Monthly Archives: August 2015

Back to work, Meg

So after my solo dinner and venting blog post (and more wine and venting to the husband) on Wednesday, the rest of the week ran far more smoothly – until I locked myself out of the house this morning and left Miss 6’s school bag behind. Hubs had to double back to let me in so I could get the bag back up to the school before recess. Much fun…

I never forget my key. This was the one morning I didn’t triple check that I had it before I closed the door behind me. It wasn’t in its bowl on the TV unit so I just assumed it was still in my handbag from the day before.

Needless to say, it was not.

Plus it was the Book Week Parade at school so Miss was dressed as a Rainbow Magic Fairy, hence not wearing her backpack.

Of course that was the one bloody day I didn’t have my key.

Sigh

This just strengthens my resolve to get my damn house in order already. My key was on the TV unit, but in the wrong spot for some reason, and camouflaged by the clutter I can never keep at bay.

But I have a weapon now…

 
Yep, I’m firmly on the KonMari bandwagon. I bought the ebook a couple of weeks ago and have read through it twice now, with a third reading in progress. I love it so much! Why?

She acknowledges the emotional attachment to possessions – and actually honours it:

The things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves. It is wrong to ignore them or to discard them indiscriminately as if denying the choices we made. This is why I am against both letting things pile up and dumping things without proper consideration. It is only when we face the things we own one by one and experience the emotions they evoke that we can truly appreciate our relationship with them.

Do you have any idea how mind-blowing this is?

Every single other book I’ve read about decluttering (and I’ve read a lot) basically tells you that it’s bad to invest emotionally in “things” rather than relationships and experiences. All that stuff just holds you down, man! Rip the Bandaid off and just get rid of it already!!

Marie instead gets you to acknowledge that everything you have brought into your house has served some purpose in your life – even if that purpose was to teach you what you don’t like or need, or simply to provide you with the thrill of buying it. She actually provides a simple framework to focus on the things you want to keep rather than the things you want to get rid of by holding each of your things, one by one, and asking: “Does this spark joy?”

If it doesn’t, she encourages you to express gratitude to the item before you let it go and move on to the next one.

The process is simple and mindful and beautiful – and it works. I’ve already gone through my clothing (which she sets as the first category to be handled) using this approach and it was amazing.

Thankfully I’d already whittled down my clothing stash over the last few years – and had in fact done a cull just before I bought the book – so it didn’t take long. I was quite simply blown away by how easy this process was. I reduced my closet by at least half and easily let go of clothes that I’d been holding onto for years due to sentimentality.

I did keep most of my discards aside and go through them again a few days later, just in case it was too good to be true. A couple of pieces made it back into my wardrobe but everything else just looked dead to me. There was no attachment anymore (apart from one tattered shirt that I wore through both pregnancies and many late night breastfeeding sessions. It got a few teary kisses and hugs before I put it back in the discard bag).

Plus, as an added bonus, I LOVE getting dressed every day! I have far fewer clothes to choose from but they’re all neatly folded or hung in their own spaces with no dud outfits vying for attention. They all feel good and look good on me and give me a little swagger to my step once I finish off with the perfect scarf and shoes to match (which is weird for a normally non-girly girl like me).

I can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of the house now.

You guys, this is a game-changer.

Bad day

Um, I mean hi! How are you going? It’s been a while, huh? Please excuse me while I vent now…

I love my kids (natch) but sometimes I feel like my 6yo would be a completely different person with a better-suited, more zen mum.

It’s like she’s genetically engineered to bring out the worst in me. If this is some sort of test then my report card would give me a B for effort and maybe a D+ for outcomes. (It’s like high school PE classes all over again…)

Thankfully my 2yo has a completely different temperament: that helps me keep perspective and know that there’s only so much I can do to guide my big girl. A lot of our issues just boil down to the way she and I are innately wired.

Don’t get me wrong, I nail it a lot of the time. We have plenty of golden moments where everything is in sync and the connection is palpable. It’s just that she’s a really empathic Highly Sensitive Child (possibly with early stages of anxiety/depression – no formal diagnosis as yet though) trying to establish a secure attachment with a mother who has regular bouts of depression and a really short fuse.

We had a perfect storm today. Sibling sniping followed by me losing it over some rejected food leading to anxiety-driven school refusal followed by me giving in to the Beast and letting rip with my feelings of frustration and helplessness (we’ve been doing so well the last few weeks! I thought we’d turned a corner!). Then cue hysterics from Miss 6 and MASSIVE guilt for me, triggering a huge a chasm of depression for the rest of the day.

I gave up. I lost all fucks to give and spent the rest of the day basically being as horrid and unlikeable as possible so the kids would leave me alone (it took A LOT for them to give up on me, which is…something? Is that good or bad? I don’t know anymore). I couldn’t stop crying for about half an hour there – which is unheard of for me. It takes a lot to make me sob like that so I guess my body made the most of that window of opportunity.

Hubs had a crisis at work so couldn’t come home and rescue the kids from me. I was on my own. I simply had to skirt up and pull myself together. No other options.

It was hard. Not gonna lie: I had to skull some cooking sherry to numb my head out enough to stop crying and start on the damage control.

We managed to find some sort of fragile equilibrium that kept cracking around the edges but held enough for us to survive – and even occasionally enjoy – the rest of the day. Hubby was able to head home early so now I’m sitting in a local restaurant eating gluten-free penne bolognaise (they didn’t have gf spaghetti) and drinking wine and trying to work out the way forward from here.

I want out.

Not forever, but long enough to miss being so viscerally needed by my little people.

Because right now it’s suffocating.

I can barely keep my own emotions in order – how am I supposed to nurture two children through such tumultuous times in their lives?

All I can see is the scars and bad habits I’m consolidating right now. I don’t want my sweethearts to go through the same bullshit my head dishes out to me!!

From the current vantage point I’m not even sure that is possible…

I need a hug. 😞

Happy Birthday, Mediocre Meg!

  Source
And true to form, I’m a day late. My very first post was published on the third of August last year, NOT the fourth like I had stuck in my head for some reason.

Whoopsie-doodle.

Well at least I can confirm that my blog has stuck, even if it’s gone through periods of neglect here and there. And it has been serving its purpose pretty darn well, even if I do say so myself.

A year ago I was just starting out on my journey to become content with a Life More Ordinary; to work on my adulting skills and stop being such a discontent drifter in life, waiting for everything to miraculously fall into place somehow without any effort on my part. In all the back-and-forth shuffling of the past twelve months I can confidently say that I’ve come out at least slightly ahead.

That feels pretty damn nice, I must say.

Reading back through all my early drafts – and especially all the stuff connected to Blogging 101 last September (seriously, I can’t recommend that course enough for anyone just starting out on WordPress) – I feel enough of a clinical distance to be able to compare and contrast my head now with my head back then. It’s pretty great, really.

I’m so glad I took this plunge!

I do feel like more of an adult now, even on my off days. My threshold for mess is much lower than it used to be. I’m able to be more mindful in the moment when necessary and compensate better on bad head days (apart from today, which was a bit of a doozy, but let’s not allow that to spoil the moment). I’ve been bringing less stuff into the house and letting go of things more easily. I’m getting better at maintenance cleaning and – better yet – establishing easy storage systems so that the kids can start helping more.

Like, really guys. Despite my ridiculous expectations for myself and my tendency towards perfectionism-induced atrophy I’m actually making progress!

So let’s zero in on The Starting Line I defined back at the beginning and take a closer look at what I’ve achieved.

Health

Diet – Although my loose meal planning system has fallen by the wayside a bit I have been able to use it as a fall-back when stumped for dinner ideas and am generally getting better at planning meals at least a day or two in advance. I also feel weird and antsy if we aren’t eating dinner by 7pm at the absolute latest, which is a VERY new thing for me! My current approach to food is best summarised by these 15 eating habits of long-lived cultures, derived from many years of studying large sample groups. I’m still working on cutting back on convenience foods (especially potato chips and bikkies) but have actively increased my fish intake and use of fermented foods, beans, seeds, and nuts. I’ve also embraced my coffee habit (4-5 cups a day is actually good at staving off depression and dementia, you guys!!) but stop it by 2pm and switch to white, red, or green tea if an afternoon pickup is necessary. 

Sleep – Slowly getting better but still really erratic. I’m falling asleep before midnight more often than I used to though so that’s a plus.

Fitness – Still pretty average as I still freaking hate exercising. I’m moving it up the priorities list and formulating a plan based around short, angry bursts of activity though: I weighed myself for the first time in ages yesterday and I’m back up to 80kg. That’s getting up towards the “obese” end of overweight for my BMI and is the start of a slippery downward spiral of poor health if I don’t nip it in the bud NOW – before my heaviness becomes much more of a barrier to moving around more.

Happiness – Generally better. I’m more conscious of natural fluctuations in brain chemistry and can identify and anticipate triggers (today’s blow-out, for example, was due to me taking a chance and eating panko-crumbed tofu at a sushi place yesterday. At least I confirmed that I’m still sensitive to gluten, I guess…). The antidepressants are definitely helping to keep me on an even keel and water kefir fills in any gaps. It also helps that my 2yo is getting better at playing with her big sister so I can snatch more quiet time throughout the day, and I’m still reaping the benefits of enduring the stress of having an extra adult and child to care for for a couple of months. Knowing that life can be way more hectic and stressful than it currently is – and I can totally cope with it then too – helps me appreciate the quiet times and live in the moment more gratefully than I used to.

Finances

Day to Day – I am getting way better at curbing the impulse purchases and even have $130 in my savings account at the moment. And $60ish on my credit card! This probably sounds like small fry to most people but it’s pretty huge for me. I’ve spent my whole life living week to week – if not day to day – and never being able to curb my tendency to just spend money when I have it. Having any sort of buffer is a massive deal. Like, we’re thinking of getting hubby to transfer most of his salary into our shared account so I can manage all the bills and household expenses because I have more restraint than him now.

Seriously, if you knew me you’d be all “Wha…?! No way.” Trust me.

Long Term – I still haven’t tackled anything more complicated than daily budgeting and trying to pay off my credit card, but I’ve been following this guy’s newsletter for a while and am slowly picking up on more practical advice. I’ve also put any goals of making extra money on the back burner for now. I’d rather devote energy toward living within our current means and being a better mother and housewife. That’s enough work for me at the moment! Thankfully we get enough financial support from my parents and the government for me to exercise this choice without it causing too much stress for anyone (for which I am extremely grateful! Definitely counting my blessings with that).

Home

Ongoing Maintenance – Getting there. With my new “Productive Pottering” approach I’m much better at just getting shit done without over-thinking things, and know that if I’m feeling stuck I can pick up the dish wand and wash a few dishes to start feeling productive again. We still have way too much stuff so I get overwhelmed easily when I survey upended boxes of (formerly) carefully packed toys strewn across the floor or I can’t find a clear surface to rest my coffee cup next to my rocking chair, but… clear progress is being made. Even if things don’t get cleaned up and put away in a timely fashion at least more things actually have a set place to go, so it’s easier to clean up when I finally do get a wind up me. That feels pretty sweet, I must say.

Culling and Organising – I’m probably proudest of the progress being made here. Every time I sort through a section of the house and cull things it gets easier and easier to let go. I’m sure the antidepressants help a lot but all the hard work I’ve done on my own head is finally starting to pay off. I haven’t formally monitored it, but I’m pretty sure the amount of stuff that has left the house over the past year is greater than the amount that has come in, and my desire for this to improve only continues to grow. Again, I can thank my friend who lived with us for a couple of months for the leap in personal growth here: seriously, seeing an unreconstructed hoarder (for want of a better term) all up in my face like that really helped me find more resolve to never let myself get that far into it. I am determined to have a place for everything and everything in its place as soon as humanly possible!

Family Life

Parenting – This is a particularly challenging area at the moment thanks to my oldest girl’s anxiety problems. I’m seeking help now, so hopefully things will improve soon. As is, I’d say this area of life hasn’t changed much in the last year. Overall we’re managing ok, but there’s clear room for improvement. I think my biggest practical goal in the short term is to cut right back on screen time and increase the physical/sensory play. We’ll all benefit from that!

General Organising Skills – Still a bit average, but slightly better than a year ago. My memory has gone to shit again lately so writing things down somewhere prominent is vital if I don’t want to miss anything important – if my wall calendar is empty I get very worried!! When an upcoming event is on my radar, though, I’m able to plan a little further in advance than I used to. I’ll buy birthday presents the day before a party rather than on that morning. I’ll double check the school snacks supplies every couple of days and make a list of things that are low. I started cleaning for the house inspection coming up this Saturday weeks ago (we’re talking washing walls and scrubbing floor tiles and buffing the wooden paneling on cupboard doors, people!).

So yes, progress has been made and the next year of blogging is looking good. I’ll pin down some new goals over the coming week (see? I went to write “days” just then but stopped to reassess what is actually achievable and adjusted expectations accordingly) and see if I can inject a little more life back into my corner of the blogosphere.

Mediocre Meg has already had such a great impact on my life. I’m looking forward to building on that foundation with you.

(Aaaaand now it’s the 5th August here. Ah well, better late than never, hey little bloggy? 🎉 )

Insert witty title here

My aversion to writing continues and is starting to become quite an impediment. On top of the background murmur of “I really should check my email/Facebook/Twitter and I really should be blogging consistently again. Remember how much I used to enjoy that stuff? Remember all those people I like who I only see online? I really should get back on top of that stuff,” I’m finding it hard to get on with things in the real world because I want to blog about it but can’t bring myself to do so. Even now I’m forcing it while I have a spare window of down time.

Writing has always been an important part of my mental health and wellbeing. Should I be worried that there’s so much pressure on it now that I’ve “made it public” by blogging instead of journaling? (Because – of course – I feel guilty if I just put pen to paper instead of writing on here like I should be doing!!) Or is it just a natural progression of some sort?

Bah! Here, in no particular order, is what’s going on for me right now:

– We have another house inspection coming up in a week. We’re a little concerned about how soon it is after the last one. Hopefully it’s just the landlord wanting to ease his mind after our unexpected house guests a few months ago but we’re bracing ourselves in case he wants to raise the rent again, or even possibly ask us to move out so he can do some much-needed renovations. 

– My oldest is experiencing some pretty extreme anxiety around school this year that just isn’t sorting itself out. I’m actually considering homeschooling for a while because it all just feels so unhealthy at the moment. I think the family as a whole would cope better with the stresses of homeschooling than the stresses of continuing with school for now. Options are being explored…

– I’ve been rereading my favourite “minimalist porn” books for inspiration – namely Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson and Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Both these guys also have blogs that are worth checking out, but the books are amazing resources to have on hand whenever you need a little reminder of why it’s best to have less stuff. That being said…

– The universe continues to reward me for hoarding. Every time I put things aside to donate to charity the perfect use will suddenly appear for a few things in the pile. For example, I cleared out a few cupboards in the kitchen the other day and was pretty happy with the amount that I culled. The next day, I needed a couple of containers to stash small items in another cupboard so grabbed back the two loaf tins I’d put aside to get rid of – and they did the job perfectly. Then my 2yo wanted some small bowls for play-cooking with kinetic sand. I knew I could dig out some stuff that would be ok for the job with a little effort… but that stack of teeny wooden spice bowls I was going to cull was right there on the bench above her head. I grabbed them down with a sigh and she happily played with them for the next half hour or so.

WHAT DO YOU WANT, UNIVERSE?!! ARE YOU TRYING TO DRIVE ME NUTS? HUH?! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Ahem.

– The 52 Boxes project is really quite stalled – mostly because I have the “You have to catch up with blogging about this!” pressure hanging over my head. I set myself way too high a standard with that, I think. I may have to wipe the slate clean with one catch-up post and then continue on with Box 16, which is where I’m up to. Considering we’re entering the 31st week of the year I really need to get my head back in the game!!

– I finished crocheting this glorious cowl recently: 

 It’s mostly made from some wonderful hand-spun, hand-dyed wool I’ve had in my stash for aaaaages and is ridiculously warm and cosy. I’ve been wearing it every day I can (which is hard given how mild this winter has been!). I’m also brushing up on my knitting skills by collecting a new magazine that gives you a ball of yarn and instructions to knit one square of a throw rug with each issue. Currently working on a checkerboard stitch (the needles came with the first issue too): 

 I forgot how much fun knitting could be!

– This blog will be a year old in two days. I guess I’d better think of some way to mark it.

How are things with you?