Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sometimes there are just not enough tears to cry

This week our lives have been turned upside down with the news that my brother in law has brain cancer, bad bad brain cancer. About 3 weeks ago Tahu went to his doctor as he had been having migraines and some speech issues. She sent him for a CT scan and they found what we now know to be a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour. It is big and very aggressive. He will be having surgery next Tuesday to remove it and then starts radiation and chemo therapy. The tumour will come back though, and he can repeat treatment to give him 9-12 months at a time. 

Our hearts are truly broken. It's hard to put into words how awful this is. Jo and Tahu and Knox are one tight family unit. They have been through ups and downs in the past but nothing on the scale of this. They have hopes and dreams and plans, just like the rest of us. In one instant, these things have been taken away to be replaced by a terrifying reality.

 I don't think it is fair to say that Jo and Tahu are being brave and strong. They are simply trying to get through each day. They are sad, they are devastated. But every day they have to get up, have a shower, make breakfast, get Knox organised. Carrying on is not being brave, carrying on is just what we have to do, it's part of being human.

In the meantime, we feel all the feelings. We cry. We rage. We pray. Sometimes we feel hopeful and sometimes we feel hopeless. All the while life carries on. We work, we buy groceries, we cook dinners. It feels so wrong to be doing normal day to day stuff with something so big hanging over us. It feels like everything should stop while we deal with it. But I know know, what is the right thing to do? what is the right way to feel? It's crazy. Crazy crazy.

We each have to deal with things in our own way I guess. For me (as you can probably guess) this means I dragged out a basket of 2 1/2" scraps and started sewing them together. I figure I need a mindless project for when I get stressed. I also figure I can do a lot of praying while I sew. Somehow we will get through this. It might be a cliche, but it works....

One day at a time...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

All the Feelings

Do you ever wish you could do a simple cut and paste of the stuff going on in your life, just to rearrange it to make it run more smoothly? Being a grown up is so hard isn't it, sometimes things are a bit tough and really there isn't a lot you can do about it. They say time heals all things, but I don't know. Time definitely changes things and our perspective on them, but you know, sometimes shit just gets real and it is ok to admit things are tough.

I think it's ok to say, I'm not feeling great; and it's not a failure to ask for help if you need it. Sometimes you just have to say out loud, I'm feeling sad and my heart hurts. There's a line between pasting on that smile and soldiering on and just admitting times are tough. Sometimes finding that balance is pretty tricky.

There's kind of a lot of stuff going on in the background of life right now. A whole bunch of things both big and bigger that I can't talk about here. Most of the time I'm fine and sorta managing all the feelings. But then sometimes you just gotta go to bed early, have a quiet cry into your pillow and just admit life sucks for a bit. 

One of the things I can talk about is that I never ever dreamed I'd be a single parent. It never entered my scope of reference that I'd be a working mum. And I could not possibly have imagined that the children would so quickly have a new step-parent. I'm trying to juggle my feelings and the feelings of my kiddies; and to encourage them to see the positive in a situation they had literally no say in. Sometimes I think I'm succeeding and other times I feel a bit grrrrrr and it's hard to be Ms Positivity to the kids.

I have a ton of things that I am grateful for, but I'm no Pollyanna. Somedays you just want to pull the covers over your head, stay in bed and hide. Some days your heart hurts and its hard to smile and the tears leak out the corners of your eyes.

But being a single parent means you are always it. You have to just get out of bed every day and function.  Day by day we keep moving forward and somehow we deal with what we have to deal with. That's life, one day at a time.

As for me, I had a piece of cake and a chocolate bar for dinner and I'm going to have an early night. I'm sure it will all feel better in the morning. 

Walk on, through the wind

Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

"...don't you put me on the back burner You know you got to help me out..." {Loving someone with anxiety}

All of us have anxious times. We all know the feeling when your stomach knots up and you can't get back to sleep because of the thoughts that are buzzing around in our brains. For most of us, we can self-talk or distract ourselves out of the pit and keep on moving forward. But for other people it really is not as simple as that. Most of us have literally no idea what living with anxiety is like. A few years ago I did a course about living with kids with anxiety and it really changed my life. It changed my perspective and hopefully my reactions to others.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a really great description I found here,

Anxiety is debilitating. It feels like a constant heaviness in your mind; like something isn’t quite right, although oftentimes you don’t know exactly what that something is.
It feels like acid in your stomach, burning and eating away at the emptiness and taking away any feelings of hunger. It’s like a tight knot that you can’t untwist.
Anxiety feels like your mind is on fire, overthinking and over analyzing every little, irrelevant thing. Sometimes, it makes you feel restless and constantly distracted. It feels as if your thoughts are running wild in a million different directions, bumping into each other along the way.
Other times, it makes you feel detached, as if your mind has gone blank and you are no longer mentally present. You dissociate and feel as if you have left your own body.
Anxiety feels like there is a voice in the back of your mind telling you that everything is not okay, when everything in fact is. Sometimes the voice tells you that there is something wrong with you and that you are different from everybody else.
It tells you that your feelings are bad and a burden to the world and that you should isolate. It makes everyday tasks, such as making simple decisions, incredibly difficult.

Anxiety can keep you up at night — tossing and turning. It’s like a lightbulb that comes on at the most inconvenient times and won’t switch off. Your body feels exhausted, but your mind feels wide awake and racing. You go through the events of your day, analyzing and agonizing over every specific detail.

I think the main thing about loving someone who struggles with anxiety is, not to take it personally. It is not about me, what I've done or not done. It is something that is internal in a person that they feel and it feels completely legit to them (even if part of them knows that it is irrational). This is not a situation where patting someone on the back and saying it will be ok will work. And the other thing is that you might think the other person is angry or upset with you, that's not you, that's the anxiety talking. Recognising those times is a game changer if you love someone with anxiety.

Don't forget that your anxious friend, family member or lover is still the beautiful, amazing, kind, creative person that they always were, but the anxiety is something extra that they have to deal with. They are still the person that you love. They might seem angry or snappy or withdrawn or like they don't want to be with you. But that is not true. They do want to be with you they just can't deal.

So here is my promise to those that I love who struggle with anxiety (you know who you are), I am here for you. I am not going anywhere. I will always return your message or your phone call. I will keep on checking up on you. I will worry about you when I am not with you, because I love you and not because I feel like I have to. I understand that sometimes you need space and sometimes you need someone to be there. I'll try and respect that, but if I push that boundary, it is just because I want to be with you. I'd like it if you could be honest and tell me when things are bad, but I'll probably figure it out. I love you for you. We will get through this together. OK?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear Reuben {15 year old, Ex-Champion Centre kid and all round good bloke}

Dear Reuben,
Happy Birthday Son. I cannot quite believe you are fifteen years old. It seems such a milestone. I wish wish wish I could have seen how amazing you would turn out when you were just a little tike. I love how you are so funny and kind and PASSIONATE about stuff. I love how you give great hugs and the finger in equal quantities. 

You hopefully don't remember this, but your first few years were pretty darn rocky. I told the doctor when you were six weeks old that you were either blind or deaf. He thought you were deaf but maybe you just didn't give a f*** to what I was saying. Who knows. You can hear perfectly when it comes to dinner time, handing out money and bad jokes.

You weren't that keen on hugs then. In fact you cried for the first three years of your life. No joke that was. I have hearing loss, yes this is why I am actually old and deaf. Thanks son. Luckily you grew out of that one or you might not be here to put me in my place.

You and I, we worked so hard for a few years there. We did A LOT of stuff together, stuff that you didn't think was fun, but your therapist thought was important. Remember the Champion Centre? those guys changed your future for you. Helped you find the way back from the screaming little runt that you had been. 

You were not that keen on talking in those days (thats an understatement) but man you make up for it now. I must remember that when you are rabbiting on, I actually worked so jolly hard to encourage you to talk. hahaha. There's a load of stories I could tell, you can ask me about it if you want to sometime. 

Anyway I just wanted to tell you that if I could have seen how you would be at fifteen, I would have been so encouraged. You have turned out more than all my wildest dreams. You are a great kid with tonnes of real potential. You are probably going to say a lot of very rude (non dad approved) words when you read this, but you know son, sometimes it is really good to stop for a minute and look back and go, wow! I've come so far. I want to acknowledge this for you today.

You have come far. You have a fine future ahead of you, doing goodness knows what. Yes you have a few challenges, I won't lie, but I have high hopes that you are going to be a strong, independent, happy, functioning member of society. (No, Playstation is not a career) So Happy Birthday Reuben. You are a great son, a great friend and an all round good man. 

Love mum xox

Friday, February 17, 2017

The ex is getting married...

In a few short weeks David and Rhonda are getting married. The younger children are really excited and they have been telling me lots of little details that have been organised. It sounds like it is going to be a really nice celebration of their new beginning. I'm so stoked for them all, I really hope that they are going to be happy together. I mean, obviously there is part of me that wants to tell Rhonda to run, run for the hills while she still can (lol), but the other part of me, really really hopes that they are crazy in love with each other and that they will be happy for the rest of their lives together.

I really don't know why people think I will be upset about this. It is no secret that I am the one who left, I tapped out, called it quits... however you wanted to call it. I knew that I could no longer love David the way he deserved to be loved, and I really did pray that he would find someone who did love him in that way.

The really good part about David getting married is that Rhonda is really good with the kids. I feel heaps better about them going to their dads when I know that Rhonda is there. She is organised and tidy and she cooks dinners the kids like. She knows about things like kids needing sleep, warm clothes and the little things that sometimes dad forgets.

The first time I realised how good, was when Annie was going to her cousins wedding. I had found a pretty dress for her, but Rhonda took her and got some stockings that matched. She looked so much better. I knew then, that having another person was going to be good for Annie. I'm a bit rough around the edges, and I think Rhonda will be really good for her. She is reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to her, and she tells Annie stories about when she was little. 

I'm not going to lie, I'm thinking the day that they get married will be a bit hard, but the good is far more than anything that makes me sad. I'm grateful that the children's dad has someone who keep an eye on and I'm grateful for a truly good influence in Rhonda. 

And as for me, I've built a secure and happy home for us, I have a job that I love and some really amazing friends. Don't feel sorry for me. I'm good and the kids are too. I think this has turned out for the best for all of us. I have hopes for the future for us all.

Monday, February 13, 2017

To cherish what remains of the earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival. {Wendell Berry}

Last week the quilts that I have spent seven months sewing were hanging at the Exchange Christchurch. It was an amazingly heartwarming experience to have so many people visit the Exchange just to see my work. I sew all by myself at my dining room table and it made me feel quietly proud to have people make the effort to go and visit my work.

When I decided to do this Exhibition all those months ago, I wanted to make a statement about waste and about using what you have. I wasn't sure if I was the only person I was talking to, but I wanted to try. Did you know that the garment industry is the second most wasteful industry in the world (after the oil industry)? 

I only brought three metres of fabric for the tops of these quilts, (i did buy some old sheets and some fabric for the binding). But if you saw the exhibition, you will know that these were large quilts. I started off with my fabric stash that fitted in a drawer and with a basket of scraps. I asked for people to give me old shirts and their orphan blocks and their scraps. I used up nearly all of my scraps and most of my fabric stash and it is a good feeling.

I sold six quilts and kept two. The rest of them have homes to go to. I think the thing I love the most about making quilts is letting them go to new homes. It makes me so happy to be sent photos of people snuggling under their quilts.

I made these quilts because I enjoy a challenge, I wanted to make a statement, I wanted to use what I had and I wanted people to think about fabric in a different way. I also wanted to make some money so that I can buy a design program and start putting the designs in my head onto paper. My dream is to eventually write a book of scrappy quilts. I'll let you know how that goes!!

I just want to say a really big thank you to all of you who made the time to come and see my work, who encouraged me as i worked on them and who spent their hard earned cash on them.

I'm so encouraged by this whole process and looking forward to making many more quilts.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I signed the divorce and I'm ok

Yesterday I signed the document that formalises the end of my marriage to David. I never in all my wildest dreams imagined this day. Nearly 24 years ago I promised to honour and obey David till "death us do part", but it turns out that the rest of your life is a really long time. In 51 days David is getting married again and I truly hope that his new life is all that he imagines it will be.

I guess I never thought I would be strong enough to be a single parent, to earn my own living and to own my own home. But I can and I am. I make mistakes and I struggle, but honestly I have no regrets. I hope that I am showing my kids how to be a strong, independent person, someone who makes plans and who works their hardest to make them happen. It's pretty liberating to be able to make your own decisions (both good and bad) and have to be responsible and accountable to yourself for those.

I've had a lot of new experiences in the last two years, good times and hard times. There have been tears, there has been frustration and just common old exhaustion. But through it all there has been the knowledge that this is actually going to be ok, it might now be what I planned back when I was 22, but it is all working out.

Here's to the next stage of my life, even though there were loads of things I was worried about, it is going to be ok.