (something I would recommend, however horrible and traumatic it seemed at the time.  Anything that gets you talking and communicating is a good thing) and on Friday I have a job interview.  So, two scary and weepiness-inducing things down, one to go.

I hate job interviews.  They are scary and nerve-wracking and never pleasant.  Actually, that’s not true.  I have had nice job interviews where I have felt comfortable and at ease, but let’s face it, they’e pretty rare, unless you’re a bit full of yourself and super confident.  I’m usually ok at interviews (except for the last one where I completely SUCKED!) and can usually appear competent.  There’s just so much happening in my life right now it is hard to be focused on anything else.  But I will have to pull it together on Friday and be amazingly intelligent (at least pretend to be) and calm and professional.  I had a test run to the interview place today to see how long it would take to get there and find exactly where it was etc.  BIG DRAMAS!  The weather was terrible (rainy and dark and horrible) and I didn’t know the area at all.  The map I got from Google Maps was rubbish and I got so lost and stressed.  Took me an hour and a half to find the place.  Ridiculous!  Hopefully tomorrow’s run will be better.  I plan on leaving super early so I can hopefully get there on time and reduce my own stress.

There was a big storm this afternoon.  Thunder and lightning and all that dramatic stuff.  I was baking (helps calm the nerves!) and I heard a knock at the back door.  Outside, shivering,  was a little poodle, very wet and very scared.  I picked him up and brought him inside, towelled him off and gave him some blankets to lie on in the bathroom.  He was so scared of the storm but also a bit wild and wooly in general.  He got a little bit snappy when I tried to get past him to get out of the bathroom…but he was otherwise well-behaved.  I eventually found his owners (our next door neighbour) – I was pretty sure he was theirs but I wasn’t 100% certain until I heard them come home and start screaming that “the dog’s gotten out!”  The lady was a bit hysterical about the whole thing, which is fair enough.  I would hate to lose my dog (if I had one).  Anyway, all’s well that ends well.  I’m sure he is being spoilt and looked after right now.  My bathroom smells of wet dog though 🙂

As for the baking…hubby had made a vegan cheesecake last week (which consists of lots of nuts and dates) and he had heaps of ingredients left over.  He asked me to do some baking so as not to waste all the goodies.  I made a carrot, walnut and oat slice (not sure about that one – did NOT look attractive so I won’t include the recipe here) and my old favourite Date & Almond Slice.  I can’t eat nuts or dates (my life really does suck!) but I used to make this slice all the time.  It’s easy and yummy and everyone seems to like it.  So here’s the recipe:

DATE & ALMOND SLICE

150g almond meal

100g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

115g unsalted butter

150g light brown sugar

1 egg

75g chopped dates

Mix together the flour, almond meal, salt, flour and baking powder together in a large bowl.

Melt the butter over a low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and egg.

Mix in other ingredients.

Spread into a lined square baking tin.

Bake at 175 C for approx 20-25 minutes.

Cool in the tin.

Lift out of tin (with baking paper) and drizzle with icing if desired (is just as nice without).  When icing is set, cut into squares or fingers.  Demolish!

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Wish me luck for the interview.  I pray that the Gods of Intelligent Conversation and Competence hear me and do not let the Demons of Dumbness and Inability to Construct Sentences turn up and ruin the show.